Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The cup

This is my last post from my farewell walk in Sydney and it's not really about Sydney because all eyes in Australia today were not on Sydney, but to our other great city Melbourne. The Melbourne Cup, a horse race, stops the nation. And for anyone who can escape work for a party, the chance to dress up. This shop window in George Street displayed the perfect shoes for the big day.

From A Dream of the Melbourne Cup by Banjo Paterson
"Now for the start, and here they come,
And the hoof-strokes roar like a mighty drum
Beat by a hand unsteady;
They come like a rushing, roaring flood,
Hurrah for the speed of the Chester blood;
For Acme is making the pace so good
They are some of 'em done already.

But round the track she begins to tire,
And a mighty shout goes up "Crossfire!"
The magpie jacket's leading;
And Crossfire challenges fierce and bold,
And the lead she'll have and the lead she'll hold,
But at length gives way to the black and gold,
Which right to the front is speeding.

Carry them on and keep it up --
A flying race is the Melbourne Cup,
You must race and stay to win it;
And old Commotion, Victoria's pride,
Now takes the lead with his raking stride,
And a mighty roar goes far and wide --
"There's only Commotion in it!"

But one draws out from the beaten ruck
And up on the rails by a piece of luck
He comes in a style that's clever;
"It's Trident! Trident! Hurrah for Hales!"
"Go at 'em now while their courage fails;"
"Trident! Trident! for New South Wales!"
"The blue and white for ever!""


Martin Place is flanked by old buildings at the heart of corporate Australia. Around the corner on George Street I was surprised to find these window boxes -- a modern, homely touch, quite unlike our normal cityscape.

Morning at the Window by TS Eliot
"They are rattling breakfast plates in basement kitchens,
And along the trampled edges of the street
I am aware of the damp souls of housemaids
Sprouting despondently at area gates.

The brown waves of fog toss up to me
Twisted faces from the bottom of the street,
And tear from a passer-by with muddy skirts
An aimless smile that hovers in the air
And vanishes along the level of the roofs."

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Martin Place

We took a short diversion to Martin Place on our way back. Our guest wanted to see the Channel 7 studio where the Sunrise breakfast show is broadcast. I instead focused on the more traditional monuments in Martin Place.

From Beach Burial by Kenneth Slessor
""Unknown seaman" - the ghostly pencil
Wavers and fades, the purple drips,
The breath of wet season has washed their inscriptions
As blue as drowned men's lips,

Dead seamen, gone in search of the same landfall,
Whether as ememies they fought,
Or fought with us, or neither; the sand joins them together,
Enlisted on the other front."

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Sydney sandstone

It was time to walk back home. On the way we passed the Town Hall and Queen Victoria Building. Sandstone is characteristic of Sydney's grand old buildings.

From Wikipedia: The main public buildings in Sydney, completed from the 1850s until the 1900s were built in sandstone from Pyrmont where some 50 quarries operated. The best stone was 'Paradise', a soft rock that is easy to carve, and when weathered colours to a warm, golden straw colour. It is pale grey when quarried but contains the mineral siderite, an iron oxide, that virtually rusts and gives the stone the yellow colour.