Where were you during the Sydney Olympics in 2000?

Sydney 2000

We flew out of Sydney, with our three teenage daughters, on the day before the Olympics started on 14 September 2000.

Wow, that’s twenty years ago today!

leaving Aus
leaving Australia on 14 September 2000

It was a trip of a lifetime – for all of us!

We were off to visit Denmark, Sweden, England, Paris and Japan for about 6 weeks.

I remember being at the airport for hours (a huge family joke) and watching tourists, athletes and teams arriving in all their regalia. There were volunteers everywhere directing people, helping out and basically welcoming everyone to Sydney. It was fascinating to watch all the action, and luckily for us, it kept us amused for the hours of waiting for our flight.

In case you’ve forgotten, the Games went from 15 September to 1 October 2000.

Looking back it probably wasn’t the most patriotic thing to do but it suited our plans perfectly.

Our eldest two daughters were in Year 11 and Year 9 at high school and the youngest was in her final year of primary school. So no major schooling would be missed, considering the Olympics coincided with school holidays and were extended due to the Games. It meant the girls would only miss a few weeks or so of school. As the Mathematician was the Maths Head Teacher at school, we didn’t get into too much trouble!

Teacher Exchanges

The Mathematician was taking part in an Educational Cultural Exchange where he joined with a Danish teacher, Walther, for two weeks, living and working with him, and later in the year Walter came to our small town in Australia on a reciprocal visit.

This was the Mathematician’s second Cultural Exchange of this nature, having successfully completed the same program in 1999, again in Denmark, with the delightful Vibe. We are still in touch with Vibe and her family and see them whenever we visit Denmark.

The Mathematician had participated in a full year Teacher Exchange back in 1992 , where our family swapped jobs, houses, cars and basically lives, with an English Maths teacher and they went to live in our home in Tumbarumba NSW Australia. Our daughters were young back then aged 8, 6 and 3 at the time of moving across the world.

It was also our first family overseas trip – I think my motto was ‘go big or go home’ – yes I was a bit mad! It was a fantastic experience for all of us at the time, but not without its stresses, I can assure you!

Year 2000

Anyway back to September in the year 2000.

While the Mathematician was involved in his cultural exchange, the girls and I stayed with Danish friends Vibe and Svend and then with Sophie and her parents Elke and per, they have all become more like family to us.

I was given the use of Vibe’s car to drive us from one side of Denmark to the other, to stay with our Danish exchange student Sophie, who had lived with us for a year back in 1997/98.

Sophie and girls
Sophie reunited with her ‘three sisters’

I had a bit of trouble driving on the wrong side of the car on the opposite side of the road but managed quite well with the girls helping out whenever they thought I needed some direction, mainly to stay on the ‘right’ side of the road! Roundabouts were hard work.

We followed the Olympics as best we could from Denmark but they were into very different sports to us – think handball! Also the TV coverage was in Danish and we couldn’t understand very much. We still enjoyed seeing it all from a different perspective, especially the opening ceremony where we all cheered loudly for Australia!

Cathy Freeman

On the day Cathy Freeman was running her final, 25 September 2000, the girls and I had driven across the countryside and arrived in Copenhagen. We had the car radio on as we drove, and were listening to a Danish station unable to understand very much. But every now and again we heard Cathy Freeman’s name and realised something important had happened, but we were unsure of exactly what.

We were in a department store, just wandering around soaking up the different atmosphere, when we realised that all the TV monitors were showing the Olympic Games.

We stood and watched, transfixed, as Cathy Freeman won her 400 metre finals race. We suddenly understood what the radio excitement had been about.

We can all clearly remember the feelings of pride that we were Australians on the other side of the world watching this momentous event. It was spine chilling and even today I get goosebumps in remembering that event.

I’ve just watched Freeman on ABC TV – with Cathy Freeman sharing her thoughts and insights of that race 20 years ago and her road to success. It was spine tingling stuff!

FREEMAN is a cinematic portrait of the 49.11 second race that is still etched in our hearts and minds. Drawing on archival footage and a series of intimate conversations with Cathy Freeman, the film takes viewers on a journey through Cathy’s remarkable sporting career and the frenzied build-up to September 2000. Cathy’s fast-paced climb to the top of the world is mirrored by the rise of a people’s movement supporting reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.  Her story became the symbol of a much larger struggle for equality. Source

So much has happened in those 20 years but I can still clearly remember our travels that year.

Yes I wish we could have attended the Olympics in our home country but we were busy creating other memories.

Copenhagen – one of our favorite places

After that trip

Once we’d visited Denmark and Sweden we made our way to England to stay in the village we’d lived in when we did our first Teacher Exchange in 1992. It was fabulous for the girls to see their old home, their school and their friends again.

Our eldest daughter reignited friendships on that trip and within a few years she’d travelled back there and worked a GAP year in the village we’d lived in. She came home after her year away and completed a university degree. In a completely amazing coincidence she has been living back in the area since moving to England in 2007. She now has a partner, baby daughter, a dog and a rabbit and enjoys life in the small village of Cheddar in Somerset, where we’d lived as family in 1992. Isn’t it strange how life works out?

Our second daughter went on to do a GAP year working as a nanny in northern Italy, which was amazing considering she couldn’t speak any Italian when she left Australia. She went on to study at university with Italian as one of her subjects and travelled to Sweden for a university exchange for a semester. After finishing her degree she moved to England and worked there meeting her now husband, before both of them returned to Australia for good. They have a 2 year old daughter and another baby due in early 2021.

During that trip in 2000, our youngest daughter and I had an exciting side trip to Paris for a few days. You see, I have taken each of the girls on a mother/daughter trip before they moved onto high school and Eliza jokingly suggested we could go to Paris for her trip. So that’s we did! We had a fabulous time together but the other two were a bit miffed I have to say!! She also went to England for a year after finishing high school, working at an Activity Camp teaching children archery, canoeing, rope work and other exciting things. She came home after her GAP year and did a degree at university and has worked hard in a variety of areas since then. She now has a husband and a baby boy!

All three girls have travelled extensively and I like to think that we have helped contribute to their love of travel and seeing the world. I was 31 before leaving Australia on our first family trip but the girls have been fortunate to see the world at various ages and it has helped them in many ways. Our family motto is from the Danish saying – To Travel is to Live

girls in Copenhagen
Sarah and Eliza having fun on a canal boat in Copenhagen – one of my favourite photos

Life this week

So what were you doing when the Sydney Olympics were on?

Thanks to Denyse for this week’s prompt for #lifethisweek – Remembering Sydney 2000. It’s been fabulous to look back through the photo albums and reminisce about our last huge family trip before the girls finished school and moved on with their lives.

Thanks for letting me share these memories with you.


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Debbie - mother of a 40 year old

Everyone has a story to tell! Deb is a young-at-heart & active 60+ blogger/retiree, after being made redundant from her 22-year career managing education programs in a men’s correctional centre (jail). She now spends her time reading, blogging, riding her ebike and travelling. Deb was awarded a Bravery Award from the Queen when she was 17 after a tragic accident – a definite life changing moment! She is married with 3 grown-up daughters & has 4 grandchildren. She never imagined being Granny Debs would bring so much joy to her life! You can read more of Deb’s story here

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41 Replies to “Where were you during the Sydney Olympics in 2000?”

  1. An interesting post! I went to Buenos Aires in July of 2000 and to a wedding in Canada in the September, but can’t remember where I was other than at home during the Olympic Games themselves. I hadn’t realised you had been to Copenhagen – I lived there for 8.5 years. I prefer Stockholm as a city though..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes we are lucky to have been to Denmark on many occasions over the years, we love it! Fabulous to know you lived there for that long, how exciting that would have been! Thanks for your comment 🙂


  2. What an exciting family holiday!
    I used to see Cathy Freeman quite regularly, in a cafe in Richmond, Melbourne! Not quite as exciting as seeing her run in the Olympics.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Deb, what a wonderful experience for you and your family. The Games are wonderful but nothing compares to travel and experiencing other cultures. I remember Cathy Freeman’s run and it really topped off the Games. So much pressure on her though but she came through. Having been born in Sydney, although I was living in Brisbane I was so proud to be a Sydneysider. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes Sue, so much pressure on her at the time. The timing for our trip was perfect but I still wish I’d been able to experience some of the games here! I’m not asking for much 🙂


  4. Love that Danish saying – Denmark and Paris are two of my favs.What a lovely trip!! The Danish coverage reminds me of friends in HK for one Olympics when HK got the Scottish coverage. He said “We don’t know who won but we know that the Scot came last…” hehehe

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi, Debbie – I completely agree with Sue. As wonderful as it is to experience the Olympics, building incredible family travel memories definitely tops that. Richard and I were married in January 2000. In September of that year, I was starting my last year working in Canada before we moved to Beijing the following August. I did get to see seven different games during the Beijing Olympics. And during the Canada 2010 Winter Olympics,we were in Australia!
    Awesome post!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow, 20 years ago, Deb. Cliche, yet how time flies. I become more aware of the passing of time when I see my children’s photos from years ago.

    You and your family were definitely on a trip of a lifetime. Fascinating about the cultural exchange and the opportunities. And, like you say, stresses. Interesting to get the first hand experience from Cathy Freeman.

    Expo 86 in Vancouver was a thrill for us. We can still remember trying to see everything with our 5 and 2-year-old daughters. We lived in the North at the time and drove down for this event. An interesting post!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Deb, what a wonderful life of traveling you have had! I instilled the love of travel in my boys from an early age too. They have both traveled the world alone and in groups since then. Those are some of my most treasured memories

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Christina, we’ve made the most of many opportunities that have come our way over the years and I’m so glad we took this trip together. Your boys are lucky to have had a love of travel instilled in them too.


  8. It sounds like you had a fabulous time away Deb – and the girls would have enjoyed it all too. Lovely that they could catch up with Sophie and see some of her country as well as all the other parts of Europe etc that you fitted in.

    It’s hard to believe that the Olympics were 20 years ago, but I also saw a meme the other day that said “friends don’t tell friends that 1980 was 40 years ago” and that made me laugh – and did my head in a bit at the same time – where have those 20/40 years gone?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes Leanne, it’s been great to be able to see at least one of our grandchildren during these lockdowns and minimal travel. I too wonder where those years have gone!


  9. What an amazing opportunity! We were in Sydney and it was as if the whole city put on its party face. The weather was stunning, the public transport behaved itself and the energy was incredible. I can’t believe it was 20 years ago!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. “To travel is to live” – words to live by indeed! I was still in the UK in 2000 so don’t remember much about the Olympics. How cool that you got to enjoy some teacher exchanges – my friend did one and went to Philadelphia and I went out to visit, it was amazing! I kind of regret I never did one when I was teaching. It’s funny how those exchanges/experiences bring lifelong friendships, I’m still in touch with the Philadelphia teacher my friend swapped with and we met in 1996! Your girls are lucky – you and your husband gave them such a great gift seeing the world!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes teacher exchanges have been a big part of our lives and although it was scary doing them at times, it was well worth it! We are still in touch with many of the friends we made back then! Our girls have enjoyed their opportunities 🙂


  11. I was watching it all on the TV in London (where I was living and working) and hoping that the games would one day come back to London for the third time. And 12 years later they did. I was lucky to get tickets for the opening ceremony and some of the events.

    Thanks for sharing your memories of the Sydney Olympics with us, Debbie. I hope they come back to Australia for the third time. I think we have a DVD of the Sydney Olympics somewhere. It was a gift from one of my nieces who was on a year out from University and who happened to be travelling down the East coast of Australia the following year.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Yes…watching Cathy Freeman on the big screen in Darling Harbour was a highlight of the 2000 Olympics . Being in the grandstand for an athletics session back row but above the finish line was quite surreal..incredible atmosphere here and all over Sydney with friendliness a real standout! I also have a picture taken with ‘Eric the Eel’ on Bondi Beach.He was there for a photo shoot with Klim etc after his memorable effort in the pool! Can’t believe 20 years have passed..oh for that time again..even if only for the social part of being in a crowd again! PS Your trip looked great too .. special family memories..


  13. Yes..watching Cathy Freeman on the big screen in Darling Harbour was a highlight of 2000. Incredible atmosphere all over Sydney . in the grandstand for an athletics session back row but above the finish line was quite surreal too.Oh to return to social occasions like this again. Another standout moment was having a picture taken with Eric the Eel on Bondi Beach. He was there for a photo shoot with Klim etc after his memorable effort in the pool the day before. Such wonderful memories.. where have those 20 years gone!
    PS Your trip looked great too… special family memories also.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. So lovely to read how you and yours spent those times. And to know about how and where the girls (women!) are now. They sure do give you a chance to travel….when it becomes something legal again!! I saw Cathy Freeman’s win at the GP clinic. Everyone just stopped. What a time and what a great doco that was on ABC on Sunday night. She is so lovely and unassuming.
    Thank you for joining the link up for #lifethisweek. Next week, the optional prompt is 38/51 Grateful For This. 21.9.2020 I hope that you link up again too. Take care, Denyse.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Hey Deb, Great to catch up with what you were doing during the Sydney Olympics. We were living in the UK back then and I remember getting up in the early hours of the morning to watch Steve Redgrave win the gold in the rowing. Even on the other side of the world and thruogh the TV set, we had the sense of what a fantastic games it was – the best by far. The ABC Cathy Freeman documentary was excellent!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I loved the Freeman documentary and the memories that came flooding forth! It was a fabulous time no matter where we all were in the world 🙂 Thanks for joining me and sharing your memories too.


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