Sunday, October 17, 2010
Well well. After just over a year of daytripping around this amazing city, we have finally arrived at
our last stop - suburb No 52. It's a very strange feeling I have to say - much odder than I thought it
would be. A potent mix of sadness, relief and satisfaction, with a tiny touch of fear for good measure.
It's a mix of emotions that I haven't been able to shake all week. Every time someone has asked me
what I'm planning to do to celebrate the end of 52 Suburbs, I've felt quite disturbed. I know what
they mean and appreciate the sentiment - but celebrate? Part of me never wants this to end.
So much so that I seem to have spent double the time getting this post out the door. Admittedly
it is a bit of a bumper issue but I think I've been holding on too. Now after two days of editing and
re-editing the time has come - Let's Go Milsons Point!
I had thought about leaving it to chance and choosing the last suburb from a hat filled with the remaining
500 plus suburbs I have yet to nose around in. But after more thought than I've ever given a suburb choice,
I settled on Milsons Point.
Why? For a number of reasons. When I began this project 50 something weeks ago, I was insatiably
curious about the 'non-postcard Sydney', a place that few tourists would ever think to visit. While I
still have hundreds of suburbs left to explore I now feel like I at least have some idea about the Sydney
beyond the glossy brochures. Time to do an about turn and pay a visit to a suburb packed with icons
that scream Sydney to millions of people around the world. Because I never said I didn't like the
shiny glistening bits - the harbour, the Opera House, the bridge. They just had to wait their turn.
Knowing that the last suburb had the potential to be a bit sad, I also wanted to share something
fun with you and end on a high note somehow. A trip to Luna Park, the fun fair at Milsons Point, seemed
like a good idea. Especially as fun and fantasty is where we started with the 1950s Fair at Wahroonga.
Why not end with it too?
And lastly, I liked that we were finishing with a suburb that sits right across from the place where it all
started in 1788, Sydney Cove.
Before we hop on the Ferris Wheel, some history. The Cammeraygal lived along the foreshores
of the area until the British arrived. The suburb was named after settler James Milson, whose son
was one of the bright sparks who built up a ferry business to transport people across the harbour,
pre-Sydney Harbour Bridge days (1935). In the 1920s, many of the suburb's homes were resumed
to make way for the building of the bridge and railway. Today, Milsons Point is a mix of high-rise
residential and commercial, its most notable bits being one end of the Sydney Harbour Bridge,
Luna Park and North Sydney Pool.
Part 1: Just for Fun - the entertainers
My memory must be pretty shocking because as I entered Luna Park through the enormous smiling face,
I could not for the life of me remember if I'd ever been before. I'm certain I never went as a kid (grew
up in Hong Kong) but maybe I did as a young adult.
Anyway, I have to say, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. It helped that I went with my daughter
whose excitement was infectious. And that it was the 75th birthday of the park. But I also expected
it to be tackier somehow and was thrilled to find so much of it is old and original.
Part of the reason for this is that it hasn't always been 'Just for Fun' at Luna Park. In 1979 tragedy
struck when a fire killed seven people - six children and one adult - on the Ghost Train. Since then the
park has been closed for long periods of time; at one point complaints about the noise from the rides
threatened to close it down entirely.
As an article I read later explained, "Perhaps ironically, it has been the years of neglect that has
ensured these rare historic designs [murals, art deco architecture] remaining largely intact."
Today, Luna Park's future looks as bright as its zillions of tiny lights with a heritage listing and a special
place in the heart of many Sydneysiders.
So first, let's wander and meet some of the fantastic entertainers who swagger/dance/stilt-walk
through the crowd.
my, what large lips you have
welcome, you're just in time to see the Incredible Flying Bird
oh, that is a good one!
a real life Dolly Varden cake
Lola and Miss purple toes
Freckle and Speckle :: 1
Freckle and Speckle :: 2
Freckle and Speckle :: 3
dancing girls :: 1
dancing girls :: 2
dancing girls :: 3
dancing girls :: 4
Try Your Kissing Style
nice going kid
hoola hoop :: 1
hoola hoop :: 1
Part 2: Just for Fun - the happy customers
happiness is a kid on a carousel
Jem at the Wheel of Joy
up up and away in my beautiful balloon
waiting to see The Script
not really dressed for The Rotor
Dianne and Loula
Part 3: Swimming under the Sydney Harbour Bridge
North Sydney Pool, probably my favourite pool in Sydney. Original 1936 art deco building with a
tasteful new addition, right on the harbour's edge. On one side is the Sydney Harbour Bridge,
on the other Luna Park. Good for distracting one from counting the laps.
an icon among icons
neighbours :: 1
round and round, lap after lap
the lounge area
look at all those lily pads fellas
nice place to work on a tan :: 1
nice place to work on a tan :: 2
a swim would be nice
neighbours :: 2
Part 4: A walk down memory lane
The last time I walked around the foreshore from Luna Park to Lavender Bay was 10 years ago.
Since then a section of it has been transformed into a sweet little park, the Art Barton Park (named
after the resident artist at Luna Park from 1935 to 1970, Arthur Barton).
If you keep an eye out you'll spy a handful of tiny sculptures dotted along the way by local resident
and artist Peter Kingston. Most of them are classic Australian comic characters such as Blinky Bill
but one is especially moving - 'A Cup of Tea' is a memorial to the Ghost Train victims, designed
by cartoonist Michael Leunig in 1994 and sculpted by Peter Kingston in 2006.
A Cup of Tea
Ginger Meggs, stuck on a plinth but with a ripper view
Part 5: The Coat Hanger - above it
Ah yes, the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Fast facts - opened in 1932 after six years of toil, world's
largest steel arch bridge that once upon a time cost six pence to cross (three pence if you were a
horse and rider). And you know why they are always painting it? Because the surface area that needs
a slap of paint is equal to the surface area of 60 sports fields.
What amuses me is that despite the fact it takes just minutes to cross the bridge, it's a big
deal to get people from one side or the other to do so.
Milsons Point supports the northern end of the bridge and as such is a busy transport hub. Not just
of trains and cars but cyclists in colourful cling-film Lycra on their way to and from work.
the final ascent - Karl :: 1
the final ascent - Karl :: 2
the final ascent - Terry
climbing not riding
ooh, it gets windy on the bridge
Part 6: The Coat Hanger - below it
Always wondered what went on behind those massive walls of windows under the bridge you drive
past on your way to North Sydney. Now I know. Car mechanics, classic car shop and a RTA service centre.
old school transport
they don't make cars/windows like they used to
under the bridge
RTA boys :: 1
RTA boys :: 2
RTA boys :: 3
Speaking of cars...
Popeye, stop hitting that car!
Part 7: Harry's buildings
Am at Luna Park, enjoying the chaos, when I look up and see this interesting building. Concrete
looking with white grid. Turns out to be a Harry Seidler and Associates design. Built in three stages,
one section at 2 Glenn Street just won the 25 Year Award for Enduring Architecture at the Australian
Institute of Architects' NSW Architecture Awards. It looks right across the water at another Seidler,
the Blues Point Tower. A slightly more controversial creation.
view over to the other Seidler
Part 8: And back to Luna Park, just for fun
One last look as the day comes to an end, the rides wind up and we all wander home...
precious chains :: 1
precious chains :: 2
flying chairs at rest
Chris and Shannon from Mt Druitt :: 1
Chris and Shannon from Mt Druitt :: 2
Chris and Shannon from Mt Druitt :: 3
Gina, reflective, just like me
oh no, she's going!
bringing the suburbs to the icons :: 1
bringing the suburbs to the icons :: 2
surrounded by bright lights now
Oh, I almost forgot, I have a virtual present for you...
cheesy but true
The beauty in Milsons Point? While the icons pack a punch, I like the kinetic energy of the place.
Trains, cars, buses, cyclists. Runners, swimmers, thrill seekers. A suburb in constant motion.
Except for that peaceful little park, honouring six kids and a dad who were just trying to have
So it's 2am in the morning. The usual time I finish these posts. But aside from that, nothing is usual
about this particular post. You know what this feels like? When you've been travelling with people
- people you didn't know to begin with but soon felt connected to - and the travels have come to
an end. Some of you have been with me on this adventure for 52 weeks - a whole year.
And now what? This is just too sad. Well, let's just say this is not the end okay? I don't know if there'll
be another 52 Suburbs but here's what I do know - there will definitely be another project and more
adventuring. There just will be.
So stay tuned. I'll be head down for the next three weeks getting the book ready and then who knows.
It is hard to see the keyboard now through the hot salty tears rolling down my cheeks. I cannot
imagine not getting out there and exploring. This city is so amazing and I don't want to stop sharing
it with you.
But like I said, this project has ended but there will be another. And after I've finished the book,
I'll be organising some sort of do. Because by then I probably will feel like celebrating.
In the meantime, I plan on posting once a week still. In fact, if you have any questions about
the project, fire away and I'll answer them next week.
So thank you, thank you, thank you. You've been the most wonderful travelling companion I could
have wished for. I really hope you enjoyed it. I did. Every single hot/cold/hard/easy/exhausting/
funny/disturbing/curious/satisfying/beautiful/ugly/wonderful minute of it.
See you next week.