Saturday, August 13, 2022

Travelling Pathetically - Harbour Terraces Edition Part 1

 The bottom of the barrel is really starting to be scraped.  With random bushland in the immediate vicinity pretty much exhausted I cast around in some desperation for somewhere to walk.  That is I cast around for somewhere to walk that wasn't too far away, didn't involve a great deal of effort and might be somewhat photogenic.  Suddenly a word popped into my head; "Barangaroo".  After several unsuccessful attempts to dislodge it and having exhausted most other options I decided to give it it's day in court.

According to its website Barangaroo is "place making in progress" proof if proof were needed that a command of the English language is no longer really essential to get a job writing visitors websites.  What I think they mean is that it isn't finished yet.  And indeed it isn't.  Arguments still go on over the final bits of development and whether property developers should really be expected to keep all of the greasy promises they made when it was first decided to convert some superannuated dockland into tall buildings and (despite the best efforts of the developers) some park and amenity space for the public.

It was the park and amenity space for the public which would be my destination.  I would take the light rail to Pyrmont Bay (one of about seventy light rail stations serving Pyrmont) and trot across Pyrmont bridge, through the gleaming canyons of Barangaroo (the developed bit) until I got to the actual park itself which was inconveniently situated on the headland as far away from the rest as possible without actually turning it into a island.

My destination is beyond the clutch of buildings in the centre

Things have changed since the last time I made it out these parts.  Then the pandemic was in full swing now, well the pandemic is still in full swing but we've made a sort of gentleman's agreement not to bother about it too much any more.  The result was that instead of a quiet stroll along a semi deserted waterfront I found myself kicking and snarling through a thronging herd of people inconsiderately attempting to amuse themselves and (more understandably) making increasingly desperate attempts to locate their children anywhere but their own homes.

Pyrmont Bridge turns up on the Barangaroo side of the water right near the Sydney Aquarium where the eager hordes gathered in the hopes of seeing sea dwelling creatures without running the risk of drowning.  I do have to wonder whether its a good idea to have an aquarium right near the water.  One unlocked gate and the entire exhibit roster could be swimming towards the heads and freedom.  It's probably safe to say that the neighbouring wildlife park doesn't have the same problem.  Neither aquarium or wildlife interested me today (or any other day) and I strode resolutely by breaking step only to kick the occasional small child out of my path.  On the other side of the Harbour the National Maritime Museum had a couple of superannuated warships parked so I took a photo of one then hurried on.

One of the superannuated warships in question

Once past these animal holding tanks I was at King Street Wharf where a stretch of identical looking restaurants and bars competed for customers.  At least I presume they competed for customers.  I could easily believe it was just one long restaurant with a rather complicated menu.  I'm sure the restaurants (or restaurant) serve delicious food but the entire thing looks rather like an artist's impression of a waterfront development.  It's a little difficult to believe that people actually come here.  This feeling was in no way altered by the fact that it's clinical, pristine surrounds were actually overrun with people.  

But King Street Wharf wasn't my destination either and I plunged on and entered the shadowy landscape of Barangaroo South.  Barangaroo South is a collection of brand new office towers about which all of the usual flatulent things have been said when developers attempt to describe brand new office towers.  They haven't fallen down yet which is a definite positive.  Down at ground level I wandered down quiet, near deserted streets.  There were restaurants here too and shops in fact everything the office worker or casual tourist might desire particularly if they have an aversion to direct sunlight.  

Looking back at Barangaroo South, not the best place to be if you have a vitamin D deficiency


Barangaroo Centre is still under construction and various arguments rage over whether developers should be permitted to build over just some of the currently existing public space or all of it.  My destination lay beyond.  With the harbour on my left and temporary walling on my right I strode towards the headland along a rapidly narrowing boardwalk.  Finally, just before I got to Barangaroo the park the boardwalk more or less petered out and I skirted the water with so little space to spare that I could actually reach down and touch the water if I wanted to, I didn't.

Being a former container port the area had been rather dramatically changed from its original shape and attempts had, apparently been made to restore it to its pre industrial condition.  For some reason this involved an immense amount of sandstone.  Native plant species had been looted from all over the Sydney basin and replanted here for the amusement of the public and there were sandstone terraces.  I'm not sure how this was in keeping with its original shape but it did mean tiers of bush rising in front of me and a disturbing number of steps climbing from one terrace to another and connecting various walking paths.  In fairness it has to be said I could just have walked along the shoreline and avoided all the steps but having encountered some actual trees I couldn't resist the urge to make my way among them.


This tree was being held in solitary confinement for crimes unspecified

So into the trees I went, making my way through greenery and occasionally looking out at what, despite our best efforts, is still one of the most picturesque harbours in the world.  Up I went, along I went, down I went and then up again.  I realise this isn't the most riveting of passages but sometimes that's all there is.  At the top was Stargazer Lawn which had plenty of space for people to stretch out and relax so I avoided that and returned to the trees.  Occasionally I descended to ground level but swiftly dashed back up the stairs to avoid the throngs of people.

My destination (note sandstone)

Once safely ensconced in the trees I gazed back to where I had come from.  I couldn't resist taking a photo of the Crown Casino tower which dominates Central Barangaroo.  It soars, magnificent in its ugliness a permanent penis slapping the face of the Sydney public.  I have to admit I quite liked it but then my taste has always been questionable.

Every city must have its icons.  Somehow we wound up with this.

With my homage to money launderers and wretched politicians made I returned to the trees.  It wasn't natural bush of course.  It was an artists impression of what natural bush might look like before somebody dumped a container port on top of it.  Still the bush was growing enthusiastically and getting more natural by the day.  The relaxed feeling I get when surrounded by trees was compensating for the fact that my knees are no longer used to going up and down a lot of stairs.  I paused, officially for a photo and not at all because my knees were hurting.


Knee relief photo No.1

Knee relief photo No.2

I'm making a bit of a meal of this actually because it wasn't all that long before I had walked around the headland and returned to not quite water level.  Here a decision had to be made.  Specifically what was I going to do now?  I had run out of Barangaroo and I was several kilometres away from home.  Fortunately I knew that if I kept following the waterline I would eventually wind up at Circular Quay and a railway station.  To do so I would have to make my way through Millers Point and The Rocks, two of Sydney's oldest and most picturesque suburbs.  You might think I would take lots of photos, you would be wrong.

As I was walking along Hickson Road I did see a sign that said "End Art" although whether it was a warning or an instruction I couldn't work out.  I made my under the Harbour Bridge marveling, not for the first time, at the sheer monstrous bulk of its construction and skipped lightly towards Circular Quay through The Rocks.  The Rocks were having markets as they are wont to do on Saturdays.  So when I say "skipped lightly" I really mean "stumbled cursing".

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