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Did that dog just talk to me?
When the adjacent Queen Victoria Building was being restored in the 1980s, Malaysian developers Ipoh Gardens decided that an exterior sculpture of Queen Victoria would be an appropriate addition.
The hunt for a second -hand statue commenced and in the end Ireland obliged. Having found the requisite statutory something was required to cover an unsightly air vent from an underground car park which sat about 10 metres from where Her Majesty was to be erected.
To complement the Queen’s statue, Sydney sculptor Justin Robson was commissioned to produce a bronze sculpture (based on Victoria's own 1843 sketch) of her favourite pet dog, a Skye terrier called Islay as the centrepiece for a wishing well. He did a splendid job on the dog though in 2002, dog aside, the Sydney Morning Herald (I feel, not unfairly) described the wishing well/air vent thus “From a distance it looks like a Parisian pissoir, but as you get closer, you realise there is no way to get inside”.
Islay, whenever he saw Queen Victoria would sit up and beg for a biscuit – he would now, in his familiar sitting up mode beg for the deaf and blind children of Australia. A plaque on the wishing well features a poem telling the story of Islay (with braille translation) while four proverbs highlighting the morality of giving are also featured in six different languages.
An additional and somewhat peculiar addition to the wishing well is a stone from the battlements of Blarney Castle in Ireland. This is securely fixed to the rim of the well and is the subject of my separate review – “Kiss the Blarney Stone - In Sydney?”
Islay silently went about his business of collecting money for deaf and blind children until 1996 when he received the power of speech in the form of the recorded dulcet tones of local radio shock-jock, John Laws. As you pass by now Islay encourages you to make a wish and cast a coin into the well in aid of the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children.
"Hello, my name is Islay," announces Islay in a deep voice. "...Because of the many good deeds I've done for deaf and blind children, I have been given the power of speech”. The pièce de résistance is Islay’s two barks of thanks at the end of the routine.
The real Islay died on 26th April 1844, aged five, fallowing an altercation with a cat and is buried in Adelaide Cottage, Windsor Castle, UK.
A change of subject, if I may.
Many people have the impression that Australian’s walk around in shorts and thongs (the foot-ware variety!) and lack any sense of fashion. I trust the lady in my final photo helps squash this vile impression forever and proves that fashion is alive and well, in Sydney at least!
- Historical Travel
Kiss the Blarney Stone - In Sydney?
He or she who kisses the Blarney Stone is filled with eloquence and has a way with words or, as many would say, has the gift of the gab or is full of the blarney. Wabat has kissed the Blarney stone, not once, but twice!
“The” Blarney Stone is high up and set into the battlements of Blarney Castle in Ireland and to kiss it used to involve being dangled, by the legs, over the edge of the Castle wall – at some significant distance from the ground. I understand a somewhat now less risky method is employed.
Why am I telling you this in a tip on Sydney? Let me explain.
This is one of those instances where it pays to keep your eyes peeled to your surroundings. One of the best known buildings in Sydney is the Queen Victoria Building and tis somewhat of a tourist magnet. A lesser number of people stop to have a look at a statue of Queen Victoria just outside the building (City Hall side), an even smaller number have a look at a nearby (10 metres) wishing well and few take note of a stone stuck to the lip of the wishing well.
This stone - about 10-15cm square and the subject of this tip – is, as the plaque states a stone from the Battlements of Blarney Castle. It is not, and I repeat, It is not part of the Blarney Stone. Alas, my dear friends, kiss it you may and many do, but if you want the gift of eloquence you really do have to go to Ireland.
Why this stone is Sydney and why it is attached to a wishing well related to Queen Victoria – not the most revered of British monarchs in Ireland - is somewhat of a mystery. The statue, wishing well and stone all went on display in Sydney in 1987.
From the plaque accompanying the stone, one can ascertain that it was a gift to the people of Sydney from the Lord Mayor of Cork, through the courtesy of Sir Richard Colthurst. The Colthurst family own Blarney Castle and Sir Richard, being short of funds like many of the landed gentry in the seventies and the eighties, opened Blarney Castle to the public. Perhaps having a bit of it on display in Sydney was a form of advertising. I really don’t know.
Do have a look but its no substitute for going to Ireland.
- Castles and Palaces
- Historical Travel
VISIT THE QUEEN VICTORIA BUILDING
The Queen Victoria Building is just not only for shopping...This fine Victorian building was left to fall into dissrepair until a few years back it was completely refurbished and now is one of the most beautiful old buildings in the city of Sydney. After the huge restoration project on the building it is now a major shopping location.There are over 200 shops here and whatever you like it is here..from fine clothes to to lovely chocolate..from books to ice cream smoothies..This is a place where you can spend a lot of time as there is always something new here..This is also the location of the Town Hall railway station.
- Women's Travel
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Budget Travel
Queen Victoria Building
The Queen Victoria building takes up an entire city block. The building is beautiful in its Romaneque revival architecture. The building was deigned by architect George McRae and opened in 1898. The building was named after the ruling Monarch, Queen Victoria of Great Britain.
The building has a central dome of glass and copper which gives the interior a open feel.
Stained glass windows are throughout the interior of the building. One window has the ancient arms of the City of Sydney and is quite beautiful.
Inside the building are two mechanical clocks, each one featuring dioramas and moving figures from moments in Australian history. The first clock is the Royal Clock. The clock was designed by Neil Glasser and made by Thwaites & Reed of Hastings in England. The clock shows scenes of English royalty from King John signing the Magna Carta to the execution of King Charles I. The second clock is The Great Australian Clock. It was designed and made by Chris Cook. There are 33 scenes from Australian history, seen from both Aboriginal and European perspectives. An Aboriginal hunter circles the exterior of the clock continuously, representing the never-ending passage of time.
There are also two large glass cases inside the building. The first case contains an Imperial Chinese Bridal Carriage made entirely of jade and weighing over two tons, the only example found outside China. The second is a life sized figure of Queen Victoria in historical costume on her coronation day. There are replicas of the British crown jewels(during her reign). The figure of the Queen in her regal attire rotates slowly in the case.
The building Has four floors of shopping. There are cafes, jewelry stores, clothing stores and more. It was amazing to walk through this building. We walked the four floors more than once. There was so much decoration and artwork to be seen before we even bothered to look at the shops.
THE CROWN JEWELS @ QVB
The Crown Jewels is another permanent display. They were crafted from the originals that are housed in the Tower of London. There is a life size statue that shows Queen Victoria on the morning of her coronation, 28 June 1838.
This is another excellent display, well worth a look at, especially if you are never going to get to London!
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
QUEEN VICTORIA BUILDING
THIS MAGNIFICENT BUILDING IS A MUST SEE IN SYDNEY!
Known as QVB, this beautiful building was completed in 1898, replacing the original Sydney markets on the site. It was built during a severe recession as a monument to the long reigning monarch, Queen Victoria.
The elaborate Romanesque architecture was specially planned for the grand building so the Government could employ many out-of-work craftsmen - stonemasons, plasterers, and stained window artists, and excellent idea!
Originally, there was a concert hall, that is now the City Library. You will find all sorts of stores, from coffee shops, florists, hairdressers to offices and showrooms, I even bought some nice, good quality T shirts from here.
The dominant feature is the mighty centre dome, consisting of an inner glass dome and an exterior copper- sheathed dome. Stained glass windows and stunning architecture are seen throughout the building and an original 19th century staircase sits alongside the dome. As recently as 1959 the Queen Victoria Building was threatened with demolition, thankgoodness this never happened. Every detail has been faithfully restored, including arches, pillars, balustrades and the intricate tiled floors.
Please check the website for trading hours. The shops are open every day of the week.
Of importance, is a Time capsule containing a letter written by Queen Elizabeth II in 1986 to the citizens of Sydney, to be opened and read by the lord Mayor of Sydney, 99 years later in 2085, the year the 99 year lease of the building expires!..........wonder what it will say?
- Historical Travel
JADE BRIDAL CARRIAGE @ QVB
A permanent display in the Queen Victoria building is the 'Imperial Bridal Carriage', believed to be the only one of its kind outside of China. This beautiful carriage was created by more than 100 artists on more than 300 ton of raw jade. The finished weight of the carriage is approx two tonnes.
A MUST SEE!
LOCATION....Level 2, North End
- Historical Travel
STAINED GLASS WINDOWS @ QVB
The stained glass windows here are beautiful. The one in my photo, faces George Street. It is known as a cartwheelwindow. It shows part of the ancient coat of Arms of Sydney.
Location.. Level One and two where the centre dome area is.
AUSTRALIAN CLOCK @ QVB
The Great Australia clock is another clock that should not be missed!
Located on the northern side of the centre dome, it is the world's largest hanging animated turret clock!
It took 4 years to build at a cost of $1.5million, and was installed in the year 2000.
The clock chimes hourly and half past the hour.
This clock tells the story of Australia from the perspectives of the Aboriginal & European settlers. One of the features, is the Aboriginal figure representing the 'passing of time' This figure travels permanently around the clock, representing the continuous passage of time. As he passes the illustrated scenes, many animations are activated.
If you do not wish to wait for it to begin, ......DO A GOOD DEED
and put a $2 donation in the Guide Dog named "mitch' who sits infront of the clock. This will activate a two minute animation of the top canopy carousel. The money is then donated to training Guide dogs for the Blind.
Scenes that you will see are..............
1. Aborigines before european settlement.
2. Captain cook landing in 1770.
3. Second fleet landing 1790.
4. Crossing the Blue Mountains.
5. the taking of the children.
7. Judgement of Myall Creek massacre
8. The black line, Tasmania, 1830.
9. annual blessing Torres Strait islands
10. Eureka stockade.
11. Battlefields of 1861
12. Lords at London
13. Opening of Parliament 1901
14. Soldiers return to the outback 1945.
15. Unity 1999.
I stood and watched this quite a few times, it is so well done, simply amazing!
- Historical Travel
THE ROYAL CLOCK @ QVB
Something that you shouldn't miss in the Queen Victorian building, is the two clocks.
Make sure that you are standing where you have a good view when it chimes!
This one, the ROYAL CLOCK was installed in 1986. It is a Royal Automated clock that chimes on the hour daily between 9am - 9pm.
Once this marvellous hanging clock has finished chiming, then it displays a series of mechanically moving tableaux of British kings and queens every hour on the hour. This "exhibition" is heralded by loud trumpeters and ends with the beheading of Charles I.
It is wonderful seeing all the doors on the clock open, and the scenes being acted!
NOT TO BE MISSED!
- Historical Travel
Stroll through a time long forgotten
This is indeed a beautiful place to shop, browse and eat. It has been described as "The most beautiful shopping centre in the world" by none other than Pierre Cardin!
The original building was completed in 1898 and it was completely refurbished and re-opened in 1984, now housing over 200 shops, and also many restaurants and cafes. We ate a lovely lunch in here at the Old Vienna Coffee House.
- in a word: MAGNIFICENT
I had heard of the magnificence of the Queen Victoria Building (QVB) and wanted to explore the building so dear to the hearts of Sydneysiders.
We caught the train from near our hotel and alighted at the Town Hall station. We followed the signs and suddenly we found ourselves in the lower ground floor of the huge structure. In a way it was a pity that we arrived that way, as it would have been better for “first look” to walk towards the building from ground level and see the vastness of the building that fills an entire city block.
Over a couple of hours we walked most of the interior building and window shopped - and there is an amazing array of shops from the chain stores like Country Road and Esprit that can be seen in almost any shopping centre in Australia, to the quirky arty crafty shops and many in between. The QVB is also home to the ABC Shop where many fine books; CD’s, DVD’s and lots more await your pleasure. There are up market cafes and coffee shops and a few grab and go eateries and all surrounded by late 19th century grandeur.
What sets the QVB apart from the many shopping centers is the opulence of the building itself. From the cast iron balconies and magnificent stairwells to the stained glass windows, the dome and the multi faced clocks that are such a distinctive feature of the building.
Once outside there is a small public area containing a large statue of Queen Victoria. In Melbourne I like to tell the yarn about that explains that during the renovation of the building, the owners wanted a statue of Q Vic, so they travelled to Melbourne and offered to buy OUR statue that overlooks the city of Melbourne from the banks of the Yarra River - no deal they were told. So they hunted the world looking for a cheap statue and found the one that now graces the entrance to the QVB in the Republic of Ireland where statues of the late queen are considered passé
- Food and Dining
- Luxury Travel
Too Beautiful for a Shopping Mall
The Queen Victoria Building is simply too beautful to be a shopping mall. The building which was built in 1898 is beautiful in it's Byzantine architecture. This is a massive structure that takes up an entire city block. It was first used as a replacement to the Sydney Markets, then a concert hall, a library and then retail space. There are over 200 shops inside the QV B.
The building has some incredible stained glass windows and beautiful wood work. There are two clocks in the building: one displays Bristish Queen and Kings of History and the other
has examples of Australian highlights. Ther is also a central exhibit with replicas of the British crown jewels at the time of Queen Victoria's reign as well as a full scale coach.
Even if you aren't in the mood to shop you must come to see this beautiful piece of architecture for yourself.
With its convenient passageway to Town Hall Station, Queen Victoria Building or QVB was the meeting point for my friend and I. apart from shopping the designers' products, you can also simply enjoy its Victorian architecture.
i had a very nice time there just hanging out and watching people. Queens Cafe on Level 1 of the building is my recommendation.
Australia's most spectacular Christmas Tree
If you happen to be in Sydney around Christmas time, do not miss to have a look at the spectacular Christmas tree in the Queen Victoria Building (QVB). It is Australia's largest indoor tree - and surely one of the world's most expensive Christmas trees. (Do not know what the sheiks do... ;-)
On the VT Forum the question came up how they get this 24 metre high tree into the building, as the tree extends through three floors.
The solution is easy if you know the secret... ;-)
The tree is not a one piece tree you would cut in the forest. It is made up of many single parts.
It is 24 metres high and extends through three floors but only the bottom part of the trunk is a real tree trunk. On top of that they put a conic steel construction. They put about 1700 branches into that steel cone. Every branch is decorated before being attached to the cone.
They attach about 15,000 Swarovski crystals to the tree. Each crystal costs AU$ 100, so the value of the crystals only adds up to AU$1.5 million. The decoration is complete with 40,000 lights, 8,000 baubles and 400 bows.
30 people work on the branches alone for three nights, and in total they - plus eight riggers and two electricians - need nearly two weeks to put everything together. They are guarded by security staff during the installation, as you can imagine. You will find out that you will not reach the crystals by leaning over the banisters of the stairwell...
The tree is on display from 25 October to 6 January.
See more photos of the tree in the travelogue at the bottom of this page.
VT member wallywombat has provided a good link to a page with more information:
What I absolutely do not understand is why they do not post any information about the Christmas tree on the QVB website (www.qvb.com.au).
Just a thought while writing this tip a second time...
What I really love about VT is that if I do not write a tip in a Word .doc and do not save it before uploading a photo, you can be sure the upload process breaks down and everything is lost. It is nearly as magic as Christmas.
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