Tuesday, 31 October 2006

Purple Haze (for Mimmu)

This shot of jacaranda blooms is for Mimmu in Finland (see her blog - click here), who I promised to show more jacaranda after my shot at Sydney Uni last week.

At left I've also given you an idea of trees in full bloom. I walk past these ones on the way to the station every day. One day you go past and not notice them, then all of a sudden they are in full bloom...then, seemingly, just as quickly, they are gone.

To the right, an attempt to show the effect of the purple blooms dotted throughout the neighbourhood between the green trees, from a high point of a nearby street. (It's hard to capture the full effect, but clicking on it to enlarge will improve it). They are, above all, a tree of the suburban back yard and street... I can't think of many (any?) in the city itself.

Monday, 30 October 2006

The Three Sisters, Blue Mountains

Sun 29 Oct 3.48pm
A World Heritage Area, the Blue Mountains are a green lung to the west of Sydney. Many people commute to work in Sydney daily from the towns and villages of the Blue Mountains.
Why is this iconic rock formation called The Three Sisters? Find out here.
Are the Blue Mountains really mountains? No - it's a heavily dissected uplifted sandstone plateau Find out more here.
Why do they appear to be blue? Well, that's because of the eucalyptus oil exuded into the atmosphere. Read all about it at Wikipedia.
The area became popular in the early 20th century as a honeymoon and tourist destination, as a retreat from the higher temperatures in Sydney. Yesterday morning it was a chilly 1 degree, but we warmed up in the sun by the middle of the day!

Sunday, 29 October 2006

Biking to somewhere?

Sydney is a notoriously bike unfriendly city, with narrow, traffic-clogged roads and (perhaps paradoxically) fast-moving and aggressive car traffic.

So, it's good to see one local area (Bellevue Hill in Woollahra Municipality) making an effort. But where does it come from and where does it go to and is it a genuinely useful bike lane? I don't know, but would love to.

Saturday, 28 October 2006

Goths, Sydney Town Hall Steps

A regular meeting place for Goth kids. Is the Goth look fashionable in your city?

Friday, 27 October 2006

Jacaranda at Sydney University

It's jacaranda season and Sydney is a purple carpet in many places. This jacaranda tree grows in the quadrangle of the Gothic main building at Sydney University. There is an expression used at Sydney Uni that "by the time the jacaranda blooms it's too late to start studying for exams", for it's end-of-year exam season now as well. High School kids are sitting their Higher School Ceritifcate, which for some will determine their matriculation to university, and uni exams are in full swing too, in the run-up to the long summer break.

I vaguely remember a story told when I was a student at Sydney Uni in the 1970s about students from the rival University of New South Wales threatening to cut down the jacaranda, but I can't quite remember what it was.

The quadrangle was inspired by the medieval quadrangles of the Oxford and Cambridge colleges.

Thursday, 26 October 2006

Series. Local Domestic Architecture Part 4: California Bungalow

Between World Wars One and Two, the style derived from the west coast of the US, modified to suit Australian conditions, known as the 'California Bungalow' became popular.

It drew inspiration from a wide range of countries, including England, North America, Japan and Switzerland. Typical features include: pylons supported a flat roof or gable to the porch; shingled gable ends. clinker brick chimneys and rough cast walls.

These two photos are good local examples. The first one reminds me very much of houses I saw in West Los Angeles.

Wednesday, 25 October 2006

Phar Lap - an Aussie icon

I'm in Melbourne again, at the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) Congress, so here's another one from the vault.

This is from a photographic exhibition held in Hyde Park early in the year. The photos are all shown on canvases hung between the trees.

This is a photo of a legendary Australian racehorse of the 1920s-30s, called Phar Lap. Phar Lap captured the imagination of the nation during the Great depression. He won a whole lot of races - 37 out of 51 starts in 4 years - and then went to America to race, where he was poisoned and died. His body was brought back to Australia (bound in this shroud) and then the taxidermists got to work. His body has been on display in the Museum of Melbourne ever since. His heart is in an anatomy Canberra, and skeleton in the National Museum in Wellington, New Zealand (he was born in NZ).

This week toxicology tests undertaken on Phar Lap's skin showed conclusively for the first time that he was poisoned with arsenic. American gangsters trying to avoid losses from Phar Lap winning races have long been suspected.

Tuesday, 24 October 2006

Series: Local Domestic Architecture Part 3: Federation

My 300th post today!

"Federation" style is the name given to what is known elsewhere as 'Edwardian', or 'Queen Anne' or 'Arts and Crafts' style. It derives its name from the fact that it was popular at the time the separate colonies were federating to form one nation, Australia (1901).

Evident in Federation is quite a lot of decorative work - wood, replacing cast iron, and roof features and small gables, as well as tuck-pointed brick work and leadlight and stained or coloured glass windows. The example above has a slate roof, but red Marseilles-style terracotta tiles became predominant in this era, shown in the picture of my house, below:

My house, some local kids, and our Italian 'Pace' (peace) flag. Oh, and the recycling bin on the verandah cos I was throwing out some papers. The mandarin tree you can see down the back is about 100 years old and still produces great fruit.

Monday, 23 October 2006

Wedding Day

An interruption to the architecture series for an announcement:

"Today is Piero's and my 25th - silver - wedding anniversary!"

Where better to pick up a wedding dress (and a few gifts) than at a garage sale? Had to laugh as we drove past this sale out the front of a block of flats this weekend.

Sunday, 22 October 2006

Series: Local domestic architecture. Part 2: Victorian

There is a lot of Victorian architecture in my area (approx 1860s to late 1890s) it is hard to choose one (so once again I've cheated and shown two!).

'Dappeto', now a Salvation Army nursing home and residence called 'Macquarie Lodge' is probably the most outstanding example of High Victorian. It was built in 1885 by an oyster merchant, constructed of sandstone face bricks, mixed with whale oil to help protect against dampness.

Previously I posted a picture of an ornate pair of Victorian houses, Gladstone and Wentworth.

Here's a pic of a more "normal" Victorian cottage, of the kind lived in by the less-than-wealthy:

Saturday, 21 October 2006

Series: House architecture in my local area Part 1: the oldest and the newest

Tempe House, completed 1836, and modern development behind.

This Georgian house, built for a weathy Scottish emigree has recently been restored as part of the apartment development behind. It has quite a history, from glamorous high society home, to a school operated by early Sydney philanthropist Caroline Chisholm (she previously appeared on the Australian five dollar note), through nearly a century as a home run by Catholic Good Samaritan nuns for women adjudged to be in “moral danger”. In recent years the house has been in danger of total dereliction, so it's great to see it brought back to its former glory, even if the cost is the towering apartments behind....

Read more about it, including its history, and see more pictures

And here's an early painting of it in its setting on the river.

Tomorrow: A Victorian house.

Friday, 20 October 2006

Thursday, 19 October 2006

Double trouble

I was sitting on a seat in Hyde Park, when I noticed this young skater whizz past. Then I became aware that he was back again, and then a few seconds later, back he came from the other direction, and then again.

Then I looked up and paid more attention!

Wednesday, 18 October 2006

Here's something you WON'T see in Sydney

Bathing boxes at Aspendale in Melbourne
...but then I have been missing from Sydney for a few days too. I took mum on a little 'nostalgia trip' to Melbourne, where she lived her first 40 years.

'Course you don't see trams in Sydney either, but these English-style bathing boxes are far more colourful than trams.

Tuesday, 17 October 2006


The little dog statue (Islay, apparently a companion of Queen Victoria) is featured on a website highlighting Surreal Sydney. Located near a statue of Queen Vic, outside the Queen Victoria Building, it talks at you, as this passer-by found out.

Monday, 16 October 2006

Somewhere in Italy* ??

When I drove past this decaying wall, at first I thought I might be somewhere in Italy, but I had second thoughts when I saw the "Beware Magpie Nesting Area" sign ! It's currently magpie breeding season, and you are likely to get dive-bombed by one of these birds. See here for info about Australian magpies. Here's a pic of someone being swooped.

* No, Erskineville - very near the Mexico Olympics Three Proud People mural

Sunday, 15 October 2006

More grey, less green says developer

Sydney property developer Harry Triguboff (he owns a company called Meriton) says Sydney has too much green and not enough grey, and if you want to look at trees - well go and visit Katoomba.

In an interview
(read here), Triguboff is quoted as saying that Sydney has too many Reserves and National Parks. "You go north and we have all these reserves and you go south and you have all the reserves, and they are the best part of the coast. That is crazy. We should be building on this area," he said. "If they want to see trees, they can go to Katoomba, there are plenty of trees there."

I can't help thinking he wasn't serious - it is just too mad to be real.

Saturday, 14 October 2006

Third last day of the school holidays

It's been the October school holidays the past two weeks, so I've just been tootling around locally, and going to the pool with my son. Today was 37 degrees. TOO HOT for this time of year. Relief with a cooler change due late tomorrow.

Here's my son at the pool today (yes, I know! Another swimming pool shot!). I'm pretty proud of him (as well as the fact I actually managed an action shot!)

And there's more about this pool (Botany) here.

Friday, 13 October 2006

Thursday, 12 October 2006

Summer's coming!

The main pool and the babies' pool

I love suburban public swimming pools. To me this is a "real pool" - the Olympic size pool, the sort I learned to swim in, the sort I spent my summers in as a kid. Nowadays, like this one, they are often heated, and open year round. The outdoor Olympic pool is really iconic Australian. Nearly every country town, many suburbs and city areas have such pools.

Despite living in a beach-culture city, I've always preferred pools for swimming in (and the surf for playing in). Maybe it comes from growing up and learning to swim in Melbourne? Anyway, on such a beautiful spring day, my son and I headed off to our local "real pool".

After swimming all winter in an indoor, 25 m pool at the gym, I revelled in swimming 50 m without a turn. Psychologically, it does amazing things, seeming to swim "half" the distance (counted as number of laps!)

You can get here at 5.30am and stay til 8.30pm, all for the bank-busting price of $4.50 ($3.50 concessions and kids). And tomorrow, we're off to another suburban pool.

Lots of pool pics here, including more of this one:
Swimming Pools Blog

Wednesday, 11 October 2006

"Go and tell your kids the story of Peter Norman"

Mural, house near Macdonaldtown Station, Sydney

At the Mexico Olympics in 1968, Australian runner, Peter Norman, won the silver medal in the 200 metres, behind gold medallist Tommie Smith, and ahead of John Carlos, two Americans.

Tommie Smith and John Carlos were pall bearers at Peter Norman's funeral on Monday. They remained friends after the moment on the vistory dais in Mexico which shook the world. The photo of the event was declared by LIFE magazine and Le Monde to be one of the 20 most influential images of the 20th century.

The Americans were shoeless, an expression of their empathy with the poor, and each wore a single black glove, which they raised in a black power salute during the American national anthem. Norman stood alongside them wearing the badge of the Olympic Project for Human Rights. He fully supported their actions, and had suggested to them, that as they had only one pair of black gloves, they wear one each.

"We knew that what we were going to do was far greater than any athletic feat. He said, 'I'll stand with you'." Carlos said he expected to see fear in Norman's eyes. He didn't. "I saw love. Peter never flinched (on the dais). He never turned his eyes, he never turned his head. He never said so much as 'ouch'. You guys have lost a great soldier." Carlos said that Norman deserved to be as well-known as Steve Irwin. "Go and tell your kids the story of Peter Norman," he said.

The US Track and Field Federation has declared October 9 Peter Norman Day.

Thanks to Kate_R for telling me about this mural.

Newspaper story

Tuesday, 10 October 2006

The Duke in Sydney

On August 7, Dana at Honolulu Daily Photo posted a wonderful picture of Hawaiian surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku.

Here's The Duke in Sydney! He is credited with popularising surfboard riding in Australia when he demonstrated his skills at Freshwater Beach (see photo below) in December 1914.

The statue was unveiled by his widow Mrs Duke Paoa Kahanamoku (Nadine) on Australia Day, Wednesday January 26, 1994.

There's a walk around the headland with mosaic tributes to the many Australian men and women who have since been world surfing champions. The plaque at the site adds "It is hoped that this Park and the men and women it honours, will help to fulfil Duke's dream of surfboard riding becoming an Olympic sport."

I've posted a whole heap more photos at Sydney Daily Photo Extra. It was so hard to choose one,so here's another:

Freshwater Beach (and Manly Beach in the background)
Thanks to PB for telling me how to find the statue; I only got lost a few times!

Monday, 9 October 2006

Private schools, public purse

Australia, unlike most western countries, heavily funds private schools, including the most elite. This is Cranbrook, alma mater of some of Australia's best known corporate crooks. The federal government spends 72% of its education dollars on the private schools which 32% of students attend (yes, you read that right!)

Last year Cranbrook recorded a net surplus of $4.1 million and received $3.3 million in government funding. To attend Cranbrook as a day boy in Years 11 and 12 costs $ 19 738 a year, plus a $ 600 IT levy. Materials for Art and design and technology cost extra. They charge a non-refundable enrolment fee of $ 4 615. And don't forget tax-deductible donations. Private schools qualify as "charities" and don't pay any tax or council charges.

Meanwhile, Catholic schools, which receive the largest amounts of government funding of all private schools, are offering a handful of scholarships to handpicked Aboriginal students currently in Catholic promary schools, "to ensure they are not lost to the public education system." Selection criteria are not yet known, but "will probably be based on academic performance and leadership skills."

I suppose the private Catholic schools don't mind about losing the rest to the desperately under-funded public system as long as they can pick the students they want?

Sydney Morning Herald - Private Schools Are Awash With Cash
Sydney Morning Herald - Schools aid to ensure Aborigines go Catholic

Do private schools attract government funding where you are? Are public school resourced to the level where all kids' needs are met before private choice is funded?

Sunday, 8 October 2006

Fruit shop

I'm alittle disappointed there are no spare apostrophes floating around. .. sometimes known as Greengrocers' apostrophes - eg orange's, lemon's . . . anywhere there is a plural! But there's a good line in abbreviation: anyone guess what a Leb Cue is?

Saturday, 7 October 2006

Overhead power

'twas a grey old day in Sydney on Friday. Unfortunately, no rain, just dull and grey. Still it made a nice canvas for this shot of overhead power lines and the telco cable.

New developments in Sydney are supposed to have them all underground, but the government recently caved into developers and are still letting them get away with this nonsense. This is one of the most annoying things about life in Sydney - developers rule the roost. But it's no wonder. Political parties just love the big fat donations from developers.

The thick cable across the middle belongs to telco Optus (majority owner Singtel of Singapore). Telstra, the former monopoly provider placed their cables underground, but Optus weren't allowed access, so their cables are slung along below the power lines. Ugly, ugly and ugly.

Does your city have power and telco cables underground or overhead?

Friday, 6 October 2006

Back in the pool

After a few days of sloth and cream cakes on holidays, it was back in the pool today. The good thing about being off work is I can sleep right through 5:40 when the alarm usually goes off, and turn up at the pool at 1.30pm to find I'm seemingly the only one not at work!

This evening we went to see the new Robert Altman film A Prarie Home Companion. Loved it. especially Meryl Streep - the woman is a genius (I reckon!)

Thursday, 5 October 2006

Wednesday, 4 October 2006

The "Cave House" at Sylvania

This place has been giving passers-by a giggle for at least 25, maybe 30 years. For decades, the house behind the "cave" was unfinished - the second storey was just a concrete slab (of the kind you might see in a Greek or Turkish village) with metal reinforcement sticking out of it.

Reputedly the result of a property dispute, neither the "cave house" in front could be demolished, nor the new house behind finished.

Now that the dispute is seemingly resolved after all these years, the "cave house" is still used as a sort of front yard storage shed.

After decades of meaning to, I stopped to take a photo today as we drove back from our short South Coast break. At least it hadn't been demolished entirely in the 5 days we have been away. . . that would have been a real blow after 30-odd years! !

Monday, 2 October 2006

Felix The Cat

One from the vault today. This is from the walk between Luna Park and Lavender Bay. I recommend it.

On the sculpture walk between Luna Park and Lavender Bay. Some claim that Felix was first by New Jersey cartoonist Otto Messmer. Others say that Felix was the brainchild of Australian cartoonist and film entrepreneur, Pat Sullivan.

Wikipedia says:

evidence seems to back up both claims. However, many historians, such as John Canemaker argue that Messmer ghosted for Sullivan. Other historians disagree. What is certain is that the cat emerged from Sullivan's studio.

Sunday, 1 October 2006

Water taxi, Darling Harbour

The first of the month brings Daily Photo Theme Day - this month Taxis. Here's a Sydney water taxi.

I am having a few days break with my family on the NSW South Coast. Not sure whether I can post from there - mobile phones don't often work, so what chance wireless internet??? I have posted some photos below so you can feast your eyes on the place that most nourishes my soul, until we return later in the week.

Follow these links to see taxis around the world (PS posted early as I leave on holiday, so come back later to see the other taxis if they're not up already):

Porto -Albuquerque -London -Seattle -Edinburgh -Willamette Valley, -Greenville -Budapest -Antigua -Alexandria, VA -Manila -Szentes -Paris -Portsmouth -Ryde -Sydney (Sally) -Oulu -Singapore -Santiago -Melbourne -Dubai UAE -Bandung -Copenhagen -Sequim -Singapore -Tenerife -Newcastle upon Tyne -Hong Kong - Shanghai -Brussels -San Diego, -Sydney (Nathalie) -