Others may also have noticed that five year olds don’t like waiting.
Birthdays, holidays, trains – they take forever to arrive. If our perception of time is governed by its relationship to the length of our lives so far, a twenty-minute wait for a Sydney ferry is, for a five year old, the rough equivalent of a four-hour wait for me. Faced with such a prospect, I would need a distraction too.
Four hours at Circular Quay would be more than enough. It looks out on the Opera House, but the Quay is not itself an architectural wonder. It’s not even circular, for heavens’ sake. The elevated railway line and the notoriously ugly Cahill Expressway cut off the harbour from the Sydney CBD behind it.
Luckily, there is entertainment available, just across the road from the Quay. In 1854 the Customs House was the centre for trade coming through Sydney Harbour. It’s still a public building, though now it has other functions.
Inside are a café, a library where visitors can read current editions of world newspapers and magazines, free wifi and clean toilets (also important to five year olds – for them, holding it in for five minutes is the equivalent of me crossing my legs for…oh, forget it!).
The great joy of a visit to the Customs House is that under the floor in the foyer is a 1:500 scale model of central Sydney. The five year old can identify the Opera House, Circular Quay, the Dinosaur Museum…
‘Come on, we have to go now. If we don’t catch this next ferry there won’t be another one till… Come on!’
Entry to Customs House is free.