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All the money leads here… - Stephan [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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All the money leads here… [Nov. 10th, 2007|01:24 pm]
On Monday I applied to take Friday off as annual leave. A rather fortunate thing because I was to ill for work, but not incapacitated enough to go sight seeing. I’d had the intention for a while to photograph the light rail systems around Darling Harbour. So camera in one hand, handkerchief in the other I bounced down to the city’s centre of indulgence.

A thought I had while viewing these is that they cast Sydney in a far more attractive light than this city deserves. It should be remembered that this is Sydney’s primary tourist trap, and you will not find such wealth anywhere else in the entire state of New South Wales. Not even in Canberra. It’s also a sick joke when I tell you that the western side of Darling Harbour used to be known as “The Hungry Mile” because it was originally the cargo wharf where goods were transferred to trains, and during the depression starving men would queue for a chance at work to feed themselves and their families. (Note, while my comments in the paragraph below about Sega World Sydney may seem contradictory to this viewpiont, the amusement park employed local people, drew in tourist revenue and was enjoyable for families. Just proving that I’m not entirely left-wing).

Let’s start then… :)

Sydney… a city shrouded in fog or a city shrouded in smog. Pick one! XD


An image worthy of drawing attention to. The northern face of Sydney’s central station.

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It is here that the Tram circuit begins. I couldn’t have written this better than it currently appears in Wikipedia: Sydney, the largest city in Australia, once had the largest tram system in Australia, the second largest in the Commonwealth (after London), and one of the largest in the world. It was extremely intensively worked, with about 1,600 cars in service at any one time at its peak during the 1930s (cf. about 500 trams in Melbourne today). Throughout the first half of the twentieth century, an average of more than one tram journey per day was made by every man and woman, infant and child in the city. Patronage peaked in 1945 at 405 million passenger journeys. The system was in place from 1861 until its winding down in the 1950s and closure in 1961. It had a maximum street mileage of 181 miles (291 km), in 1923.

Now back to my own wording: By the mid 1990’s they realised what an idiotic mistake had been made and attempted to make amends. Curiously, the new tram route doesn’t follow any part of the old system, save for the tiny portion of track which runs upward alongside Central Square Park. In the photograph below you can see one of the modern trams having climbed up the hill from the park to enter Central station’s tram terminus. On a bridge directly behind the tram is the regular suburban railway leading into the city circle and North Shore Lines.


Tram now leaving Central and heading back down the hill on the nearer side of the park (sorry that it’s under-exposed; I’m still learning how to use my own camera).


A far better shot, now that I’m not aiming into the sunlight:


An inbound tram at a point where the tracks run along the fringe of Sydney’s Chinatown:


Here, a meeting of the two different light rail systems. That girder on the right is the monorail track, at a point where it enters one of the stations.


At present neither of these two light rail systems could qualify for mass-transit status, not even the trams. Both cover only minuscule regions of the city, the monorail least of all, and they’re too expensive to be of any use for commuters. They both exist to serve the tourist trap.

Ok look, here comes a monorail train now (is “train” the correct word?).



Beyond this point it becomes impossible to follow the tramline directly on foot for the next kilometre or so, even though there are many pick-up points. The tracks run on the inaccessible side of a busy road, sometimes between or even under buildings. Obviously the pick-up points are accessible, but I didn’t have time to scope them all. You’ll understand why at the end of this essay.

Instead I walked along the shoreline, photographing other sights of Darling Harbour. Like this one; the Imax Theatre, seen from the South. Currently Wikipedia claims this is the largest of its kind in the world. Doesn’t look all that big to me, but all the same I wish I’d taken the time to see “Polar Express” there.


Here… is a building with a sad story for fans of Sonic the Hedgehog. I don’t know what “SGA” stands for, but originally this spelled “SEGA” as this was their Australian indoor theme park. Opened in 1997 and closed just four years later after not even the Olympic games drew in enough people to attend. A work colleague told of how she and her young daughter had a very enjoyable time there, and she too feels disappointed that the park was not able to run economically. In her own words “It was fun but very expensive.” Thus this grand idea went the way of “Australia’s Wonderland” and Fox Studios.

When is it going to dawn on people that Australians in the majority are a) Not wealthy b) Couch Potatoes. ?


Another underworld… I love these places. :)


The Imax theatre seen from the west:


The Imax theatre seen from the north (again, sorry that it’s under-exposed):


Pyrmont bridge seen on an angle from the west:


The bridge was originally for vehicular traffic, but now serves only pedestrians and the monorail, as it heads west into Pyrmont (the monorail runs a circular route in one direction only). In the foreground and slightly to the right you can see a water taxi.


A water taxi in closer view:


Looking along the underside of the bridge:


Here you can see the turning mechanism of the bridge, as for it’s early life was built to allow large ships into the cargo bay. I’ve only seen the bridge swung open on television, and even then from a very limited perspective.


Two more views of the monorail vehicle on the bridge:


Something I never grow tired of seeing:


Looking into the city as the monorail approaches Pyrmont Bridge.


This one I am going to force people to look at on their Friend’s page, because it’s one of the best in the collection:

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Starting out across the bridge:


The monorail station on the Pyrmont end of the bridge:


A tall ship, an old lighthouse ship and in the background a paddle-wheel showboat:


Looking very anachronistic… another tall ship. For some reason this reminds me very much of the Goon Show episode where a viking ship from 1600 sailed into London in 1957.

And yes, I’m going to force people to look at this one also. NYAH!! :P

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The same tall ship, with the paddle-wheel showboat now moored seen on left.


Then at last… the whole reason I began this photo essay was to take images of this very unusual tram stop. This looks like a refurbished victorian sewer, especially with sections of exposed natural rock, but what I couldn’t photograph are the excavations east and west that had to be made in order for the trams to reach this point. The section of tramline which I couldn’t show was built on railway line that remained from the cargo freight yard. This new section however is entirely purpose built.


I was especially dissapointed at not being able to capture better images. The layout of this place proved very difficult to find a suitable perspective. On top of that there was a sharp contrast between the brightly lit stopping point, and the pitch black tunnels on either side.

Trust me, in order to gain a feel for this spot you really have to be there in person.

I hope you’ve all enjoyed this little collection as much as I enjoyed taking them. With a bit of luck when I have time in the future I’ll be able to assemble some more.

[User Picture]From: dewhitton
2007-11-10 05:57 am (UTC)
Excellent photos! A lot of the light rail line runs on an old goods track bed, where it runs along side the Darling Harbour trap. This is why it runs in some inaccessible places. And I have always thought the monorail would work better if it had been extended to include Central. As it stands now, it connects Darling Harbour with Darling Harbour and is pretty useless.
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[User Picture]From: thefoxaroo
2007-11-10 07:16 am (UTC)
Pretty much useless indeed, and way to expensive. I caught the thing back from that stop I photographed, and just for the journey to Central it cost $4.00.

My commentry between photos 30 and 31 mentions the old line. Any idea where ocean liner goods are unloaded these days? There's a container depot somewhere near Clyde, but I can't imagine ships unloading there. Do they go to Botany Bay?
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[User Picture]From: dewhitton
2007-11-10 11:28 am (UTC)
Port Botany has its own small container yard, and there is (or was) a huge rail terminal at Chullora to transship containers.
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[User Picture]From: alaskawolf
2007-11-10 02:51 pm (UTC)
thats a tourist trap i want to check out someday :)
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[User Picture]From: thefoxaroo
2007-11-10 08:44 pm (UTC)
...only if you have a lot of money to throw around. That's all this place is for.

I'd strongly recommend some of the less pricey attractions, eg: Centrepoint Tower, the Zoo, the Blue Mountains, the Zigzag railway.
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[User Picture]From: deckardcanine
2007-11-10 10:48 pm (UTC)
Looking good, but even with most of the photos behind links, this post could use an LJ cut.
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[User Picture]From: thefoxaroo
2007-11-10 11:44 pm (UTC)
What's an LJ cut?
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[User Picture]From: deckardcanine
2007-11-12 02:34 am (UTC)
It should look something like this, with right-angle brackets replacing parentheses:

(lj-cut text="Here are the pictures")
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[User Picture]From: thefoxaroo
2007-11-12 05:09 am (UTC)
But what does it do?
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[User Picture]From: deckardcanine
2007-11-13 01:26 am (UTC)
It means that when I look at my Friends page, I see words like "Here are the pictures" instead of what's behind the cut. The page loads faster and the skimming is easier. If I want to see what's hidden, I need only click the cut link.

LJ cuts are also useful if you're going to talk about spoilers or other things people might not want to see at all.
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[User Picture]From: thefoxaroo
2007-11-13 03:34 am (UTC)
Thank you. :) I've added this to my list of goodies.
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