The Cenotaph – Martin Place
As war memorials go, Sydney’s Cenotaph is small and rather plain though perhaps this has as much to do with its location, exposed in the centre of Martin Place in the midst of rather large and ornate buildings, rather than the actual Cenotaph itself.
This central location was carefully chosen for the memorial as Martin Place was Sydney's primary place for enlistment during World War I (WWI) and the General Post Office (now the Westin Sydney Hotel) was Sydney’s main conduit for news and messages during the war. Many people see the facade of the GPO as being an integral part of the Cenotaph.
Of course, this key position in the centre of Sydney’s central business district also provides a constant reminder of sacrifices made, to the thousands of local people and visitors who pass it on a daily basis.
In 1926 Sir Bertram Mackennal was commissioned to design and erect a Cenotaph (empty tomb), to be completed by 25th April (Anzac Day), 1929. A Cenotaph was deemed an appropriate form of monument given that the war-dead of Australia had been interred overseas.
The completed product comprises a monolithic Moruya granite block in the shape of a sepulchre, on a granite base, and two bronze statues, a soldier and a sailor, one on guard at either end of the cenotaph.
The granite block is simply inscribed on either long side with “To Our Glorious Dead” and “Lest We Forget”.
The bronze statues, cast in Milan, are modeled on two real life service personnel - Private William Piggot Darby of the 15th Infantry Batallion and 4th Field Ambulance AIF and Leading Seaman John William Varco, who served on HMAS Pioneer 1914 - 1916 and on HMAS Parramatta 1917 – 1919. These two servicemen represent the 300,000 plus Australians who saw overseas service during WWI.Related to:
- Historical Travel
Tank Stream and Tank Stream Museum
Writing back to his masters in London on 15 May 1788 the first Governor of the New South Wales, Arthur Phillip, wrote:
"...we had the satisfaction of finding the finest harbour in the world, in which a thousand sail of the line may ride in the most perfect security..."
Fine as the harbour may have been (and it still is), settlement would not have been possible without a readily accessible supply of potable water.
A small stream, soon to be known as the Tank Stream, originating in a swamp to the west of present day Hyde Park and, at high tide, flowing into Sydney Cove (now Circular Quay) at the intersection of Bridge and Pitt Streets provided the necessary fresh water supply for the establishment of a township (see attached sketch). There was no such water source at Botany Bay, the other location considered for the initial establishment of Sydney.
In his ‘An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales’ published in 1798, David Collins relates:
"The spot chosen for the settlement was at the head of the cove, near the run of fresh water, which stole silently along through a very thick wood, the stillness of which had then, for the first time since the Creation, been interrupted by the rude sound of the labourer's axe and the downfall of its ancient inhabitants."
Wander around and look as much as you like today but you will not see the Tank Stream.
In reality the stream never provided much in the way of water and in the first summer it totally dried up. So within a year convict labour was set to digging holding tanks along the stream to retain water for the town. These tanks, there were three of them, gave the stream its otherwise rather peculiar name, the Tank Stream.
As Sydney town grew, and despite a fifteen-metre green belt preserved on either side of the stream and a prohibition on cutting of timber and grazing of stock in the vicinity, the Tank Stream became contaminated and by 1826 had ceased to be used as a source of drinking water.
By the 1830s the Tank Stream and nearby creeks were used as an open drainage system for both waste-water and sewage. By the mid to late 1800s the Tank Stream had been converted into a bricked in sewage and drainage system which today forms part of Sydney’s stormwater drainage system, sewage having been diverted to a separate system. The egg shaped oviform drain design as depicted in my fourth picture (an original excavated section which you can see in the Tank Stream museum referred to below) was extensively used though some much larger channels exist further downstream.
While Sydney Water run occasional (twice a year – tickets by ballot) tours of lower parts of the Tank Stream drainage system those seeking to see relics of the Tank Stream should visit the small museum in the basement of the former General Post Office - GPO (now the Westin Sydney hotel) – entrance on Martin Place. The unmanned (and free) ‘museum’ is actually built into a basement bar area of the hotel and was a little tricky to find as I didn’t see any signs. Off course, I could have asked but I was happy enough having a look around the hotel while I located it. Should finding the museum make your thirsty there are ample bars where you can acquire a little something to quench the thirst.
The museum contains around two-hundred artefacts recovered from the Tank Stream system during engineering work under the GPO in the mid 1990s, mainly mid 19th century ceramics washed into the stream prior to its conversion to a sewage/drainage system.
While I didn’t spot any evidence of it in the museum, there is certainly evidence (alluded to earlier in my extract from David Collin's 1798 work) of Aboriginal use of the original Tank Stream prior to European settlement. Evidence of an Aboriginal campsite was found during the development of the nearby Angel Street area in the late 1990s and it is known that Aboriginal people buried their dead along the Tank Stream. The present location of a skull found during building work on the GPO in the mid 1880s is unknown. At that time it was not uncommon for people to collect the remains of Aboriginal people or to sell them to museums or private collectors in Australia and overseas.
Back above ground there a five part sculpture by by Lynne Roberts-Goodwin (2000) which marks the course of the Tank Stream. One part, depicted in my final photograph, can be seen in Martin Place near the Cenotaph (just outside the former GPO). I will, at some stage, locate the other parts and visit a number of other Tank Stream relics which I have found out about through researching this review.
My first picture attached is a J Skinner Prout watercolour depicting the Tank Stream in the 1840s (courtesy of Art Gallery of New South Wales).Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
The Eiffel Tower - Yes it's True!
A little diversion especially for my European reader.
While overseas, Australians are fantastic ambassadors for their country and, indeed as some will know, we used to have our very own Cultural Attaché to the Court of St James in London – in the form of Sir Les Patterson (aka Barry Humphries of Dame Edna Everage fame). As an aside, I was aghast when I saw Sir Les referred to as an obese, lecherous, offensive, farting, belching, nose-picking figure of Rabelaisian excess on Wikipedia. I can only surmise that this was written by an uncultured European who would never make it into the membership or readership of Virtualtourist.
Let me tell you a little secret. Notwithstanding this outward image, Australians, particularly those of British and other European heritage, have never let go of their mother and fatherlands back in Europe.
Not happy with our kangaroo’s, koalas (they are not bears, by the way), the great Outback, Uluru (Ayers Rock), the Great Barrier Reef and so much more we like to prove that anything Europeans can do, we can do too.
So it was that in 2015 Australia became part of Europe and sang in the Eurovision song contest and in 2016 the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo featuring a full size replica of Edinburgh Castle, the massed pipes and drums of Scotland’s famous Regiments and performers from around the world will be held in Melbourne, Australia. Fear not, Dear Reader, if you were planning to visit a similar event in Scotland I think they will be putting on something there too!
While we can indulge in the good, naturally blame for things which people bemoan in Australia, such as Canberra (my home town) and the Sydney Opera House (close-up), can be attributed to foreigners (Walter Burley Griffin, an American, and Jørn Utzon a Dane respectively for my examples) in the event that we can’t persuade the visitor of the worth of such things.
When in Sydney, should you feel homesick for things European all you need do is position yourself correctly in York Street and look up.
Lo and behold , voilà – the original Eiffel Tower!
Having seen it, I can confirm they have something similar in Paris.
Sydney’s Eiffel Tower, a radio transmission tower, sits atop the AWA (Amalgamated Wireless Australasia Ltd) building in York Street. Unlike its copy in Paris you will need to admire the 48 metres (97 including the building) tower from the ground as a former viewing platform no longer exits. Like the Paris tower the Sydney tower is illuminated at night.
The tower was built in 1939 (and rebuilt in 1994).
The only thing that confuses me is that the Eiffel Tower in Paris was allegedly built in 1889 and Berlin's Funkturm Tower which also shares certain attributes of the Sydney Tower was allegedly built in 1926. Ah well.
My final picture is courtesy of http://www.sydneyarchitecture.comRelated to:
- Historical Travel
Sze Yup Chinese Temple
The last place I would have ever expected to find a Chinese temple would have been tucked away in the leafy, well to do, backstreets of Glebe but to my surprise that is exactly where the Sze Yup Chinese Temple is located, on a block of land acquired by early Chinese settlers for 325 pounds.
The original temple (central part) was built in 1898, facing Blackwattle Bay in adherence to Feng Shui principles and in the red brick style reminiscent of village temples in the southern provinces of China. The two side chapels – the Chapel of Departed Friends (picture 5) and the Chapel of Good Fortune were added in 1904. The temple you see today is a reconstruction, the original having been lost in a fire in 1953. This should not deter you visiting as the reconstruction has been true to the original and indeed had I not mentioned it, you would easily believe it was the original, as I did until I subsequently read up on it.
The temple’s construction was funded by Chinese immigrants from Sze Yup in Guangdong, hence its commonly used name. It is dedicated to (and in fact formally named after) Kwun Ti a warrior, folk hero and god from the Chinese Three Kingdoms era (220-265 AD). Kwun Ti is renowned for his loyalty, physical prowess and masculinity and was thus a great role model for the early Chinese immigrants into this area. Today the temple continues to welcome new Buddhist immigrants to Australian though not only from Sze Yup but also from Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, the remainder of China and, in particular, Indo-China.
The hanging incense coils, outside the very ornate main entrance door (picture 2), initially reminded me of similar temples in Hong Kong, albeit this one is on a much smaller scale. Incidentally if you cannot locate the temple – use your nose. I could smell the burning incense a block away… a beautiful smell on the nice fresh late autumn morning I visited.
All in all, a lovely tranquil place to look around and have a break. Apart from a lady sweeping the yard and a gentleman sitting in the office I was the only other person there. I can’t imagine it ever being busy with tourists, notwithstanding that it is actually not very hard to get to, less than 10 minutes walk from the Jubilee Park Light Rail station. Don’t forget to remove your shoes before entering the temple.
While few tourists visit, the temple remains an important spiritual and cultural centre for the Chinese (and now wider Asian) community in Sydney, many of whom still consult Kwun Ti for his guidance and blessing when making important business decisions. On the altar inside the central temple (indeed the centrepiece there-of) is an embroidered image of Kwun Ti and his guards (pictures 3 and 4).
The main entrance archway, with its two stone guardian lions, was added on 1982.
Go on, enter the gates and immerse yourself in serene calmness.
7 days 10.00am-5.00pmRelated to:
- Religious Travel
The Wireless House - Glebe
While Glebe is a rather hip and affluent inner west suburb of Sydney this has not always been the case. In the 1930s it was a distinctly working class area and many people were hit hard in the depression.
For those families which could afford one, the radio had become the thing to have in the early 1930s and the entire family would often gather around this new fangled device for its evening entertainment.
Those Glebe families hit by the depression would have missed out were it not for the fact that Glebe Council took up a suggestion to establish a Wireless House for public entertainment in Rest Park (now Foley Park) in the centre of Glebe.
The Wireless House, which can still be seen ( the circular ‘artwork' in my pictures is a 2009 addition) in Foley Park today, was a small brick building with a radio in it to which the public could listen having gathered around the building. It opened in February 1935 with the radio having been donated by Grace Brothers, the forerunner of today’s Myer chain of stores, found throughout Australia. It is certainly a concept I have not come across before as a public service.
The Wireless House ‘broadcast’ from 10am to 10.15pm daily to the delight of many, though not the church and sporting organisations both of which lamented a loss of patronage. It was especially popular during World War II, often drawing crowds of up to 100 people.
In time The Wireless House eventually succumbed to accusations that it encouraged the unemployed to idleness and was de-commissioned in the early 1950s.
The Wireless House was re-sounded in 2009 by Dr Nigel Helyer as a public art project ‘creating a contemporary version of its original social function’.
Today it broadcasts pre-recorded social histories and other content, obviously less appealing to the idle unemployed than the content of earlier days. I listened alone and having listened to it a minute or two was not inclined to hang around.
Perhaps of more interest to today’s visitor is that, in a literal play on the word 'Wireless', the site is also the City of Sydney's first outdoor internet hotspot, providing free internet access to suitably equipped visitors.
A nice piece of social history and worth a look if you are in the areaRelated to:
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
All Hail to Her Majesty
While this building, St John’s Parish Hall - designed by Edward Halloran and built in 1897, is a pleasant enough red brick affair with a nice art nouveau balcony I would not have drawn it to my reader’s attention were it not for a terracotta plaque affixed to the front of the building.
1897 marked the Diamond Jubilee of Victoria’s accession to the throne and the building was built in commemoration of this event. The plaque bears the Queen’s portrait (a typically surly one) and reminds us that her reign to that point, which commenced in 1837, was a record for a British Monarch. The words Record Reign, from the plaque, led to the building being called Record Reign Hall.
Victoria went on to reign, until her death on 22 January 1901, just shy of 63 years.
Also included on the plaque is a personal message from Her Majesty – interestingly directed at her subjects rather then to them. It reads:
From my heart I thank my beloved people. May God bless them
The inclusion of the word “Hail” baffles me. Perhaps my reader can enlighten me?Related to:
- Historical Travel
Five Beaches in One Day
Sydney's coastline is a wondrous thing - not just the beaches but the sandstone cliffs that connect them. One of the best and most accessible stretches of coastline runs from six kilometers from Coogee to Bondi Beach. It offers stunning ocean views, fives beaches (six if you count the small patch of sand in Gordons Bay), and isn't too taxing on the feet as the number of steep sections are few and have well maintained staircases to help you. It's worth an entire day.
Glebe Superior Public School War Memorial
I am aware that may old schools have Rolls of Honour remembering those who you took part and died in World War I. Indeed my own former school Portora Royal School in Northern Ireland had one.
Glebe Superior Public School (now, I suspect due to the activity of an active PC lobby, plain Glebe Public School), in the inner west of Sydney is the first one I have come across that has an actual War Memorial of the type more generally found in the centre of towns and cities.
In 1914 when Britain went to war so did, by default, its colonies in Australia and elsewhere. Past pupils of the (primary) school answered the call of duty while current pupils and the teachers supported the war effort through war relief schemes, fund raising, making comforts for the Red Cross and continuing with the school cadets programme.
Between 1914 and 1918, 306 former pupils volunteered and served overseas. Sadly over 50 of those pupils died in Gallipoli, France and the Middle East.
The Maltby family lost three brothers while the Faerbers, Neaves and the Sharpes each lost two.
This memorial, dedicated on 18 October 1919, records the names of all those who volunteered for service. It was designed by William Martin (who also designed Glebe's main war memorial – see my separate review) and paid for with a penny a week contributions by students at the time.
The memorial takes the form of a four metres high red polished marble plinth with the bust of an Australian digger (soldier), easily recognisable by his familiar slouched hat, on top. The column is adorned, about half way up with an Australian Imperial Force (AIF) badge and crossed flags.
The fresh poppies attached to the fence are a reminder that Australia has not forgotten the sacrifices of its youth, now over 100 years ago.
For the reader wondering why a school would include the word ‘Superior’ in its title, the reasoning is simple and nothing to do with it being pretentious or snobby. In the late 1880s schools with at least 20 students who had completed the 'primary course of instruction' were permitted to offer the "higher branches of education" and were designated a 'Superior School'. It is interesting to note that the very poor, along with children deemed unruly, refused admittance to a public school, could attend the Glebe Ragged School. Agh – the days when a spade was called a spade!
Note: In Australia a Public School is what is referred to in the UK, for instance, as a Private School
Off course the wealthy and well-to-do Protestants sent their sons to the Glebe Point Grammar School.
I have yet again digressed. The Glebe Superior Public School War Memorial is well worth a look and a moment or twos reflection.Related to:
- Historical Travel
Victoria Park is a small, nice hectare, triangular park nestled between the busy Parramatta and City Roads and the University of Sydney. Given its small size and the constant traffic on the adjacent roads I imagined it might be noisy and not at all peaceful. This is not so, probably because it is set at a level slightly lower than the roads, though I am no expert on acoustics.
The park was originally part of the grounds of the University of Sydney, the facade of which stands proudly above the western side of the park and is accessed by a series of steps. This explains the 1888 Neo Gothic sandstone Gate House/ University Gardener's Lodge and grand entrance gates near the intersection of the Parramatta and City Roads – he point where you will most likely enter the park if you take a short bus ride (though it is easily walkable from Central Station) out of from the city. Today the restored gatehouse is a café while post 1911, when it and the parkland was transferred to the Council from the University, it has had a few uses though it lay vacant and neglected for a number of years. Prior to its current use (and a lengthy vacant period) it was a block of public toilets – or ‘conveniences’ as the City Council like to call them in the day.
I didn’t eat it in the café, it hadn’t opened when I passed by, though online reviews of it that I have seen are almost universally very negative – which is such a shame given the lovely building, its proximity to the park's small lake and the lovely view across the park towards the University, on the horizon. Looking at the prices on its menu I would certainly expect something better than average. Perhaps it was best it wasn't open when I passed through.
The park is well shaded and offers lots of opportunity for a pleasant picnic on its grassy lawns while the more energetic might want to go for a swim in the outdoor Victoria Park public swimming pool, located in the centre of the park. There is also a playground to keep children amused and dogs are permitted (including off leash in a couple of areas at certain times of the day).
In the centre of Lake Northam, named after Bill Northam, an Australian Olympic yachtsman, there is a fountain in the shape of a yacht while the lower part of the lake can be crossed via an old ornamental wooden bridge.
The other notable feature in the park is a rather out of place totem pole. The colourful totem pole, carved by Quamichan man Simon Charlie from Victoria Island, British Colombia, was a gift from the Canadian Government and the people of Canada to mark National Timber Week in 1964.
Unless you plan on having a picnic you won't need to spend long here and, indeed, most of it can be viewed if you walk across the park to get to the University of Sydney which I thoroughly recommend you visit to have a look at the university building itself and its two excellent museums and its small (very small) art gallery.
No entry free applies and the park is open 24/7.Related to:
- National/State Park
Sydney’s Last Victorian Pissoir
I do try to eke out the unusual when I visit somewhere but I must say that I did not expect to come across a Victorian filigree, cast iron, pissoir in Sydney. For those unfamiliar with the French term ‘pissoir’ it translates to a men’s urinal – though I do feel that when you translate it you somewhat vulgarise the artistic nature of the object.
Following concerns about public respectability and undesirable street behavior – men urinating in public - Sydney’s first public toilets appeared in 1880. These early toilets were exclusively for men - presumably respectable ladies did not stoop to urinating in public. Women had to wait until 1910 when the first public lavatory for them was opened in Hyde Park.
The early (male) pissoirs took the form of ornate cast iron urinals of the type pictured. Indeed this one is the last remaining cast iron pissoir in Sydney, moved to its current location in 1971 from nearby Observatory Hill. Being the last one in Sydney it has now become something of a tourist attraction.
Sydney’s first pissoirs were supplied by George Jennings who exhibited at the 1879 International Exhibition in Sydney and took the liberty of introducing himself to a Mr Roberts on the City Counicil thus:
I take the liberty of sending you an illustrated price-list of Public Conveniences manufactured by our firm and supplied to most of the Corporations and Sanitary Authorities throughout England and in many towns on the Continent and America. As they have given such great satisfaction wherever they have been fixed I venture to hope you will favour us with a chance of tendering for the supply should your Corporation at any time entertain the idea of erecting urinals in this city. We are exhibiting on the Terrace Floor of the Exhibition several appliances all tending to health & comfort, which I should have great pleasure in shewing you whenever you may feel inclined.
I am dear Sir
George Henry Jennings.
P.S. I left a complete catalogue with Mr Mountain yr. Surveyor a few days ago.
Mr Roberts did favour Mr Jennings with an order for two patent urinals in 1880 and Jennings was still supplying them in 1887 when he sold the council six ‘Class A’ six-person urinals and six ‘class B’ three person urinals.
As far as I can ascertain, this remaining pissoir was made by James Allen Snr & Son of Glasgow and is one of only two Allen pissoirs remaining in the world, the other being a larger model in the Great Western Dockyard in Bristol, England.
Today, in many parts of the world including Sydney, pissoirs, including pop-up ones, are having something of a renaissance but, sadly, they lack the style of those of the late 19th century.Related to:
- Historical Travel
TAKE YOUR FREE VT FLAG WITH YOU
If you are coming to Sydney- make sure you have your free Virtual Tourist Flag with you!
Just email the wonderful VT staff at:
Just send them your address and the rest is history. History to make!
The VT staff like postcards, so please send them a nice postcard while you are here!
801 Parkview Drive N.
El Segundo, CA 90245Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
- Adventure Travel
HAVE A PIE AT HARRY'S CAFE DE WHEELS
This is something that I, and many hundreds like me do when out late in the city ...Hunger usually sets in the AM and so many head for Harry's Cafe De Wheels. for an early morning appetiser.
This is a major Sydney institution and has been serving hot snacks to the "late niters" and party casualties for decades. This location is also very popular over the years with Taxi drivers along with local and visiting sailors from the nearby Naval Base..Although the establishment is not what it was in the early days with the old "blue and white old caravan..Today has seen an upgrade and is a little upmarket these days with some neon lights and "flash encouterement" ...but the main things are the pies..thats what has brought the crowds to Harry's .yes. one of his famous Aussie Meat Pie and peas or a Pie and sauce (tomato ketchup) is the mainstay..yes, a really great way to finish a big night out!! some great memories are related to a late night visit to Harry's..."This is one of those must do things".Related to:
- Food and Dining
- Arts and Culture
VISIT THE NEW HARD ROCK CAFE SYDNEY
Well, its about time that they got back the Hard Rock Cafe in Sydney...Recently opened and located at lovely Darling Harbour the new Hard Rock Cafe has been worth waiting for. Definately in a superb location the view from the upstairs balcony is really something .Overlooking the City centre panoramic view is excellent and especially after dark when all the buildings are lit up .
Like all Hard Rock Cafes worldwide this is no exception with a wonderful selection of Rock and Roll memorabilia..I call the HRC's the "Rock and Roll Music Museum" as they contain the best of music legends "Bits and Pieces" no matter where the HRC's are located . The staff here is as always helpful with the taking of phots and also a good chat..Check out the HRC "pins" that the staff wear ,pins from all over the world from the hundreds of HRC 's now that are available.I always wherever I can find a HRC stop in for a great "Burger and Chips" and of course "blow the froth off a few cold ones. Of course I go to the Rock shop and buy my HRC "Sydney pin" to add to my collection.
Stop by I am sure that you wont be dissapointed.Related to:
- Beer Tasting
- Arts and Culture
Vacation at Australia
Vacation at Australia and touring all the Australia attractions literally mean experiencing great shopping, great food and exciting entertainment. The names that come across my mind while speaking about Australia tourist attractions are Sydney, Melbourne. Nevertheless the scenic natural surroundings that these Australia attractions offer are mind blowing. Some of the most desired tourist attractions in Australia include Fraser Island, Sydney Harbor Bridge, Great Barrier Reef, Scenic World, Jamison Valley, Kakadu National Park, Sydney Opera House, Port Arthur, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Amp Tower Centrepoint, National Gallery of Australia etc. Visit the Australia attractions and experience a vacation of a lifetime.
If you are on your way to Australia for vacation, I would suggest you to start with the best. Go to Sydney, the most beautiful City of Australia and take a glimpse of the famous Sydney Harbor Bridge. Sydney Harbor Bridge has been one of the major tourist attractions in Australia through ages. At the foot of the bridge one can see “The Rocks” placed which are considered as the birthplace of Sydney. A brave tourist can also take a walk up to the top of the bridge with an escort. Make sure to visit the Great Barrier Reef. One of the most visited tourist spots in Australia is the Great Barrier Reef which is also considered as the most well protected marine site in the whole world. Constructed by the famous Danish architect John Utzon in the twentieth century, Sydney Opera House is another world famous tourist attraction drawing a number of tourists from across the world. Make sure you cover at least these three above mentioned Australia attractions and make the best out of your Australia trip.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Weekend in Sydney
so much to see in a weekend. Doyle's is great food and atmosphere. You can get the ferry over there from Circular Quay. The bridge climb can be quite pricey so you could try the view from the top of the southern pylon for a fraction of the cost and still have the stunning view.
The pubs around the rocks area are always fun and the food upstairs at the Orient is always good. There are also loads of bars/restaurants at King St Wharf and Cockle Bar Wharf.
You both may even enjoy the Harbour Jet Boat ride on the harbour. Not my thing but many rave about it.
Enjoy your weekend in lovely Sydney, cheers :-)
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