My beaut city Sydney through the eye of a smart phone camera!

For many years I commuted across the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge to the business hub of North Sydney. I have to say I never tired of doing so nor my gazing across bleary-eyed pre-coffee state travelling to my corporate executive job in the once consulting, advertising, and management consulting mecca of North Sydney. The views across to the unique Opera House were still the same as when I first set eyes on this bird-like abstract modern work of art as a bedazzled seven year old in the mid-1070’s, living 2-3 hours South of Sydney in small city Wollongong.

Every single day as I commuted back and forth across the Bridge gazing across to the Opera House and magnificent Sydney Harbour, I had to pinch myself that I was living in Sydney. I have now lived in Sydney for a total of nearly 20 years with a break in between with health challenges for myself and caring responsibilities for my now late elderly disabled, deaf, and Alzheimers-worsening mother. Bless her! I’ve now been living back in Sydney since Oct 2010, and really can’t imagine any other Aussie city I would live in. I talk about living in a cheaper city/town with less people and less in your face brash city living but I would miss Sydney terribly!:-)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Centennial Park Sydney

When I first lived in Sydney, I lived for many of those first 10 years near this glorious huge city park!

Sydney’s famous Centennial Park in the East of the city 10 -15 mins from Sydney CBD. This year marks the 160th anniversary of the park

The park itself is a welcome oasis in Sydney’s well heeled Eastern Suburbs. Surrounding suburbs include Paddington, Woolhara, Bondi Junction, Queens Park, Centennial Park and Randwick.

Inside the park locals and residents from all over Sydney rollerblade, walk, run, ride horses, bicycle and even power walk whist timing themselves as they discuss the latest real estate sales in one of the most expensive areas in the world! Nearby Edgecliff ranks in the top 3 most rich suburbs via median wage in Australia ca. 200K+ per annum average salary!

Within the park there are duck ponds, a forest with fruit bats that come out enmasse just before dark. There are playing fields, TV ads are filmed, weddings take place. There is a war memorial, a rose and flower garden, a marshland area, even a full restaurant and attached high quality cafe

Nowadays its much more commercial the bushland being converted to ecotourism paths for families, but it still maintains the fine balance between old world charm and practical, multi-purpose parkland. Oh and I forgot there are always scores of families barbequeing and picknicking on the many verdant stretches of grassland. Centennial Park, yes it certainly is an iconic and beaut Sydney park. Here are a few pics

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I will return and take many more photos of this beautiful inner Sydney park. I also like the fact I can see the buildings of my postgraduate alumni the University of NSW which enabled my solid career in the Sydney corporate world, affording be a great lifestyle which at the time was really important to me.  Also a proximity to the city for work and going out heaps in Sydney’s then fun, vibrant and diverse bar and nightclub scene, at the time one of the best in the world!:-). I no longer do that ‘scene’ and it no longer exists anyway but it was so much FUN to be a part of Sydney inner subculture and partying back then!!

 

Architecture of Sydney CBD and Queen Victoria Building (QVB) at the time the monorail (overhead rail) was still in existence

Sydney is one of those modern cities around the world that also surprise you with some amazing older style especially Georgian, and art deco architecture. This because Sydney is only 200 plus years old. The real boom time (first) took place at the end of the 19th Century into the glorious iconic art deco 1920’s-30’s halcyon years!

The QVB as it is is known is a stand alone example of this older, unique architecture reminiscent of a very different way of life in Sydney. Other parts of the city have displays of well preserved early 1900s architecture.

So this post is to provide a bit of a mix of perspectives on Sydney city’s architecture

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View of the Sydney metro now disbanded entirely.

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Tranquil fountains with pigeons outside Reserve Bank of Australia, Martin Place, Sydney (recently the home of hundreds of homeless protesting at the absurd cost of rents and lack of availability of same in Sydney – the government drafted legislation and the police moved them out finding them temporary shelter. The problem in Sydney as a city with a population of 5 million and growing is that the shelters for homeless are overflowing so can’t meet capacity due to the ridiculous high rents, high housing prices, and overall high cost of living in Sydney (rent, electricity, telecommunications, groceries, in fact nearly every household product and service is most expensive in Sydney in the country and in the world!). This increases the homeless situation and the government kind of turns a blind eye and says they are there by choice!!

Some of my poems in my next poetry book touch on living in poverty since I have personally experienced it due to health conditions and rising unemployment rates plus incredible ageism by hirers and recruiters (post 40 years of age!).

As an aside this view of the QVB builiding is spectacular in its statues and ornate architecture!:-)

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Unusual side view of Sydney’s Queen Victoria Building (QVB) respelendent in early evening lights (summer sunset)

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View of amazing old building opposite Sydney Pitt Street Mall, lunchtime in Summer!

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Heart of financial hub, Sydney city, summer 2012/13

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Close up zoom in of Sydney Centre Point Tower

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Different perspective of Sydney Centre Point Tower viewed from behind new and old central CBD buildings

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Driving into Sydney city from South, summer sunset (Driver’s perspective)

 

Centennial Park Sydney

Sydney’s famous Centennial Park in the East of the city 10 -15 mins from Sydney CBD. This year marks the 160th anniversary of the park The park itself is a welcome oasis in Sydney’s well heeled Eastern Suburbs. Surroundi…

Sydney Airport and nearby Brighton Le  – Brighton Le Sands Beach (South of Sydney)

The beach is situated just across from the International Airport and the runways, which in turn are right next to Botany Bay, where Captain Cook first landed in Australia

So here are a few different perspectives of Sydney airport you won’t have gotten as you flew in and out of Sydney Kingsford International Airport:

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Brighton Le Sands Beach just across from the International Airport

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I took this photo of the plane not realising how close it was to a lamp-post – looks as if it is almost touching!

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Point opposite the runway – taken in monochrome

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Plane seemingly just behind the freeway. There is a freeway that goes to the side and underneath one of the main runways. Every time you drive South of Sydney to the South Coast (where I come from) you pass under it! Also if you commute into the city you drive through it, feeling like you are really living in the big city, jets literally landing and taking off over the tunnel above you as you enter!

Often you see a huge plane looming above you as you go into the tunnel – love it!

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The same plane flies off with passengers holding dreams of holiday destinations, adventure and new beginnings:-)

I have written in poem on this in my second poetry book out next year called Jet Planes in the Sky.

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Thai Airlines plane on runway. The sky really was this colour, it was late afternoon

and the sun was fading slowly

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Sydney International Airport runway with city skyline in the far distance

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“It’s all happening…” – taken in vivid filter mode to emphasising the sky colour

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“What we love to feel and experience..we love to watch from afar – take off!” (Monochrome)

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Sydney International Airport runway with Port Botany in the distance, Botany Bay in the foreground

(Monochrome)

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Looking along Brighton Le Sands Beach away from the airport (Late on a sunny afternoon)

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Plane “hiding” – taken almost lying down behind these rocks

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Windsurfers on Sydney Botany Bay near Brighton Le Sands

Its great fun from personal experience (have done it elsewhere) but hard work lugging the board to the sea

…and not that active if the wind drops:-)

More about Marrickville, a city with the highest concentrations of artists in Sydney, and the State of NSW!

Marrickville, where I used to live a few years back, a unique and diverse inner city Sydney suburb.

It was handy for my corporate executive job in the city, working long 50-60 hour weeks in a senior headhunting job in the city, it being just 7km from Sydney’s CBD in a place called Marrickville.

The name Marrickville apparently came from when a certain Thomas Chalder moved from England to the region. When he arrived in Marrickville and established himself he decided to call the area Marrickville after his home town of Marrick in Yorkshire.

Whilst the area has a history of dense light industry, in the 1800s it was also home to various aristocratic families.

One notable individual, a Sydney business tycoon Thomas Holt built a huge gothic mansion known as “The Warren”. He finished building it in 1857 and the grounds were opulent fit for any European gentry including art works from Europe and large landscaped gardens overlooking the then clean Cooks River

The mansion eventually passed on to nuns who got kicked out for not paying their rent! Then in WWI it became the grounds for artillery practice. Gradually over the years this once famous local land mark deteriorated into such a state of decay it was declared unsafe and demolished by the government in 1922

Today Marrickville is a thriving multicultural community of approximately 75,000 people, in the inner city hub and now caught up in the city bustle. When I lived there I was constantly reminded of Marrickville’s proximity to the airport hourly as planes flew low overhead. Ornaments would fall off the shelf, the light fittings would shake, and I had to either wait until the plane flew over to watch a TV program/movie or turn the volume up to full capacity!

During the time I lived there the light rail was built an alternative to the train down the road for getting to Sydney city or the West.

Although much of the original Greek population has now moved out there is still a strong underlying contingent of Greek families and influence. There are now also a lot of Portuguese and Chinese. Recently too quite a significant number of ex-pat British have moved into the area appreciating the almost village-like lifestyle combined with an increasing inner city funky status.  In addition there is a new population of wealthy Indian immigrants and Middle-Eastern immigrants (Non-Lebanese traditionally the Sydney majority of Arabic people, in the 1990’s having a greater population in Sydney than Lebanese in Beiruit!).

Another very large population group are the Vietnamese. The main road intersecting Marrickville Road was then and still is full of Western style-Vietnamese and traditional Vietnamese-style restaurants. Also. it still has lots of Thai places too since there remains quite a large Thai population

One unique aspect is the Vietnamese and Chinese grocers and food suppliers that stay open until 8pm, almost like a food market back in their home countries!

In addition the area was full of families, singles and recently become popular with the once centrally-located gay population, formerly located in Surry Hills, and Darlinghurt (near Sydney’s now defunct gay Oxford St mile). Since the area was excluded from Sydney’s ridiculous lockout laws which all but destroyed Darlinghurst & Kings Cross night life it developed a solid number of early 21st Century bars and cabaret style venues open to very late! Hence you will still find vaudeville and comedy shows in the area (at the famous Factory) as well as dance parties now banned most other parts of inner Sydney, and even international rock artist concerts (The Factory).

Add to this an ever changing socio-economic mix of working class, middle class, semi-professionals and increasingly city commuter professionials moving into the area..and you have a very diverse Marrickville.

In the 2011 census Marrickville had the highest proportion of artists (all types) in the whole of Australia. It also has a certain green, independent stance claiming to be “nuclear” free

As you walk down the street you will still find many Malaysian, Greek, and Chinese shop owners all of whom smile and wave at you as if you were family:-).

Now several years from when I first lived in Marrickville (2010) the area has gradually changed from inner city trendy grunge to funky gentrified suburb, new luxury apartments in areas once filled with working warehouses and commuters driving in BMW’s and even Ferraris taking the slow commute to work, mixed in with the more traditional ute’s (trucks) and Holdens. It was shame to watch it be swallowed up the unhealthy wave of gentrification that has swept across all of Sydney like a capitalistic tidal wave, rendering every single suburb unaffordable for most original Sydneysiders. The rest are steeped in debt (the highest in the world) with the average Sydney home costing 1.2 million dollars Australian, and the average 2 bedroom apartment costing 700-750,000 dollars Australian, way out of the price range for the average Sydney worker!

Oddly too the area increased in robberies and muggings and overall violence including Pro-IS violence where they even attacked politicians and voters at a poling station just up the road from where I lived!!

Anyway having developed an overall “picture” of Marrickville when I used to live there:-). I was so lucky to see the last years of the lovely stage of Marrickville’s rejuvenation.

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ImageIllawarra Road as it crawls down to Marrickville station – Sydney CBD is in the distance, you can actually see Centre Point Tower!

Cooks River Reserve – Marrickville/Canterbury area, Inner Western Sydney

This area of Sydney is in the Inner West, specifically Marrickville where I lived for 3.5 years before now.

The location shown below and in subsequent photos is Cooks River Reserve. It is lovely part of inner Western Sydney and a hidden hideaway

Here are some pictures as it looked in the early 1900s:

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Riverside River, Cooks River, Earlwood side

Years ago this was a working class area of Marrickville. Now as you can see multi-million dollar homes and apartments are being built. There are also plans to clean up this once heavily industrialised/pollluted river to its former clean state (see above black & white photos)

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Walk along Cooks River – where I like to get my thoughts clear:-)

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Sun shining through falling rain – observation

Yesterday afternoon the weather changed from sunny, blue-skied weather to rain within less than hour. I took this picture to capture the effect of sun shining through the falling rain in the trees

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The path between the golf course and Cooks River

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Slight reflection of sky in Cooks River

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River of civilisation

In the period 1900-1960s most of the damage was already done today. Still the River has lots of floating debris

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Strange sky – blue sky in between grey thunder clouds

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Bridge across the river

Cronulla…the other side of Sydney Beach Life

Today I want to do a blog post on one of my all time favourite beaches…Cronulla Beach

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The logo for The Sharks, the Cronulla NRL or rugby league team

Nestled in the South East of Sydney in the Shire, otherwise known by locals as God’s Country, this beach is famous for the Aussie movie “Puberty Blues”. The quintessential Australian film epitomised the 1970s with its tale of teenagers growing up in Cronulla, surfing, being cool and generally getting up to mischief;-)

Now Cronulla retains a certain down to earth feeling but it now also has the multi-million dollar homes and beachfront apartments, especially as you walk to Gunnamatta Bay

The beach itself stretches for miles and there are several beach coves within it. There is a great walk along The Esplanade that goes all along the beach and round the promontory

In addition there are many rock pools where the sea crashes in and refreshes the pools daily

Cronulla is one of those beaches that is equally enjoyable in summer and the bleakest of winter days. It is just a real typical beach with an “uncluttered” and unstylised stature, natural and almost not touched by 20th Century living to the extent that Bondi and Eastern suburbs beaches of Sydney have been. I frequently have visited Cronulla over the years and I used to live in the Eastern suburbs and to those beaches so I know the comparative changes over the decades. There are still the red-bricked pre-war apartments and ramshackle cottages (admittedly worth more than decades earlier) …but its not sanitised or in perfect condition as many premium beaches like Bondi, Bronte or Tamarama (Glamourama) are nowadays

Anyway here is the first of a series of photos of the beaut’ Cronulla Beach in Sydney…only a 30-40 min train ride from Sydney’s CBD but seemingly miles away:-)

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Part of the walk along The Esplanade, Cronulla, looking back to the Southern end of Cronulla Beach

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One of the many sea rock pools – I once heard a guy say to his son there are blue-ringed octopi (plural) in there. On a summers day this pool and others along The foreshore and The Esplanade are packed with swimmers. It is impossible to do laps in the pool:-)

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Looking across towards Bundeena National Park

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Rocks through the sea – these rocks look so regular they almost appear like “pieces of cake”. This is typical of igneous rock or volcanic rock that has cooled. It certainly appears like this type of rock

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Apartments with a sea view. I think at one time it was a house but has been sub-divided since then…

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One of the many rock pools along the Cronulla beach shoreline

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Modern unusual design house on beachfront – Cronulla

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House that looks like one of those modern churches…

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Family mansion complete with family coat of arms!

Sydney Monorail…will be history soon!

The infamous Sydney Monorail, perhaps one of the most talked about and controversial metro systems anywhere in the world…before, during and after it was built!

The concept of a monorail was first conceived in 1984. In those days Sydney’s population was barely over a million, now its 5 million plus

Initially it was conceived as a people-mover to attract tourists and locals alike to the future Darling Harbour precinct. In the mid to late 1980s and through to the Olympics Sydney’s in 2000 Darling Harbour was an epicentre for tourists and locals alike

However from the very start there was mass opposition to the Monorail from local Sydneysiders. In July 1986 4 years before it was built a solid crowd of 7000 took to the streets of Sydney to oppose the new Monorail being built. One of the main concerns was that this new “eyesore” as some saw it was going to increase noise levels, adversely effect business whilst not really offering any real long-distance transportation solution for Sydney (Source: http://sref.in/0telvx)

Whatever the case the monorail went ahead at a cost of 60M…

It was opened in 1988 amid low key fanfare possibly due to the level of local business and public opposition…

http://sref.in/9cxgfP – 1988 opening video clip

The last few years has seen increased rumours of Monorail closure. Whereas the projected passenger traffic was 12 million a year it has only carried 4 million a year…many local disappointed that 5-6 dollars will only pay for one small loop (whereas previously they used to enjoy going around the limited loop endlessly!).

The other thing that has always been a complaint by the people of Sydney is the monorail could have more usefully resembled a Vancouver sky train or some other international mono rail on the ground that went citywide instead of one or two suburbs. The new light rail has effectively taken over the purpose of the initial Monorail. That is to provide the people of Sydney with a real, tangible, inner city cross-city transport system to serve its new population of 5 million plus (versus just over a million when Monorail was in concept stage)

The monorail has also been plagued by a series of very public breakdowns where passengers including hundreds of tourists have been trapped on hot days, suspended metres from the Sydney street…waiting to be rescued!

So we local Sydneysiders have also felt it was kind of a part of the city but an expensive white elephant..one of many of the government at the time

Nevertheless it is still with considerable nostalgia and a tad of sadness that we say goodbye to this much talked about and then forgotten….icon of Sydney…on June 28 it takes its last loop around Darling Harbour and Pyrmont. There are plans for the monorail to be sold to the University of NSW, my alumni which has a huge campus and often has students dashing between upper and lower campus classes in 10 minute runs!

Here are some photos taken earlier this month of history passing by…

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A monorail train exits the futuristic style (when it opened) tube station

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The ad on the outside of the train reminds people its the last month of operation!

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Monorail system map showing limited inner Sydney loop. Now the light rail (on the ground) extends out to Lillyfield in the Inner West, it will extend to Dulwich Hill early next year. The following years it is planned for  the Eastern Suburbs having light rail including Randwick and some suburbs along Oxford Street as originally planned for the main train suburban line in the late 1960s

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One of the major stops on the metro line, Harbourside…now itself a victim of Sydney’s new mega luxury shopping complexes. Recently it has been losing money and is now for sale. Unfortunately there are just so many new shopping complexes in the inner city – World Square, Broadway, Westfield Centrepoint (now a glamourous version of the former humble. Westfield). Its almost as if the Monorail and Harbourside, in fact most of Darling Harbour around the original Convention Centre was hip enough, luxurious and modern enough for the 1980s but not now…with Sydney’s version of Twin Towers coming soon with the jet-setting membership casino of Bangaroo coming to our foreshores in the next few years!

Perhaps this is the main reason the Monorail had to go…to make way for the new breed of super slick Dubai-style skyscrapers and people-movers to transport Sydney (literally) into the 21st and 22nd Century!

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Source: http://sref.in/bt39d9

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The turn styles to Convention Monorail station..soon to turn no more…

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Looking through to Monorail train across to Sydney city

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The Monorail was always known for its windy, loop nature;-)…this shot demonstrates this

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The monorail travels high above the water at Darling Harbour – sunny winter’s day (Jun, 2013)…last month of operation ever!

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Monorail service station

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View that can be seen from inside the Monorail – Sydney city skyline!

 

Sydney’s Lights of Christmas!

Many Australian and possibly overseas readers will know that Sydney’s Vivid light and music festival has just finished

This extravaganza of extra-sensory light, audio and multi-dimensional overload is a treat for Sydneysiders yearly

It only started 5 years ago but as of this year the event is so much a part of Sydney’s annual calendar of events…it is now for the first time considered on the scale of New Years Eve! – http://sref.in/ql52jw

But in this blog post I am going to focus on another lighting spectacular, Sydney’s Lights of Christmas. This also takes place yearly near Sydney’s majestic old style St.Mary’s Cathedral. The main reason is that the Saturday night I went to the Vivid festival (outdoors) it was torrential rain and about 9-12C! I simply gave up taking pictures on my more serious camera and instead clicked away using my Samsung III smartphone camera

It is simply not the same and I feel cheating!…

So here are just a few of my pictures of the Lights of Christmas instead on a clear, summer’s night in Sydney last year still on my Samsung smartphone (since I was not aware of the Sydney Lights festival!)

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Both of the above visuals infer that the Cathedral is wrapped light.As you watch you see the wrapping paper gradually unfurl as if it were real Christmas wrapping paper!

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A lone skycraper in the distance with lights on 24/7

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Sydney 2014 VIVID festival – an extravaganza of lights and music!

The internationally known Sydney VIVID Festival is now in its fifth year.

Originally of a small, mainly centred around the NSW State Parliament, The Royal Mint, Sydney Hospital and Macquarie Street, it now extends across to Circular Quay, the Rocks and Darling Harbour.

Even Sydney University, one of Australia’s top and oldest universities was layered in tasteful laser light this year.

Here are just a few of the pictures I took, for the first using a tripod at night!

 

Butterflies Opera House Vivid 2014Lips on Customs House

Customs House PipesHarbour Bridge from Cahil

Wavy green neon on blue

 

 

Manly , Northern Beaches Sydney Australia

Situated to the North of Sydney city 17km NE across the Harbour is the beaut’ city of Manly. It is one of the places Sydney or anywhere that time almost forgets, left it in a time warp.

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You can almost imagine the 1970’s surfie crowd walking through The Corso, the pedestrian plaza that crosses between North Manly Beach and Manly Cove, famous for its Sea Aquarium.

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Walking along the promenade at North Manly you will see every time of Sydneysider. From well-dressed families, hipsters, surfers, backpackers, new immigrant students ride bicycles (which is forbidden!), friends with coffees in hands doing power walks recovering from a working week or from a big night before.

Here are just a few images of this seemingly miles away from Sydney enclave…

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Urban reality (Below)

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Contrast the above with natural beauty, flowers found in a nearby park:

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Yes, apparently live little penguins come up onto the shore…

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Had to snap this shot of a pigeon wrestling with some chips I had given it. They were large for its beak and hot!

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The same pigeon wanted more so stood his ground when I zoomed in!

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Qantas plane flies overhead on its flight path over Manly

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Sea gull caught up close flying directly overhead

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Bird in hurried flight

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Winter sunset driving home from Manly

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