Tuesday, 3 June 2014

The "Phoenix" hulk

Phoenix Hulk moored at entrance to Billy Blue's Bay [Lavender Bay] : Robert Russell c. 1837
Sketch courtesy of the National Library of Australia, Canberra
In all its years as a penal colony, 1788 to 1840, there was only ever one hulk moored in Sydney's harbour, that of the "Phoenix", which was hove to in the triangulation of Dawes Point, Lavender Bay, and Goat Island, between 1825 and 1837. Governors Brisbane, Darling, and Bourke found it furthered their aims:
  • the presence of the hulk flashed a warning to recalcitrant convicts;
  • the hulk took the pressure off the overflowing gaol at Circular Quay (Sydney Gaol); and,
  • the 260 felons on board were an easily deployed iron' gang for use on either Goat Island, or the rutted tracks throughout the burgeoning township.
Standing on Dawes Point, hanging over the railing of Pier One, here is the triangulated area nearly 200 years later. Imagine the "Captain Cook Cruises" vessel as the "Phoenix", being close enough to "X" marks the spot. To the left of the image, Goat Island sneaks its nose in, to the left of the fuel barge.
The fuel barge continues to chugg down the waterways of the harbour, and exit right. Leaving Goat Island centre stage. The evidence of the relationship between the island and the hulk, is scattered every-which-where on the island, together with the fingerprints of Governor Richard Bourke.
A pivot on my heels, together with a few dollysteps, and my Dawes Point location becomes apparent.

Below are two annotated images to help you orient yourself. Both images, courtesy of The Graeme Andrews Collection at the National Maritime Museum.

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Theme Day - Zest

Kumquats are a delightfully tart member of the citrus family, tasting a little like the distillation of a Lisbon Lemon and a Seville Orange. I have about 50 fruit left on the bush in a terracotta pot, in a walkway, in my veggie patch.
The fruit is too small, and the rind too thin, to grate Kumquat zest, so, when making my Kumquat Mamalade, I will rely on the zest of a lemon to enhance the thinly sliced Kumquat peel.
Take this link to see more participants in the CDP Theme Day for June 2014

Monday, 26 May 2014

Cazneaux's cabbies

Bridge Street, in the centre of Sydney's CBD, has always been an important street. The original "bridge" was across the Tank Stream, but neither the bridge (its heirs and successors!) or, indeed, the stream, is still in existence.

Once again, the black'n'white image was made by Harold Cazneaux in 1904, and shows Sydney's horse cabs. Phillip Geeves tells me that the peak year for Sydney's hansom cabs had been in 1892, when there had been 1,299 cabs clip-clopping around the city. The decline of Sydney's cab population over the 1890s was, primarily, driven by three causes:
  • the depression of the 1890s
  • the advent og the cable tram over the Edgecliff routs which had been the most lucrative route for the cabbies, and
  • the increase in popularity of the bicycle.

The cabbies are sitting on the low stone wall having a chin-wag, and puffing on their pipes. That low stone wall on which they are perched - and its high gate pillar a little way down - are still there today, around Macquarie Place. Opposite the horses - note the nose bag! - is the Lands Department building. To its right is The Royal Exchange Building, and the next building (with the small dome) is the Exchange Hotel.
I tried to replicate from memory. I enjoy the challenge, but agree it would be better to take the book with me! See the stone wall? Not, across the road the old Royal Exchange has been replaced with a modern monstrosity.

Now let's look the OTHER way along Bridge Street. Let's look east, rather than west. In the modern view, after the Lands Dept Building is the Education Department, and on the corner of Bridge and Macquarie Streets is the magnificent Chief Secretary's Building.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Underneath the arches ...

Prior to the harbour bridge coming into use in 1932, the harbour - at the same point - was crossed using a ferry, or punt. There were two ferry routes: one that went from Dawes Point to Blues Point (constructed about 1900); another that went from Bennelong Point to Milsons Point (constructed in 1883). The remains of the Dawes Point ferry wharf can still be seen today.

These first three images try to pin it down for you. The historic marker (left) refers to it as "the Dawes Point Horse Ferry Wharf". In the early days of this wharf, there were more horse and carts using the service than motorised vehicles. However, in 1830 there was a ferry called "The Experiment" which was a paddlewheeler, the motive power for which was a capstan turned by four horses walking round and round on deck. I am conflicted over which story gave rise to the name!
There are some wonderful photographs taken by Harold Cazneaux (1878-1953) of the old ferries to and from these wharves. He adored the soft harbour light in the early morning, and some of his best images combine the two. Here is his 1908 "Ticket Collector, Horse Punt", sourced from the Art Gallery, New South Wales (AG-NSW). The specific wharf is not detailed.
Here is another of Cazneaux's ferry images: "The Old Horse Punt", c. 1920. This time on the water. I am not able to read the name of the punt, but it is loaded with horses and carts. This could be the "Kooroongaba", or the "Benelon", or the "Barrangaroo", or the "Warrane", or the "Kamilaroi". Wonderful old names. This image sourced from the digital collection o the National Library of Australia (NLA).

This final image comes from "Philip Geeves presents Cazneaux's Sydney 1904-1934", and depicts the old horse ferry at Milson's Point, which ran to and from Bennelong Point. Apparently, Cazneaux confessed that he haunted the Milsons Point terminus: "The old pre-bridge ferry landing always attracted me and my 'magic box'. It was the soft morning light that prompted the taking of this picture, which I like to think of as one of my best."

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Theme Day - "Squares"

Wynyard Square is but a wisp of its former self, existing as it does as a transport gateway to the bustling central business district of Sydney.

It started life as the parade grounds for the military barracks of the young colony in the fading years of the 18th century. As the city grew, the land became too valuable to "waste" on solders, so they were shunted out to Victoria Barracks in 1848, and and Sydney's most rapacious occupational group - land developers - started nibbling away.

What used to be bounded by George, Margaret, Clarence and Barrack (each an existing street) is no more than a sliver of green around which to direct a fleet of buses, and under which to direct a fleet of trains.

Here are images of the square throughout its 200 years:
Wynyard Square, 1800 and 1810
Wynyard Square, 1830 and 1845
Wynyard Square, 1858 and 1890
Wynyard Square, 1906 and 1928
Wynyard Square, 1930s and 1940s
Take this link to see more participants in the CDP Theme Day for May 2014