Sunday, 30 August 2009

Sunrise, cloudy dawn, and an afternoon

The view from our aerie on the 18th floor of the Hilton Hotel at South Wharf.
Top: Sunrise, 6:56 am (today)
Middle: Pre-sunrise, 6:30am (yesterday)
Bottom: 3:06pm

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Best mates, different teams

Today we visited Melbourne's true spiritual home - the MCG - Melbourne Cricket Gound, known as "The G".

One of the great clichés about Melbourne is that the locals regard Australian football - "the footy" as a religion, and that the atmosphere at the G when two home town teams are playing is unmatched anywhere else.

Well, like all stereotypes, it's based on nothing less than truth. We joined 77 275 other people to watch Hawthorn - the Hawks - (yellow and brown) play Essendon - the Bombers - (red and black). I've been to a Rugby League Grand Final in Sydney, the Olympic soccer, cricket at the SCG (pretty damn atmospheric), The Australian Open tennis at Melbourne Park (pretty bloody atmospheric!), baseball at Dodger Stadium, ice hockey at Anaheim...and I have NEVER seen or heard anything like the roar of the crowd at The G.

It was the last round before the finals, and the Final 8 is being decided. Hawthorn and Essendon were numbers 9 and 8 on the ladder, with two points separating them. So this game mattered. It was a true nail biter - Hawthorn lead for the first three quaters and then Essendon overtook them and ran away with the match.

As exciting as it is, as passionate as the crowd is, there is no segregation of supporters in the European style. Mates barrack for different teams and argue the merits of the match at the pub afterwards, but as high spirited as the barracking is, it is amicable.

Best comment I heard: from a Bombers supporter when a Hawk went down injured : "Oh, he's injured his hair style!".

And of course we ate meat pies. What would the footy be without a pie????

Friday, 28 August 2009

Collins St, 5pm, 2009

I've always liked Melbourne artist John Brack's works. There's currently a retrospective of his work, which I missed in's in Adelaide now. So when I visited the National Gallery of Victoria's Potter Centre there was not a Brack to be seen.

But as I was walking back along Collins St, I decided to stop at precisely 5pm, and snap whatever I saw. So, here, in homage to Brack's bleak view of Collins St, 5pm (1955) is my photo.

Collins St is lined with the Melbourne headquarters of most if not all the major banks present in Australia. So it is often populated by bankers and "stiffs" like in Bracks' painting. These days though they mostly carry backpacks (yes even pinstripe suit types in melb often carry a small pack - I think they often contain gym clothes for a visit before or after work) ,and many wear earphones from their iPods and are preoccupied with hand held smart phones.

In Bracks' painting, the Bank of New South Wales takes up a third of the width, so I was pleased to find myself opposite Westpac Bank, which is what the Bank of New South Wales is known as today.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Mad Hatter

Work brings me to Melbourne for a few days. So forgive me while I tread others' paths! The City Hatter is an institution - in Flinders St next to the station. I bought an Akubra in here many, many (30?) years ago.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Table with a view

The restaurant of the Park Hyatt at Campbell's Cove , with the reflection of the Opera House opposite, and the shadow of the harbour bridge (and some stupid photographer who got in the way).

Sunday, 23 August 2009


There's a theory that Australia's predominance in tennis has waned as suburban backyards are subdivided and housing density becomes greater, and kids spend more time inside than they used to.

All that is true; I'm not sure about any causal link, however. Maybe it's just that other nations got richer, sport became professional and more money was devoted to spotting talent and developing it.

There's certainly no shortage of public and hirable tennis courts where I live.

What was once a common sight - a private backyard tennis court in the suburbs has become a rarity. This one around the corner from me has fallen on hard times; I expect in due course the land will be built on.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Love among the ruins

Botanic Gardens, Sydney.

No, not a set of ancient ruins, but an installation called Memory is Creation without End. A spiral of sandstone blocks by Kimio Tsuchiya, relics of demolished buildings symbolises the circular connection of past, present, and future (2000).

Thursday, 20 August 2009

That's entertainment!

What's coming soon in Sydney? I only need to walk around the block from home to be informed.
We saw Avenue Q in London last year, and are looking forward to going again. And I would like to see Ry Cooder and Nick Lowe.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

The Ozcats

Yesterday I wrote about a photographic exhibition, From The Bandstand. The photos were all taken by musician and photographer, Ron Falson. Please do read yesterday's entry! At top is one of Ron's photographs, of Australian singer Johnny O'Keefe, taken at the Sydney Stadium in 1958.

At the time of his death last year, Ron was leader of a jazz band called The Ozcats. In fact, Ron died at a gig they were playing.

The Ozcats played at the exhibition opening. You can read all about them by clicking here. And all about Ron Falson by clicking here.

And while you're at it, why not have a listen to Ron and Gill's grandson, Sam Sparro - by clicking here , and here .

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

From The Bandstand - the photography of Ron Falson

This is my friend Gill Falson (right) with Sydney radio presenter, Angela Catterns, at the opening of a wonderful exhibition of photos, exhibited under the title From The Grandstand. Gill was interviewed by Angela the week before.

This exhibition showcases a unique collection of photographs that take a glimpse at and celebrate Sydney’s music scene from the 1940s to the 1970s. They are on display at the historic Sydney mint until November 6.

They were all taken by Gill's husband, Ron, who died last year, on stage, having completed a set with his band, the Ozcats. Not only was Ron one of Australia's great musicians (a trumpeter), who played in many of the great bands in Australia, and onstage with many of the top international artists, he was also a photographer. Ron's photos were taken, mostly with available stage light, literally "from the bandstand" where he was playing.

The photos include many depicting Sydney jazz venues long lost: cool jazz in nightclubs, swing
bands in surf clubs, the heyday of the Sydney stadium ‘big shows’, behind the scenes images in Sydney recording studios, and on set in the early days of Australian music TV, local jazz greats and international stars…from swing to rock & roll.

Ron began playing in a schoolboy band, and by the late 1950s was backing mega-stars like Sinatra and was involved with TV shows such as Six O’clock Rock, The Don
Lane Show, and The Midday Show

On display in the Members Lounge from Wednesday 5 August until Friday 6 November.

At left is one of Ron Falson's outstanding photos: Sammy Davis singing Mr Bojangles, Festival Hall, Melbourne, 1959.

More tomorrow from the opening night.

Monday, 17 August 2009

City Bowling Club

In December 2008, I posted the photo below. It was taken from the Australian Museum across the road from Cook + Philip Park. I have since been thinking about the site and how much I used to enjoy walking past it when it was a lawn bowling club. It is still used for recreatin, being re-developed as an underground fitness and aquatic centre. It is in a state of disrepair on top at the moment (since my Dec photo). The photos above are from the State Library photo collection.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Vertical Garden

The indoor market in Avignon is famous for its vertical garden on one exterior wall. The designer is renowned French creator of vertical gardens, Patrick Blanc.

This vertical garden is outside the Marriott Hotel in College St, Sydney. I didn't see it listed amongst Patrick Blanc's creations, but it is certainly reminiscent.

Saturday, 15 August 2009


All of a sudden this week I noticed that that fuzzy haze of green attached to spring has appeared on trees around Sydney.

I really, truly don't understand people who whinge about "winter" in Sydney. It's short, not especially wet, and the lowest average maximum daytime temperature is in July when the average minimum is 8, average maximum is 16.3 (that's 46.4 to 61.3 for the USAnians amongst you).

The lowest minimum this winter (June , July, August) has been 5.9 (42.6) deg on August 9th.
The highest minimum has been 15.7 (60.3) deg on July 1st.
The lowest maximum has been 16.3 (61.3) deg on 10th August.
The highest maximum has been 23.5 (74.3) deg on 7th August.

Today it reached 22.1 (71.8 deg) and tomorrow the forecast is for 28 (82.4 deg).

As I write this now at 7.44pm, it's 16.4 (61.5) deg.

(All statistics are for central Sydney Observatory Hill. Away from the coast it gets both cooler and warmer)

Friday, 14 August 2009

Home time (Skywatch Friday)

The last light of the afternoon - the moment before sunset (you can just seee the glow of the sun having disappeared behind the staunchion) Looking over Central station as I head home.

Have a look at other skies around the world here.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

The Happy Chef

Yesterday I showed you a closeup of a partitioned box full of wooden clothes pegs, with numbers and colour coding on them.

This is the system used by the Happy Chef food outlet at the Sussex Centre food court in Chinatown. Nothing is written down, and there is never a mistake made.

Customers chose from the illuminated, numbered dishes in the pictures. Then you also choose which of four kinds of noodles you want - egg or rice, thick or thin.

The appropriate peg is placed inside the servery hatch for the cooks to read - it indicates which number dish and which kind of noodles. On occasions I have ordered a variation on the preset numbers, and that has been coped with admirably by use of a combination of pegs!

I'm not exactly sure how it works, and I did try to find out more, but communication lapsed over some of the more technical details! I did find out it had been invented by someone to do with the outlet, and it's inisputably ingenious!

That's my soup - wonton noodle soup with scallops and king prawns being placed on the tray, and so it's time to go and find a table....

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

What is it?

Riddle time! What's going on here, and where do you think I spotted it?

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Juniper Hall

From the National Trust website:

"Juniper Hall is a fine example of Colonial Georgian architecture and for a period, home to the iconic gin distiller, Robert Cooper. It is believed to be the oldest surviving mansion from Macquarie’s days to be found in Sydney. The National Trust was able to acquire the property in 1984 through a government pledge and corporate sponsorship towards the cost of purchase and restoration.

The construction of Juniper Hall was the result of a promise by ex-convict Robert Cooper to his third wife (and bearer of a further fourteen children) Sarah Cooper to build his newly wed “the finest house in Sydney”. A grant of 100 acres of land atop a windswept hill in Sydney’s Paddington area was given to Robert Cooper in partnership with two others, James Underwood and Francis Forbes. The London publican and his associates officially applied for planning of The Sydney Distillery in 1822. The land was subdivided between the distillery and three mansions.

Juniper Hall was built under the supervision of Cooper; he named the house presumably in relation to the juniper berry’s use as a key ingredient in the manufacture of gin.

‘Big Cooper’ as he was affectionately known had ten children from two previous marriages. Thus, domestic pressures ensured the house would be a large family residence. It encompasses a typical Georgian style with rooms planned symmetrically around a central hallway. Robert and Sarah later added two smaller properties within the grounds, one of which served as their retirement home. When money ran dry from the extravagances of their 24 children the family leased Juniper Hall to Attorney-General John Kinchela who re-named Juniper Hall, Ormond House.

In 1852 the property was leased to the Society for the Relief of Destitute Children, in part to serve appropriately as an orphanage. By 1885 the government had purchased the property and by 1892 extensive work was undertaken which enlarged the house considerably and altered existing architectural features.

In 1924 Joseph Reuben Gardiner purchased Ormond House. A public outcry prevented Gardiner from demolishing the house to increase his valuable real-estate on site but failed to prevent the building of a row of shops in the garden facing Oxford Street. These were later removed by the National Trust and the property is currently leased to an antiques dealer."

Monday, 10 August 2009

Paddington Reservoir Garden - a bit of history Part II

Above: The roof of the park collapsed in 1990. Debate raged about what to do with the site. In 2006, work commenced to ensure conservation and adaptive reuse of the site.

Below: Enjoying the garden today. Juniper Hall is in the background, across Oxford St.

I think it is an excellent regeneration of an urban space.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Paddington Reservoir Garden - a bit of history Part I

OK, so I didn't take the black and white photo - though I did take a photo of the photo from the information boards around Paddington Reservoir Gardens. I featured this restored water reservoir / garden over three days (4, 5, 6 August). Here's some more about the history of this garden.

Top: 2 Oct 1964. The reservoir was sold to Paddington Council in 1934. From then until 1990 the western chamber was leased to a commercial garage operator. The Water Board leased the eastern chamber as its garage annexe and store. The reservoir was roofed for the first time to create a public reserve. Popular music concerts were held here. This looks like it was taken from Juniper Hall, across Oxford Street.

Below: Taken looking into the reservoir from Oxford Street. Juiniper Hall is across the road behind me.

More tomorrow.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Sunset 7 August

After watching the sky change at The Spit, I arrived home not long before sunset. I looked up from the computer to notice the sky full of drama, grabbed the camera and stepped out my back door to take these snaps, looking almost due west.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Suddenly, the weather remembered it's winter (Skywatch Friday)

3.36 pm today, Middle Harbour at The Spit, from Avona Crescent on the northern side.

Sydney was warm and sunny today. At 2.30pm it reached the maximum temperature of 23.4. At 3.30 when I took this it was still 23.3. And then the cold front rolled in, and an hour later the temp had dropped to 18.2. The clouds heralding the change were gathering in as I took this picture, which looks southeast. To the west, the sky over Spit Bridge, looking southwest was like this:

Have a look at other skies around the world here.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

According to the City of Sydney website, "Paddington Reservoir Gardens has already been described as a combination of the Baths of Caracalla and The Hanging Gardens of Babylon."

When I peered in to the locked area of the East Chamber, I was reminded of Istanbul's underground cistern, Yerebatan Saray, except the latter is much more grand. As are the Baths of Caracalla! There are photos of it illuminated which are much nicer than these of mine. Some vibrant graffiti art has been preserved in this chamber, which provides a new space for community and cultural activities.
Today is Hiroshima Day - please spare a moment to remember.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Paddington Reservoir Gardens

From the City of Sydney website:

"The restored Paddington Reservoir Gardens was officially opened by Lord Mayor Clover Moore MP on 29 March 2009.

The park on the reservoir roof has been completely reconstructed and a new sunken garden has been established in the reservoir's western chamber.

Designed by the City Engineer, Edward Bell, the Paddington Reservoir was built between 1866 and 1878 and was a key element in Sydney’s early water supply.

The reservoir served Sydney well until it was finally decommissioned in 1899. It then became a garage and workshop for the Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board, and later a service station, until it was acquired by the Paddington Municipal Council for much-needed open space. Then from 1934, the lower level was leased as a commercial garage.

And that was how it remained until 1991, when sections of the roof collapsed and the reserve was closed to the public.

Paddington Reservoir Gardens has already been described as a combination of the Baths of Caracalla and The Hanging Gardens of Babylon."

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Relaxing in the sun

This couple were enjoying the winter sun last Sunday, at the Paddington Reservoir Gardens. We'll take a closer look at the gardens, located in the structure of an old reservoir, tomorrow. The building across the road is Paddington Town Hall.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Giant spaceship lands in Sydney suburb!

....and the people who go in and out of here are pretty alien to me...

This is Sydney Football Stadium viewed from Oatley Rd, Paddington. The top photo was taken from the hill near the sandstone wall of Victoria Barracks (visible at bottom right), and the bottom photo from outside the house with the magnolia tree shown yesterday.

It certainly dominates the bottom of the street-view. Next to the football stadium is the Sydney Cricket Ground, making this a major sporting precinct.

If you look really hard you can see it in the small magnolia picture published yesterday.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Magnificent magnolia

Our beautiful bright sunny winter days continue. I took a trip to inner suburb Paddington this afternoon - we'll have a look around a bit more over the next few days.
In Oatley Rd, this magnificent magnolia tree is in full and glorious bloom. I loved the effect of the blooms in front of the traditional wrought iron "Paddington lacework" on the facades of the terrace houses.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Flower Power

King St, Newtown, 6.31pm.
Today, being the first of the month, is a Theme Day amongst City Daily Photo Bloggers. This month the theme is "Night". Click here to view thumbnails for all participants

Here's Wikipedia's list of things that happened on August 1st.