Thursday, September 3, 2009

first stop, Wahroonga


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I'm kicking off 52 Suburbs with a visit to Wahroonga. I know, I know, Wahroonga?
Isn't that one of those polite Upper North Shore suburbs with lots of trees, big houses and
not much else? Well, yes and no.

I'd never contemplated putting Wahroonga on my list, mainly because I've been there
before and could see no reason for going again.

That was before I got the flyer in the mail about the Fifties Fair at Rose Seidler House,
both of which I'd always wanted to visit and strangely never had. Where were they?
Wahroonga!

So two Sundays ago I made the long trek north from my home in Clovelly. The
usual weekend sounds of tennis balls flying back and forth and pristine four-wheel
drives gliding past were replaced by booming rockabilly and the din of more than
5,000 Fifties fans making their annual pilgrimage to the iconic Rose Seidler House.

I felt like a kid in a lolly shop, not knowing where to look first: a shining example
of mid-century modern architecture surrounded by beautiful Australian bush or its
adoring fans, so perfectly garbed they looked liked they'd just walked straight off
the set of Mad Men.

I was in retro, modernist, nostalgic heaven...

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hip to be square


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bright sparks


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floral display


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hey mister


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peachy


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glimpse


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gallivanting around


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pretty flash


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sunny days


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orange curtains


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scribbles


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are my seams straight?


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fast


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dotty about spots


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petal

15 comments:

  1. Your photos are gorgeous.

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  2. I love this concept! its brillant and I love that we as watchers can enjoy the journey! I will be watching!
    I love the 50's fair shots the best so far. just gorgeous

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  3. Thanks Jess, Sarah. The 50's Fair are some of my favourites too.

    Louise

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  4. Hey!

    I live on the North Shore and am mightily annoyed that I missed this. :( How did you get wind of it?

    Also, you have stunning photos. If you never need a fellow photographer, I'd love to come along!

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  5. Gorgeous! I've always been curious about this fair. Now I know what I'm truly missing out on, I'll have to remember to visit it next time it's on.

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  6. Your photos show a true artistic eye and the concept of your blog is excellent. I have only just started reading but thought why not start with your first stop, Wahroonga. After all, I was born there and lived the first 23 years of my life in the heart of this burb.

    Sadly, I think your shallow assessment of Wahroonga as "one of those polite Upper North Shore suburbs with lots of trees, big houses and
    not much else" sells both Wahroonga and your blog very short.

    Wahroonga may be full of fancy homes and carefully manicured gardens. But it is also home to some of the most colourful and interesting people I've met across the globe. I live in the inner city now and travelled to every continent on the planet but whenever I return to Wahroonga, I am reminded that people in the suburb are some of the kindest and most genuine you will find anywhere.

    Rather than documenting the transient visitors to the suburb, perhaps you could have stopped to meet the people of Wahroonga: Danny, the owner of the pet shop, who is so passionate about animals that he has a whole family of rescue dogs of all crazy sizes and shapes and still has time to remember the names of all of his patron's pets too. Or Rosie and Jim, from the corner fish and chip shop for the past 30 years who still make the best old fashioned Aussie hamburger. Percy, the butcher, who saves the best juicy bones for the neighbourhoods dogs. Or Sam the barber who has been giving a $10 haircut and a good old chin wag to my dad, and all the other gents around about for 20+ years.

    Why is politeness and a pride in one's home a negative? If you had taken the time to discover the real Wahroonga, you would have learned that this qualities ago hand in hand with a community who as a whole understand the true meaning of being a good neighbour.

    Disappointing.

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    1. Very well said. I've lived in Wahroonga now for 8 years with my young family and get tired of people dismissing Wahroonga as boring. Yes, it is rather quiet but that's how a lot of us like it - peaceful - it means that I have the head space for all the reading I do - learning about the world. The people are very genuine, interesting, outdoorsy people who take pride in themselves and their surroundings, why is that a bad thing? My grip with the upper north shore is the lack of good restaurants and bars to go to. But there's more to life than that.

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  7. Have to agree Wahroonga is a very altruistic suburb that can be too easily dismissed as 'polite'. My mum lived here for forty years. In her latter years people were so kind and helpful towards her as she found it more and more difficult to get around. They looked out for her and looked after her. Wahroonga is not so different to so many other places.

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  8. Anon and Anon - I can see your point of view and apologise for offending. To be honest, I really did only focus on the 50s Fair and gave the rest of the suburb a cursory once-over. This was my first suburb and as such I was 'finding my feet'. I think if I were to have made Wahroonga Suburb No 20 something, I would have had a different attitude.

    And no, there's nothing wrong with politeness and pride in one's home - I was simply drawing attention to the fact that it was strange that I was visiting the suburb given the premise was to visit the unknown - and I already knew something about W, that it wasn't the most 'exciting' place on the planet. But then who needs exciting when you've got people like Danny and Sam? I wish I'd taken the time to search those types of people out. If I do a 52 Suburbs Revisited one day, I'll be on the lookout for them and others like them.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to fill out the picture of W with more detail than I did.

    Louise

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    1. Nice reply Louise. I love your work and took no offence to describing Wahroonga as a polite suburb - as there is nothing wrong with polite. I lived in Wahroonga for 15 years and return to it often. It is lovely, and likewise all its tree-loving people.

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