Thursday, 30 November 2006

Industrial Relations Laws: "just not cricket" *

Police horses at Belmore Park in Sydney this morning, as workers assemble for a rally against the Howard government's workplace laws that take us back to the worst days of 19th century style exploitation. (Of course everyone was well-behaved and there was no need for the police and horses, but aren't they magnificent animals!)

The rally attracted 40 000 in Sydney, and 50 000 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in Melbourne, from where there was a satellite broadcast to 500 venues across Australia.

For more info about the issue, see the
ACTU Your Rights At Work website.

For more pictures of the rally and march, click here to go to my
Daily Photo Extras Blog.

Previous blogs on this issue:
No Laughing matter" - July 4 2006
March and rally - June 28 2006

News reports:
Sydney Morning Herald, The Melbourne Age - "Just not cricket"
* "Just not cricket" - a phrase meaning not in the spirit of fair play, derived from the idea that cricket is a "gentleman's game".

Wednesday, 29 November 2006

The Ashes

Cricket is Australia's national sport, and a passion for many around the world. "Test" cricket - the highest level international matches - are played between (in alphabetical order!) Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, the West Indies, Zimbabwe (currently suspended), and perhaps in the near future, Kenya.
Notice a pattern there? How come Canada got away? Climate maybe? Still, Canada has a national team, as does the Netherlands. There are various cricket competitions in the US, notably in California, where ex-pats form the backbone. I have even seen a flyer advertising cricket in Paris!
Test cricket bewilders many from non-cricketing countries. It is played over five days, for about 6 hours each day, and there are breaks for lunch and tea! "Drinks" are taken in the field midway through each "session". To fans, Test cricket is almost a zen experience. Conditions constantly change, and there is always the variable of the weather to consider... The Captain of the Australian cricket team is probably the most famous sportsperson in the country at any time.
"The Ashes" is the name given to any test series played between England and Australia. This occurs every 2 years, alternating between the countries. To find out more about why it's called "The Ashes" - read here.
Australia lost the last Ashes series in England, and is out to avenge their defeat! Australia won the first match in Brisbane. The second starts in Adelaide on Friday. The series finishes in Sydney the first week in January, with matches in Perth and Melbourne in between. After the Ashes, New Zealand comes over, and a triangular series of "One Day" matches (a different form of the game played within one day) will be contested between Australia, England and New Zealand. I'll be off to see a couple of those matches.

Tuesday, 28 November 2006

Christmas fare

A feast of red and purple to liven up an otherwise dull and grey day today. With the record breaking drought and much concern about climate change, I wish it would really rain - not the half-hearted efforts we've seen lately.

The round shaped packages wrapped in cloth are traditional plum puddings. Even though a northern hemisphere hot Christmas feast doesn't make too much sense in the heat of an Australian Christmas, and we usually stick to cold meats and salads, I am a sucker for plum pud. With custard. A true culinary highlight care of the Brits!

Monday, 27 November 2006

Weekend card game

It's hard rubbish collection time. On Saturday my son and his mates dragged in an old lounge, a couple of chairs and some other bits and pieces from out on the street into our backyard. They amused themselves turning it first into a cubby house, and then into a Yu-gi-oh tournament setting.

Meanwhile, out on the street, there's some kitchen equipment to add to the kitchen sink you may recently have picked up on the street in Paris!

Sunday, 26 November 2006

The Rising Sun as Australian Nationalist Symbol

The rising sun adorns the gables of countless houses of the Federation style (for my previous blog about this style of architecture: click here). It was a symbol of nationalism very popular at the beginning of the 20th century, representing the dawn of a new nation.

Australian soldiers began wearing the "slouch hat" in the latter part of the 19th century. In 1904, the Rising Sun badge was introduced, and in 1914, the hat, a khakhi hatband and the rising sun badge were combined as part of the official uniform, still worn by Australian soldiers. It gained iconic status in the battlefields of World War 1.

A brief history of the rising sun badge

Saturday, 25 November 2006

Sunrise II, Botany Bay

Sunrise over Botany Bay, 5:59 am, Thursday 23 November 2006
I took this photo 4 minutes after the one I posted yesterday, and as today was overcast at sunrise, I thought it might be nice to have another look at this one! I love the gold shine to everything. This is exactly how it was - no touch-ups to the photo.
Tomorrow I'm going to have a little bit more to say about the "rising sun" in a couple of Australian cultural contexts - the military, and architecture, so stay tuned!
Fo a look at more photos of this sunrise, click here (Sydney Daily Photo Extra)

Friday, 24 November 2006

Thursday, 23 November 2006

Boys Just Wanna Have Fun

This picture proves that 12 year old boys can walk on water (or at least stand on it!)
A heat wave has gripped Sydney and surrounds the past few days, and there are bushfires in many areas around the city, particularly in the Blue Mountains. It's good to have somewhere to cool off if you don't have to fight fires.

Wednesday, 22 November 2006

Circular Quay and The Rocks

In the background, Circular Quay, from whose docks (with the low, green roofs) ferries leave for points all around Sydney Harbour. The long, modern building in the middle left is the Overseas Passenger Terminal, where huge cruise ships berth (Nathalie posted one recently). The building in the centre was a warehouse of the Australasian Steam Navigation company (previous post). Behind it, the yellowy building was once the headquarters of the Water Board, but is now the acclaimed Museum of Contemporary Art. Finally, the line of warehouses in the foreground right are now (expensive) restaurants, very popular with tourists and their Sydney hosts. This is the oldest part of Sydney, known as "The Rocks".

Tuesday, 21 November 2006

Out on the patio...

Out on the patio we’d sit,
And the humidity we’d breathe,
We’d watch the lightning crack over canefields
Laugh and think, this is Australia.
This is Australia, this is Australia, this is Australia…
Gangajang - Sounds Of Then

Monday, 20 November 2006

Aboriginal canoe tree

Between Malua Bay and Moruya on the NSW south coast is this tree which once had the makings of an Aboriginal bark canoe carved from it. It's seen a bit of vandalism since, and is now surrounded by a high wire fence for protection. Pity that some people can't just leave alone, and value our shared cultural heritage.

This is near where I've been hanging out the past few days.

Sunday, 19 November 2006


Sorry I can't visit all my blogging friends around the world this weekend. I'm away from my usual post for a few days, and connecting via the world's slowest, seemingly steam-powered connection.

Hope you're having a great weekend, and your cameras are causing lots of smiles!

Saturday, 18 November 2006

Christmas windows

David Jones Department Store's animated Christmas windows were certainly a hit this morning with this young shopper! They seem to get earlier every year (and that's a self-portrait of my legs just to her right...)

In which other cities is Christmas frou-frou starting to appear?

Friday, 17 November 2006

Old main Post office

Now converted to a luxury hotel, and restaurants and shops (and retaining a small post office), this is part of the restored interior of the former GPO (General Post Office) in Martin Place, Sydney.

Thursday, 16 November 2006

David Jones Food Hall

This is the first time I have seen a lifelike sculpture in a commercial setting like a coffee bar in a department store food hall. I did a double take, and decided I really liked it. Pity I couldn't manoeuvre the garbage bin out of shot though.

Wednesday, 15 November 2006

Morning coffee

Time yesterday morning before work for a latte, and a catch-up with the tabloid newspaper, in the coffee shop in my building. (The article refers to a popular Australian actress who died of breast cancer the other day, at age 32)

Tuesday, 14 November 2006

Optometrist's window

This rather creative display in an optometrist's window caught my eye....

Sunday, 12 November 2006


The suburb of Kirribilli from the walkway on the northern side of the Harbour Bridge.

Saturday, 11 November 2006

Armistice Day - Remembrance Day - Poppy Day

They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the evening
We will remember them.
Lest we forget.
"Those who forget the past are condemned to relive it. " - George Santayana
Let us not forget the madness and horror of war.

At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, in 1918, the armistice officially ending World War One was signed in a railway carriage in a clearing in the forest at Compiègne in France. It marked the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front. War continued, however, across the former Russian Empire and in parts of the former Ottoman Empire.

My grandfather was one of the bright-eyed young Australians who fought this far-away war, "for God, King and Empire" (note the British flag in his photo). Unlike 60,000 of his countrymen, he survived Gallipoli, the Somme and Flanders, to come home and marry my grandmother (they met after the war). The picture centre bottom above is them on their honeymoon in the Blue Mountains.

The poppy's significance to Remembrance Day is a result of Canadian military physician John McCrae's poem In Flanders Fields. The poppy emblem was chosen because of the poppies that bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders, their red colour an appropriate symbol for the bloodshed. French woman Madame E. Guérin introduced the widely used artificial poppies given out and sold today.

Armistice Day - Remembrance Day - Poppy Day (Wikipedia)

Thursday, 9 November 2006

SOLD! A steal at a mere $7.1 million!

Sold for $7.1 million last week was 'Brise de Mer', the last remaining fully detached house on the Manly beachfront. A company with restoration credentials bought it. Until now it has been held by one family since 1917. It sits on 910 sq metres, and there is approval for a five-unit, six-storey apartment block in its backyard. Let's hope what rises behind is a little more attractive than what flanks it. More here. The outcome seems better than what was threatened a year ago.

Wednesday, 8 November 2006

Breakfast fruits

Summer's coming, so peaches, nectarines and mangoes are making an appearance. Cherries soon too. Just the thing for summer breakfasts (and all day, really!) . But it's the last appearance for this year of blood oranges, which I love to juice with ruby grapefruit, lemons and mandarins for my breakfast juice.

Tuesday, 7 November 2006

Gaudì-inspired seats, Neutral Bay

Today is my birthday. If I were made of money, I'd jet off to somewhere exotic. But I'll just remind myself of lovely Barcelona where I was earlier in the year, and count my blessings.

In 2002, mosaicist, Cynthia Turner, drew inspiration from Antonio Gaudì's famous benches in Parc Güell, Barcelona, in making these seats in Sydney's Neutral Bay.

Monday, 6 November 2006

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz, Newtown

As I passed by a shop in Newtown which was being set up - new stock being delivered - I glimpsed this fellow catching a few zzzzz's. Unfortunately, in my haste to capture it I didn't have the camera on the correct setting, so it's a bit out of focus. I like it anyway, "the moment" being the thing!

Sunday, 5 November 2006

Von Stauffenberg's Stamp

'Two Twisted' was a TV series of half hour shows, each with a mysterious twist at the end. An episode called 'Von Stauffenberg's Stamp' (Von Stauffenberg was the military officer who tried to assassinate Hitler) was filmed using both the exterior and interior of the Bexley Stamp Shop, which I went to today for some collectors' supplies.

The story involved a stamp dealer, and a barber, whose shops were next to each other. The real stamp shop owner told me they used a barber shop in another suburb, and melded the two together on screen, because this barber didn't want to take part.

Three of my favourite actors - Sam Neill, Roy Billing, and Wendy Hughes were in the show. So, a small local 'Brush With Fame'.

Saturday, 4 November 2006

Friday, 3 November 2006

In the backyard (not mine!)

I've shown a fair few front-of-house pics recently, so I thought we'd take a peek round the back. Here's a fairly typical suburban Sydney backyard - a swathe of buffalo grass lawn, a shed or garage at the side, an old outside toilet (probably converted into a garden shed now), a veggie patch, a traditional wooden paling fence on one side, and a Colourbond (metal) one on the other, and a Hills Hoist rotary clothes line - a miracle of Australian invention. When I was a kid, I had a toy one. Now there's one in the Museum of Melbourne, the National Museum in Canberra and the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney.

What 's your favourite memory of a childhood toy?

There's also another Aussie phenomenon happening in this pic - the house renovation at the back - the back deck, probably with the kitchen or family room opening on to the deck. Many of my neighbours are from Southern Europe or the Middle East, and they tend to spend a lot of their leisure hours at the FRONT of the house, sitting on porches or verandahs entertaining, sipping tea or coffee, and watching the world go by. Many have moved old chairs and sofas out the front for this purpose. Older Australians, in contrast, have traditionally spent their leisure hours in the backyard - gardening, pottering in the shed, having a barbecue, and so now often the first part of a house to receive a makeover is the back. It accounts for the enormous popularity of one TV show called "Backyard Blitz" where a team makes over a backyard in 48 hours.

Thursday, 2 November 2006

Andrew (Boy) Charlton pool, Woolloomooloo Bay

Sydney is blessed with lots of swimming pools. This one, on part of the Harbour called Woolloomooloo* Bay, with a redeveloped Finger Wharf behind, is beautifully located.

Andrew 'Boy' Charlton (the nickname comes from the fact that he was only 14 when he came to prominence, in 1921) won a gold medal at the 1924 Olympics in Paris, swimming 1500 metres in 20 mins 6.6 seconds. He swam in 1928 in 1932 Olympics, won a further 3 silver and 1 bronze medal, and broke 5 world records.

Pool website

*Woolloomooloo: The first wharves were built in the 1860s. It used to be a rough and tough wharves area, then a public housing area. These days, like everywhere, the millionaires have moved in (eg Russell Crowe owns an apartment in the wharf development), as, world-wide, poorer people are pushed out to allow the wealthy to own the best views and most convenient locations.

Woolloomooloo gets its name from a house of that name built by the first NSW Commissary General in 1801. There is debate about its derivation. From Wikipedia: "Anthropologist J.D. McCarthy wrote in NSW Aboriginal Places Names, in 1946, that Woolloomooloo could be derived from either Wallamullah, meaning 'place of plenty' or Wallabahmullah, meaning a 'young black kangaroo'.
In 1852, the traveller Col. G.C. Mundy wrote that the name came from Wala-mala, meaning an Aboriginal burial ground. It has also been suggested that the name means 'field of blood', due to the alleged Aboriginal tribal fights that took place in the area, or that it is from the pronunciation by Aboriginals of windmill, from the one that existed on Darlinghurst ridge until the 1850's."

Wednesday, 1 November 2006

Kevin Little - Stained Glass Artist

This is possibly the most exciting blog I have made. It's long, but I think worthwhile.
Today the DP Bloggers Theme Day is "Something That Will Soon Disappear". 51 bloggers are taking part (click links below)

Almost the first words Kevin Little said to me when I wandered into his workshop to ask him if I could take a photo of him at work were “I’ve been here for a long time, but not for much longer”.
Kevin is 75, and, one of, if not the, pre-eminent Australian stained glass artists. His workshop is right near where I live.

In its heydey, Kevin's business employed 30 artisans here and throughout country areas. He's had commissions from many of Sydney's leading institutions, includingthe Town Hall, Sydney Hospital and St Mary's Cathedral. But, he told me, "There’s not much of a living to be made any more from being a stained glass artist. “The Protestant churches don’t put in stained glass windows any more, and the almighty dollar rules everything. Even restoration jobs are done on the cheap these days” he said. Kevin also lamented the destruction of much of the stained glass in churches and houses as newcomers rip them out. [I'm pleased to say that we had Kevin repair one in our house when it was damaged a few years back.]

As well as work in glass, Kevin also restores furniture and all manner of things including a gorgeous grandfather clock he found in pieces in a kerbside junkout. He collects an array of things too vast to describe, and his studio/workshop is a veritable museum. Every object has a story, and the connections they weave between people are amazing.

Kevin took me on a tour of his world, and I especially loved seeing a couple of fragments of 14th century stained glass, and the “sweatshop” end of the studio, where Kevin showed me the traditional method of drawing a design in chalk, before tracing it on to paper.

See more photos of Kevin and his workshop here.

This is true artisanship, which is not going to be there for much longer.

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