A – Z Challenge ….. S is for …..


Sydney ………..

I grew up in middle-of-nowhere Town and every year we’d go to Sydney for a family holiday.  It was an annual trip to civilization, culture and the Pacific Ocean. Sydney seemed like  fairyland to a girl from the land of red dust.

Most of my friends married each other and stayed around town or on the land but I went off to university in Sydney and never went back – well, that sort of became impossible anyway as my parents sold the farm and moved before I’d been gone a year.

My  3 kids are Sydney-born and don’t seem inclined to leave.  My siblings and parents all live within 4 hour drives of the city.  I have no need to go back to middle-of-nowhere Town.

The usual postcard views of Sydney are of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House so I thought I’d give some alternative views…….  these are thumbnail images so I could fit more in –  just click on any one to enlarge it.

Looking down on the Harbour Bridge – the white building (forefront) is Australia Square which was the tallest building in Sydney from 1967 until 1976 and was probably Australia’s first true “skyscraper”.  It was the world’s tallest light weight concrete building when it was built –  it is 170 metres tall – 50 floors.  There is a revolving restaurant on the 47th Floor (The Summit) and an Observation Deck on the 48th floor.  Apparently the carpark is one of Sydney’s largest basement carparks with parking for 400 cars.  

It’s a long way down to those little cars and people:  

In 1976 the 188 metre tall AMP Centre opened and in 1977 the 228 metre 60 storey MLC Centre opened and remains the tallest office building in Sydney. 

Looking down on the Royal Botanic Gardens which were founded on this site by Governor Macquarie in 1816 as part of the Governor’s Domain.  The point is called Mrs Macquarie’s Point and it is said she sat on a rock there (now called Mrs Macquarie’s Chair) and watched for ships from the homeland.  The first bay has the fabulous name Woolloomooloo Bay  and then there is Garden Island which is the main east coast naval base of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and home port to many of our major ships.   The next bays are Elizabeth Bay, Rushcutters Bay, Double Bay.  Across the harbour is Cremorne Point and Bradley’s Point (where the zoo is).

This is some of Hyde Park with the Archibald Fountain and St. Mary’s Cathedral.  The Archibald Fountain is named after JF Archibald,  owner & editor of The Bulletin,  who bequeathed funds to have it built and named after himself.  He also specified that it must be designed by a French artist to commemorate the association of Australia and France during WW1.  Francois Sicard was chosen as the designer and the fountain was unveiled on 14 March 1932.

The foundation stone for St. Mary’s was laid on 29th October 1821 by Governor Macquarie and the church was a simple stone building in the Gothic style.  In 1851 the church was modified and in June 1865 it was destroyed by fire.  The foundation stone for the present cathedral was laid in 1868 and the church was dedicated in September 1882 though it was not finished.  In 1913 the foundation stone for the nave was laid and it was dedicated in 1928.  The crypt was not completed until 1961  and the spires were built in 2000.  

Looking towards the Eastern Suburbs – Bondi Beach and Coogee Beach are way in the background.     Bondi beach is less than 10kms from the city centre (6 miles).
In the middle background of this shot is  Sydney Olympic Park  – an area of 640 hectares (1,581 acres) which contains the Arena, Stadium, Aquatic Centre, Athletic Centre, Sydney Showground and includes 430 hectares (1,062 acres) of parkland/wetlands/saltmarsh/mangrove forests.  On the bottom right is the ANZAC War Memorial in Hyde Park – unveiled November 1934 it is the main commemorative military monument in Sydney. 
This is looking across at Darling Harbour  –  that’s the Pyrmont Footbridge in the middle.  The Pyrmont Bridge is a swing bridge opened in June 1902 – it was one of the largest swing spans in the world at the time and the first to be powered by electricity!  The bridge is only a pedestrian/cycle one now.  I usually park at  Darling Harbour and walk across that to the city –  or I could take the monorail if I feel lazy.  You can see the monorail snaking across – it’s pale blue and looks like a line in the middle of the footbridge.

The tributaries of the Parramatta River and Lane Cove River flow into Port Jackson (more commonly called Sydney Harbour).   Looking west towards Parramatta –  I would travel over the Anzac Bridge (on the left) to visit my kids  – the Economist and the Princess live in Gladesville (11kms/7miles)  and my Locksmith son & wife live in Parramatta  (25kms/ 15 miles).

When I was home I took all the above photos from Sydney Tower (previously  called Centrepoint Tower) which is 309 metres (1,014ft)  tall to the top of its spire.  The observation deck is at 250 metres (820ft).    It looks like I was at the edge of someone’s backyard taking this shot across the harbour – and obviously on a much nicer day than the grey, dreary day I took the 40 second elevator ride to the top of the Tower!     If peering through glass windows is too boring for you, you can get dressed in a safety suit and get hooked up to safety cables and crawl out onto that little open platform stuck on the edge of the tower up there on the left  – 268m (879ft)  above ground level…   I’m pretty sure I’m the sort who will always be peering through the glass at the world rather than hanging over the edge of it.    


31 responses

  1. Good shots of things we rarely see. I did see on a game show once, people hanging off the platform.

    I’ve always wanted to go to Australia, but time and money and health have prevented it.

    I love Aboriginal and Native American names for places — so much better than the dull ones the English saddled us with.

    • The day I was up the tower they were not doing the platform thing as the weather was bad (not that I was going to sign up LOL). Yeah, it’s a very long way to Australia and you really have to spend more than 2 weeks there – I’m lucky to fly on frequent flyer miles and have family to stay with which helps with costs.
      We have some lovely Aboriginal place names in Australia but we also have some very English places like Epping, Wellington, Stroud and Stratford which actually sits on a little river called the Avon! 🙂

  2. Sydney is beautiful. I’ve only been there a couple of times and I only really remember the most recent trip, in about 2007, as the first time I was there was about 40 years ago. Your photos are wonderful.

    • Thank you Maju – it was a shame it was such a grey day because on a clear day you can see the Blue Mountains to the west. You are ahead of me in visiting a city across the continent from “home” – I’ve never been to Perth, or anywhere else in Western Australia. Some day I’d like to drive the coast from Broome to Albany.

  3. Beautiful photos! But there are times where you can’t even get me to look from behind a glass window. Looking straight down from a great height to the street below makes me feel faint. My husband, a mountain climber and alpine skier with no fear, finally got me to stop looking down and focus on the horizon—“There’s no view down there! Look up and front!” But when we visited the Willis (formerly Sears) Skytower, I refused to go out on those new glass ledges that allow you to feel as if you were suspended over the street. I am quite happy looking through the window without having to see the ground from 1300 feet up.

    Is St. Mary’s the oldest building in Sydney? Sydney reminds me of an American city because it appears that most of the buildings are 20th-century, with only a few 19th-century Gothic and brownstone edifices.

    • Yeah when you go to Europe you see what “old” buildings really are! 🙂 The First Fleet only landed in Sydney (at Botany Bay) in 1788 and Captain Arthur Phillip decided the Rocks area (basically under the Harbour Bridge though the bridge wasn’t there until 1932) would make an ideal location for the new British penal colony. So the oldest building in Sydney is Cadman’s Cottage in the Rocks area of Sydney – it was built 1816.

      But, just to confuse you, the oldest buildings in Australia are in the western suburbs of Sydney but in those days there was no sprawl so it was like another town – Old Government House is the oldest public building and dates from 1799 – it was the country retreat of NSW governors – it’s in Parramatta – walking distance from my eldest son so I should visit it next time I’m home.

      The oldest non-public building is Elizabeth Farm built in 1793 – which is also in the western suburbs – there are tearooms in the homestead – something else I should do some time when I’m home.

    • I also meant to say that the Empire State Building is the highest observation deck I’ve been on (369m/1,210 feet) followed by the Eiffel Tower observation deck at 276 m/ 905 feet. I’m usually so busy with my camera that I don’t notice the height – though I found going up the Eiffel Tower to be “scarier” than riding an interior elevator on the Empire State Building or the Sydney Tower! And the scariest outside experience I’ve had is walking around the catwalk of a telescope about 8 storeys up – I verged on being pathetic!

  4. Thanks Emjay, I thoroughly enjoyed that. I would like to know what those blokes in the fluoro vests are doing around the Archibald Fountain – it looks like they’re fishing out a body.

  5. Very nice post – I only spent 24 hours in Sydney when in Oz, so I’ve seen some of the most obvious touristy things, but not so much else – nice to see some other perspectives!

    ps: You should be able to see my blog now, btw!

  6. Wow – how cool are those photos! I love photos from up high, you see things so much more clearly, or at least for me it seems as such. How clever you were to get out to a big city and go to uni. How did you and the man-slave meet? Was he in Sydney too?

    • It’s cool to look at photos taken from up high and see all the things you missed when you were on the observation deck (at least for me it is 🙂 ) Yeah, not many of my classmates got in to university, or even had the inclination to move far away. Even as a little girl I had wanderlust – always wanting to know what else was in the world. I met the manservant at a gym in Sydney where I was working as the PA (personal assistant) to the owners and he was a member. He was in Australia on a 3-year contract with the observatory.

  7. Wait …

    … you went of to college …
    … your parents sold the house and moved away …
    … and you didn’t get the hint? LOL

    Very nice photos. I’m always interested in the difference between what the tourism folks and the local folks think is worthy of showing off.

    • LOL GOM ! I was a very persistent kid and Jane made it easy by writing letters to me with the new address at the top! Thanks re the photos – I was surprised that they turned out so well given the point & shoot camera, the glass and the dreary day (plug for Canon there!)… most of my trips home just involve catching up with family and friends so I don’t do a lot of touristy things. This was one of my last days there and the Princess had the day off work and we had a day out – she hadn’t been up there before.

    • Thank you monsoon. I love the architecture of St. Mary’s though I’ve never been inside! I must remedy that on one of my trips home and investigate more of its history. The oldest church in Australia is Ebenezer Church built 1808/09 -about 100 miles from Sydney.

  8. Great Sydney tour! We had always lived in small places, mostly out of town as I was growing up. When my older cousin got married and moved to St. Louis, we would go to see her about once a year. It was like stepping into a different world.

    • Thank you CbD. It’s amazing how magical a city can seem to a country girl – as a kid you don’t see the less desirable traits of high density living. One of the things I miss most from a country town is the friendliness of the people and just knowing people as you walk down the street.

    • Thank you LG. The exposure to the world today via internet is fantastic – no excuse for not knowing where a country is anymore. My family had a huge Reader’s Digest Atlas of the World and if we wanted to know anything else we had to go to the library and look up an encyclopaedia.

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