Sydney Harbour Bridge turns 90

This angle gives a different perspective on the famous “coat hanger” shape. And I haven’t seen a cruise ship on the harbour for two years now!

I can see the top — the very top! — of the harbour bridge from my kitchen window. Last night I was puzzled to see it lit up in blues and reds, the colours chasing each other along the arch. (Then, of course, yet another deluge began and whited out everything, again, and that was the end of that.) This morning I learned the reason for the light display: today is the 90th anniversary of the opening of the bridge. And by great good coincidence, Cee’s CFFC challenge this week is Bridges!

Here’s a photo of the underside of the bridge (and Queen Mary, berthed at the Overseas Passenger Terminal).

Taken from Milson’s Point.

The stark metal structures look wonderful when the evening light hits them.

Taken on a sunset cruise.

Looking up from the water as the boat passes under the bridge.

Two shots of the bridge lit at night.

Convenient bench from which to admire the bridge.

That’s the Luna Park amusement park behind the bridge.

I read an interesting story this morning, about the men who quarried and shaped the granite for the pylons. “173,000 blocks were cut, numbered, and arranged like a jigsaw puzzle.” Wow. The pylons do not, as many people think, actually support the bridge. You can see in this photo that the arch ends without touching this pylon.

Big gap between arch and pylon!

Here’s the bridge on a day when we were blanketed in bushfire smoke.

Looming from the murk.

The sun sets behind the bridge, which can result in some stunning photos as the metal seems to glow. (Having the opera house in the foreground doesn’t hurt either!)

Here’s a closer view of the top of the arch. If you look to the right of the spire, you can make out a group of blue-clad people doing the Bridge Climb.

The bridge plays its part during the Vivid Light Festival, too.

A good view of some of those 173,000 blocks of granite!

Most people will have seen photos of the bridge when it takes centre stage during Sydney’s extravagant New Year’s Eve fireworks display.

Taken from a balcony at the opera house, before the fireworks.

These two shots are pretty awful, I’m the first to admit it. All I can say is that they were handheld and I was in a crowd (yeah, you try pushing to the front of a thousand opera-attending partyers with your tripod, and see how that works). But you get the idea, and you can make out the bridge.

And finally, this is possibly my favourite shot of the bridge. 🙂

Distorted image in a glass of bubbly, taken at Opera Bar.

The bridge in numbers:
Width: 49m, carrying traffic, railway lines, pedestrian walkway and bicycle track
Length: 1149m
Main span length: 503
Height above sea level: top of arch 134m
Height above sea level: top of pylons 88m
Number of hand-driven rivets: almost 6,000,000


Whisky tasting

Q: What could be better than one tasting flight? A: Two tasting flights!

On a recent visit to Hobart (day stop on a cruise on Queen Elizabeth) my friend and I popped into the Lark Distillery ‘cellar door’ and had a very enjoyable whisky tasting.

Posted as part of CFFC Sense of Tasting.

Black Breasted Buzzard (juvenile)

Focus on Feathers

Alice Springs Desert Park - swooping Hobby (a type of falcon)

Alice Springs Desert Park – swooping Hobby (a type of falcon). Look at those gorgeous feathers!

I visited Alice Springs Desert Park a couple of weeks ago and saw some amazing demonstrations of free flying birds. The Hobby is a type of falcon, very swift and agile, and I was thrilled to get a fairly well focused shot of it swooping down, every feather clearly visible.

Another impressive bird display involved a juvenile Black Breasted Buzzard. These birds are known for their ability to use stones to crack open eggs, including the very large, thick-shelled, green eggs of emus. At the park, the buzzards open imitation eggs with meat inside.

Close-up of buzzard's wing feathers.

Close-up of buzzard’s wing feathers.

Here, the bird has both wings outstretched for balance.

Alice Springs Desert Park - Black Breasted Buzzard (juvenile) cracking open an "emu egg"

Alice Springs Desert Park – Black Breasted Buzzard (juvenile) cracking open an “emu egg”.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week has the topic of feathers.


Trains and Tracks

Pine Creek Railway Museum, Northern Territory, Australia

Pine Creek Railway Museum

Disused tracks, Pine Creek Railway Museum. You can make out the name “H Pooley & Son, Liverpool, London”

I have two sets of railway-related photos for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge with this week’s theme of trains and tracks. The first is from Pine Creek in northern Australia, where enthusiasts and volunteers maintain a small museum dedicated to the area’s railway history.

Locomotive at Pine Creek Railway Museum

Locomotive at Pine Creek Railway Museum

The narrow-gauge North Australia Railway ran south from Darwin and reached Pine Creek in 1888. By 1929 it had reached its farthest point, Birdum, a distance of some 509 km (316 miles). The line’s busiest period was during World War II.

The locomotive was built in 1877 in England, and rebuilt in 2001 in Australia.

This locomotive was built in 1877 in England, and rebuilt in 2001 in Australia.

The line closed on 30 June 1976, overshadowed by more effective means of transport, but in its time was important carrier of goods and people.

Luxurious travel in its day, but uncomfortable by our standards!

Luxurious travel in its day, but uncomfortable by our standards!

The Grand Canyon Railway, Arizona, US

The Grand Canyon Railway

The Grand Canyon Railway

The first train to carry passengers the 103 km (64 miles) from Williams, Arizona to the south rim of the Grand Canyon ran on 17 September 1901.

Old locomotive, Grand Canyon Railway

Old steam locomotive, Grand Canyon Railway

As with the North Australia Railway, competition from cars led to closure of the Grand Canyon Railway in July 1968 (only three passengers were on the last run!). Three unsuccessful attempts were made to resurrect the line, until in 1989 services resumed under different ownership.

Current locomotive, Grand Canyon Railway

Current diesel locomotive, Grand Canyon Railway. It may be more efficient and more environmentally friendly, but it doesn’t captivate people like the steam locos do!

The train today offers seating in various classes, from all-inclusive food and drink luxury carriages to high-domed viewing carriages to straightforward seating.

Going around a corner, shot from the platform at the end of the train

Going around a corner, shot from the platform at the end of the train

At the end of the train is an open platform that offers uninterrupted views back at the tracks, or forward if you lean around the corner of the carriage.

Looking back at the tracks from the platform.

Looking back at the tracks from the platform.

I think you can guess which class of seat I opted for. 😉

Access to the rear platform is through this door.

Access to the rear platform is through this door.

Time to relax, enjoy the scenery and decide which beverage to have.

Time to relax, enjoy the scenery and decide which beverage to have.

(Information about these reailways was taken from Wikipedia)



Barking mad

(click any image to view full size)

Like a snake sloughing its skin, the gum tree in front of my balcony sheds its bark in spring. Never before having lived 10 feet from a gum tree, let alone one that towers above even the six stories of my apartment building, I am fascinated when this tree’s smooth bark begins to wrinkle and crack. After a few weeks, the fresh new bark appears.

This post is my entry for two challenges: Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Bark or Leaves and Sunday Stills Shallow Depth of Field.

(post edited on 11 November to include link to Sunday Stills challenge)


A splash of colour on a wet, gloomy day

pink and white mini gerbera
After a delightful run of unseasonably warm autumnal weather, winter has arrived in Sydney with a steady drizzle and dropping temperatures. I stopped at a local greengrocer on the way home and saw these small gerberas. They are only a few centimetres across but their cheerful pink-and-white exuberance was a lovely sight on a winter evening, when the sun has set by 5pm. Isn’t it interesting how enormous this little flower appears when shot as a macro?