On a cold wet winter’s day, there is nothing better to do than spend some time browsing in a cosy bookshop. A few months ago we spent some time in Megalong Books in Leura in the Blue Mountains in New South Wales. Lot of nooks and crannies to investigate in this well-stocked shop.
Just finished reading a biography of Arthur Phillip, the founder of British settlement in Australia. Arthur Phillip: Sailor, Mercenary, Governor, Spy by Michael Pembroke, is an interesting account of the life of the first governor of the colony of NSW. It details the many experiences he had in the British and Portuguese navies which led to him being the ideal person to lead the First Fleet.
The Museum of Sydney is now on the site of Sydney’s first government house. Located on the corner of Phillip and Bridge streets, you can see this memorial plaque on the side of the modern building.
The Edinburgh Castle hotel in central Sydney has been on the corner of Pitt and Bathurst streets since 1885. The pub has recently been given a facelift, but still recognises its connection to the much loved poet, Henry Lawson. The famous bush poet, who ironically spent most of his adult life in Sydney, lived in the hotel in 1895, frequented its bar and wrote some of his most famous works there. A quote from one of his poems can be seen on the exterior of the building from the pavement in Pitt Street.
No-one seems to be able to explain why the Scottish poet, Robbie Burns, is so famous, or why there are statues of him all over the place. This one is in the Domain in Sydney and was erected in 1905.
Burns died on 21 July 1796, aged only 37.
The Cowra Prisoner of War Camp as described in Tom Keneally’s novel “Shame and the Captives”, is long gone. But the town still has a well-tended cemetery where Japanese prisoners of war, who died in Australia, are buried.
A special relationship between the town of Cowra and Japan was cemented with the opening of Cowra Japanese Garden in 1979. Built by Ken Nakajima, a famous Japanese garden designer, the garden has typical Japanese plants like cherry and maple against a background of the Australian bush. It also has beautiful ponds filled with carp.
A Sakura Festival is held in the garden on the last weekend of September, when the cherry trees are in flower. Visitors to the festival can enjoy traditional Japanese music, tea ceremony and a bonsai display.
The great English dramatist and poet, William Shakespeare died 399 years ago today. In Sydney, Australia there is an impressive monument to the Bard, which was erected in 1926. The sculpture was commissioned by a private citizen, Henry Gullett, who was a newspaper editor.
Figures from Shakespeare’s plays, such as Juliet and Falstaff, plus a quote from the Tempest make this a very interesting memorial. It’s location on a traffic island near the State Library make it a little inaccessible, but it is well worth seeking out.
The Snowy Mountains town of Cooma has a sculpture of the Man from Snowy River. You can find it in the main street in front of Centennial Park. It was unveiled in 1961 as a tribute to Banjo Paterson.
Opposite the park is the Prince of Wales Hotel (now a men’s wear store) where Banjo Paterson first recited his poem, The Geebung Polo Club. The poem describes a contest between the rough and ready mountain men from Geebung and the neat and natty polo players from Sydney called the Cuff and Collar team.
It might have been a fictional polo match, but a street near Cooma’s polo flat in the south east of the town has been named Geebung Street.
Of course the greatest memorials to Banjo Paterson are his poems. Many Australians of a certain age can quote a few lines from The Man from Snowy River, Clancy of the Overflow, or The Man from Ironbark.
In Orange, in a small park near the library and visitor information centre there is an art work that features Banjo Paterson and motifs from two of his poems, The Man from Snowy River and Mulga Bill’s Bicycle.
The other famous bush poet, Banjo Paterson, is not remembered with any full-sized bronze statues, but there are plenty of other memorials to him in different places in NSW.
Banjo Paterson Park in Yass, which we featured in a previous blog, has a bust of the poet and there is another on the outskirts of Orange. Banjo Paterson was born at Narrambla Homestead on 17 February 1864. There is now a small park on the Ophir Rd at the former site of the property.
An obelisk in the small park has a quote from Banjo’s poem, Clancy of the Overflow.
“And he sees the vision splendid
Of the sunlit plains extended
And at night the wondrous glory
Of the everlasting stars”
Grenfell, the birthplace of Henry Lawson, and also mentioned in a previous blog, has recently unveiled a new bronze statue of the poet. It shows Lawson sitting on a park bench and there is room for tourists to sit beside him to have their photo taken.
Grenfell already had an impressive bust of Henry Lawson as part of a memorial in the main street. Grenfell’s Henry Lawson Festival will also held on the first weekend in June.