NEW RELEASE: The Lord Wolseley Hotel: A Social History of a Very Small Pub

lw cover5.jpg

I am very pleased this book is now published. As I said at the launch..

...we can be glad that this hotel has survived against the odds to become a heritage gem of Ultimo standing in this great community space here on Quarry Green.

When convict Thomas Leahy built it in 1878, there was a fairground across the road where strong men lifted blocks of sandstone from the nearby quarries and tightrope walkers strutted their stuff. They would have later drunk here and so did whoever was promoting ‘Tommy the Nut youngest clown in the world, aged two.’ There were the drunken cats. The evenings when the ladies parlour was transformed into a safe place for the local gay community to gather, long before anyone used the word gay to describe them. There was Billy Hughes declaiming from the upstairs balcony to the crowd below in Bulwara Road.  The husband of one of the licensees who went to the Randwick races and never came home. Old Bridget Tuite who ran the pub the longest and who gave so much information about it because she was always writing complaining letters to Tooths brewery, who owned it. Nobody liked the brewery, but they kept a marvellous archive which gives us a real insight into the brewing and hotel industries. 

The book runs to just over 200 pages with around 100 illustrations

If you want to buy a copy it is on sale at the pub, Gleebooks and The Library Shop.

ONLINE: Gleebooks and The Library Shop

PHONE ORDERS: Gleebooks 9660 2333
or
The Library Shop 9273 1611

Locals supporting the Quarry St Fair in 1989

Locals supporting the Quarry St Fair in 1989

A fairground across the road from the pub  may well  be why the hotel was built.  Sydney Morning Herald 1879

A fairground across the road from the pub  may well  be why the hotel was built.  Sydney Morning Herald 1879

 

 

 

Posted on April 4, 2016 .

Barangaroo: Nothing is right with it.

1. Millers Point is not Barangaroo Point.
2. Barangaroo is not an indigenous name for it.

Keith Vincent Smith was kind enough to copy me in to a letter sent the Sydney Morning Herald 9/6/2015 and to agree to me reproducing it.

 

Re ‘Barangaroo’s landmark public outing looms large’, SMH Editorial June 6-7, 2015.

  As curator of the MARI NAWI: Aboriginal Odysseys exhibition at the State Library of New South Wales and author of the history of the same title (Rosenberg 2010), I should be flattered by the suggested names of Nawi Cove and Marrinawi Cove at ‘Barangaroo’ or Darling Harbour.

  I prefer the original names given to these places by the Indigenous people of coastal Sydney (Eora). None of the proposed names are appropriate and they are disrespectful to Aboriginal people past and present, whose placenames have been ignored.

  The proposed ‘Barangaroo Point’, formerly Millers Point, is named Ilkan maladul by the linguist marine Lieutenant William Dawes on a sketch map inside the front cover of his first language notebook, dated to 1790. The Aboriginal placename for Long Cove, now Darling Harbour, appears as‘Go-me-ra’, while ‘Gomerigal.Tongarra’ is given as a ‘Tribe’ (clan) in the semi-official vocabulary kept by Governor Arthur Phillip and his aides (Vocabulary of the language of N.S. Wales in the neighbourhood of Sydney (Native and English, but not alphabetical)’.

  Both notebooks are kept at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. In his despatch to Lord Sydney on 13 February 1790, now in Britain’s National Archives at Kew, Phillip listed ‘Gomerrigal’ with ‘other tribes that live near us’.

 The Eora called their stringybark canoes nawi and gave the name mari nawi (Big Canoe) to English sailing ships, particularly HMS Sirius, flagship of the First Fleet. There is no record of the Sirius anchoring in Darling Harbour.

  Bennelong, who provided these names, and his second wife Barangaroo frequented Memel (‘eye’), now Goat Island, which he claimed was his personal property, and which, wrote Judge Advocate David Collins, he had inherited from his father and would give to his friend Bigon. Bennelong was a Wangal from the south shore of the Parramatta River, while Barangaroo was a Gamaragaliang, a woman from the Gamaragal (Cameragal) of Manly and the North Shore.

 

 Dr. Keith Vincent Smith

The journal is online here and Jeremy Steele’s online interpretation of Dawes 1790 sketch map is here..

Posted on June 11, 2015 .

"Version of hell from the top of the Memphis pyramid..."

  Thanks to the WestConnex Action Group (@westconnexag) who tweeted this picture and Strong Towns link.

 

Thanks to the WestConnex Action Group (@westconnexag) who tweeted this picture and Strong Towns link.

Quote from the Strong Towns website in the US

"To interpret it for you: On the left you have the city with all its people, businesses, hopes and dreams. On the right, you have the great natural resource of the Mississippi river and all its potential to enhance the prosperity of the community. In between, you have the wealth of the community -- yesterday's wealth, today's wealth and tomorrow's wealth - - dedicated to moving cars and storing cars, culminating in the hundreds of millions of dollars of subsidy for the pyramid-shaped retail outlet from which the photo is taken.

What you see in this photo is the most valuable land in the city. There is no clearer explanation for why our cities are going broke than to see how this valuable resource has been squandered. There is no return here. No wealth. Just massive, ongoing expense passed from generation to generation.

This also explains why a great city like Memphis would feel compelled to gamble with hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money instead of making small, incremental, low-risk investments in their core neighborhoods. They feel a desperate need to make up for the fact that their most valuable land produces nothing but expenses. That's an impossibly high burden they've placed on themselves.

If you want your city to be wealthy and prosperous, stop obsessing about cars and start obsessing about your people, your community's wealth and the taxpayer's return-on-investment."

And if you are wondering: This is what the Memphis Pyramid Bass Pro Shops Resort looks like.



Posted on May 14, 2015 .

The Uncertain Future of the Glebe Island Bridge

UrbanGrowth NSW held a Bays Precinct Discovery Day on Sunday April 12 on the shorelines of Blackwattle, Rozelle and White Bay. It was very light on for information about what is planned for the area but the weather was good and the water was sparkling.  The best bits were the White Bay power station, the Sydney Heritage Fleet yards and the remnants of maritime industry still located in Rozelle Bay – the firms that build and repair the wharves and shore up the piles and generally keep the everyday micro-infrastructure of the harbour in good nick. Just a touch of the old ‘working harbour.’


Word on the street is that the government is pressuring these firms to move out so that all can be bland and pristine and hollow. Hopefully enough of us will press back for retention of these places that give interest and complexity to the place. Most of the industry has gone, but enough is enough.

And one more thing. The old Glebe Island Bridge was not featured at all, even though it would have been easy enough to do this. Everyone knows the government wants to get rid of it. And I have yet to speak to anyone who doesn’t think this would be a travesty. It was a world’s first state of the art when it was built in 1903 and even ignoring its heritage values, it’s current potential to become part of the traffic network for walkers and cyclists is enormous.

  When the bridge was built it was of such significance that it was featured in this 1904 Supplement to The Scientific American.

 

When the bridge was built it was of such significance that it was featured in this 1904 Supplement to The Scientific American.

 The Glebe Society has a Save The Glebe Island Bridge website with information and links.


 

Posted on April 14, 2015 .

Darling House, Millers Point facing Government assault


‘No public housing where there is strong market demand’. That is the philosophy of the present short sighted state government.   Community is not a word it understands.  

I’ve just heard that the next victim will be Darling House in Trinity Avenue behind the old Garrison Church.. This fine old building was in disrepair when, after years of community – that word again – action, it was converted into a respite hostel for aged residents in the 1990s.

 It is run by a Board of Management largely representative of the local community. The community the government is hell bent on destroying.  By introducing market rentals it will kill off the service and release another property for some wealthy person to buy. This all seems so logical to the government, and so destructive of community to others. But as I said, community is not in their lexicon.

And what do the locals say? Well, they have not just buried their head in the sand and argued for the status quo. Take a look at their independently commissioned report which argues cogently for a mixed residential mix which includes some private sales, some affordable housing (the City of Sydney at present has an abysmally low amount of this) and some social housing  - a community, in fact.

Click on image above to go to the report

Click on image above to go to the report

Click on image above to go to latest Millers Point Community Press release

Click on image above to go to latest Millers Point Community Press release



Posted on October 16, 2014 .

Millers Point again.

 

 

I enjoyed participating with a stall in the first Millers Point Picnic on the green in Argyle Place on Sunday 14/9.

It was a great success and the crowds that attended showed that the Save Millers Point campaign has supporters all over Sydney. Well done organisers.

Thanks too to those who bought copies of Millers Point: The Urban Village. The proceeds from book sales will go to the Millers Point Community Association to assist their struggle.

When Chris Keating and I wrote it all those years ago the state had already sold off some of the commercial properties but the idea of socially cleansing the whole area was unimaginable.

Yesterday the lovely location reminded me about the person who wrote to the Herald in 1930 to say that the green was a ‘forlorn and neglected spot’, the houses were ‘mostly squalid’, and that the government should buy them – never mind that the government already owned them – and get ‘a wise architect to plan a scheme for little houses around the village green’.

The green is still there and no one got around to trashing the ‘squalid houses’ which are currently being sold off at gob smacking prices for short sighted, one-off gain to a sightless government that doesn’t understand this city and what makes a place like this valuable beyond dollars.

Posted on September 15, 2014 .

Aboriginal Tent Embassy, The Block, Redfern

Above photo (taken by Peter Boyle) of the 15th June Rally is from Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy Facebook page

Above photo (taken by Peter Boyle) of the 15th June Rally is from Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy Facebook page

The Aboriginal Housing Company was formed in the early 1970s to build houses for Aboriginal people on land that was slowly acquired at what became known as The Block in Redfern. Yesterday people who attended a rally at the well organised tent embassy that is growing in size daily at The Block heard the sad tale of black on black frustration as this same housing company readies to embark on a building project that does not ensure housing for the people it was formed to serve. 

In Millers Point the talk is of ‘social cleansing’.  In Redfern they spoke of ‘racial cleansing’ as gradual eviction and relocation of people from The Block has occurred over the past few years. Sydney is being impoverished in both places by the actions of those who understand only short term profit.

Hall Greenland's Watermelon Greenland Blog gives the background Requiem for The Block?

Posted on June 15, 2014 .

How sustainable is a city of housing available only to the wealthy?

The “NO SURRENDER!” T-Shirts designed by Reg Mombassa are available at the Captain Cook Hotel and  the The Hero Of Waterloo Hotel All proceeds of the sales go towards the Millers Point, Dawes Point & the Rocks Public Housing Tenants Group Fighting Fund.

The “NO SURRENDER!” T-Shirts designed by Reg Mombassa are available at the Captain Cook Hotel and  the The Hero Of Waterloo Hotel All proceeds of the sales go towards the Millers Point, Dawes Point & the Rocks Public Housing Tenants Group Fighting Fund.


With tough federal budget cuts flowing on to the states the pressure to sell off the public housing in Millers Point will only be increased. And then it will roll on to privatizing the next layer of inner city social housing in Glebe, Woolloomooloo, Newtown and so on ...and on.  And with this punitive budget, the stresses on public housing tenants will increase in  other areas of their lives as well. As it will for anyone else with a tenuous toe hold on inner city housing   We need to ask the question: How sustainable is a city of housing available only to the wealthy? The garbage still needs collecting, the offices cleaned, the hotel beds made, the cafes staffed. And when people who do all this essential work are  banished to outer Sydney and subjected to ever longer commutes then other problems multiply. It doesn't make much sense in plain economic efficiency terms, let alone in terms of environmental sustainability. And that's way before we get to the issues of social justice and just plain decency. Do we want to live in a place that is just for the wealthy that generates disasters elsewhere in the totality of the urban ecology of the city? 

Liam Hogan's piece in The Guardian is well worth a read. Click on image above.

Liam Hogan's piece in The Guardian is well worth a read. Click on image above.



Posted on June 5, 2014 .

The Mitchell Library fiasco

The Mitchell Library is a heritage site of the utmost significance.  – the building and its moveable heritage  -  its collections and artefacts. No state government should be allowed to circumvent the requirements that apply to the rest of us for an appropriate heritage impact study and wide public consultation.

A polite petition asking for a public meeting concerning the future of the Mitchell Library has gone feral as just about every writer, scholar, historian researcher and leading citizen you’ve ever heard of, and lots you’ve not heard of, has signed it. A polite request for some transparency has turned to a cry of rage and frustration. This is a big deal. This is a great public institution created by a public bequest that stipulated it remain a discrete collection.  This is a ‘one off’ library, the most important collection of the highest importance to all Australians.  No State Librarian should have the powers this one seems to be wielding without due restraint.

Let's have the public meeting.

And in case you haven’t signed it, here is the petition.

Posted on February 16, 2014 .

Beyond Fear & Loathing: Local Politics at Work

Gibson, Graeme Beyond fear and loathing : local politics at work. More Than Just Talk, Huskisson, N.S.W, 2012.

Gibson, Graeme Beyond fear and loathing : local politics at work. More Than Just Talk, Huskisson, N.S.W, 2012.

Just finished reading Graeme Gibson’s Beyond Fear & Loathing: Local Politics at Work. Well worth a read. The ‘local’ in this case is Shoalhaven City on the south coast, but as they say in the opening scene of The Table of Knowledge, a play about local planning rorts and corruption, ‘This is a unique story, the kind of story that could only ever take place in a place like Wollongong.’ To which the responses come… And Burwood … and Port Macquarie….  And, alas many other places as well … 

Of course other levels of government are not any sweeter. But that’s not the point. This book covers local politics in Shoalhaven during the 1990s and up until the local elections of 2008. It has not been written by a theoretician, although it contains a lot of good theoretical insights, but from the knowledge gained by one person who got involved at the grassroots of community level in ‘a lot of little things’ which we are often tempted to ignore or let slide, a lot of little things that can cumulatively add up to the difference between a good society and one that is not. (p. 1)

The book could have become a depressing catalogue of local woes, as little and not so little failures of political transparency, political sleight -of -hand, cronyism and outright corruption unfold.
But it is written with an eye to educating the reader in how these things work so that more understanding and information can lead to better politics and better communities.  The lesson s are not just about being convinced of the justice or good sense of your cause, but about acting smarter. To quote Macchiavelli, as Gibson does on p. 85, ‘we must distinguish between … those who , to achieve their purpose , can force the issue and those who must use persuasion. In the second case, they always come to grief.’

The book is peppered with useful quotations from the ancients to current players in the local scene, as well as thinkers who are presently charting better ways of working at the local level. After all the bruising experiences and rotten politics have been exposed, the final chapter begins with a quote from Alfred, Lord Tennyson ‘Come my friends, Tis not too late to seek a newer world.’ 

Let us all hope so.

This book should be available at all good bookshops. It is, for sure available at this very good bookshop Boobook on Owen. Phone 4441 8585

Posted on February 1, 2014 .

Kung Hi Fat Choy

Furniture shop at the corner of Campbell and Smith Streets, Surry Hills, c. 1902.  At this time there were many Chinese furniture makers in Sydney, with clients ranging from the lowliest to David Jones department store. City of Sydney Archives, NSCA, CRS, 51/166

Furniture shop at the corner of Campbell and Smith Streets, Surry Hills, c. 1902.  At this time there were many Chinese furniture makers in Sydney, with clients ranging from the lowliest to David Jones department store. City of Sydney Archives, NSCA, CRS, 51/166

Year of the Horse. It’s all pretty complicated this Chinese zodiac thing. It’s the wooden  horse, which means different things from the water horse, and the metal horse, naturally.  And how you personally will get on this year will depend on your own year.  Mine is the rat, and apparently horses and rats are fairly incompatible so I might expect a rough ride this year. Anyway, best wishes for yours.

Posted on February 1, 2014 .

Myanmar

The Secretariat, November 2013, Built in the late 19th century it is the most imposing of all Yangon’s historic buildings.

The Secretariat, November 2013, Built in the late 19th century it is the most imposing of all Yangon’s historic buildings.

There’s nothing like a dose of Myanmar to strain the mind over questions of heritage. Streets and streets of magnificent crumbling colonial buildings in Yangon. Visions of the millions of baskets of building materials carted on hundred of heads up so many paths to repair and secure so many temples on so many hilltops. Exquisitely carved old teak monasteries languishing in ancient and deserted rural places that were once cities, or tucked away down side streets behind the brutal new Chinese inspired high rise of ugly modern Mandalay.

bagan.jpg

 

The ruins of Bagan with its thousands of temples, both tiny and grand, stretching beyond where the eye can see – 42 square kilometers. Inadequate attempts are made to imagine the missing domestic and public structures that once filled the vast spaces of this lost city but it is just about impossible to get any real perspective on its lost greatness. The woeful tale of attempts to have this magical place recognised by UNESCO as a world heritage site make a good introduction to anyone interested in understanding the complexities and politics of heritage issues in Myanmar.

At the local level in villages across the country nothing much remains of ephemeral domestic and worka-day structures of even a decade ago. The remains an old rice mill, its water races and stones still in evidence, its thatched roof thinning to the open sky, a building rendered obsolete by small insertions of industrialised power that alter forever the way that materials are made and the way that people labour. We saw this is 2013. Will it be there in 2014?

Yangon alone blitzes the senses with its heavy load of historical content. One legacy of years of isolation is the finest and largest collection of British public and private sector colonial buildings in the world. Post offices, hospitals, schools, banks.


Pegu Club November 2013

Pegu Club November 2013

The amazing Pegu Club, unofficial centre of British politics and intrigue, a mouldering timber and brick wonder of dance halls and dining rooms, of remnant squash courts and swimming pool, of carved teak staircases and rooms providing accommodation for Anglo gentlemen, sojourners, mad or otherwise. Local Burmese were not permitted, except as servants.Who will restore this crumbling pile, redolent with memories of oppression and arrogance of a failed Empire?

View of the Secretariat Building, 1900s

View of the Secretariat Building, 1900s


The 16 acres (6.5 hectares) of the magnificent Secretariat buildings, the official HQ of British power, in the heart of downtown Yangon has survived a little better as it was used until recently and only abandoned by the Myanmar bureaucracy after the military government established a new capital in Naypyidaw in 2005.

The Yangon Heritage Trust is a non-government organisation established under the patronage of Thant Myint-U which hopes to get joint government-private sector involvement in restoring heritage buildings for commercial use. The local government Yangon City Development Committee’s list of heritage buildings contains temples, pagodas and monasteries as well as many British era structures. Lists are one thing, heritage conservation is quite another, and in the plethora of problems and challenges facing Myanmar, the importance of heritage can easily get lost.

yangon1.jpg
old_building_yangon.jpg
yangon3.jpg
yangon4.jpg


…So then home to the prospect of the O’Farrell government emaciating the heritage strengths in our own planning legislation. Glimpsing the plight of another place with so many mindboggling problems, including so many intractable heritage issues, does not make you feel relaxed at the state of thing at home. Just frustrated at the lack of vision, the narrowness of understanding of how very important it is to take our heritage seriously. Any place can throw up the modern and the utilitarian structures that maximise the profits of the bottom line. Just look at Mandalay, a name redolent with romance, an ugly place of overanxious development at all costs. Today, Yangon’s retention of so much of its past is a miracle. The next years might see it disappear unless developers, government, developers and the world come to understand its potential as a special place. The Yangon Heritage Trust has friends in powerful places and fingers are crossed for a good outcome of its work.   

As for Sydney, there was the small triumph of the withdrawal of the Planning Bill 2013 after a plethora of amendments aimed at strengthening its community and heritage elements were introduced in the Legislative Council. But the bill will be back again in February or March and it’s not likely that the development sector has stopped lobbying, let alone  grown in appreciation of even the economic potential in heritage understanding. And so the fight continues.  

Below are some links to sites that discuss Yangon heritage issues.

Posted on January 16, 2014 .

Millers Point...Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more

This afternoon residents will be addressing the City Council on a proposal to create Walsh Bay as a new suburb. Here’s my contribution: 

There is a long history of people attempting to expunge the name of Millers Point from the map of Sydney.  The precursor of SHFA tried to grab it for The Rocks. They tried to get the name of the old Post Office in Kent Street. Off the buses that terminate in Millers Point. Every time the residents have had to fight to keep their name. Names are important.  Part of Millers Point has recently been swallowed into the new Barangaroo. This attack on one of Sydney’s oldest place names needs to stop. To rename a small portion of the already diminished and diminutive suburbs of Millers Point and Dawes Point as Walsh Bay would be most disrespectful to the historical integrity of the place.

Millers Point is one of Sydney's oldest communities with a history that is based in its maritime economy. It has been named this for almost 200 years. Walsh Bay and the Walsh Bay wharves are integral to the maritime history of Millers Point, and without them, the meaning of the place called Millers Point is profoundly compromised.

The bay between the heritage listed precincts of Dawes Point and Millers Point is well known as Walsh Bay and the wharves are always called the Walsh Bay Wharves, but these are widely understood to be part of Millers Point. The State Heritage Register provides detailed and thoughtful listings of Millers Point and Dawes Point.  The register also lists the heritage precinct of Walsh Bay as a heritage item, but it makes it clear that this is integral to the place called Millers Point.

The practice of named wharf precincts within suburbs and city precincts is well established and easily understood - Jones Bay wharves, Pyrmont, White Bay wharves, Balmain, Walsh Bay wharves, Millers Point. This concept is clear and not difficult to grasp.  The fact that there are residences on the Walsh Bay wharves and former shore sheds is irrelevant and no different to the fact that there are residences in Windmill Street or Argyle Place, or on various wharves at Pyrmont or that there are residences at Circular Quay.

Over the years there have been ongoing attempts to erase the place called Millers Point.  Local residents on all these occasions have protested at the disrespect shown to the heritage meaning of their place - Millers Point. 

Claims that the proposed new naming would reduce confusion are greatly overstated. Mischievous, even. Dr Lisa Murray, the City Historian, provided the Council with an excellently reasoned paper the last time this silly request came before you.

Please don’t entertain this proposal. Please stop revisiting this issue and please don’t be conned into thinking that this proposal is anything more than an attempt to distance a small group of residents from the honourable historic roots of the area they live in.

Posted on July 22, 2013 .