Thursday, 31 May 2007

Blues Point Tower

This particular carbuncle on the shore of Sydney Harbour was vigorously defended by its architect, Harry Seidler, right to the last. (Didn't stop Seidler whingeing about the noise from nearby Luna Park when he lived in an apartment in a building he designed, overlooking Luna Park).
I guess we can just be thankful that Seidler's vision of similar towers covering this headland never came to realisation.

And if you are interested, I have published all the Sydney Daily photos I've posted featuring the Harbour Bridge - click here.

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Boys at the hairdresser

We're probably all familiar with the clichéd images of women at the "beauty parlour" (think Wilma and Betty in The Flintstones!), so I was quite taken with the boys at the hairdresser in Chinatown, particularly seeing as dyed hair and exotic designs are so popular amongst young Asian men at the moment.

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

The Meccano Set, Lansvale

The intersection of Liverpool Road (the Hume Highway), Woodville Road and Henry Lawson Drive at Lansdowne has, for decades, been universally known as 'The Meccano Set', and I think that is its official name now (at least that's how it appears on street directories). It's a Sydney icon.

If you don’t know what a Meccano set is, click here.
You can find out more here and here.

Monday, 28 May 2007

Bass Hill Drive-In

Have you ever been to a Drive-In theatre? Along with ten-pin bowling alleys and courtyard motels, they were an iconic part of 1950s and 60s culture, imported from the US.

I used to love going when I was a kid. Usually there would be a small playground under the screen where kids could play. Many would arrive dressed in their pyjamas, so if they went to sleep in the car they could get put straight into bed when the family got home.

The people who live here must feel like they are there every night! Bass hill is a twin screen theatre, so there is another screen, showing a different movie at the other end of the lot. You just park your car in the direction of the movie you want to see. It was closed when I went past, but here's some great pics.

You can check here to see what' s showing tonight.

To read all about Australian drive-ins, have a look at this website, starting with Bass Hill, one of only two left open in Sydney. And here's a doco, American Drive-In Movie Memories.

And here's one on the history of the drive-in theatre.

Sunday, 27 May 2007

How to recycle a cinema: Panania

St Christopher's Roman Catholic church at Panania used to be an art deco (1930s) cinema, The Panania Star (thanks Jill!) . It's one of the oldest buildings in this quiet Sydney suburb.

What else is there to say about Panania? Well, cricketing twins Steve and Mark Waugh were Panania boys who attended Panania Public School; and actor Bryan Brown hails from here. The nearby Revesby Workers' Club has held a Bryan Brown Film Festival (now called the Reel Deal Film Festival, with Brown as patron). It also provides a $5000 film study scholarship called the Bryan Brown Film Scholarship - so budding film-makers, get the details here!

If you've never heard of Bryan Brown - here he is. In this article, Bryan said: "When I was growing up, no one ever thought about being an actor," he said. "I went to Panania Pictures and it was Tarzan or westerns or Rin Tin Tin."

And if you haven't heard of Mark and Steve Waugh, then you are from a non-cricket country; otherwise you've been under a log for a few decades! (Waugh fans - click on that link - it's great! I'm a fan - my son was coached tennis by their dad at one time. ) . Haven't got a quote from the Waughs about whether they frequented the Panania Star as well.

I'm off to Milperra now, home of another Australian sporting great. . . see you tomorrow.

Saturday, 26 May 2007

Sorry Day

Only forty years ago, the original inhabitants of Australia, the Aboriginal people, were not counted as people in Australia. A referendum held on May 27, 1967 enabled a change to occur which meant that the Australian Constitution was changed in two ways, so that the Commonwealth government would be able to make laws relating to Aboriginal people*, and allowing Aboriginal people to be counted in the national census* (more about the changes below).

Forty years ago tomorrow, more than 90 per cent of Australians voted in favour of the changes.

One important outcome has been that the referendum has acquired a symbolic meaning in relation to a period of rapid social change during the 1960s.

Many injustices were (and many remain) evident. In 1965, Aboriginal Freedom Rides were organised, whereby buses of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people visited country towns where there were, for example, laws preventing Aboriginal people using local swimming pools.

Throughout white history of Australia, children had been forcibly removed from their families.

Ten years ago, on May 26, 1997, a Human Rights and Equal Opportunity presented the findings of the National Inquiry into the separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families - the "stolen generation" - in a report entitled Bringing Them Home. This part of our history still affects many Aboriginal people today. It is not ancient history, it is part of the experience lived by many able to tell their story today. Many many of the recommendations have never been implemented, including a refusal by the federal government to say "Sorry" (hence the naming of today "Sorry Day"). Others (mainly but not exclusively, non-Aboriginal) argue that such symbolism is now unnecessary - it is all too long ago, and there are other things to get on with; others argue that without truth and acknowledgement of past wrongs, little can be achieved in the future.

In 1991, a Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths In Custody presented its report. Many of the recommendations are yet to be properly implemented. Further information here.

On May 28, 2000, more than 250 000 people walked across Sydney Harbour Bridge in support of reconciliation, and more than a million Australians across the country participated in similar marches. My blog on 26 January this year shows the plaque commemorating the event. And below are my (scanned) photos from that day.

There's a walk and gathering in Sydney today to mark these occasions. Unfortunately I can't attend but above is a copy of an Artist Trading Card I made recently, called 'Hands Up For Reconciliation'.

* The first was a phrase in Section 51 which stated that the Federal Government had the power to make laws with respect to "the people of any race, other than the Aboriginal race in any State, for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws." (This is known as the "race power.") The referendum removed the phrase "other than the Aboriginal race in any State," giving the Commonwealth the power to make laws specifically to benefit Aboriginal people.

* The second was Section 127, which said: "In reckoning the numbers of the people of the Commonwealth, or of a State or other part of the Commonwealth, Aboriginal natives shall not be counted." The referendum deleted this section from the Constitution.

More info about significant events in Aboriginal history.

My Reconciliation Walk photos from 28 May 2000.

It was amazing being part of such a huge crowd with hope int heir hearts and goodwill. Unfortunately, Aboriginal life expectancy is still 17 years below that of non-Aboriginal Australians, education outcomes are poorer, and infant mortality unacceptable high. Despite the stereotypical image, the majority of Aborigines live in urban and regional, populated areas, not the remote areas of the outback. Most of those Aborigines have long been dispossesed of their land and clan and family identity.

Friday, 25 May 2007

The Boatshed, Picnic Point

A quiet spot in the sun on the Georges River at Picnic Point.

Quite a lot of photos recently along the Georges River. I have been wandering around on Sundays as my son plays cricket in parks nearby.

The Georges (named by Governor Arthur Phillip after King George III) is a beautiful river which travels through the southwestern and southern suburbs before flowing into Botany Bay. Downstream of Liverpool Weir it is tidal and salt water. Unfortunately the river became extremely polluted due to industrial and sewerage waste, but in recent years efforts have been made to clean it up.

For many years the suburbs along Henry Lawson Drive (eg Padstow, Revesby, Panania, East Hills, Picnic Point, Milperra) have been quiet, working and middle class "backwaters". Nowadays, with Sydney real estate what it is, there's much re-development.

The southern bank contained much army land that was in its natural bushland state, but new suburbs, like Voyager Point which I showed a couple of days ago, are now being carved out.

The Georges River National Park at least means parts of the beautiful rocky landscape and bush are preserved.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

RIP Byrnesy

It has become very common in recent years in Australia to see impromptu memorials set up along roadsides where people have been killed in road accidents.

This memorial in East Hills is the most elaborate I've ever encountered. It includes messages written all over the road surfaces and telegraph poles.
Are roadside memorials a feature of your city or country?

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Voyager Point

Across the footbridge from yesterday, and we find .... another suburb of McMansions being carved out of the bush on former defence department land.

Click here to see an aerial photo (while the footbridge was being constructed). These two houses are clearly visible - they are the ones on the corner closest to the bridge.

You can also see in the aerial photo the gateway/entrance to this development which is called "The Sanctuary". A real sanctuary to the graffitists of the area, who have covered this and the walkway of the bridge itself with tags.

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Sunday on the Georges River at Milperra

Not famous? I'll take your picture!

I'm renowned for never recognising anyone famous if they come within my orbit, and unless there were neon signs pointing it out I could walk past The Pope in his Papamobile and not know it. So imagine my excitement when I thought I was standing at the traffic lights next to someone famous! But then, I got home, checked Google Images and based on chin, face, eyebrow and body shape realised I probably hadn't been standing next to Ben Elton. I wonder what this bloke thought about me taking his pic though?

Saturday, 19 May 2007

Not Napoleon Bonaparte

At least one person who visited Sydney left with the impression that this is a statue of Napoleon Bonaparte. She probably isn't the only one.

Despite the wonderful bicorn hat, this isn't the Little General. Nevertheless the subject of this sculpture by Marc Clark, which is in The Rocks, looking over Sydney Harbour, had a pretty interesting story.

He was William Bligh, was the fourth Governor of the colony of New South Wales (August 1806 - Jan 1808); the same Bligh who suffered mutiny on the Bounty in 1789. Bligh faced another mutiny in Sydney during the "Rum Rebellion" in 1808, when the military, known as the "Rum Corps", ordered his arrest. The Rum Rebellion was the only successful armed takeover of government in Australia's recorded history.
In 1809, Lieutenant Colonel Lachlan Macquarie arrived in Sydney (Governor 1810-1821) to restore order and the "Rum Corps" was ordered back to England.
Does anyone know the reason (or can anyone make up a story!) why the British military was known as the "Rum Corps" ?
The Rum Rebellion is one of the most interesting stories of Australia's colonial history. If you are interested, you can read more about it here. And here's an interactive graphic novel about William Bligh. Perhaps a better memorial to Bligh is the replica of the Bounty that sails around Sydney Harbour these days. It was built for the movie starring Mel Gibson.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Tom Ugly's Bridge from Blakehurst

Trusting cyclist

This is an unusual sight in Sydney, where not too many people cycle to work, and where those who do usually wear much more casual clothing. Last time I saw such a well-dressed woman riding a bike to work was in Paris. But in Paris they place their handbags in a basket over the handlebars. I am sure opportunist bag-snatchers are at work in Sydney too!

Must add (adopt best school teacher voice): she was breaking 3 laws at the time. Can anyone tell me what they were? One you can quite plainly see, one there is a clue in the photo, and one you probably need to guess.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

The Silver Shish Kebab

Sculpture formally called "Pyramid Tower" and usually known as the "silver shish kebab", by Bert Flugelman. It provoked some controversy when it was placed in Martin Place. Former Lord Mayor, Frank Sartor is said to have disliked it so much, he had it removed from that location in 1996. It disappeared from sight for a while, until it came to its present site on the corner of Pitt and Spring Sts.
More about Flugelman here and here.
I've always liked it. I also think it is a good setting - better than Martin Place, actually. Martin Place is wide and lined by colonial sandstone buildings (and some appalling modernist intruders). I think it looks good here amongst glass and concrete, with the narrow streetscape behind. What do you think?

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

"Wedding Cake" style house

This house sits next door to a little Victorian cottage (see below), which is on the local Heritage List. In 100 years' time, will "Wedding Cake Style" be viewed with the same affection as this small cottage, and the large Victorian I showed yesterday? Bear in mind that until very recently, many of the larger Victorians were seen as ugly and useless and demolished. I suppose it asks you to make a value judgement about taste and style. Tastes change, and the value placed on "the old" changes too.

These "look at me" style houses are being built not only in newly developing suburbs, but are popular in older suburbs where people buy old houses, demolish and rebuild. . Often they are built by immigrants from 30-50 years ago, who have made a successful new life in Australia. These house shreik "status". Some social pundits reckon they're all about letting the people back in the old country know what a successful life has been made in the new country.

This one is better than some - at least the garage doesn't completely dominate the entire front of the house.

Notice the little faux gable, with a nod to Federation (early 20th century) style!

Monday, 14 May 2007


There are many beautiful examples of Victorian architecture in my local area. I've previously posted about Gladstone and Wentworth and Dapeto. This Italianate beauty is named 'Cairnsfoot', and is now used as a public school for children with learning disabilities.
Cairnsfoot was built by Irish immigrant Edward Manicom Farleigh in 1884. He and his wife and ten children, and then descendents, lived there until 1955. His wife lived there until her death, aged 98 in 1939. The last remaining Farleigh, daughter Elizabeth, died in 1955, when it was purchased by the Department of Education who have since restored it.

Sunday, 13 May 2007

Saturday afternoon play, Surry Hills

Yesterday was a "run around and do chores" kind of day; not much time for smelling the roses, or taking fabby photos!

I took our son to his music lesson (drums) and sat in this tiny park while I waited. These "big boys" were enjoying themselves kicking a ball in the nearly gloomy light of late afternoon. I like this pocket-handkerchief sized park, surrnded as it is by high rise redevelopment on the dge of the CBD (that's 'downtown' for Americans! CBD= Central Business District).

Saturday, 12 May 2007

Friday, 11 May 2007

Being immodest

Seems self-congratulations are in order. I have no idea who nominated Sydney Daily Photo, or who voted, but it seems I won a category (Best Aussie Photoblogger) in a competition run on Best Hotels of Australia website (whoever they are). Check out the other winners - they're terrific!

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Vintage cars

Model vintage cars for sale at the monthly market in the grounds of St George Hospital.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

NOT a corner in Paris!

But the corner of Elizabeth and Market Streets in Sydney. Should I call in for one of those incredibly expensive squares of silk every Parisian woman seems born knowing how to wear?

Monday, 7 May 2007

Sydney's Underground Railway - St James Station

My favourite station on Sydney's underground loop - St James - with its lovely wrought iron and polished wood rails and balustrades.

Sydney's rail network is extensive. A very small portion if it goes underground, in the central city. However, it is a heavy rail network; we don't have a Metro-type rail system - fast-moving and high capacity. At last, it seems there is some discussion about providing Sydney with a metro style system - sometime over the next few decades!

Sunday, 6 May 2007

May Day

Marchers leave Hyde Park. Lots more photos at Sydney Daily Photo Extra

Today Sydney has its traditional May Day rally and march, held on the Sunday closest to May 1. Is May Day as a trade union / workers' festival celebrated where you are?
In NSW, we have a public holiday for "Labour Day" in October, which celebrates the introduction of the 8 hour working day (ha!) , won first by striking masons at Holy Trinity Church, in Millers Point, in October 1855. The major success came in 1856 in Melbourne, where the 8 hour day was won across the building trades.
The first Monday in October holiday was gazetted across all NSW in 1963, not without controversy in areas like Newcastle, which had a strong May Day tradition.
Read more about Newcastle here.
(The ACT and South Australia share the NSW Labour Day date; in Victoria, it's the 2nd Monday in March, as well as in Tasmania, where it's called eight Hour Day; in Western Australia, it's the 1st Mon in March. Only Queensland and the Northern territory have their Labour Day holiday on the 1st Monday of May.)
PS - for pedants, "Labour" is sometimes spelled the 'American' way - Labor - in Australia, because that was the spelling adopted by the Australian Labor Party in 1912. According to the ALP's own history, it was because of the influence of the American labor movement.
Maybe we're as schizophrenic about the spelling of Labour/Labor as about celebrating Labour Day/May Day?

Saturday, 5 May 2007


Shipwright Bay, Blakehurst on the Georges River. Lots of very pricey real estate around here, as with all of Sydney's waterways. The mansion in the background last sold for about $10 million I think.

Friday, 4 May 2007

Sandstone overhang and container ship, Botany Bay

Sandstone is a feature of the Sydney landscape. This beautiful overhang, enahnced by honeycomb weathering, is near the entrance to Botany Bay.

Thursday, 3 May 2007

Tom Ugly's Bridge

When residents of Sydney's southern-most suburbs, in the Sutherland Shire, talk about going "across the bridge", they don't mean the Sydney Harbour Bridge. They're talking about Tom Ugly's between Blakehurst and Sylvania, or the Captain Cook bridge between Sans Souci and Taren Point.

This 3-lane box girder bridge was built in 1929. On the other side, there is another, more prosaic, concrete bridge, built in 1987 to alleviate traffic congestion.

Tom Uglys Bridge took its name from the southernmost part of Blakehurst, known as Tom Uglys Point. There is debate about how the Point got that name. Theories include:
  • An Aborigine by that name lived at Tom Ugly's Point in a cave;
  • It was named after an old fisherman by the name of Tom Illigley;

  • Named after Tom Huxley, a caretaker on a large estate. The Aborigines who visited him could not pronounce his name so it became Tom Hoogli which in turn became Tom Ugly's;

  • Named after an Aborigine called Tommy who had only one leg, and who in the Aboriginal nomenclature was called "Waggerly" Tom (waggerly being the Aboriginal word for lame animal). Later on he was called Tom Waggerly which was finally changed to Tom Ugly.

Read more here.