Calm inside a storm


Take away the car and a space very quickly becomes real. Suddenly you have people. You have calm. And everything becomes a little more civilised. You have to wonder how the four-wheeled beast became so popular. They are destructive on so many levels, from the aural to the visual.

Like many cities of a similar size, Sydney has a traffic problem. Sometimes it’s just so depressing to watch how aggressive it is, a series of mindless slammings-on-the-accelerator just to get through the next set of lights the norm round here. Thankfully, I’m a public transport puppet all the way.

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In between the mistakes – these roads that encourage car use – there are surprising islands of sanity. It seems for every mistake there is a place that makes up for it. In Darlinghurst and Surry Hills, two inner-city and neighbouring ‘hoods, the streets are narrow and at times like lane ways, the product of a working class past. These mostly Victorian areas become sanctuaries with birds chattering in the trees, ideal for long leisurely walks.

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Artistic expression in nooks and crannies. The stripy building above is by renowned aboriginal artist Reko Rennie. You can’t help but be drawn in by its wildly shimmering lines.

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Knitters have given a tree the once-over. And a once derelict courtyard, scarred by other buildings now removed, holds a special place to shelter from the busy road that screams just round the corner. Some of the smaller back lanes have been closed to traffic where you can amble in silence and just admire the prettiness of it all. The pink house is where I would like to live.

SydneyNew1 SydneyNew2Urban regeneration is the antidote. Even more so than London, the inner-city of Sydney fell into complete decline during the 70s and 80s allowing the crass to creep on through and, of course, like London the city of Sydney has been doing some major navel-gazing. The beautiful new Central Park (near Central Station) has reinvented itself courtesy of Jean Nouvel.

But the rev-heads remain. I’m hoping they’re a dying force. A new conscious in the form of a tram line will take over Sydney’s George Street, its spine.

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As the last of the sun shines for the day, Harry Seidler’s great building Australia Square glints in the blue. A true modernist, he wholesale demolished swathes of buildings for his towering fantasies. Such confidence and despised by many, the city is defined by his architecture. And then it rains. No, it doesn’t rain. It pours like the end of days.


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