Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Things Past Part 3: Edmondson tickets.

At Central Station there is a nice little display of railway heritage in the beatifully restored old ticket office.

The Edmondson railway ticket was a system for validating the payment of railway fares, and accounting for the revenue raised, introduced in the 1840s. It is named after its inventor, Thomas Edmondson, a trained cabinet maker, who became a station master on the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway in England. He introduced his system on the Manchester and Leeds Railway.

The tickets were printed on cards about 1 inch by 2 inches (2.5 by 5 cm), and were numbered. When the ticket was issued, it was date-stamped by a custom-made machine. The tickets to different destinations and of different types were stored in a lockable cupboard where the highest number of each issue was visible. Different colours and patterns helped distinguish the different types of tickets.

Edmondson tickets were phased out in NSW from 1991.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Things Past Part 2: Platform Tickets

Platform ticket machines were introduced in the 19th century, to allow non-travellers access to country train platforms for farewelling and greeting people. In 1993, with the introduction of computerised ticketing they became redundant. This machine is in the rail heritage centre at Central Station.

I remember these ticket machines at Central Station. I am sure my family probably bought them when they farewelled me on the train to Perth when I went to a Girl Guide trip there in 1972. It was, and still is, a 3 day journey across the continent. I remember listening to the Olympic Games from Munich broadcast on the radio, and being very excited as Shane Gould, who is the same age as me, won swimming medals. While we were in Perth the tragedy of the massacre in the Olympic village occurred.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Things Past Part 1: Glassons Foundry

I love this fading sign from a former era, and the patchwork of bricks forming the wall. This is in the Wolli Creek / Tempe House development area. The contrast is stark. Geographers call this kind of development "brownfields" (as opposed to "greenfields", where there has been nothing previously.)

I have mixed feelings about it. High rise development brings more traffic, and light industrial areas are forced to move further afield, meaning working class jobs are kept "out of sight" and further and further from the centre of the city. Affordable housing in the immediate area is replaced by apartments for white-collar workers (average prices for these boxes are $400 000 and upwards for 2 bedrooms). Still, more homes are needed for an expanding population, and there must be limits to the sprawl of big cities, surely? This area is close to established public transport as well. Maybe I'm just fuelled by a misplaced sense of nostalgia?

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Leucospermum Watch

On 7 August this year I showed you this leucospermum shrub (left) in a nearby street, and decided to go and visit regularly to record its progress. I've been making posts on Sydney Daily Photo Extra showing changes each time I visit.
It's developed much more colour now, and thought it was time to bring it back here. Still haven't seen anyone outside the house to talk to about it.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Longer lasting *censored*

On 7 July this year I brought you this billboard (left), many of which had appeared all over Sydney. It advertises a product designed to make male erections last longer.

Between then and now a group of complainants have been successful in having a ruling made by the Advertising Standards Bureau that they be removed. People complained on the grounds that they "sexualise children" and are "too confronting".
The offending word was "SEX" so the company ran a competition to see what could replace the offending word. Here's their answer.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

They're just looking at the view...

....from Circular Quay station while waiting for the train; watching ferries come and go and the people walking along the Quay.
In fact it's the view on the masthead photo on this blog.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008


One of the native harbingers of spring is the wattle. This is golden wattle (acacia pycnantha), Australia's floral emblem. It was introduced to the northern hemisphere in the 1800s.

Wattle is sometimes called "Mimosa", and in fact my house name is "Mimosa" (it had that name from when it was built about 100 years ago)

September 1 is officially designated National Wattle Day (I'm a bit late this year!). Australia's sporting colours are green and gold, apparently derived from the wattle.

Wattle, though not specifically the Golden Wattle, is also depicted on the Australian Coat of Arms.

Monday, 22 September 2008


Container truck stuck under the railway bridge on Wollongong Rd, Arncliffe. 5pm Sunday 21 September.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Tempe House - then and now (Tempe House Tour Part 8)

To finish this series about Tempe House I was keen to take some photos from similar vantage points from which 19th century artists depicted it. These were taken from Kendrick Park in Tempe, across the Cooks River.

Many people and heritage organisations argue that the Wolli Creek development has ruined the context and setting of Tempe House, and I agree. Others say that, sadly, it was the only way the house could be preserved at all. That is probably true too. In the 1990s the state government was lobbied to buy the site and restore the house, as the only one of its architect, Verge, still in its original setting, with no bulk behind. They declined.

I think it is such a shame that a development of this size and bulk was presented as the only option. Sadly, in Sydney, developers are allowed to extract every cent they can. Promises were also made that there would be public access, including the parkland sweeping down to the river, but it has never been open as far as I know, and the house, while beautifully restored by renowned heritage architectures is sitting unused and inaccessible (other than to curious bloggers who scramble up rock faces, scale walls and straddle fences...and to the owners of the apartments who have private access through electronic codes on gates.)

Postscript: This afternoon I went into the city to see an exhibition at the Museum of Sydney called Lost Gardens of Sydney. The garden of Tempe House is one of those featured.

Below: Taken 18 Sep 2008

Below: Cooks River Tempe House by Conrad Martens, 1838

Below: 18 September 2008

Below: Tempe House by Samuel Elyard, 1836
Below: Cooks River with Tempe House by James Clarke. I couldn't get a similar vantage point because the railway bridge now runs at the right, and the river is obscured by trees in the park

Saturday, 20 September 2008

From Tempe House to Cook's River (Tempe House Tour Part 7)

One of the positives of the development at Wolli Creek is the rehabilitation of the parkland sweeping down to the Cook's River. Alexander Brodie Spark once had a bathing pavilion on the river.

Unfortunately we have heard nothing about this space being publicly available, as was promised to the communtiy.

The suburb across the river is Tempe, named after the house.

Tomorrow: looking across the river from the other side.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Wolli Dancing (Tempe House Tour Part 6)

Wolli Dancing relates to the Wolli tradition; a place that represents openness, which expresses joy, such as dancing. It captures the sensation and enthusiasm of the performers.

Artist Blaze Krstanoski-Blazeski. Unveiled 18 June 2008.

I'm also dancing to celebrate my loving mum's 80th birthday today!

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Tempe House - the facade and Mount Olympus (Tempe House Tour Part 4)

Spark died in October 1856. There were no obituaries, and he is buried in an unmarked grave in St Peter’s Church cemetery, Tempe. he had already lost the house to trustees.

In December 1856 there was a partial subdivision of Tempe Estate into 123 suburban lots of between ½ and 2 acres. There was little interest and it was withdrawn in April 1859 and re-sub-divided.

The house and 11 surrounding acres were one lot, and the remainder were 1 to 20 acres.

Tempe was bought by two bachelor brothers, Patrick and Thomas Maguire of George St, Sydney. They paid £ 2000. Neither brother ever lived at Tempe, and it was occupied by a series of wealthy tenants. It was known as Greenbank at this time. The large block of flats immediately behind Tempe House is named Greenbank. The other is named Verge.

Probably the most notable tenant was Caroline Chisholm, dubbed “the immigrants’ friend”. She leased it to run “an educational establishment for young ladies”, until ill-health forced her to abandon it. Chisholm was once on the Australian $5 note, but lost that position when the $1 and $2 notes were replaced by coins. It is tradition to have the monarch's head on the lowest denomination note, so Queen Liz got the gig.

In 1885 the house passed into the hands of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan of St Benedict who operated it as St Magdalen’s Retreat for destitute women from 1884 to 1983.

Gradually the function changed from accommodation for destitute women to one primarily for women unable to find employment and in danger of prostitution. Former prostitutes, ex-prisoners and alcoholics were accommodated for two years to work in the laundry, dairy or poultry yard. Younger women were taught cooking, sewing and other domestic duties.

Originally the women accommodated were all volunteers, free to leave at any time, and then the courts increasingly referred young women judged to be in “moral danger”.

I believe that the house was sold to Qantas which had some plans to use it as a training base, but that never came to fruition. The house and grounds quietly disintegrated until it was eventually sold to developers, the results of which we see today.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Mount Olympus (Tempe House Tour Part 3)

The original owner of Tempe House, Alexander Spark Brodie had travelled extensively in Europe, having undertaken the classical gentleman’s Grand Tour of classical sites. As well as naming the estate “Tempe” after the Vale of Tempe in Greece, he named the rocky hill behind Mount Olympus.

Mount Olympus has had a piece sliced off it to accommodate the development.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Tempe House (Tempe House Tour Part 2)

Yesterday we were at the back of Tempe House, looking between the church and house. Today we look back in the other direction.

The house was built for a wealthy and successful Scottish émigré, Alexander Brodie Spark. After achieving business success in London, Spark applied to emigrate to Australia, and arrived in Tasmania on 21 January 1823. Finding that not to his liking, he moved on to Sydney where he arrived on 17 February 1823. He opened a general store in George St, and eventually moved into wool exportation, and owned a ship. He was a major shareholder in the Bank of Australia.

On 10 August 1826, Spark purchased 110 acres of land on the south bank of the Cook’s River. The only way to cross the river was by boat. Spark had a private boatman, “Old Willy”.

Brodie was a great entertainer, and it soon became apparent that the cottage on the site was inadequate, so in 1834 he commissioned John Verge to design an arcadian villa with resemblance to a Greek temple. Verge was a major colonial architect, responsible also for Elizabeth Bay House and Camden Park at Menangle. Verge also designed Spark’s previous home, Tusculum, at Potts Point.

Tempe was completed in 1836, and Brodie made it his permanent home, leasing Tusculum, to the Anglican Bishop of Sydney.

Behind Tempe House (where we were yesterday)there was an orchard, greenhouse, shrubbery and gardener’s cottage. On the river he constructed a rococo bathing house. I'll feature the river in a later post, though, sadly, the bathing house is no more!

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Wolli Creek - a new suburb (Tempe House Tour Part 1)

Come with me over the next few days as we have a look around a "brownfields" housing development: the re-use of inner-urban land for modern housing development.

The Wolli (pronounced Woll-eye) Creek apartment development is in an area previously called North Arncliffe. It will house 7000 people, and is an example of creating a new suburb in an inner urban area. It was the site of light industry and a magnificent historic house, Tempe House which had fallen in to disrepair. Come with me over the next week or so while we take a stroll through the Tempe House area of Wolli Creek.

From 1884 to 1983, the house was occupied by Catholic nuns, the Magdalen Sisters, and the church dates from that time. It is now de-commissioned as a church. It is meant to function as some kind of community facility, but as yet, nothing seems to have happened there - it is always locked and off-limits.

Below: The church and Tempe House. Over the next week I will tell you more about Tempe House.

View Larger Map

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Enjoying the sun

I couldn't resist this last shot from my lunchtime walk in the Domain, featured over the last two days. That's St Mary's Cathedral in the background, Sydney's Roman Catholic cathedral.

After all the activity from the past two days, I was interested to read this letter in today's Sydney Morning Herald:

Do people train in public parks where you are? Is there debate about it?

In an obesity crisis, parks are exercising their greed
September 13, 2008

I would like to call attention to the policy of local councils and parkland governing bodies charging personal trainers a licensing fee for the use of public parks. On the surface this may not seem a serious problem, but outdoor personal trainers are being driven out of business.

The Botanic Gardens Trust has cracked down on the annual $1144 licence for using the Domain, with threats of $355 fines for being unlicensed.

The official reason for this permit is to regulate the uninsured and unregistered trainers from using the Domain. In fact it's a transparent money grab. The authorities believe we are making a living out of the park, so they are putting their hand out for their cut.

I know of no trainer who can make a living from one park. I train clients at eight or nine different parks a week, paying about $10,000 a year in separate fees.

I understand the need to stop large fitness corporations dominating parks, as well as the problem of early morning noise from trainers in residential areas. But for a self-employed individual who trains a group of three people twice a week in the Domain, $1144 a year is a little steep.

We have our own insurance for our clients, which takes the burden off the councils; we are professionals who train our clients safely, compared with joggers and groups of mates who play football in the park at lunchtime for nothing.

With a serious obesity rate in Australia, which the Australian Bureau of Statistics says costs $21 billion annually in associated illnesses, councils should be encouraging people to train with professional personal trainers to improve their health and fitness, not forcing us to abandon clients due to the economic burden of training them in outdoor areas.

Shannon Bell Balmain

Friday, 12 September 2008


Two sphinx guard the entrance to the Domain opposite the Art Gallery of NSW. And keep an eye on the lunchtime joggers.

I wonder what they think, but it's just an enigma.

Later: I forgot to mention that Edmund Capon, Director of the Art Gallery (opposite) once said that what Sydney needed was :"more art and less joggers" !

He was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald as complaining "...half-humorously about the daily despoilment of the city's parks by people with "smelly, untidy, unattractive" bodies and "holier-than-thou" faces.

Seeing as the AGNSW has just bought a Cézanne, maybe he is getting his wish....

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Lunchtime in The Domain

As the sign says:

Lunchtime office workers play ball games, take part in fitness groups, box, run, or just lie on the grass and relax (or like your loyal correspondent walk and take photos) in the lovely spring sunshine. (Yes, there were more men than women running around, but there were also women being active - boxing, fitness class, running....I just didn't get any decent pictures!)

What did you do at lunchtime today, or plan to do?

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Spring is sprung

On 2 Sep, ie 8 days ago I showed you the dental hospital with London plane trees (Sydney's predominant street planting). I said they were just strating to come into leaf. Now a week later, look how far the plane trees have come! These aren't the same ones, but about 100m away along the same stretch of Elizabeth St. I took this photo this morning.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

The Garrison Church

The colony's first military church, was built in 1840 for the soldiers to attend services. It was enlarged in 1855 to accommodate 600 people. It is still used, and still associated with the armed forces. The architects were Henry Ginn and Edmund Blacket.

It is found in the oldest part of Sydney, The Rocks.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Police Station, The Rocks

The traditional blue police light in The Rocks.

Why are police associated with the colour blue in so many places - blue uniforms, the thin blue line, blue lights, blue call boxes (the most famous of which is the TARDIS*: and if you don't know what that is, well, you've led a culturally deprived life ;-) ?

It seems it dates back to the first organised police force in the world, Sir Robert Peel's Metropolitan Police in London.

When formed in 1829 it was decided that their uniform should be completely different in all ways to the uniform worn by the military which had been used for policing major disorder in London and the rest of the country. So, they had a civilian uniform of blue high collared tailcoat, worn with white trousers and hardened top hats, as opposed to red uniforms of the military. The top hats, by the way served the dual purpose of providing head protection and acting as a step to allow officers to climb or see over walls!

* TARDIS: see here

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Ned Kelly

Ned Kelly was Australia's most notorious bushranger. This stall in The Rocks Market sells stylised wall hangings based on the famous suit of armour which Ned fashioned from iron.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Smart in Surry Hills

Apparently the inner city suburb of Surry Hills has the highest proportion of Smart cars in Australia. A great idea as the streets are narrow, and parking not readily available. I wouldn't mind taking one for a spin - have you driven one?

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Vale Alan Waddell

Very sad news arrived yesterday. Alan Waddell, aged 94, who has been such an inspiration to many died at 3am yesterday morning. Alan had been in poor health for a few months. In 2002, after his wife of 60 years died, Alan took up walking, and set himself the task of walking every street in Sydney's 232 suburbs. His adventures have been resorded on his website Walk Sydney Streets, with the help of his sons John and Graham. In an interview Alan said: "I know that Marj wouldn’t have wanted me to just sit around and give up on life, so I started walking some nearby streets and it grew from there.”

Walk Sydney Streets will be maintained into the future by his family, as a backlog of photos is posted; it is sure to bring many more delights.

Farewell, Alan - you brought fun and whimsy, a wicked sense of humour, and a sense of old-fashioned, priceless wonderment into many hearts, including mine. I never met Alan face to face, but I always had hope that one day our paths would cross in real life as well as the cyberworld. His memory will come with me as I pursue my own projects on foot around this city we share such a love of. My condolences to Alan's family who are part of the universal family of the blogosphere.

The Sydney Morning heral tribute to Alan can be found here.

Thankyou to John for permission to use the photos from Alan's site

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Dental Hospital

The Dental hospital at 5.31 pm as I headed home from work. The setting sun reflected on the west facing facade caught my eye. (PS The trees are just starting to shimmer the merest hint of spring leaf growth...you can't see it here, and is barely discernible to the eye, but I'll try for a photo as soon as I can)

Monday, 1 September 2008

Sister Cities : The Bonds of Friendship

Above: Sculpture in Loftus St, Sydney called The Bonds of Friendship. It commemorates the sister city relationship between Sydney and Portsmouth, England (for more about the sculpture and its significance - see the text at then end of this post*). This relationship goes to the very origins of Australia as a nation; the First Fleet bringing the first convicts to what was then known as New South Wales, left Portsmouth on 13th May, 1787, arriving at Sydney Cove on 26 January 1788. There is an identical sculpture at Sally Port (!!), Portsmouth, England:

Another link between Sydney and Portsmouth is that the first version of the naval cruiser, the Sydney, was commissioned in Portsmouth (not the more famous one sunk during World War 2). The first Sydney served during WW1 and was broken up on Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour in 1928.

Sydney has six sister cities (or does it?), and a sister port (which I've blogged before - see here).

The cities are San Francisco, Wellington, Nagoya, Florence, Portsmouth and Guangzhou. The port is Yokkaichi Port Authority, Japan. But, is there controversy? Is Wellington a sister city or not? Sydney City Council claims it is, but Wellington City Council has other ideas, relegating Sydney to the status of "Friendly City", saying "A friendly city relationship is less formal than a sister city relationship and it generally has a lower profile. It is likely to be a long term relationship, but the level of community support and involvement is not as high as with a full sister city relationship." So there, Sydney!

I've posted additional pics relevant to these cities on Sydney Daily Photo Extras.

Ann at Sydney Meanderings and Julie at Sydney Eye are also posting today, so we've divided the spoils. Julie is concentrating on Nagoya, and Ann has gone for Florence and San Francisco. That's why I'm bringing you Portsmouth (and some old pics of mine of Wellington and Guangzhou).

Below: Admiral Nelson's ship The Victory at Portsmouth (taken May 2003). We don't have a replica of that.

To see Sister Cities from all around the world click here to view thumbnails for all participants

Below: Pearl River, Guangzhou, May 1978. The river is now lined with skyscrapers.

Below: View of Wellington, New Zealand October 1984

* Sculpture - The Bonds of Friendship by John Robinson - further details.
The sculpture used to be located outside Customs House, closer to Sydney Cove where the First Fleet arrived. It has been moved about 250 metres inland, after disappearing altogether for a time around 2001.

The plaque in front of it says:

" This memorial commemorates the voyage and arrival in Sydney of the First Fleet which brought to Australia its forst European settlers under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip R.N. The fleet sailed from Portsmouth on 13 May 1787 and anchored in Sydney Cove at a spot just north of this memorial on 26th January 1788.

The fleet comprised eleven ships: H.M.S. Sirius Flagship, H.M.S Supply and armed tender, six transports Alexander, Lady Penrhyn, Charlotte, Scarborough, Friendship and the Prince of Wales, together with three store ships Fishburn, Golden Grove and Borrowdale. At departure they carried a total complement of about 1487 who embarked at Plymouth, Portsmouth and The Thames.

The plinth of the memorial was donated by the Fellowship of First Fleeters, all of whom are direct descendants of those who arrived with the First Fleet. The granite block above the plinth was quarried at Dartmoor, England and donated to the City of Sydney by the City of Portsmouth as a return gift for a similar block of granite from NSW given to them by this city. It was set in place by the Lord Mayor of Sydney on the 2nd July, 1980.

The sculpture Bonds of Friendship was presented by the Bank of N.S.W. It is a companion piece to one erected by the Lord Mayor's Australian Settlers Commemoration Committee of Portsmouth and which is located near the Sally Port at Portsmouth Harbour through which Captain Phillip and many of his fellow voyagers passed on their way to embark.

The Bonds of Friendship symbolises the closeness of the ties that were forged between Portsmouth and Sydney as a result of the voyage of the First Fleet and represents links in a chain joining both cities. It was designed by John Robinson. The donor, the Bank of New South Wales wa sthe first bank and the first corporation established in Australia."

Unveiled 17 September 1980.