Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sydney old and new

20140525_144907-14 Dawn Fraser Pool
After watching an episode of the BBC program Coast -  now turning its attention to Australia – we were inspired by its Sydney episode to go looking for the Dawn Fraser Baths in Balmain. Although I’ve passed by here many times, I wasn’t aware that the baths were an enclosed harbour tidal pool until seeing this program. When you’re in a country that takes plentiful swimming pools for granted, there’s nothing in a name that will lure you to make a special visit.

While we’re enjoying a decadently sunny autumn – one that seems to get warmer as we get closer to winter – the baths are closed from April to October. Approaching it via Elkington Park we passed a group of people picnicking by the harbour, with a Munson-coloured malamute lying on its back, paw in mouth, enjoying the sun. Oh that Munson had been with us for this outing!
20140525_145042-48_stitch Dawn Fraser Pool
Scouting for coffee after this we avoided downtown Balmain’s spreading network of parking meters and looped back to Chippendale. From there we walked up Broadway to look at the new Central Park urban village development. We’d had a brief look at it in November on a wet and windy day – this time with Munson in tow – and had not had the opportunity to look inside ( that Sydney limiting factor of having a dog ).
Central Park or Centra Park?
In my first year out of university I lived a few blocks away from here when the site belonged to Carlton United, with the smell of malt from the brewery carring up Broadway and Parramatta Road.

The old brewery building remains with its internal workings restored and space given over to a combination of energy generating facility and public space. Around that is a belt of parkland, and a major retail and apartment development wrapped in living vegetation – the world’s highest “green wall”. This sits directly across Broadway from the brutal monolith of UTS (University of Technology, Sydney) which may be cloaked in even more futuristic fashion in a few years.
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The inner commercial space is still a work in progress, and far from busy on weekend afternoon. There are video walls, eccentric spinning chairs and a skylight washed in water to create a dappled light on the foyer floors below. What I did like was that you could stand in the central open space and look out through a number of windows of the encircling shops and see sky and greenery.
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Also facing Central Park is a new UTS Information Technology and Engineering (ITE) building enveloped in perforated aluminium screens. For anyone who has not seen this southwestern approach to the city in a few years, the combination of new structures will come as quite a surprise.  In Google Maps you can currently make a quick comparison, by starting here to see that stretch of Broadway in recent months, and then moving a little to the left and seeing the original view.

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