Tag Archives: Sydney Harbour

Elizabeth Bay, Sydney – Thursday Doors.

Welcome to Another Thursday Doors.

As an Australian in a country with relatively modern architecture, it’s all too easy to feel a sense of inferiority when you’re trying to find even one interesting door to stand tall and proud alongside its foreign rivals. However, after a trip to Elizabeth Bay on Sydney Harbour, I’ve come through with the goods. Indeed, upon reflection, you could say that the doors of Elizabeth Bay know how to make an entrance.

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Hayes Theatre

This trip to Elizabeth Bay wasn’t a purpose-built Doorscursion. Rather, I went over to check out the block of flats my grandparents lived in when they first got married… Caversham Court at 25 Billyard Avenue, a street back from the harbour and across the road from one of Sydney’s most expensive and prestigious homes, Boomerang. I also wanted to simply walk around the area and get a feel for where they lived as well. The plethora of stunning doors was an unexpected bonus.

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Elizabeth Bay Cafe on Greenknowe Ave

This doorscursion starts walking down Greenknowe Ave,  past the Elizabeth Bay Cafe. I’d spotted the magnificent red doors at Kelburn Hall from the bus and was salivating like a dog glaring through a butcher shop window. Even before I’d discovered Thursday Doors, unlocking the door into an entire community of door enthusiasts, I couldn’t walk past a red door without taking a photo and wishing it was mine.

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Quite an entrance!A stunning red double door complete with Ionic columns.

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By the way, although the linear progression of these photos creates a sense of direction, it’s an illusion. Rather, I was completely lost and struggling to connect what I’d seen on Google maps with what I was experiencing on the ground. You see, I’d been looking at Elizabeth Bay from the harbour, where I’d arrived via Kings Cross from behind. While for many this wouldn’t pose a problem, and they’d automatically re calibrate their inner compass, this doesn’t happen for me and I couldn’t orientate myself, which is a fancy way of saying, I was lost. Moreover, I didn’t have a map. While that wouldn’t be a problem for the modern babe,  I’m more of a hard copy girl. Indeed, my sense of direction is so bad, that I need to hold that piece of paper in my hands and turn it round to face the direction I’m going, even if it is”upside down”. Only then, do I have a snowflakes chance in an Australian summer, of finding my way to my intended destination. Indeed, that’s why I’m often left to muse over John Lennon’s words of wisdom:

Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”

 

Above: My apologies for the leaning columns of Scotforth. I tend to take photos at a slight angle, which look really obvious in photos with such strong lines.

Just to add to my overall state of lostness, my phone hadn’t charged the night before and was as flat as a tack. I not only had no access to Google maps, but I also had no access to my husband. Yes, as embarrassing as it is to admit, I have been known to ring him at work in a serious state of panicked distress when I’ve had no other hope of reaching my intended destination. Talk about humiliating, especially when I’m struggling to ay where I am!

Anyway, I’ve already confessed all in a previous post. No need to rehash!

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After a bit of assistance, I’m now heading down Ithaca Road and soon spot the harbour peeking through the huge touring Moreton Bay fig trees leaning over the road. Phew! Billyard Avenue is on the left and I soon spot Caversham Court. It’s rather distinctive.

Caversham Court

Caversham Court, 25 Billyard Ave, Elizabeth Bay.

Caversham Foyer

Front Doors, Caversham Court.

Of course, I was looking forward to photographing the front door for Thursday Doors. However, what I couldn’t see on Google Earth, was that the front foyers and the block of flats next door are currently being renovated and my shot of the front door would be obscured by scaffolding. I guess that provides something a bit different for Thursday Doors.

By the way, my grandparents kept good company in Billyard Avenue. One of Sydney’s most prestigious and expensive mansions, Boomerang, is just across the road. Of course, I had no chance of ever getting inside there, although I did manage to photograph the front door and also around the corner, the “Trademen’s Entrance”. Naturally, I was rather chuffed with these finds.

Around the corner, I wandered into Beare Park, which is right on the waterfront at Elizabeth Bay with views across to Island. That’s where I spotted this garage door:

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A lock up garage with harbour views stood out among the flats.

If you are interested in going for a walk in the area, you might like to consult The Map.

Lastly, I thought I’d leave you with a photo of a much more humble door found on Ithaca Road:

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This has been another contribution to Thursday Doors hosted by Norm 2.0. Why don’t you come and join us and share a few of your favourite doors. It’s a lot of fun and helps you see parts of the world you’ll never get to visit.

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS: I wasn’t the only one who was lost and having trouble finding Billyard Avenue.

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I hope Zozo the gender unspecified cat found its way home.

 

Stepping Back to Elizabeth Bay, Sydney.

Yesterday, I carpe diemed the afternoon. After my doctor’s appointment at Royal North Shore Hospital, I  went on extensive detour via Elizabeth Bay, which took me across the other side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and heading out towards Bondi and the opposite direction with a few doglegs thrown in versus heading home.

Map of Elizabeth bay & Sydney

Map of Sydney showing the location of Elizabeth Bay and Billyard Avenue, which is about halfway up the right hand side at the blue P. By © OpenStreetMap contributors – http://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=15/-33.8699/151.1983, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30198821

 

Such detours have been my modus operandi  after my medical appointments for many years. While they might only be for a few hours, these brief getaways can feel like an adventure exploring all sorts of nooks, crannies and cafes through my Nikon lens and sometimes even my pen.  While this excursion to Elizabeth Bay was perhaps my most extensive detour, it didn’t require a lot of walking and wasn’t going to tire me out. All I had to do was  catch the train to Town Hall, change for Kings Cross and then find a bus to take me down the hill to Elizabeth Bay.

Fortunately, it’s Summer here and we’re on Daylight Savings Time, which allowed me to steal away an extra couple of extra hours before sunset. I truly needed the extra time yesterday. My appointment was at 4.30 pm, and it was 6.00PM by the time I reached Kings Cross Station. Until recently, I would’ve been in darkness. Yet, the sun was still shining and it was perfect weather for photography, which was one of the reasons I’d decided to push the envelope and head out so late in the day.

However, all this enthusiasm, plotting and planning didn’t alleviate my guilt. I still felt like I was on borrowed time and rather naughty. Mum had escaped and gone off the grid. Moreover, to make matters worse, my mobile phone hadn’t charged the night before. So, I was off without a leash and sometimes even I didn’t know where I was. BTW, that wasn’t a joke. With my appalling sense of direction, it’s the truth.

Well, I suppose there are those of you wondering why I was going to Elizabeth Bay on what had evolved into Friday night when I live a couple of hours North by train and so much longer as the crow flies. No doubt, there are also those very sensible souls among you, who would ramp that up a notch into an agitated: “What on earth was she doing out over there with only 25 sleeps left before Christmas? What’s she doing going on random detours, when she should be focused on essential activities only? After all, next Saturday is her daughter’s dance concert and on Sunday, she’s performing Danny Boy on her violin at the end of year concert. This isn’t the time for stray, random excursions. It’s time to stick to the diary. Go through the check list and stay true to the path. This is no time for pursuing the road less traveled.

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My grandparents’ wedding photo: Eunice Gardiner and Robert Curtin.

However, about a month ago, I found out that when my grandparents were first married, that they’d lived in a flat at Caversham Court, 25 Billyard Avenue, Elizabeth Bay. I was so excited. It was like a spark of electricity igniting my soul. Well, that might be an exaggeration. However, I love finding out anything about them. It momentary brings them back to life, and I realize just how much I miss them. So, I couldn’t wait to check the place out in person. Walk the very streets they’d walked, even if I couldn’t experience that nunoo nunoo sense of being back in the very same flat. I had seen a few photos taken through the windows looking out across the harbour and I could feel myself looking out that very same window, seeing the world through their eyes for just a moment in time.To see through their eyes…how powerful is that? It’s what a writer attempts to do with a character, but it means so much more when it’s someone you love, especially when they’re gone.

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Caversham Court, 25 Billyard Ave, Elizabeth Bay.

Perhaps, I could rightly blame Google for this sense of urgency. This need to go there and experience Caversham Court for myself. You see, thanks to Google, I was able to check out Caversham Court both inside and out. When you see it all by itself online, it looks very distinguished with striking art deco features, and it’s clearly from another era. When I looked inside, I fell in love with interior layout of the flats, which have a circular room. I don’t think I’ve ever been inside a circular room like this. Indeed, any place I’ve ever lived it, has always been composed of rectangles and squares and you’re ultimately living in a box. This, on the other hand, was architecture. Much to my delight, the real estate agents had also posted photos looking through the windows across to Sydney Harbour. Naturally, I thought of my grandparents looking out through those windows. Yet, at the same time, not knowing their flat number, I couldn’t quite put myself in situ.Didn’t know which window was theirs.

 

When it comes to location, Caversham Court has a lot going for it. It’s the first street back from the harbour and you only need to venture across the road, to find Boomerang, one of Sydney’s most expensive, prestigious mansions.  Elizabeth Bay House isn’t far away either. Indeed, nothing is very far away. Well, that’s except for me in terms of getting home.

So, now we’ll pick up my journey from where I caught the bus at Kings Cross Station. It’s at this point, that I regret not bringing a map and the fact that my phone didn’t charge last night and is as flat as a tack. Directions-wise, I’m on my own. If you know me well, this is a red flag moment and you should be hearing something along the lines of: Danger, Will Robinson!” However, at least at this stage, I’m heading the right direction. The bus is moving along Darlinghurst Road past the El Allemein fountain and turning right on cue. So far, so good. I know where we are.

It’s just after this point, that things became a little crazy and I became lost in space. it appeared that Elizabeth Bay was a lot smaller in real life that I’d expected, and not quite the landmark I’d imagined. Looking out the window, I can’t find Billyard Avenue anywhere and the narrow streets are twisting into a confusing maze. I have no idea where I am, or where Billyard Avenue is hiding. Elizabeth Bay is missing. I can’t see it anywhere. Of course, I pressed the panic button. Sought help from the bus driver, who I figured ought to know where he is going. However, to my horror, the bus driver’s never heard of Billyard Avenue and neither have the other passengers. While it might’ve been the centre of my universe, Billyard  had never crossed their path and they clearly weren’t missing it. However, a true hero of a passenger, Googled it on his phone and it was time to jump off the bus and backpedal down the hill. Of all the days for my phone not to charge, this wasn’t a good one.

These directions were a help, but not my salvation. I didn’t take in much of what he said, except that I needed to get off the bus immediately. It was rapidly leaving Elizabeth Bay and heading towards Miller’s Point. I’m on Greenknowe Ave walking past an Elizabeth Bay Cafe and keep walking into what turns into a dead end with no Billyard Avenue. Things aren’t looking right either. Of course, this is when it should’ve hit me that while I was exploring Elizabeth Bay on Google Maps,  I was approaching it from the harbour, not from behind via Kings Cross and these back streets. Well, it wasn’t exactly a back street because it was the main road, but it wasn’t Billyard Avenue and that’s all that mattered.  I knew where I was going, and simply didn’t know how to get there.

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Has anyone seen Zozo the cat near Billyard Avenue? With the troubles I was having trying to find Billyard Ave, my family might also have been filling out a Missing Person’s Report. Mummy: Last seen leaving RNSH heading for Elizabeth Bay…

Thank goodness for walkers. A lady redirected me down Ithaca Road. I should’ve mentioned, by the way, that my big, heavy Nikon camera with it’s even heavier zoom lens has been dangling from my neck all this time. That despite being lost and nowhere near Cavendish Court with the sun starting to fade as the time is speeding towards 6.30PM and the land of the setting sun, I’m stopping every few metres to capture the art deco architectural features, huge Moreton Bay fig trees overhanging the road, and just about anything else I come across. Somehow, the ordinary became extraordinary surrounded by these stately art deco beauties and a sense of yesteryear. A yesteryear when my grandparents actually walked these streets and called it home. A time when my grandmother wrote a letter into the Sydney Morning Herald encouraging open-mindedness during WWII when the Sydney Eisteddfod banned the use of German language in 1941. By the way, that’s how I found out they were living here. No one ever told me, and they must’ve lived here for less than a year because my uncle was born in Cremorne.

Finally, after so many twists, turns and restarts, I turn the corner and here’s the view of the harbour I was expecting all along and like an apparition, I finally spot a street sign heralding the appearance of Billyard Avenue. I could jump for joy.

In real life, Billyard Avenue is a narrow one-way street, which could be better described as a lane. Indeed, after seeing it online, it feels like the place has taken a deep breath, and shrunk, halving in size.

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Mopeds parked on the corner of Billyard Ave and Ithaca Road.

I stop to photograph a handful of mopeds parked at the corner. You see quite a few of them buzzing through Elizabeth Bay. Given the narrow streets and scarcity of parking, they seem like a great idea. They’re part of the lifestyle here along with walking smallish fluffy dogs…poodles, cavoodles and definitely nothing as ordinary as a Staffy or Blue Heeler.

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The Overgrown Tower, Cnr Billyard Ave and Ithaca Road.

Before I reach Caversham Court, I am struck by the block of flats on the corner of Ithaca Road, which is overgrown with vegetation of an unspecified species. Essentially, the building looks like a jungle was growing all over its head and that David Attenburgh could well appear out of the undergrowth at any tick of the clock. I wonder what species of human he would find in there? It all seemed rather mysterious, and a great setting for a macabre, Gothic novel.

Boomerang is across the road. It is hard to imagine an extraordinary, giant mansion backing onto this narrow road. Indeed, boomerang itself seems strange, mystical and it’s hard to believe that it actually exists and it is here. You can’t see much of the building itself. However, the door is a work of art from another era. I can almost imagine that if you removed the Boomerang from the door and threw it, that you might actually land somewhere back in the Dreamtime.

Still, I digress. I am here to check out and photograph Caversham Court. There she is with her architectural splendour, albeit rather penned in. I am filled with a strange sense of awe knowing my grandparents lived here as newly weds. That this was where they returned to after their honeymoon and the very first place they called home. I could sense them so strongly, but more in the sense of watching a movie than really feeling a concrete presence as such.

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A Gardenia photographed outside Caversham Court

The block of flats next door is being renovated as are the steps and front foyer of Caversham Court. Indeed, the steps up to the foyer are covered in scaffolding and she actually looks a bit sorry for herself. If she were human and you turned the clock back a good 50 years, you’d be offering her “a Bex and a good lie down”. There’s not a lot more I can photograph here. However, I did spot and photograph a solitary white Gardenia flower growing in the garden bed out the front. While that might not excite you, my heart skipped a beat because my grandfather loved and grew gardenias. Obviously, this particular one didn’t date back to when they were living here, but it did give me a sense of him being here.

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The foyer, Caversham Court, looks like it’s having orthodontic treatment.

By now, the light was starting to fade. So, I headed back to Ithaca Road and left into Beare Park which fronts onto the Harbour. I’m not sure at this stage whether this little patch of soil is the full extent of Elizabeth Bay but it was what I would describe as “cosy”. There was the marina on the left and Beare Park on the right, which was a couple of handkerchiefs of grass with a few park benches facing the harbour. There was a teeny strip of sand near the marina and a green tennis ball caught my eye. I’ve had too many ball chasing dogs to ignore it and couldn’t help wondering if there’s a displaced green tennis ball at every beach. Moreover,  it seems that for every ball you lose, there’s always another green tennis ball to replace it.

Being Summer and Friday night, a few people were gathering to have a picnic dinner in Beare park, or to simply share a glass or two of wine. There were also a few dog walkers and I spotted a very excited golden Poodles and a Cavoodle running off the leash through the grass with their ears flapping. My goodness. I don’t think any other creature on this planet, can do “happy’ with quite the zest and enthusism of a dog. They’re the best!

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Two empty seats…one for each of my grandparents.

I sat on a park bench for a bit watching the Friday night yachts racing on Sydney Harbour. Checking out the ferries zipping along hugging the opposite side of the Harbour, which might’ve been Neutral Bay. I can never be overly sure of what’s where with my dreadful sense of direction. The only thing I could really be sure of, was that the ferries were in a body of water known as Sydney Harbour. That’s all.

Time has never been my friend, and by this stage I was really becoming conscious of getting home.  I didn’t want to get into Woy Woy Station too late and was becoming concerned about my safety. It was only supposed to be a quick trip after all.

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A great place for dinner along with a side-serve of philosophy.

So, I walked back up Ithaca Road and stopped at a deli up the top. Wow! This was like entering a food Mecca specializing in Greek food. I bought some calimari, dolmades and two servings of a dessert Galaktoboureko. It looked absolutely scrumpious and coming straight back to Elizabeth Bay for more, was going to be out of the question.

So, now I just had to cross the road to the bus and wait. And wait. And wait. Two buses failed to materialize, and I was starting to wonder whether I should walk or catch a cab and then reminding myself that we weren’t stuck in the outback. A bus would come and eventually it did.

At this stage, I’m not sure when I’ll be back to Elizabeth Bay. However, although I share this stunning spot with thousands and thousands of people who actually live in all those flats, it did feel like my own little patch of Sydney Harbour. My own personal getaway. That is something well worth coming back for…and more of that Galaktoboureko. Sadly, the kids were still awake when I got home and those two pieces had to be sub-divided. What a pity.

Have you been on any adventures lately? I’d love to hear all about them.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Characters in Family History…Thomas Waterhouse Takes on One-Eyed Bourke 1857.

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that I’m passionate about history and research. Moreover, I’m quite the Sherlock Holmes when it comes to delving into our family history. That means that I’m not only a good sleuth, but I’m also obsessed. I pursue these mysteries like a hound.

Yesterday, I came across this gripping tale of rivaling sides of Sydney Harbour coming together in a bare-fisted, illegal fight and as much as I’m a gentle soul who deplores violence, the story drew me in.

Sydney Harbour 1860

Sydney Harbour 1860.

The year is 1857 and Europeans had only been living in Sydney for 69 years, and it was still a fledgling settlement. Indeed, you can take away the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, and Sydney Harbour cut the city in half with North and South divided. Indeed, only a ferry connected the North Shore with the city. There was no bridge. Yet, the physical divide was only part of the issue. There was also quite a social divide, resulting in a fairly intense rivalry between the North and South, which at times turned to violence and a need to prove virility and manhood. Without these elements, I wouldn’t have a story.

View Sydney Harbour 1870

View Sydney Harbour circa 1870

To be perfectly honest, my connection to this story is a little tenuous. The story centres on a fight between Thomas Waterhouse from the North Shore and One-Eyed Bourke  from  The Rocks, a notoriously rough area on the South side of the Harbour. I am connected to the Waterhouse family through Jessie McQueen White (mother Elizabeth Johnston) who married Thomas Gerrard Waterhouse, grandson of Thomas Waterhouse and Lucy Huin, who owned the Green Gate Hotel in what is now modern Killara. However, back then, the pub was nothing but a bark slab hut.

Apparently, the Waterhouses were great fighters:

“Fight was the one particular subject of conversation at this place; it was a veritable atmosphere of fight, for the simple reason that the Waterhouses had made their mark in the colonial fighting world, and so had some of their neighbors, and fight was all they thought of.”

 

Anyway, there’s no point me repeating the story, as the newspaper story below provides a gripping account both of the fight itself, and its social context.

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Four Sisters in Killara taken later around 1909. Their finery contrasts to the dire poverty in The Rocks.

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Playfair Street, The Rocks…Image Archives Office.

 

 Our Strange Past by George Blaikie:

“Sydney’s magnificent harbor does not exist, as some rude critics contend, solely to prevent the harbor bridge from looking silly. It also acts as a barrier between the north side and the south side of Sydney.

As you may well imagine, there has been intense rivalry between the two social stratas. Back in 1857, relationships between the two sections were in a particularly bad state. Rough and tumble characters from the Rocks , —spiritual home of the toughies on the south side —strained matters even more by making raids over the water and, in a spirit of high fun, belting up the steady citizens living on the north side.

Toughest and nastiest of the raiders was One-Eyed Bourke, a professional pugilist, who added embarrassment to battery by freely issuing challenges to ‘any man on the north side’ to stand forth and meet him in single combat. Around this time Mr. Waterhouse arrived down from the bush with his eight sons and took over the Green Gate Hotel at Lane Cove.

A strong team of highly experienced bashers called at the Green Gate and had a beer each. They demanded more. ‘You may care to pay for the first round before having more,’ it was suggested.

‘We’re from the Rocks,’ snarled the visitors. ‘We ., gets beer or we takes it.’ ‘Send for young Tommy,’ someone said calmly. The call went out and, soon, into the bar bounded a fresh, handsome young man who looked as though he spent all his waking hours in performing good deeds and eating vitamin Bl. Tommy addressed the Rocks push: ‘Would you gentlemen please retire?’ ‘Yaah!’ chorused the louts. ‘Turn on the grog or we’ll bust this joint up.’ I do not know how many southsiders were involved in this unhappy affair, but I am pleased to announce that clean-living Thomas knocked over every one of them who happened to be ‘ present.

The news spread quickly round the north shore: A champion fighter had risen up in the ranks! When the first rush of rejoicing had calmed, men began asking one another: ‘But is he good enough to accept the challenge of One-eyed Bourke?’ It was regretfully decided that Thomas would be no match for the professional pug. Hope, which had flared for one magnificent moment in the bosoms of the oppressed northerners, subsided.

Over at the Rocks, the I doings at the Green Gate Hotel were carefully analysed. Most popular conclusion was that the bashers Thomas had bounced must have been drunk and defenceless at the time. There was no other possible explanation to the miracle of one northern softie successfully laying the knuckle on several tough southerners. Special representatives from the Rocks went over to the Green Gate to attend to Thomas. They came back bruised and tattered with a story of a soft-spoken toff who moved on his toes like thistle-down and hit with both hands like a trip hammer. Once more hope flared in the northern camp. A deputation of good citizens called on young Thomas. They explained how One-Eyed Bourke had hurled many taunting challenges which no one had the muscle or the nerve to accept. ‘Would you care to accept the challenge, Thomas?’ ‘Certainly, gentlemen,’ agreed Thomas. ‘I’d be delighted. I enjoy a bout of fisticuffs.’

‘In that case,’ declared the deputation happily, ‘we’ll back you for 100 guineas.’ ‘Thank you, gentlemen. Please accept the challenge, and I’ll go into training.’ One-eyed Bourke was both pleased and amazed a hear that he had been taken up at last — particularly with a wager of 100 guineas tossed in for good measure. Bill Sparkes, the then champion of Australia, was imported at considerable expense to the north shore to train Tommy.

Officially, prize fighting with bare knuckles was illegal in Australia in 1857, and the details of the Bourke -Waterhouse battle had to be kept secret from the police. But, as all Sydney was talking of the project, Ted Cowell, of the Water Police, couldn’t help hearing about it. ‘I’ll stop it, if it’s the last thing I do,’ declared Cowell. From early on the appointed Saturday morning almost everyone in Sydney capable of movement began trooping to the Green Gate. By 2 p.m. a great mob milled around the inn. Word came out to them: ‘The ring will be set up at the top of Lane Cove river.’ The ring stakes were being driven when Water Policeman, Ted Cowell, turned up with a crowd of officers. ‘The police! Move to Pearce’s orchard!’ came the cry. The day was hot. Ted Cowell was a very fat gentleman not designed for cross-country running. ‘You’ll go ahead and stop the fight,’ he instructed his officers. ‘I’ll get back to headquarters.’ Eagerly the police went after the crowd. Once out of Ted Cowell’s sight they doffed their caps and took off their tunics. They were as anxious to see the clash of the northern and southern champions as anyone else.

A roar went up as One-Eyed Bourke stepped into the ring cockily. He was a heavily built, vicious looking character with the marks of his trade heavy upon his face. Taking off hat, coat, and shirt he tossed them out of the ring. Stripped he looked a magnificent fighting machine. He was in perfect nick. Thomas Water house hopped lightly over the ropes and waved to his supporters. Quickly he stripped to the buff. He was a good 12 stone but appeared light in comparison to Bourke from the Rocks. His face was fresh and unmarked. The boxers came to the centre of the ring and tossed for corners. Thomas won. Calmly he glanced at the sun and chose to fight with his back to it. Time was called and Bourke came out heavily from his corner. Thomas moved out on his toes, his left fist held well forward and his right across his chest. Bourke suddenly belied his heavy build by leading so fast with his right that Thomas couldn’t dodge the blow and in a moment blood was running from his nose. The Rocks mob cheered, the gentlemen from the north side groaned.’ Thomas backed away and began circling.

Thomas kept dancing until Bourke was facing into the setting sun, then sniped his left hand twice into his opponent’s one good eye. He repeated this manoeuvre a few seconds later. Bourke ignored the blows and continued to move forward. The spectators slowly began to realise that Thomas was fighting to a scientific plan — to close Bourke’s one good peeper. Not one of his scores of opponents in the past had ever thought of trying this tactic on Bourke, and the tough pug didn’t realise what his young opponent was up to until he found he wasn’t seeing him too well. Bourke had to hit out at where he thought the target was and rarely landed a blow. He tried to get in to close quarters and pin Thomas in a corner. The boy was too smart to fall into this obvious and dangerous trap. He kept Bourke at arm’s length.

A left turned Bourke’s head to one side, a right took him neatly behind the ear and he hit the ground. The northerners were now shouting wildly. Their dreams were coming true. There was the terrible, taunting Bourke looking sick in his corner while young Thomas Waterhouse sat up primly on the knee of one of his seconds smiling cheerfully as Bill Sparkes poured wisdom into his ear. These days, referees promptly stop any fight in which one of the contestants starts to show signs of severe wear. In 1857, the fight game was quite different. The mere fact that One-eyed Bourke had been reduced to No-eyed Bourke didn’t result in anyone, including Bourke himself, thinking for one moment that the show shouldn’t continue. The pugilists of those days had peculiarly lasting qualities.

For two hours young Thomas rejoiced the hearts of the northerners by hitting Bourke with every punch he could devise. He knocked the Rocks man down often enough, but he couldn’t knock him out. Dusk came and deepened. At the end of a round Bourke’s seconds came forward with a proposition. ‘It’s almost too dark for the spectators to see,’ they said. ‘What about postponing the rest of the fight until tomorrow morning?’ The mob favoured this proposal and Thomas agreed even though the move was to his disadvantage. Still, one can’t help being a gentleman, I suppose. Next morning, at the appointed time, Thomas and his seconds were at the ring and so was the crowd. But where was One-eyed (or No-eyed) Bourke? Without generally announcing the fact, Bourke had retired from the fight game. That a pretty boy should have trounced him was too much for his fighting heart. Furthermore, his backers had renounced him and decided to call the 100 gns. wager off. It is fair to assume that Thomas won the fight on a technical knock-out even though there was no official result. The The Rocks push ceased coming over the water to sport the knuckle on pleasant Saturday afternoons. And life on the north side has been pleasant ever since.” Newcastle Sun (NSW : 1918 – 1954), Wednesday 13 January 1954, page 15

Have you done much research into your family history and have you found any gripping stories you’d like to share? Please leave a message and any links in the comments below.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Sydney Harbour Ferry…Not A Cloud in the Sky.

Yesterday, we went on an epic adventure to Sydney’s Mosman Bay…a journey taking 2.5 hours, two trains and a ferry across Sydney Harbour.

Of course, I wanted to share our ferry trip with you…especially as many of you have not been Down Under and experienced the magic first hand and like me, make the most of “vicarious experience”.

I love catching the ferry around Sydney Harbour and was also looking forward to catching up with my extended family.

Meanwhile, I should also point out that Geoff was working which left me playing Sargeant-Major getting the troops to the station, changing trains and onto the ferry on time. Move over Gomer Pyle, it was time for me to become Sargent Carter of “Move it! Move it! Move it!” and “You knucklehead” fame.

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Live “Statue” at Circular Quay. How does he do it???

However, when it comes to losing this plot, the kids weren’t the only antagonists in the cast. I also had to factor in the biggest question mark of the lot…the Rowie Factor.

When it comes to the Rowie Factor, there is no explanation. No rhyme or reason. The Rowie factor is like that spooky relative you keep locked up in the closet well away from the public gaze, but always seems to find their way out. Right at the very worst possible moment, they appear giving a huge, enthusiastic wave. OMG!!!! Your spirit sinks like a stone.

WHY????? WHAT THE?????

However, yesterday the Rowie Factor was in a benevolent mood and actually did good…Alleluia!

The Rowie Factor is pretty good at that too. There’s no middle ground. Only extremely good or crushingly bad.

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Sydney Ferry Supply

So, there we are finally onboard our ferry…Supply.  Acquired in 1984, Supply is one of 9 single-ended First Fleet Class catamarans, which mainly operate in the inner harbour.

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After moving out of Circular Quay, our ferry heads due East past Sydney Opera House, leaving the Sydney Harbour Bridge behind. Being the weekend with good winds and a cloudless sunny sky, we spot quite a few good sized yachts and a flotilla of smaller craft as we pass other ferries. The kids lean right up against the bow with their hair blowing in the wind and I thank God this isn’t The Titanic and they can recreate that famous scene without the ferry hitting a very, very lost iceberg and sinking to the very depths of Sydney Harbour.

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A Yacht on Sydney Harbour.

The ferry pulls into Cremorne Point and I must admit I’m feeling a little anxious because I’ve only been on this ferry route once before and my doubts start to inflate, getting larger and larger as I second guess everything turning the details into question marks and I am in full reassurance mode. Besides, if I do get lost in typical Rowie fashion, I have my phone and can ring for assistance. After all, it’s not like we’re the first Europeans visiting this place and there’s no one to call. Mind you, I question whether you can really get lost if you haven’t found where you’re going yet…

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Anyway, as we pull into Cremorne Point I hear someone calling my name and waving out to me. It’s my cousin from interstate. At first, I thought she must’ve been coming to lunch but it was all pure coincidence. She was returning to her old stomping ground and also happened to have the afternoon free so came and joined us for lunch. Call it serendipity, meant to be, whatever. This had to be more than coincidence and I think you’d need a supercomputer to calculate the odds of us meeting up.

Meeting my cousin was such an unexpected surprise. I was stoked! (That said, I had to marvel at how the unexpected synchronised so well when the planned can go so horribly wrong!!)

Anyway, we had a fabulous afternoon meeting up with family and Geoff met us there after work and later drove us home.

These are a few night shots of Mosman Bay, which Geoff took just before leaving.

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Mosman Bay by Night. Photo Geoff Newton. Note Sydney Tower on the left.

Have you ever been to Sydney? Do you have any special memories and I’d love you to add links to your posts.

xx Rowena

 

 

 

Mother & Son…A Replay.

It’s not a wonder that parents of young children are tired. The real wonder is how they keep going at all.

When you take a closer look at this stunning, professional quality photo taken by my nearest and dearest, you will catch a glimpse on a harness on our Little Man. This wasn’t something we used often but with a very active toddler at a waterfront wedding and a very talkative mother, it was mandatory.

He had so much energy!

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Little Man trying to escape.

For better or worse, that was now 11 years ago. A few weeks ago, he started high school.

A lot of water’s passed under the bridge…

xx Rowena

Sydney Harbour…A Rear End Perspective.

If you were painting a portrait of Sydney Harbour, no doubt you’d position the Sydney Harbour Bridge centre stage. Of course, the Sydney Opera House with its iconic white sails would be leaning over on the left and you might even include a smattering of Luna Park over on the right. Of course, it would have to be a postcard perfect sunny day with azure skies and diamonds sparkling over the the deep blue harbour. It would undoubtedly be that iconic portrait of Sydney Harbour.

However, there are all sorts of angles and perspectives on a diamond, which are all quite equally Sydney Harbour and yet comparatively unrecognizable.

So, today we’re trading in the “Front Door View” and I’m letting you enter my magnificent home city through one of it’s many back doors…Darling Harbour. You will be joining Miss and I as we walk from Matilda The Musical back to Town Hall Station via Darling Harbour and the Queen Victoria Building. (You can read about Matilda Here)

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Rowena & Miss at Matilda

Actually, looking further through the photos, I might need to re-define “view”. After all, when you think of a view, you’re looking up and out at something. I can’t help wondering if I was focused on my feet on this walk. Indeed, I’ve even photographed my feet but for me, feet are very much a part of journeys, particularly when you’re walking and exploring. I like to think of all the many different places my feet have walked and how through walking through these different paths, that I am walking where so many others have walked in their own shoes with their own dreams and perspectives of these very same paths and what a beautiful thing that is. “We are one, but we are many”.

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Miss and I on the wharf at Darling Harbour. Yet another shadow portrait. My camera doesn’t know what a selfie is.

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Ship, Darling Harbour.

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The Welcome Wall at the Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour  honours more than 6 million immigrants to Australia.

 

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I loved all these molten reflections in the front window at the Maritime Museum.

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Me and my red shoes about to board a ship.

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Miss and I indulging in luscious Iced Chocolates at the Lindt Cafe, Darling Harbour. They were the best! We had an impromptu afternoon tea with friends there.

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Chinese Lunar New Year Lantern Sculpture in the Queen Victoria Building.

 

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Queen Victoria is not too sure about the Tiger Lantern which has moved in next door for the Chinese New Year celebrations at the Queen Victoria Building, Sydney.

The Queen Victoria Building is located just across the road from the Sydney Town Hall where we caught the train home.

After such a wonderful day, I felt like Cinderella returning home from the ball and it was back home to prepare for another week.

xx Rowena

Happy New Year…Sydney!

Sydney wishes you a Happy New Year!

On the count of midnight,  Sydney became an exploding supernova as a firework extravaganza illuminated the night sky and the deep, still waters of Sydney Harbour showering such colour.

To read about our incredibly exciting NYE, check back to my previous post: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/12/31/sydney-fireworks-a-prelude-to-midnight/

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Midnight was pretty low key here. With 15 minutes to go, we woke up the kids to join us for the countdown. The countdown being as much for the midnight fireworks as the New Year.

As you could imagine, even sitting watching the fireworks at home, I couldn’t resist getting out my camera and photographing the fireworks like a photographer on assignment.

I wasn’t disappointed. Indeed, I was amazed. Not bad!

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The incredible beauty of fireworks… peering right inside the flares.

Just in case you’ve never seen Sydney’s NYE fireworks, the finale usually involves a cascade of “melted cheese” over the edge of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Even though we’ve seen it all before, we hang on for that incredibly intense, stunning moment when the entire Bridge erupts. It’s breathtakingly beautiful and so full of superlatives that words can’t do it justice. You simply need to feast with your eyes and feel yourself come to life.

 

With all the excitement of the fireworks and just being at home with the kids and of course the dogs (Lady still panting heavily with renewed terror as more fireworks went off at midnight), we forgot all about singing Auld Lang Syne…an Australian NYE tradition harking back to the UK.

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So perhaps we could sing it together. It’s also better singing it with the words in front of us. I usually mutter and mumble my way through:

Auld Lang Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days o’ lang syne!

Chorus:
For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne!

Robert Burns

 

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Just as we forgot Auld Lang Syne, New Year’s resolutions also passed us by. I think the list is looking so long that it it could simply be summed up by four simple letters…HELP!

I suspect no fairy Godmother is going to tap me three times on the head while I’m asleep tonight and give me a clean slate. Then again, I must’ve learned something about life so far and do I really want to start again from scratch? I don’t think so.

Maybe, I just need to have a bit of faith!

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The Kids Watching the Fireworks.

So, we wish you a very Happy New Year and if this time of year is difficult, you’re in my prayers and I’ll keep you close. All that exuberant joy, can either give you a lift or more than likely, amplify your grief. Take care!

Meanwhile on a global level, I pray for peace. “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me”. Not giving to terrorism or violence but through somehow reaching a global acceptance of our humanity and all that unites us. In the words of Lennon: “You might say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one!”

I also pray for our planet. That humanity will wake up to the warning signs of global warming and general exploitation of our beautiful blue planet. You can’t keep taking and taking before she starts to fall apart.

Anyway, while I’m getting all deep, I’m having a glass of Moscato, a Scotty Dog shortbread biscuit and a Lindt chocolate while sort of watching a real 80s throw back: “You Can’t Stop the Music”, featuring the Village People. It is so retro. I even saw a cassette tape.

Meanwhile, I’m not sure where Lady is hiding. She finally calmed down from the fireworks but after being in my face all night, she’s conspicuously absent and I suspect she’s snuck her way in somewhere. Lady is definitely looking like a liability…

So, wishing you and yours a Happy New Year and I look forward to reading about NYE around the world.

Love & best wishes,

Rowena