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Jacarandas of Woolloomooloo

Jacarandas in Woolloomooloo

Jacarandas in Woolloomooloo

Jacarandas in Woolloomooloo

Jacarandas in Woolloomooloo, with two iconic Sydney buildings in the distance.

It’s that time again in Sydney when the jacaranda trees are in bloom. One argument holds that the first specimen in Australia was planted in 1864 (source) — not in Sydney, but they have since been planted here with enthusiasm.

A carpet of fallen jacaranda petals.

A carpet of fallen jacaranda petals.

My journey to work includes a short train ride from Bondi Junction to Martin Place. Just after the train leaves King’s Cross, you can see dots of purple off to the left — but look right, and you are treated to large pockets of intense purple. Last weekend, I took the train to King’s Cross and had a good wander around this area, known as Woolloomooloo (pronounced by Aussies as “Wullamulloo”). It’s a small suburb that originally grew up around a wharf (Finger Wharf) that juts into the harbour.

In this screengrab from Google Maps (satellite view), Finger Wharf is clear. I’ve outlined in yellow the rough borders of Woolloomooloo.

These next photos give a flavour of the types of original housing: rows of small, cramped accommodation for workers and their families (with and without jacarandas!). Walking around the area, you can see that many of the houses have been smartened up, but many still look, shall we less, less smart. It’s an interesting mix.

 

In this shot, you can see the corrugated metal roof of the building behind the flowers.

Jacaranda and corrugated metal roof.

Jacaranda and corrugated metal roof.

The dock work is long gone. The wharf itself (400m/1,310ft long and 63m/210ft wide, standing on 3,600 piles) now houses an upmarket hotel, luxury apartments and assorted eateries. Built between 1911 and 1915, in its day it was the largest wooden structure in the world. (source)

Interior of Finger Wharf. You can get a good idea of its size!

Let’s finish off with more of those flamboyant jacarandas.


Jacarandas and roses.

Jacarandas and roses.

I’m linking this to Jo’s Monday Walks, but I think she’s still in the Algarve as her site hasn’t been updated in a while.


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The Indivisible Curves

Sculpture by the Sea is on again in Sydney. Apparently, it’s the world’s largest free sculpture exhibition, and it runs along the coast from Bondi Beach (where I live) to Tamarama Beach. Two friends and I braved the inevitable hordes of people today to check out this year’s offerings. It was a beautiful early summer day, with a cloudless sky and a temperature around 26C (79F), and ocean breezes to take the edge off the sun.

Remembering that this week’s theme is curves or rounded, I was on the lookout for a sculpture with no straight lines.

Finally, towards the end of our walk, we came across this one. A sensous swirl of curves twining around itself, with no beginning and no end.

And if you’re wondering why I titled this post “The Indivisible Curves”, it’s because the piece is called “Indivisible.”

When I get my other photos sorted, I’ll post about some of this year’s other sculptures. You can see my other related posts from previous years here.


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Happy World Champagne Day!

Some of my collection of champagne capsules.

Some of my collection of champagne capsules.

To mark this delightful annual tradition (alright, I know, it’s really a very clever marketing ploy by the wine makers of Champagne), I’ll be part of Moët & Chandon’s attempt to get into the Guinnesss Book of Records for hosting the World’s Largest Champagne Tasting. It’ll be tough, but I’m willing to do my part. #MOETMOMENT

Confession time: I am a placomusophile. Sounds vaguely illegal, doesn’t it? It comes from the French world ‘placomusophilie’, which means the act of collecting the metal capsules (known as a ‘plaque de muselet’) that sit atop the corks in bottles of champagne and other sparkling wines. Hence the photo! The familiar system of wire muzzle and metal capsule used to keep corks in place in bottles of these potentially explosive wines was invented by Adolphe Jacqueson in 1844.

World Champagne Day is 20 October, so if you live in an earlier time zone than Sydney’s and are reading this on 19 October, you still have a chance to get out and do something. 😉

UPDATE: It’s official, a new Guinness World Record was set! The previous record had been 698 people at an event in Sweden in 2015. We managed to just squeak past, at 715 people, as counted by the official Guinness adjudicators on site.

Here are some photos of the event:

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Shine a (little) light

A perfectly ordinary reading lamp.

As the caption above says, here is an ordinary reading lamp. You may have one at home, on your desk or on a table beside your favourite reading chair. Those bendy arms are so convenient for getting the light in just the right place.

But, through the magic of scale manipulation, the lamp shrinks! This book looms over it.

Perfectly ordinary reading light shrunk to half the height of a paperback book.

And how many ordinary reading lamps can hang over the top of a Kindle?

Even smaller when hanging over the top of a Kindle.

Clever shots, you may think, but not achieved through forced perspective or other photography tricks. This is no ordinary reading lamp: it’s actually a miniature. The book and Kindle are full size. (And I really do hang the lamp over the Kindle, it’s very useful!)

The moment of truth: the lamp is actually tiny!

(I hope you’ll forgive the bit of shameless self-promotion: the featured books are two of my own novels written under my pen name of Elizabeth Krall.)

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The Three Beaches Walk

I’ve dubbed this The Three Beaches Walk because it covers Sydney’s three most northerly beaches: it begins at Palm Beach, takes in Whale Beach and ends at Avalon Beach, roughly 9km. (Scroll to the bottom of the post for a map.) I did it last weekend, and as the photos reveal, it was a beautiful spring day, 22C and sunny.

Looking back (north) along Palm Beach from the point I started walking, you can see the lighthouse on Barrenjoey Head.

Looking in the direction of the walk (south), this is where I was headed.

I had to get from sea level to the top of that hill, though. At the end of the beach are stairs. Lots of them.

Once at the top, you can look back to Palm Beach and beyond, and marvel how high you’ve come.

The houses along here are big, expensive, and face the sea. Only walls and roofs can be glimpsed from the road. (According to friends who grew up on Sydney’s North Shore, this is known — unflatteringly — as the Insular Pensinsula.)

Flowering plants aplently!

Here’s the next beach, Whale Beach.

I had a sinking feeling when I spotted that headland at the end of Whale Beach, but luckily didn’t have to scale it. However, I knew the headland beyond this one would have to be tackled.

It was a bit of a trek up the hill at the far end of the beach. In the bottom right you can see Whale Beach, and how tiny the people are.

This bench is hardly a stunning specimen, but it was sturdy and in the shade, so I sat for a bit. 🙂

This louvred door and shrub caught my eye. It looks as if they’re blocking access to something, but in a fun way.

Time to go off road! This is the beginning of the bushwalk at Bangalley Head.

“Relatively hard”. “Highest point”. hmmm

More stairs, of course …

Once at the top, and with my breathing back to normal and heartbeat no longer thumping in my ears, the walking was delightful. Sun-dappled paths through the trees, and glimpses to the right of yachts in secluded bays.

The end is in sight! That’s Avalon Beach in the distance. How to get off this headland, though??

I finally found the path down. More stairs (naturally) but easier to bounce down than up. When I turned a corner in the path and saw this perfectly framed sight, I actually exclaimed, “Wow.”

These cliff edge warning signs were dotted along the Bangalley Head walk. You can see how close the edge is.

Once off the headland and looking back, the height of the drop is all too apparent.

The path continues between cliff edge and front gardens. I hope these people have insurance, because that’s a pretty steep drop.

The end! Here is Avalon Beach.

Now, I’m not a great fan of ocean swimming — too much sand, too much surf, too much getting knocked over by waves. But the pool at the hotel I stayed at that night in Newport is much more my style!

Here’s a Google Maps shot of where the walk is, if you’re not sure of the relation to Sydney.

If you enjoyed this walk, be sure to check out other people’s offerings on Jo’s Monday Walks.

And if you’d like to see more about Palm Beach and the Barrenjoey lighthouse, Jude has a great post.

(A note about the photos. I didn’t want to lug my ‘real’ camera around for three days, so took a smaller ‘point and shoot’. The quality is not as good as I’d like, but that was the trade-off for less weight and bulk. Still, you get the idea!)


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Passing by in a blur

People walking along Martin Place, Sydney.

These two photos of pedestrians on Martin Place were taken a couple of years ago during the annual Vivid light festival. The long exposure needed for the lights created some interesting motion blur as people passed by!

I’m really not sure what this person was doing to turn into such an odd shape!

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The coveted Bondi Beach view — if you don’t have it, fake it!

The “view” from my bathroom. The sun always shines, and it’s always summer on Bondi Beach.

I live in an apartment building on Campbell Parade, the street that curves along Sydney’s famous Bondi Beach. Any dwelling along the road that has a beach view is prime property indeed! I, however, live at the back of my building — much quieter, and with sweeping “district views”. One wall in my bathroom does face the beach, though it does not have a window (just as well, really, because on the other side of that wall is the foyer/lobby area for my floor!).

So I gave myself a view. I took a photo of the beach, slipped it behind a graphic of a window frame (complete with pot plant on the window ledge) and had it printed as a large poster. Then I put it on the wall, and for the finishing touch added real curtains.

Hey presto! I too now have the coveted Bondi Beach view.

(btw, the peach-painted wall is the landlord’s idea, not mine!)


The view from the window