Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Old Prince Henry Hospital - the former sewing cottage site

"This was the site of the sewing cottage a non-descript little building where sewing of nurses uniforms and general mending of clothing took place in the late 1800s and early 1900s."

I love this stylised treadle sewing machine.

Prince Henry Hospital, also called "The Coast Hospital" at Little Bay was closed in 2001, and the prime real estate upon which it sat is being converted to housing.

It was established in 1881 to cope with a smallpox epidemic. Little Bay was chosen because of its (then) isolation from the city.

PS - Little Bay in the background is where Christo and Jeanne-Claude wrapped the coast in 1969. See my previous blog entry about that event.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Inside Customs House

Taken from the top floor of the interior of Customs House (Cafe Sydney). The lower floors house a branch of the library of the City of Sydney. This green structure fills the atrium.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Seven Seas Mariner

Here's a close-up of the ship prominent in yesterday's photo. There's also the face of Luna Park lit up, under the far side of the Bridge.

I once organised a conference which included a very well-known overseas speaker. At his insistence, he was lodged in an apartment hotel with a view over the harbour. Imagine my thoughts as this prima donna whinged at me: "They've parked a HUGE ship which is blocking my view." I felt like spitting at him : "Would you like me to arrange for it to be towed out?" but being the true professional I am, held my tongue - due in no small part I suppose to fear he might take me up on it! That ship was the "World" condominium ship - even bigger than this one.

This ship is the Seven Seas Mariner, part of the Regent Seven Seas Fleet. According to their blurb, it is the world's first all-suite, all balcony ship, with a staff to guest ratio of 1:1.6. This is the luxury end of cruising. People in Fort Lauderdale, Vancouver, Singapore, Osaka, Hong Kong, Seward, Buenos Aires, Valparaiso amongst other places possibly will have seen her. She's owned by a company called Prestige Cruise Holdings, a subsidiary of New York based private equity investment company, Apollo Management L.P. The ship is headquartered in Fort Lauderdale.

These megalithic ships dont fit under the Harbour Bridge so they berth at the Overseas Passenger terminal at Circular Quay...many other ships go under the bridge and around the corner to other berths.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Going home

As the sun sets, peak hour traffic makes its way north on the Cahill Expressway approach to the Harbour Bridge at Circular Quay.
Taken from Cafe Sydney, 25 March, 6:43pm

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Thursday, 26 March 2009


Frangipani (Plumeria rubra) are one of my favourite flowers. When my mum married my dad in December 1955, Mum carried a bouquet of frangipani. Whenever I pass a frangipani tree in bloom I think of this photo.

Fortunately Sydney has an abundance of them. Being a native of the tropics and subtropics of Central America, Mexico and Venezuela, I am not sure that they were as common in Melbourne when Mum and Dad were married. They hate frosts, which Melbourne gets its fair share of in winter.

The old Post Master's residence attached to the Post Office at Arncliffe is now a real estate agent's office. This gorgeous frangipani is growing in the front yard. It is quite young, but growing beautifully. I usually stop to admire it when I go to the Post Office.
In the southern hemisphere frangipani bloom from November to May.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Fully Renaveted

Oh dear! This sign writer, or the real estate agent, need to run their text through a spell checker!
If you look carefully, someone (not me) has replaced the "a" with an "o" and the first "e" with an "a".
Perhaps Oprah is busy on the television talking about educational disadvantage or the needs of non-English speakers and preparing to sponsor some philanthropic remedial spelling lessons for those in jobs where good spelling would seem to be a prerequisite?

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Postman Pat

I had a giggle when I went out for a walk and discovered Postman Pat guarding the letter box at this house. I wonder if the child/ren of the house placed him there?

Monday, 23 March 2009

Tibouchina and Plumbago

Autumn is a prolific blooming period in Sydney. Two plants at their peak right now are the purple tibouchina (also called lasiandra) and the pale blue plumbago. My local council has planted quite a lot of tibouchina as street plantings. Plumbagos make a great display as a hedge (see left).

Tibouchina is a native of Mexico, the West Indies and South America, especially Brazil (as is the jacaranda). They are considered noxious weeds in Hawaii, because of their potential to become invasive.
Plumbago auriculata, the light blue species seen here, comes from South Africa.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Malabar Pool

Malabar Pool, in Long Bay. Another one in my summer series of ocean pools. Click here for others.

A rock pool has existed here since the 1890s.

Unfortunatley Malabar has had a bad name since an outfall carrying abattois waste from Homebush was built in 1916. By the 1970s the pool and bay were declared off-limits due to pollution from what was now a sewerage outfall.

In the early 1990s, a deep ocean outfall was constructed, emptying 4.2 kilometres offshore (I still think it's outrageous Sydney tips its sewerage into the ocean at all, even though it is treated to a certain degree - but not fully, but that's another story).

Local schools requested that the pool be re-opened and the local state Member of Parliament and incoming Premier, Bob Carr, promised funds for it. The restored baths were opened in 1997. Monitoring shows that it is now perfectly clean, and it was certainly looking gorgeous the day I went for a swim there.

Each of the ocan baths has a different character. This one was very quiet, and family-oriented. There are no cafes, and none of the glamour of beaches and pools a little further north...I liked it very much.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Blue Sky reflected

I've previously shown the view from this elevated station, looking towards the harbour - here and here; it's one of the best vantage points for getting a view of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. In fact it's the view used in the banner of this blog.

Here is the view looking up into the city from the other platform. It's the opposite end of the city to yesterday's shot from Railway Square, 3.2 km away.

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Thursday, 19 March 2009

Looking north from Railway Square

Last week I visited a friend who was staying on the 6th floor of the Medina Apartments in Railway Square (formerly a huge Post Office). Here's the view from the balcony. We're looking north into the heart of the Central Business District (CBD). To the left, out of shot, is Chinatown. You can see that the London plane trees in the middle distance are just starting to acquire an autumnal yellowish tinge.

This part of Sydney is "backpacker central". The huge Youth Hostels of Australia (YHA) hostel is the red-brown building behind the elegant brick one at the intersection. It's another hostel, called Wake Up! There's another YHA hostel incorporating the buildings along Platform 1 of Central Station. Also in the area, numerous small hostels of varying reputation, and hotels. It continues the tradition of travellers' hotels clustering around major rail terminals (see final picture below).

The road just out of shot in the top photo, to the left is George St, one of the city's main thoroughfares. Follow it all the way along, through Chinatown, the cinema district to the shopping area and past several office towers, and 3.2 kilometres later, you'll end up at the harbour at Circular Quay.

George St begins here, as an extension of Broadway. The other leg of the V-intersection is the beginning of Pitt St - it's the tree-lined one. Both roads are seen in the pic below.

George St was named in 1810 by Governor Lachlan Macquarie for King George III, then King of the United Kingdom, and of course the colony in Australia. Until then it had been known as High St. Interesting, because it was in 1810 that George had the final relapse of his mental illness (possibly caused by porphyria) and his eldest son was installed as the Prince Regent. Pitt St was named after Prime Minister William Pitt (the Younger), whom George III installed as PM. Pitt's appointment proved that as King he was able to appoint Prime Ministers on the basis of his own interpretation of the public mood without having to follow the choice of the current majority in the House of Commons. Throughout Pitt's ministry, George supported many of Pitt's political aims and created new peers at an unprecedented rate to increase the number of Pitt's supporters in the House of Lords.

Below: Railway (then Central) Square about 1908, when this part of Sydney was the centre of the retail trade. Note the Crystal Palace Hotel on the left.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Mum and daughter

Here's my friend Sui-linn and her gorgeous daughter, Aggie. This was taken last winter, and Aggie's grown a lot since. But I'm laid up sick at home and sorting through some older photos, and just couldn't resist this one!

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

For One Day Only

London plane trees are used extensively in Sydney's street plantings. It tolerates pollution, neglect, vandalism and poor soils. In autumn the leaves fall, but on one especially windy day last week I emerged from the station and this fluff and seed pods were all over the ground. They are a source of intense irritation to anyone who is allergic. By the next day, they had been blown or swept away.

Monday, 16 March 2009

These children were thoroughly enjoying themselves on the vintage fire engine at the recent Open Day at Government House in support of the vistims of the Victorian bushfires.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Autumn sky

The soft sky and shadows of a grape vine of late afternoon on a beautiful autumn day. The vine over the pergola provides shade to my house in summer, and allows winter sun to penetrate.

Check out skies from around the world by clicking here.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Government House - Dining Room

It was not permitted to take photos inside, but I managed to stretch the friendship a little by taking this one from outside. There was the small matter of reflection in the window to contend with. If you look really carefully, however, you can see that there is a mirror right up the other end of the room, and I could see myself clearly reflected in that. It just shows up in the photo.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Government House - the outside

NSW Government House was built between 1837 and 1845 in the Gothic Revival style. The porte cochère at the front, providing shelter for carriages, was built in 1873.

I particularly liked the verandah along the eastern side, and so did many of the visitors who took advantage of the raffia and cane chairs to relax for a chat or a catch up with the Sunday paper. There are expansive views across the gardens to the harbour.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Meet the Governor

NSW Governor, Professor Marie Bashir, at yesterday's bushfire fundraiser at Government House. At left, she drinks a cup of coffee or tea, and above meets the volunteers at the Country Women's Association lamington and tea stall. The lammies were VERY nice!

Marie Bashir was appointed Governor of NSW in March 2001. She was born in Narrandera in the Riverina district of NSW, and educated at Narrandera Public School and Sydney Girls High School. She gained her bachelor degrees in medicine and surgery in 1956 from the University of Sydney. She taught at the Universities of Sydney and NSW, working in the areas of children's services, psychiatry and mental health, and indigenous health programs. At the time of her appointment as Governor of NSW, she was Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Sydney; Area Director of Mental Health Services Central Sydney; and Senior Consultant to the Aboriginal Medical Service, Redfern and to the Aboriginal Medical Service, Kempsey. An impressive list of achievements!

What struck us was that Professor Bashir arrived without fuss or fanfare, and without an obvious security presence. She was riding in the front of the car, and carried her own change of clothes into the house. Then, she mingled freely with the vistors, saying a casual "hi" and "welcome" and "thankyou for coming" as she passed people. She seems very at ease with people.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Here comes the Guv - on International Womens Day.

Today there was an open day at NSW Government House, which is located in the Botanic Gardens. It was a fund-raiser for the support of victims of the bushfires in Victoria. The Governor, Professor Marie Bashir arrives in her Genral Motors (Holden) car. She doesn't use Government House as a residence, instead using it for ceremonial purposes, state dinners, and opening it to the public.

That's the Governor's leg appearing in the top photo. Can anyone suggest to me something quintessentially Australian about this picture, and I'm not thinking of the flag.

State governors are Vice-Regal representatives of the Queen (hence the crown instead of number plate). They are appointed by the Premier of the day (with the assent of the Queen), not elected as Governors in the US are. They have mainly ceremonial power, but have to assent to Bills passed in Aprliament, before they become law.

Tomorrow, we will meet our lovely Governor.

And, best wishes for International Womens Day! Marie Bashir was the first woman Governor of NSW, and Quentin Bryce the Governor-General (she is the Vice-Regal rep in the federal arena) is the first female filling that role.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Mosaic food

The Westfield shopping empire's "flagship", the Centrepoint complex, has been closed for re-development. You can still wander through because it houses the entrance to Sydney Tower. In the food court on the bottom level, I noticed, for the first time, these colourful food tile mosaics decorating pillars and walls. I guess they'll all be gone soon, smashed to smithereens. I love mosaic art, and have sought out classic examples in various parts of the world (Ravenna, Monreale, Istanbul for example), and seeing these in Central Sydney, I thought they deserved documenting before they disappear. It's also amazing what you notice when the crowds have gone and you're not intent on getting a belly-full. When the lunchtime workers and shoppers are milling around, they are merely part of the overall ambience.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Somewhere over the rainbow

Taken at sunset in my street after rain.

It's also a reminder that The 3-week long Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in Sydney finishes on Saturday night (at sunset) with the spectacular parade, watched each year by tens of thousands of spectactors. Have a look at skies all over the world.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Dawn Fraser Baths, Balmain

Dawn Fraser was one of Australia's greatest competitive swimmers. She was the 100m freestlye at three successive Olympic Games - Melbourne (1956), Rome (1960) and Tokyo (1964).

Dawn was born and raised, and still lives in, the harbourside suburb of Balmain. It used to be a rough-and-tumble working class suburb, the home of many waterfront workers. It's full of little cottages from the Victorian and later eras.

Nowadays, Balmain is very upmarket indeed. But one feature which has survived all the changes is the tidal flow salt water harbour pool in Elkington Park, named since 1968 after "Our Dawn", who swam and trained here as a girl.

The pool has existed since the early 1880s, and is a listed Heritage Building on the National Trust and on
the Register of the National Estate.

Its swimming club, Balmain Swimming Club, formed in 1884 is probably the oldest in Australia, and meets for all ages, from juniors to 'Golden Oldies', every Saturday afternoon during the summer season.

There are several harbourside pools in Sydney, but none (?) / not many (?) of this heritage status. It's a great way to swim in the harbour without risking being bitten by a shark!