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.
While at the State Library of NSW (see previous blog) we took a peek inside the Reading Room of the Mitchell Library which is in the original part of the building, completed in 1907 and partly funded by David Mitchell who was a private collector of books.
A few months ago we enjoyed exploring the State Library of NSW in Macquarie Street, Sydney. Australia’s oldest library is now more than a place to read, study or do research. It has an interesting calendar of exhibitions and a bookshop and cafe. Current exhibitions have a garden theme and are free. Also free, are the guided tours of the building which are held Monday to Friday at 10.30am, and tours of the current exhibitions at 11.45am.
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 great circumnavigator of Australia, Matthew Flinders, died on 19 July 1814, just a day after the publication of his book, “A Voyage to Terra Australis”.
In this readable account of his amazing journey, Flinders sometimes mentions his much-loved cat Trim, who accompanied him on his travels. There is a statue of Trim in Sydney, in Macquarie St, outside the State Library
Recently while in Sydney, we enjoyed a visit to the art gallery, and especially liked a small exhibition of sculptures, embroidered banners and hand made comic books and zines by Indonesian artist, Eko Nugroho.
This artist combines traditional Indonesian arts like batik with science fiction and street art. The exhibition runs until some time in 2017.
The author of the Sherlock Holmes stories was a big celebrity in his lifetime. He believed passionately in spiritualism and lectured to large audiences on making contact with the dead and other spiritualist topics.
In 1920-21 Conan Doyle travelled to Australia with his wife and two children, visiting Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney, meeting with Spiritualists and giving lectures.
He wrote about his journey to Australia in a book called ” The Wanderings of a Spiritualist” (available as an e-book).
In the book he describes many aspects of life in Australia including this comment on Sydney beaches.
“We all devoted ourselves to surf-bathing, spending a good deal of our day in the water as is the custom of the place. It is a real romp with Nature, for the great Pacific rollers come sweeping in and break over you, rolling you over on the sand if they can catch you unawares. It was a golden patch in our restless lives”.
Arthur Conan Doyle’s visit to Sydney is remembered with a plaque in the Writers Walk at Circular Quay.
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.
On our recent visit to Camperdown Cemetery we also went in search of the graves of the victims of the wreck of the Dunbar. The Dunbar was a fully-rigged sailing ship that was wrecked at the entrance to Sydney Harbour in August 1857. Of the 122 people on board, only one survived, and this is still one of the worst maritime disasters in Australia’s history. Some call it Australia’s Titanic.
The remains of many of the victims were buried in a mass grave in Camperdown Cemetery, and now they are remembered with a memorial there which includes an anchor from the wreck.
Peter Corris, a Sydney-based crime writer, used the wreck of the Dunbar as part of the plot in one of his Cliff Hardy detective series. Called The Dunbar Case, the story begins in an inner Sydney suburb and then moves 150km further north to Newcastle. The plot involves a search for loot that is in some way connected with the wreck.