We’re travelling to Australia for this “Reporter on the spot”. Thanks to my friend Carole.
When I was little, I used to think it would be strange living in the Southern Hemisphere: I wondered what it would be like to walk upside down. But I also thought there were crocodiles in the canal that we drove past into town.
Now I just want to go there. Some day. Australia. New Zealand…
Meanwhile, I’ll enjoy Carole’s write up about Sydney.
I hope you’ll like it too.
Reporter on the spot – An afternoon walk through Sydney by Carole Crawford
I left work on a Friday afternoon around 4.00pm and headed off across Hyde Park (no doubt named after the more famous park in London). Europeans landed in Sydney in 1788 (the first fleet). Although there has been an Indigenous Koori population living around the harbour long before Europeans landed and settled in Sydney Cove.
At the south-eastern corner of Hyde Park is a mounted gun from HMAS Sydney to commemorate the destruction of the German raider “EMDEN” in 1914 during WWI. It faces right up Oxford Street (the start of Sydney’s LGBTQI community).
Walking diagonally to the centre of the southern half of Hyde Park (it is bisected by a major roadway), you come to the ANZAC (Stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Memorial. Completed in 1934, The ANZAC Memorial is the main commemorative military monument of Sydney and is the focus of commemoration on ANZAC Day (25 April), Remembrance Day and other important occasions.
Hyde Park is an oasis in the city, surrounded by skyscrapers and some lovely building dating back to colonial times (18-19th century) including St Mary’s Catholic Cathedral. After crossing the road that bisects the park in two, you head further north through the wonderful Moreton Bay fig trees towards the Archibald Fountain.
The fountain is named after J. F. Archibald, owner and editor of The Bulletin magazine, who bequeathed funds to have it built. Archibald specified that it must be designed by a French artist, both because of his great love of French culture and to commemorate the association of Australia and France in World War I.
At the northern end of Hyde Park, is a statue to Lachlan Macquarie. He served as the fifth and last Governor of New South Wales from 1810 to 1821 and had a leading role in the social, economic and architectural development of the colony. He is considered by historians to have had a crucial influence on the transition of New South Wales from a penal colony to a free settlement and to have played a major role in the shaping of Australian society in the early nineteenth century.
Just across the road from Hyde Park is Macquarie Street (named after Governor Macquarie). There is a colonial church, St James’ Church, commonly known as St James’, King Street, an Anglican church in inner city Sydney, consecrated in February 1824. It became a parish church in 1835 and there are many plaques commemorating early European settlers of the city.
Across Queens Square is the main law court and in front of them in the aptly named “Queens Square” is a statue of Queen Victoria. Across the road from the Queen is a statue of her hubby, Prince Albert, just in front of the colonial Hyde Park barracks, which is now a museum. The Hyde Park Barracks Museum is a brick building and compound; originally built at the head of Macquarie Street to house convict men and boys. Both St James’ church and Hyde Park barracks were designed by convict architect Francis Greenway between 1818 and 1819.
Heading north along Macquarie Street we come to the NSW Parliament. The facade consists of a two storey Georgian building, the oldest public building in the city, flanked by two Neo-gothic additions containing the parliamentary chambers. These buildings are linked to a 1970s 12-storey block at the rear, facing onto the Domain, a large public green space in the city, used for concerts in summer.
Looking west across Macquarie Street is Martin Place, the largest pedestrian mall in the city, bisected by a number of streets. Martin Place houses the main offices of a number of major banks, including the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Sydney GPO from which all distances are measured in the state. Macquarie Street is known for its medical specialists (like Harley Street in London) as well as a number of law chambers with the law courts nearby at Queens Square and some of the architecture is quite lovely.
Also on Macquarie is the State Library of NSW. It is the oldest library in Australia, being the first library established in New South Wales.
Walking further north we start heading down towards the Quay and the harbour. Sydney has a number of lovely buildings, both old and new. One of my favourites being on the corner of Macquarie Street and Phillip Street, known as Aurora Place was designed by Renzo Piano. The building has an unusual geometric shape where not one panel is parallel to any grid. The curved and twisted shape of east façade is aimed to correspond spatially with Sydney Opera House and to represent the sublime marine environment of the harbour. The exterior glass curtain-wall extends beyond the main frame, creating an illusion of its independence.
Taking a left turn at the next intersection I head down Bent Street towards what’s known as the “Sandstones”. There are three old colonial buildings between Bent and Bridge Streets. One is the education building, one is the Department of Lands building, another the Chief Secretary’s building and there is also the Burns Philip building towards George Street. I worked in the Education building for a number of years.
Diagonally across the road from the Education building on Bridge and Loftus Streets is Macquarie Place park where an anchor from the Sirius, one of the First Fleet ships is mounted. Walking further north down to the Quay on Loftus Street there is one of my favourite sculptures, a First Fleet Memorial representing the bonds of friendship between Portsmouth and Sydney. It is a companion piece to the one at the Sally Port in Portsmouth. The sculpture used to be located in front of Customs House, but is now on Loftus Street.
Just across the road from Customs House is Circular Quay. Don’t know why it’s called that, mainly because it is roughly horseshoe shaped. There is a train station and all the ferries arrive and depart from a number of quays to take passengers all around the harbour and up the Parramatta river.
On the eastern end of the Quay on Bennelong Point is one of the most iconic buildings in the world, the Sydney Opera House, designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon. Work began on the Opera House in 1958 and it was formally opened on 20 October 1973, by Queen Elizabeth II.
Walking around from the east to the western side of Circular Quay, you find the Museum of Contemporary Art, which was once the Maritime Services building. Walking further north along, you pass the main Passenger terminal where cruise ships dock and depart from the harbour. It also has a magnificent view of the “coathanger” or Sydney Harbour Bridge, another iconic Sydney symbol known around the world for the New Year’s Eve fireworks.
Just opposite the Passenger terminal is Cadman’s Cottage. It is the oldest surviving residential building in Sydney, having been built in 1816 for the use of the government coxswains and their crews. The building is steeped in the history of Sydney, also claiming the title as the first building to have been built on the shoreline of The Rocks (still existing colonial) area. It is claimed that during high tide, the water would come within 8 feet (2.4 m) of the Cottage, but due to the reclamation of land during the building of Circular Quay, the waterline has moved about 100 metres away since 1816.
Looking back to the Quay, you see Sydney as it now is. From its humble beginnings, it has become a major metropolis, with only a couple of hundred years of European settlement. Sydney is Australia’s major tourist destination.
I love working in the city and enjoy the 40 minute stroll from where I work down to the harbour. It’s a view I never tire of.