Saturday, September 30, 2006

Swan Song

Here at the White Horse Inn, Crown Street, Surry Hills, a large red banner hangs: Go Swannies Go. And today at the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge the Australian flag was replaced by a red and white one. What's the fuss? This afternoon a thrilling (I was told) match opposed the Sydney Swans (red and white) and the West Coast Eagles (yellow and blue) in the AFL grand final. What's AFL? Australian Football League, an oval ball game played with specifically Aussie rules. Wouldn't have a further clue. Anyway, the Swans lost. By one point. But no time to indulge in sorrow, tomorrow another grand final awaits. The Broncos against the Storms, in NRL this time. National Rugby League, another oval ball game with different rules. Don't ask me more. This week-end all sports-loving Sydneysiders (doesn't that mean ALL Sydneysiders?) sure will be spending a lot of time watching TV! I'm off to the beach.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Evening glory in Manly

Manly is a seaside resort located seven miles from Sydney on the north shore. Its situation is unique in that it boasts a spectacular surf beach on the ocean side and some wonderful protected coves on the bay side. Discovered by Captain Phillip in 1788, it was named after the local clans of aborigines who greeted him with 'manly' gestures. The Quarantine Station was built there in 1832 to segregate ill passengers when they stepped off the ships arriving from England. Manly remained quite isolated until Henry Gilbert Smith bought some land there in 1853, introduced a ferry service and started to plant along Manly Cove the iconic Norfolk Pines that are now so deeply associated with the place. Two superb specimen here.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Hungry Jack goes crazy

Where it is revealed that hunger leads to some truly psychedelic experiences.
With late night shopping until 9 pm, Thursday is a busy night in Sydney. I was walking home when I passed this closed shop window in Oxford Street all covered in shiny plastic reflecting the street lights outside. Given my interest in reflections I clicked away happily, but only when I downloaded the photo did I read the words Hungry Jack's from across the street - easy to see if you enlarge the picture. Poor Jack was so hungry he went wild...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Grey geometry

Grey morning today. No soft pinks at sunrise, no crisp blues, no golden syrup, no harsh blinding sun. Suddenly I realise how much of Sydney's beauty lies with its extraordinary light. Without it and for its grey geometry this could be an (ex) Eastern block city. But I like the composition. Where is this ? Philip Street. The sandstone façade in the right bottom corner is the Museum of Sydney.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Off the rails at Central

1906-2006... Sydney's main train station, Central, celebrated its 100 years last August. To the keen eye it reveals a wealth of delightful period details such as this superb glass window pane. I had to go out of my way to find this door leading to administrative offices that are closed to the public, but isn't it lovely?
More about the history of Central Station

Monday, September 25, 2006

Monday morning on the train

From the Central Coast north of Sydney, more than sixty thousand people commute to the city every day. It's an hour and a half by train along one of the slowest but most scenic lines I have ever seen. As the train enters Ku-Ring-Gai National Park, it meanders along the banks of the Hawkesbury River. The wilderness of this stretch of the ride is amazing but the lady sitting across from me is too busy knitting to look up. The large streaks across the window are the result of the latest fad in railway vandalism : scratching the glass with anything sharp to leave your mark. How fun...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Hot, hot, hot

There are some pretty spectacular beaches on the coast north of Sydney. Here at The Entrance there was this most unusual set of clouds above the lake yesterday at sunset and today we are getting a scorching hot westerly wind that seems to be blowing straight from the desert. Unusual, unusual. Is this global warming ?

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Chalk the walk

For four days 21 to 24 September, about three dozen artists are letting their talents loose on the pavement of Pyrmont Bridge.Two days into the exercise, few are even near completion of their work. Gold coin donations are welcome but it's mostly a labour of love. Visitors can cast their vote for the People's Choice Award. This work wasn't necessarily my favourite but I like the artist's posture and hat. Chalk the Walk, Pyrmont Bridge, until this Sunday.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Lazy hazy day

Early morning in the Royal Botanic Gardens. Across the bay, the north shore appears blurred in a soft blue haze. We're heading for a warm day. Relax, it's Friday. This afternoon there will be plenty of TGIF parties in Sydney's office buildings. TGIF ? Thank God It's Friday ! Are there any such parties where you work ?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Yellow water taxi

Sydney's yellow water taxis are famous. But at this very early hour no crew is on board. The bay sits absolutely still. Not even the softest breeze wrinkles the water's surface, no passing boat has damaged the perfect reflection. I catch the moment before heading for the office, thinking : wouldn't it be wonderful to take on these to go to work? Or better still, to take one of these to not go to work?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Welcome to Chinatown

The red porch with the green tile roof is the gateway to Chinatown. A large bronze lion also guards the entrance but you won't see it: by choosing a side angle, I caught two white marble giraffes instead. Not sure why these two are here, these animals are neither Astralian nor Chinese. I'd need to find out. In the meantime, welcome to Chinatown.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The colours of music

After my comments yesterday about how well new immigrants are supposed to blend in, it just makes sense to take you to Chinatown. Here's an interesting example of east meets west: this ad for the Ipod can currently be seen all over the city, but in this street in Chinatown it takes a special twist with the neon signs of nearby Chinese shops appearing in reflection. Technology meets music, movement and colour. The music is in your ears and in your eyes, action!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Fair Dinkum, mmm?

The Government announced this week its intention to toughen access to Australian citizenship by introducing several new conditions, among which are language and culture tests. Prime Minister John Howard, asked to comment about how the hard the change would be on applicants, said: "if they're fair dinkum, they will have no problems". No doubt that the use of the word was calculated. Fair Dinkum? Few foreigners would know what that means... Tell me, Mr. Prime Minister, for those of us who were not 'made in Australia' like the girl on my photo, is that expression going to be part of the test - along with the lyrics of Waltzing Matilda and words like swag, damper or billy tea? I won't ask about the knowledge of a few Aboriginal words... (don't know what Fair Dinkum means? Look in the comments)

Sunday, September 17, 2006

I don't play golf

I don't play golf. I have no right to be here. But precisely, isn't a nose-in-the wind dreamer like me far more sensitive to the fantastic views than anyone whose primary concern is not to lose track of a minuscule white ball? So when shadows are long and human encounters scarce, I regularly take a tour of my waterfront property to enjoy the million-dollar views. Ignored by all, I march on my own, peacefully and without banner for the right of non-golfers to the beauty of the coast.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Saturday at the beach

The beach is one of the things I most enjoy in Australia. A perfect morning with no wind (it will pick up later, around noon), clear blue skies, long emerald green waves and an incredible sense of peace. All is well. It's a Saturday morning at the beach.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The lady in the tree

Paddington, mid-afternoon. Click on the image to enlarge it and you will better see the dark lady figure appearing in between the branches. It's the reflection of a portrait exhibited in a gallery in Glenmore Road. I love the eerie effect it adds to the street. I took this photo last week and walked past the same place again yesterday: the exhibition has changed, the buds on the tree have grown to leaves, this magic appearance can never be captured again. It will only live on through my photo.
Visit Australian Galleries

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Palisade Hotel

The Palisade Hotel is a weird sight. Just steps away from the harbour and bridge, it testifies to one of those urbanistic failures every city knows: at the time it was built, it was surely expected other similar buildings would come and balance its size and shape. This never happened, so it is now left freestanding on a dull corner of Hickson Street. Dull? Not so dull, the firemen are here! Oh they're only here to change a light bulb on a nearby street lamp. As for the Leaning Tower of Pisa effect, it's just a matter of framing - as you would have guessed.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Coming here soon... three kangaroos

Would you like to pat a kangaroo? See koalas up close? Of course you would, every tourist does! So the Sydney Aquarium on Darling Harbour is expanding. In the soon to open Sydney Wildlife World, you will be able to see all of Australia's wildlife without having to leave the city. Flapping flags all over the CBD promise you the wilderness... in a area half the size of a football field. Ah it's a brave new world, where the big outdoors are disneylandised (do you like my new verb?) for the mutual benefit of foolish consenting tourists and greedy unscrupulous developers. But why should I be surprised?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


The Strand Arcade, detail of stained glass window. The anemone shown here is not an Australian flower. Built in 1891 and typical of Victorian Sydney, the Strand Arcade was named after the famous street in London which was synonymous with fashionable elegant shopping. It would be another fourty years or more before Australian designers and artists realised that instead of copying British and European styles they could make a unique contribution to the world by drawing their inspiration from the local colours, flora, fauna and landscapes.

Monday, September 11, 2006

No picnic in the park

More and more rain again today - lunch will have to be indoors! Here at The Strand, picture taken from the first floor balcony.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Rain and tears

Driving rain again today. Browsing the Internet I stumble upon Beirut Daily Photo. It opens in April 2006 with carefree snapshots of a happy city: balloons, cafés, monuments and beaches. It ends on 31st of July with (professional) photos of the bombings and injured people being pulled from the rubble. The site is now closed, the author has been evacuated. As yet, he hasn't returned. Viewing this, I reflect on how lucky we are, we who live in safe parts of the world, that our daily photos reflect such an easy life. Peace seems such a luxury now… May you treasure it and help maintain it in every way you can.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Your place or mine?

Saturday night fever. When bodies come close and grow impatient, when desire locks them together, in the end only one question remains: your place or mine?
'Your place or mine?" by Sally Lange is part of a group exhibition by the Sculptors Society, visible only until tomorrow at the Darling Centre, 201 Sussex Street. Wonderful.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Glitzy glam Sydney

The day was windy with showers and traits of sunshine chasing each other faster than Tom and Jerry in my favourite cartoons. I left the office before sunset hoping for a lucky strike. You bet! Suddenly the city turned to Hollywood, Las Vegas and the pirates' treasure chest all in one - what a show!
By the way, my office is in one of the smaller buildings on the left, it's just a ten minute walk away.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Bondi - art is everywhere

There is so much to look at on Bondi beach: the golden sand, the waves so blue, the white bodies of exhilarated tourists, the tanned and fit bodies of the locals, the ongoing ballet of surfers, joggers, swimmers … but if you turn your back to the sea and walk right up to the cliff at the southern end of the beach, you will find places where the naked rock exposes itself with a candour that I find incredibly moving. Art is everywhere! But it is the artist who reveals it to the world.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

An ordinary day in the city

Circular quay 8:30 am. You step off the ferry and walk to work while having a look at the paper you just bought. You read that Steve Irwin will be getting a state funeral. He is described as a passionate conservationist. There are photos of him mucking around with crocodiles. You reflect on how remote from the wild side of Australia your daily city life is. Round the corner, you buy your cappuccino, which comes in a foam cup. In Sydney alone, fifteen thousand of those are thrown away every day. But you don't think about it. It's just an ordinary day in the city.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Crikey, wot a sad loss

Steve Irwin, famously known as the Crocodile Hunter, was filming a documentary on the Great barrier reef when he died yesterday as a stingray's barb pierced his heart. Today the emotion is huge: the Sydney Morning Herald titles “Death of an icon” and the Daily Telegraph runs a special edition about it. The owners of my local fish & chips shop (Pinky’s Take Away) also decided to express their sympathy on their notice board: in addition to the usual messages Size does matter (a reference to the large portions they serve) and Under New Management, they added “Crickey, wot a sad loss” (Crikey was Steve Irwin’s favourite expression). The whole thing seems ooh so Australian to me: the wonderful hero himself, the very casual spelling, the genuine sincerity, but also the lack of thought (or care?) leading to quite an odd combination of messages on the board… Despite my sadness, I couldn’t help but smile!
PS - Click on the photo to enlarge it and you'll see that the smaller sign, the Maxibon ad, says 'In the wild, lickers never survive". Not sure what to make of that one... Steve wasn't licking that stingray, was he?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Big Brother is watching you

Downhill from St Mary's cathedral, Cathedral Street leads into the now trendy suburb of Woolloomooloo. An art gallery there currently exhibits quite powerful half-wood half-steel creations. Working with the reflection in the window, I caught this bioman of sorts watching over the street. I positively love this photo.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Spring by the sea

On Friday I showed you spring coming to town with a beautiful magnolia in Darlinghurst Street. Today here's spring at the beach, in Toowoon Bay near where I live. The weather was unusually warm this weekend with 28°C (that's 8°C above the average for September) and many took their first swim of the season. But the surfers had a disappointing time, the waves were so tiny.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Doorways - pull !

Yesterday I really wanted to tell you about spring but the 1st of September was also a Theme Day for the community of city daily photo bloggers and the theme was 'Doorways'. So now, one day late, here's my entry: I'm taking you to the Australian Maritime Museum. Reflected in the glass door is the replica of James Cook's ship, Endeavour. I'll show you more of it soon.

Friday, September 01, 2006

What? Spring is here ?!?

It's hard enough to adjust to the southern hemisphere: when it's winter it's summer, and when it's summer it's winter - but fair enough. Where it gets really bad is when they tell me it's spring. Yes, in Australia, they change seasons on March 1st, June 1st, September 1st and December 1st so today is the first day of spring. I find this rather shocking. Was it all too hard to follow the natural rythm of solstices and equinoxes? But what upsets me most is... they're bloody right: spring is here: look at this!