Sydney’s Unique (Architectural) Style

Sydney has its own style – of architecture that is.  This post is going to be about architecture-I’ll save a bitchy Mr. Blackwell-style rant on some of the bad fashion I’ve seen here for later.

It’s not just monuments like the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, rather there are a few neighbourhoods with a distinct local style.  Both Glebe and Paddington consists of houses that look like Victorian London was transported to the tropics.  The houses come in two types: two story row houses with iron work…

…and cute little cottages, some of which look like gingerbread houses:

Most of the buildings were built in the 1880’s and they give the neighbourhoods great character (and now sell for millions…).  Here are a couple of examples of the detail in that ironwork:

Australia: Land of Colour

One of the things that has surprised me about Australia is how colourful it is (the land, not the people – I expected that).  In particular, the flowers are incredible.  I have yet to see a Golden Wattle (national flower) or a Waratah (New South Wales’ state flower), but I’ve definitely seen a lot of Hibiscus.  Here’s a sampling of the colours so far:

Update Wendy and I spent today going through the Botanical Gardens and Paddington, so here are a few more photos:

The Great Dane

Wendy and I are currently in Australia visiting her parents who live on Sydney’s Manly beach.  The easiest way to get to Manly from downtown is via the ferry – which happens to give you a phenomenal view of the Sydney Opera House.  Sadly, just after we got here we learned that John Utzon, the architect behind the building, had passed away at 90.  The obituary in the Economist eloquently captured the beauty of his masterpiece:

What he wanted for Sydney was the effect he had noticed when tacking round the promontory at Elsinore, of the castle’s piled-up turrets against the piled-up clouds and his own billowing white sails; the liberation he had felt on the great platforms of the Mayan temples in Mexico, of being lifted above the dark jungle into another world of light; the height and presence of Gothic cathedrals, whose ogival shape was to show in the cross-sections of the Sydney roof-shells; and the curved, three-dimensional rib-work of boat-building, as he had watched his own father doing it at Aalborg. The load-bearing beams of the Opera House shells he called spidsgattere, in homage to the sharp-sterned boats his father made.

Here are some photos I snapped from the ferry; I leave it up to you to decide whether his building achieved his dream:

The Bluewater Classic

Today we hiked up to the Sydney’s North Head to catch the start of the 2008 Bluewater Classic – the annual Sydney to Hobart race.  It’s quite an experience to watch; over 500,000 people line the harbour to watch the start.  Here’s a shot of the starting line:

Sydney’s harbour is such that the boats need to pass through a narrow channel between two cliffs.  We sat on the North Head (along with a few thousand other people) and watched the boats come through.  As they come through, there are helicopters flying over the boats and pursuit boats following alongside.  Here are some shots of the favourites: Wild Oats and Skandia.

As I write this, Skandia has taken the lead over Wild Oats, despite Wild Oats being the first out of the harbour.  We’ll see if Wild Oats can come back to claim her fourth consecutive victory and whether either will beat the current record of about 42 hours.