The rise of the vanities Brittney Kleyn and Amanda Lyras
is not a crime. Botox and other such procedures can have harmful negative effects on women especially on their self confidence,” she says. The increasing focus on appearances among women also has a much more sinister effect: it is trickling down to young girls. These days, there is no longer shock value when a 12-yearold rocks up to primary school with a face full of make up. In fact, makeover parties are now all the rage. Melbourne-based Glamour Girls Makeup Parties, which targets the four-to-10 age group, offers two-hour makeover parties for girls applying eyeshadow, blush and lip gloss.
By wearing makeup and nail polish, these young girls are essentially turning themselves into ‘mini adults’. Child development experts say that young girls are now entering their ‘tween’ years (between being a child and a teenager) at the tender age of six, five years earlier than previously. The message seems to be: don’t be fooled by what your mother told you – in this day and age, outward appearances matter. But while women seeking cosmetic enhancement can make their own informed choices, young girls need to know that at their age, it should be what’s on the inside that counts.
Brittney Kleyn and Amanda Lyras
Image: Zabrina Wong
he recession has affected how people spend their money in a lot of ways, but one of the stranger statistics to come to light is that Botox is booming among working women looking to get ahead. Workplace women are seeking cosmetic enhancement to give them the edge in the workplace because they believe that their appearance could strongly influence the hiring and firing policy of an organisation. Women who have recently been made redundant are also flocking to surgeries because they think an improvement in their looks could given them a great advantage when being interviewed by a potential employer. The trend, which has been confirmed by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons in the US, shows that vanity is back, giving women a sense that success is only a needle prick away. In the US, popping out of the office on a lunchbreak for a quick hit of Botox, a procedure that once took hours and perhaps days to recover from, is becoming increasingly common. This is echoed in UK, with a recent article in the Times Online showing that British women are counting on Botox, and not makeup, during the recession. And this idea of a quick trip to the clinic is now crossing the Pacific. Dr Steven Liew, from the Shape Clinic in Sydney, says: “We are finding women coming in for a quick treatment in their lunch breaks or even after work. It’s non-invasive which means women can quickly get back to their workplace.” Dr Liew says it is unclear whether the trend will continue to boom in Australia but he says the convenience of the treatment and its results are so far being hailed by Sydney’s working population. And it’s not just working women looking to get ahead – other women who have a fulltime job of a less competitive description are stepping out for the treatment. Annie Little is a full-time mum and while the stress of the workplace doesn’t get her down, she says that being a full-time mum takes its toll on her skin. “I can pop the kids into childcare at the beautician for half an hour and get that perk. Then, I can get on with my day.” Ms Little adds while it doesn’t give longterm results, the treatment is affordable enough for her and gives her added self-confidence. However Sydney psychologist Gemma Cribb believes that this is where the problem lies. “Women need to learn that aging gracefully
Image: Nikpon Tran
The upside to feeling down Sophie Tarr
incent Van Gogh, Virginia Woolf, Hunter S. Thompson: some of the greatest artistic minds have belonged to some fairly miserable people. And now, a growing body of research suggests it’s not just tortured geniuses who may benefit from a bout of sadness. Sadness may improve our memories, accuracy and – yes – some say it can even make us happier. Researchers from the UNSW School of Psychology have found that a gloomy mood may positively influence people’s ability to accurately recall details. Their study, published recently in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, measured the effect of mood on the memories of customers in a Sydney suburban newsagency. On wintry days, the researchers arranged for sad music to be played in the store and on fine days customers heard happy music. The customers were then approached to test how many of the objects they could remember seeing. The group found that customers who came in on rainy, cloudy days could list three times as many objects as those who came in on sunny days – and what’s more, their memories were more accurate. Professor Joseph Forgas, who led the study, says it could be evidence of an upside to feeling down. “There are many aversive experience that
we may not like, but can be good for us – pain, danger, anxiety and disgust all serve adaptive functions that prepare us better to cope with environmental challenges,” he says. “We now find that mild sadness functions in a similar way, automatically triggering more careful thinking and greater attention to the world around us.” The findings echo those of many of Professor. Forgas’ previous studies, in which it emerged that dysphoria – or negative mood – may make us less gullible, and better at decision-making. Professor Forgas says that, just as reactions like disgust may have developed as a survival mechanism, sadness may have stayed with us over the centuries because it is favoured by evolution. The Neanderthal who didn’t mind being betrayed by a fellow caveman, for example, might have been more likely to end up being let down again than one who felt sad at the betrayal and took steps to avoid feeling that way again. These sad-sack ancestors might then have had a better chance of staying alive to pass on their gloomy disposition to future generations. Embracing feelings of sadness is now even seen by some to be therapeutic. Sadness workshops have sprung up to help people get in touch with their sad side. Karen Masman, author of The Uses of
Sadness: Why Feeling Sad is No Reason Not to Be Happy, spends her days teaching workshops on how best to experience sadness and to harness its power for good. She says she wrote the book to show that sadness can offer an important catalyst for personal development. “For lots of us we learn through pleasure and joy as well but we also learn tremendously through the difficult experiences that we have,” she says. “I think that if we can learn to value those times of sadness ... in ways that help us to move through them fluidly, and to gather the lessons and the gifts of those times then that’s a tremendous happiness skill.” She says one of the reasons sadness gets such a bad rap is that the word is often used interchangeably with mental health terms like depression. Although Karen Masman acknowledges that depression is a problem faced by many, she says it is important to distinguish between what she calls ‘appropriate sadness’ on the one hand and depressive illness on the other. True sadness, she says, is just an emotion – and one that is not necessarily incompatible with happiness. “Happiness is not about the absence of sadness. Happiness and sadness are not polar opposites,” she says. If you think you may suffer from depression, help is available at www.beyondblue.org.au.
All in a knit Siobhan Moylan
But it’s not social knitting – to call it that would be an insult to these hard-working women who defy those who refer to it as a social activity. “We’re not the type that sit around knitting in God’s waiting room,” says Anne Farrago, as she pulls a chair up to join the other ten dedicated women. “This is knitting for a cause”. And the cause couldn’t be greater. These women are part of Wrap with Love, an organization that aims to provide wraps, or blankets, to those around the world who suffer from extreme cold. Started in 1992 by Sydney woman Sonia Gidley-King, the idea spread and now there are numerous splinter groups across NSW. Annette Bennett is the fearless leader of this particular group. Like the other knitters, she wants to make a difference, but looking at the statistics, it seems like her mission’s already been accomplished. The wraps make their way to nearly 40 countries each year. From Vanuatu to Peru to the Swat Valley in Pakistan, the knitted wraps hug anyone in need of warmth. Just recently a number of wraps were delivered to Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia. But while most of the blankets are sent overseas, local needs are also high on the agenda. As the women talk about places like Mongolia, Tanzania and the Congo where the blankets end up, they smile when recalling a more local story. Recently, they took a wrap down to the Big Issue vendor who normally sits outside of Woolworths on Macleay Street in Potts Point. “He was cold, he really needed it, we wrapped it around him and it really was just like wrapping him with love,” they say. These women who’ve become friends are by no means a closed group. Towards the end of the session, a lady walks in and introduces herself: “I know I’m late but I’m here to knit. I’m Lyn.” The women forage around for a spare set of needles, and as Annette welcomes her into the group and offers her tea, it seems like anyone who comes in contact with the group is also wrapped with love.
Image courtesy of the City of Sydney council
The old Rex Hotel where Frank Sinatra once performed to thousands of Sydneysiders serves a different purpose today. Now, it’s the Rex Centre in Kings Cross, where every Monday a group of ladies gather together to knit at 10am sharp.
Usde it or lose it: The seniors ‘ creative writing class in Alexandria put their minds to good use every week.
The write way to learn Alicia Nally
he bright, beaming eyes of Wilga Leone shine out from underneath a swathe of grey hair as she mingles with guests, clearly revelling in the atmosphere of the book launch today. The book in question, Off Your Rocker, was written by the members of a seniors’ creative writing class in Alexandria, of which Ms Leone is a part. The class meets every Wednesday and is made up of men and women, mainly in their 70s and 80s, who have joined this class to make friends, explore their creative sides and perhaps work their brains. A 2007 research paper by Alzheimer’s Australia on dementia prevention suggests that cognitively stimulating activities such as reading, doing crosswords and writing can be linked with a 46 per cent decrease in the risk of developing dementia, and last month, US researchers found that undertaking such intellectual exercises can build up ‘cognitive reserves’ even inlater life, assisting in the slowing of memory loss. Marion Davidson, a mental health worker, has seen her parents suffer from forms of mental deterioration that ultimately ended their lives. Her father in particular, succumbed to dementia towards the end of his life despite rising to great heights in the business world and being an avid reader and a lay preacher.
“A healthy body and a healthy mind are to do with a good attitude and a healthy diet and exercise. “Exercising your brain, particularly in ways that take you outside of normal habits, could help to keep the brain healthy,” Ms Davidson says. Verity Laughton, a playwright, author and current instructor of the Alexandria writing class, believes this is true. She says the class is helping protect participants from mental decline, an issue that faces most people in the later stages of life. “Writing can improve one’s mental skills. “I do think the classes have helped the members’ mental fitness. It shows in little ways more openness to new challenges in some, more self-confidence in others,” Ms Laughton says. Indeed, Ms Leone is in her eighties, but this doesn’t seem to stop her from flitting around with the mental and physical dexterity of someone decades younger. It’s clear that both Ms Leone and other members of the Alexandria seniors’ creative writing class have developed skills and friendships that are enabling them to live long, engaging and productive lives. There is no doubt that this, at least, is a group of senior citizens who will most definitely not ‘go gentle into that good night’.
Dotcom doctors a danger Brendan Wong
he endless volume of information available on the Internet combined with the fact that people are increasingly time-poor means that the Internet is now a first port of call for those suffering health-related problems. While a trip to the doctor can often be difficult to schedule, an explanation of symptoms and possible diagnoses are only a click away for those with an Internet connection. The practice of actively researching health problems online, aptly titled ‘cyberchondria’, has become widespread in recent times. Last year, a survey of more than 700 Australians found that four out of five people use the Internet to look for health information. But Dr Jared Dart, of iHealth Solutions Consultancy, warns that consulting ‘dotcom doctors’ for medical information and selfdiagnosing is dangerous when undertaken by people who are not qualified medical professionals. “You can’t be objective and there can be a tendency to over or understate symptoms, sometimes leading to a dysfunctional obsession with health issuesidentified by searching the Internet.” According to Dr Ronald McCoy, of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, the problem with the Internet is distinguishing whether sites are reliable or not. “There are a lot of websites that you can’t trust when it comes to your health and if you can’t trust them then you’re putting your health at risk through misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis and getting wrong medicines,” he says. A 2007 survey of GPs published in the Australian Doctor Magazine found that up to 40 per cent spent at least one day per week reassuring patients who had misdiagnosed themselves or others through the Internet. Dr Gillian Deakin, author of Things Your GP Would Tell You If Only There Was Time, says 10 minutes out of a 15-minute consultation was often spent explaining to patients why their diagnosis was wrong. “I see a lot more higher levels of anxiety as a result of the Internet,” she says. “I also see a large amount of distress in people because they are sure their symptoms match an alarming diagnosis.” Emily Hely, 21, once used the Internet on a regular basis to self-diagnose herself but admitted that this often made her more worried about her health. “About a year or two ago, I used to work at swimming pools and part of my toe nail had
Self-diagnosing health issues on the Internet can lead to anxiety. gone a bit green. I thought it was pretty gross.” Emily typed it in online and a website she found told her that she might have to amputate her toe. “I started crying and my Dad took me to the doctor. It ended up being fine.” Dr Dart says most people wanted to receive online health information. “Guiding people to safe, verifiable sources of health information is the greatest challenge as most people still use a search engine,” he says. “We need a mechanism for patients to access this health information
and to be supported by health educators.” Both Dr Deakin and Dr McCoy say they encourage people to print out any information they find on the Internet and to take it to their doctors. For safe and accurate sources of health information, they recommend www.healthinsite. gov.au and www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au. “They’re very good, they’re very reputable and the point about them is that they can give you independent health information without flogging products,” Dr Deakin says.
Health Brendan Wong
Social anxiety in cyberland But according to Dr Auerbach, there are dangers associated with having this sense of connection without the physical dimension. “It can get people entrenched or cocooned into a life or a world in which they are not really feeling motivated to confront their difficulty,” he says. While establishing online connections with others may boost confidence, Dr Auerbach warns that problems can arise if a relationship does not progress from online to offline. “The sorts of skills, the sorts of brain development and interactional development that we’d like to see in people with social difficulty may be hindered if they are purely living in the online space,” he says. Excessive dependence on online friends can herald devastation, according to Dr Muthu.
ocial networking websites have soared in popularity over the past few years. It is almost an impossibility to find someone without a Facebook, Myspace or Twitter account. Most people use these sites to connect with real-life friends, but for those who suffer from social anxiety, this online technology is their only hope of forging friendships with other people. The online world allows them to be a more fun and outgoing version of themselves. However, psychologists warn of the harmful repercussions: a sufferer can become too dependent on their online friends and devastation can result when a virtual friendship fails to translate offline. Dr Yega Muthu, a lecturer at the University of Technology in Sydney, says sufferers use social networking sites because they have become loners and are intimidated by face to face interaction. “Twitter or Facebook allows you to avoid personal contact. You have the confidence to do whatever you like on the Internet because the other person cannot see you,” he says. According to Dr Muthu, the internet is a haven for those who suffer from social anxiety. “They want to be accepted in a social way, By going on the web, they can achieve that.” Dan Auerbach, Director and Consultant of Associated Counsellors and Psychologists Sydney, says that people suffering from any social or anxiety disorder usually develop avoidance behaviours, which can disappear when they go online. “One thing that social media may do is to allow people to live a virtual life in which they can have quite a lot of interaction and even have feelings of being interacted with, but aren’t confronted by the physical presence of a person,” he says.
“If all of a sudden, the person withdraws from you and you don’t have that social contact with them anymore you come back to being a loner,” he said. “It’s a physiological effect.” Dr Muthu says that the social withdrawal can lead to depression, drug and alcohol abuse and suicide. Social media expert Dr Jason Wilson, of the University of Wollongong, says however that the effects of social networking ultimately depend on the individual. “In an increasingly mobile world, being able to keep in touch with your family and friends is probably something that maybe makes people feel more secure. “It just depends on how individuals actually employ the technology, what they do with it and what kinds of boundaries they set,” he says
Habitual hoarders are addicted to Carrie Fellner
The house in the inner city has received 14 visits from council workers in the last 17 years. However, the problem does not involve unruly teenagers, building approvals or environmental skirmishes. The problem is the house belongs to a compulsive hoarder. Dr Christopher Morgan, of the University of Melbourne, has completed a PHD thesis on the topic of compulsive hoarding. He can easily identify the homes of people who are ‘addicted’ to accumulating possessions. 50
“You see homes where the clutter is completely overwhelming. Rooms that can’t be entered, because they’re piled high with newspapers, clothes, books, objects… everything imaginable.” Unlike the notorious inner city case, most hoarding incidents tend to slip under the radar. But Dr Morgan suggests the problem may be more prevalent than the general public realises. “It’s been a largely under diagnosed and unrecognised condition. There have been estimates...In Australia we’re not sure but it’s certainly over 100,000-200,000,” he says. Along with this lack of research is a general
lack of understanding about how hoarding can be best treated, according to Dr Morgan. “What people often do is come in and try to forcibly clean it up which causes a lot of pain and psychological trauma to the person living in the house. Jessica Grisham, senior lecturer from the school of psychology at the University of New South Wales, describes two main psychological motivations behind hoarding. “The first one is instrumental saving: the person thinks ‘I might need this one day’. Maybe they’ll collect all the rolls of toilet paper they ever find – thinking maybe one day their son
Examining science of love
sk a Doctor to define love, and the expectation might be a garble of scientific terms. But President of the Australian Psychological Society Dr Bob Montgomery says it simply: “Love means something different to everybody.” It is said that love increases the levels of certain chemicals in the brain like Dopamine and Adrenalin. But Dr Montgomery dismisses this as “pseudo-scientific gobbledygook”, the kind of fodder reserved for “women’s magazines or misleading advertisements.” He says love can be divided into two separate types: passionate and compassionate. The former is generally in the first stages of a relationship and lasts somewhere between six and 18 months. It involves intense psychological feelings and strong sexual desire. The latter involves friendly affection and a deeper attachment, tolerance of the other person’s shortcomings and a more meaningful sexuality. According to Dr Montgomery, this can last forever, as long as it is nurtured. However, who we fall for still remains a mystery. According to Dr Helen Fisher, researcher at Rutgers University and prolific author, people are drawn to those from similar backgrounds, with the same level of intelligence and good looks. While many meet these same requirements, romantic bonds are few. This can be explained if the population is broken down into four personality types: The Builder, The Explorer, The Negotiator and The Director. The Builders, for example, live in the suburbs and want grass and neighborhoods,
while The Explorers want the stimulation of a large city. Certain combinations are far more common, but Dr Fisher says they can all work, “…as long as the partners continue to respect each other.” An integral part of attraction is sexuality, and not only feeling comfortable with one’s partner but also with oneself. According to Dr Montgomery, sexual intimacy does not always come naturally to couples. He says that although this can cause problems, it does not mean they are not in love. Dr Fisher says that sex drive evolved in humans primarily to motivate individuals to find a suitable partner for reproduction. A healthy, loving relationship between parents generally provides a good developmental environment for children. Do humans then love out of need or want? According to Dr Montgomery, it’s both. “Humans love because they can... it is good for them.” For all the stress caused by those “he loves me, he loves me not” qualms, the benefits of love still far outweigh any cons. Recent Australian Beaureau of Statistics data show that those in intimate relationships live longer than those who are not. Love can be one of the strongest drives on Earth, and according to Dr Fisher, it seems to be more powerful than hunger. Losing a loved one or ending a relationship have negative health implications. Timing, busy schedules and financial woes put pressure on relationships. The misery caused by such problems can lead to physical health problems. A 2004 study by the Medical Research Council in Glasgow found that those going through a rough patch in a relationship
are more likely to catch a cold or the flu. Studies have given some life to the old adage that it’s possible to die from a broken heart. A recent study conducted at Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital found that people mourning the death of a loved one had higher blood pressure, increased heart rates and changes to their immune system, all of which can cause heart attacks. While there may be some risk in jumping on the bandwagon of love, in the end, the old adage rings true: It is still better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all.
accumalating possessions might want to use it in art project.” “The other one is emotional attachment. In this case, they collect it …because it’s inherently valuable to them. For example, they may collect all the clothing from a loved one who has passed away.” Shannon McDermott, of the Social Policy Research Centre in Sydney, believes there is increasing recognition in Sydney of people living in squalor and hoarding. “In 2005 there was a bunch of community organisations that got together to develop some guidelines around dealing with situations of squalor in the community.” Just last year, the
Catholic Health Care received Government funding for a pilot project focused on the problem. According to Ms Dermott, the aim of the Domestic Squalor Project run by Catholic Health Care, is to provide sustainable solutions to people who live in squalor. “So that means that in some cases it’s not appropriate just to waltz in and, you know, clean up someone’s house. “They work with the person to figure out if they have any underlying issues, such as dementia or mental illness that need to be treated. And then in cases where it’s appropriate
to clean up they can assist with the clean up – they can pay for that to happen,” she says. Ms McDermott says the project has met a great need in the community. “The project has been going for a year now and they’ve received heaps of referrals I think over about 220 referrals in the last year. So it’s been immensely popular and it seems like it’s filled this amazing gap in the service system. No one really wanted to deal with it before,” she said. In November Catholic Health Care will host the inaugural National Squalor Conference in Sydney.
Heritage & Conservation
Hidden heritage revealed Michael Foley
he Walsh Bay Heritage Walk is full of surprises. Beautiful vistas unfold across the water and along the headlands, from under the Sydney Harbour Bridge down to the Opera House. Around every corner is another historical gem to discover, another surprising story to hear. Walsh Bay lies on the northern tip of the craggy peninsula next to Circular Quay, down the road from The Rocks and at the base of Millers Point. Despite the prime position, the walk is a hidden attraction, but offers an interesting way to pass an hour or two in the heart of Sydney’s heritage. It was almost 100 years ago that the public was locked out of Walsh Bay due to bubonic plague, and 10 years since it was completely re-vamped to become Sydney’s biggest cultural, residential and retail precinct with a unique blend of contemporary and turn-of-the-century architecture.
The heritage walk is a self-guided tour with a map and directions available from the Walsh Bay Precinct website. Information points dotted among the wharves and old stores provide insight into the region’s rich industrial heritage. The walk is a government initiative that began in 2005 after the old wharves were gutted and converted to commercial and residential space, while still retaining their outer heritage appearance. Today, many office, apartment and shop windows contain early colonial artefacts and information points. The walk takes in a 1.6-kilometre loop from Hickson Road, round the infamous ‘Hungry Mile’ (where dockside workers would desperately seek work during the Great Depression), along the lengths of the old turpentine timber wharves, and back up along the clifftop path, skirting the escarpment overlooking the bay, with the stunning harbour views spilling out below.
The bay hides many little-known secrets and stories. In the mid-20th century, it housed a world-class cargo loading facility. The high ground ringing the bay allowed direct access to the top level of the wharves, which were fitted with state-of-the-art hydraulic cargo handling systems. The remaining wharves are now the last of their kind in the world. Just before Hickson Road turns south from Millers Point to Cockle Bay is Towns Place. The public square was also known as the ‘bull ring’, where labourers gathered early in the morning to vie for paid work that day. Work was scarce during the Great Depression, when only the strongest men, known as the ‘bulls’, were selected for back-breaking 24hour shifts, carrying enormous loads of up to 80 kilograms at a time, lugging lung-destroying coal or even asbestos. A preserved convict cottage from the 1830s provides some insight into Sydney’s
Old factories have been converted to office space, apartments and shopping stores along the Walsh Bay shoreline.
settler heritage, while the site where Sydney’s first plague victim lived stands as a token of the city’s darker memories. Walsh Bay was once known only as Millers Point, but was officially renamed in 1919 after HD Walsh, the Harbour Trust’s chief architect. By 1921 the wharves had been constructed, serviced by an access road for haulage that connected the bay to the commercial hub of Darling Harbour. The monumental Hickson Road, wide as a freeway, was sunk deep into the sandstone escarpment. Sheer cliffs were gouged out of rocky outcrops, vaulted by arching overpass bridges that connected to the secondstory loading docks of the finger wharves. The scenery is what attracts tourists to Walsh Bay, but it is the rich and engaging history discovered that makes the visit a special must-see stop, shedding light on Sydney’s rarely seen industrial heritage.
Heritage & Conservation
Rejuvenation, reflection and
Glebe Point Road’s colourful terraces and eclectic shopfronts are iconic aspects of the suburb.
ormer Prime Minister Gough Whitlam said “few places in Australia are richer in history than the inner-city suburb of Glebe.” Whitlam spoke of the uniqueness of Glebe and the tangible and intangible characteristics that make it the historically invigorating suburb it is today. The Glebe, as it is formally known, has undergone a profound transformation from a quiet church-owned peninsula to a culturally diverse contemporary neighbourhood. The celebrations surrounding Glebe’s 150th birthday have put focus on its distinctive village character, heritage streetscapes and strong sense of community. 54
Governor Arthur Phillip first established Glebe as part of an early land grant in 1789 to support a church minister and a schoolmaster in the new settlement of Sydney. By 1856, financial difficulty forced the church to sell some of its land. This led to the establishment of commercial venues alongside residential dwellings for blue-collar workers. Max Solling, a local Sydney historian, points out that Glebe “…has a well-defined mosaic of the middle-classes living on the elevated Glebe Point, and the working classes settled on the lowlands near Grace Brothers in the Glebe estate…what’s unique is that it’s still a stratified society.”
During the early 20th century, and especially during the Great Depression, Glebe’s streetscape deteriorated and the suburb became shabby and overcrowded. Despite this decline, the area retained a close and distinctive community. The 1960s saw a renewed interest in the neighbourhood and wider recognition of its historic urban character and natural beauty. There was little or no involvement by old Glebe residents in this urban recognition and community renewal. Many viewed the Paddington-type gentrification of their suburb with deep suspicion, bordering on hostility. Ben Kline, club manager of PCYC Glebe, says “Some residents would have been
revelry as Glebe turns 150
Victorian terraces run the length of Glebe Point Road.
Badde Manors is a popular cafe on Glebe Point Road.
The 18th century St John’s Bishopthorpe designed by colonial architect Edmund Blacket
Bright terraces are prized residential dwellings.
highly concerned about the effects of this renewal and how little say they had.” And yet the renewal created the mixture of grand Victorian homes, Federation houses and modest workers’ cottages that is perhaps contemporary Glebe’s most striking feature. The range of architectural styles encompass mid- to late-19th century development with some examples of early 20th century Federation styles. The Glebe streetscape includes Regency mansions, suburban villas, large and small terraces and small workers’ cottages. Ornate late 19th century commercial buildings and Federation period warehouses also show the architectural richness of the suburb.
Many of the houses that were an important part of ‘The Glebe’ were demolished. This destruction led to the formation of The Glebe Society in 1969, which sought (and still seeks) to restore and retain what is left of the suburb’s historical past. Robert Darroch of the Glebe Society, says, “What we in The Glebe Society were doing was restoring Glebe to what it was before its decline in the first-half of the last century… one of Sydney’s better suburbs, full of rare and marvellous buildings.” The inimitable character of Glebe has been retained largely through the restoration, rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of many
of these buildings. The process has enabled the history of Glebe to survive. Today, nestled between Parramatta Road and Blackwattle Bay, Glebe offers a diverse mix of bohemian relaxation and inner-city bustle. The suburb is popular with university students, as well as upwardly mobile professionals because it blends a leafy suburban homeliness with the convenience of urban living. Close proximity to The University of Sydney and University of Technology, Sydney ensures Glebe will continue to have a vibrant streetscape of cafes and boutiques and house an eclectic mix of office workers, bankers, Beatniks, Hippies, writers, musicians and artists.
Heritage & Conservation
Agilene De Villa
The stories behind street
A few of Sydney’s most iconic streets – Elizabeth Street, George Street and King Street – each have a fascinating story behind their name.
e walk along them daily and rely on them for direction and rendezvous points, yet we rarely give their origins a second thought. What exactly is the untold story behind a Sydney street name? Trevor Howell, Professor of Heritage and Conservation at The University of Sydney, says, “There wasn’t much structure in Sydney’s roads upon colonisation in 1788.” There was little organisation of roadways and Sydney became a haphazard collection of roads, streets and alleys. People relied on landmarks and asking for directions to determine their whereabouts. Order was only imposed upon Sydney’s streets in 1810 with the arrival of Governor Lachlan Macquarie. He was a man with a passion for urban planning who pushed for “posts and fingerboards with the names of the streets painted on them to be erected”. The years went on and urban development continued in order to simplify the maze. Streets were widened, realigned, established and destroyed, and their names were modified. Naming streets was a simple process. 56
Professor Howell says a common method was to use the name of key industries in the area. For example, Lime Street in Darling Harbour was named after an occupation. “Loading limes in the docks employed many in the area,” he says. Similarly, Goodlet Street was taken from the Goodlet and Smiths brickworks, and Albion Street after Albion Brewery, both in Surry Hills. The suburb of Chippendale is riddled with streets named after flora – Wattle, Myrtle and Rose – a nod to Shepherd’s Darling Nursery, a successful commercial nursery founded in the area by Thomas Shepherd in the 1830s. So Shepherd Street was rightly dedicated to him and Vine Street to his unsuccessful attempt at growing grapes in the area. But not all streets were named with such little imagination. Others streets, such as Paradise Row, which existed in the 1840s to 50s, have an ironic humour. Shirley Fitzgerald, former City of Sydney historian, writes in Sydney’s Streets: A Guide to Sydney’s Street Names, Paradise Row was far from the peaceful happy environment suggested by the name. Instead, it housed many of Sydney’s poorest and sickliest inhabitants.
Whichever way you see it, many of Sydney’s streets have a history. But it doesn’t stop there. Suffixes are not chosen at random either but indicate their function as a roadway. ‘Street’ is used for a roadway integrated into an area, whereas a ‘road’ is interpreted as one which leads somewhere. Professor Howell says, the roadway we currently know as City Road in Newtown, “was previously known as Newtown Road when it was considered to be the road to Newtown.” But once the City of Sydney expanded, Newtown Road was no longer the sole connection between Newtown and the city, so it was given a more fitting name. Similarly, the roadway now referred to as Broadway has had many name changes to reflect its changing function. Originally known as Parramatta Road, it was modified to Parramatta Street when housing was built in the area as it was no longer considered to be the road to Parramatta. It was later changed to George Street West in an effort to incorporate it into the city. Finally, once the street was widened in the 1930s, it took on the name Broadway. Although it is believed
by many to be in reference to New York City’s Broadway, it was actually literally named after the broadening of the road itself. By 1842 the City of Sydney Council took over the responsibility of street naming but still took public opinion into account. Dr Fitzgerald tells of a Mrs E. Shorter, petitioning the Council, in 1875, for the lane behind her house to be given a name “unless it is too insignificant to notice”. Dr Fitzgerald says, “Her humility was rewarded, and the lane was named Shorter Lane.” That is not to say Sydney is without its streets of historical significance. There are numerous roadways named after more prominent figures and events throughout Sydney’s history. For example, Albert Street was renamed Alfred Street after an assassination attempt on Prince Alfred in 1968. Politics has also had an influence on the naming and renaming of streets. World War I saw many streets with German names replaced with names that boosted national morale and patriotism. Lisa Murray, a historian for the City of Sydney, says that Schmiel Street in Waterloo was named after an early developer in the area, James Schmiel. This was renamed Lenton Parade once German names became taboo. The few streets throughout Sydney that are named after women were in dedication to “the wives”, Professor Howell says. One of Sydney’s most popular streets, Elizabeth Street (formerly known as Mulgrave Street) was named in honour of Governor Macquarie’s second wife, Elizabeth Henrietta Campbell. Dr Murray says people often named streets to get on the right side of their superiors. “It was a form of flattery and acknowledgement, often to recognise a contribution to political life.” With only a few women in positions of authority, they were not featured in Sydney’s plethora of street names. Finally, Sydney’s most popular street, George Street has an interesting story of its own. It was originally called High Street, due to the English custom of naming a town’s main shopping street by that name. But it was changed to George Street by Governor Macquarie in 1810, after King George III. He entrusted a monarchist feel to Sydney’s central streets, giving them names of the current monarch, King George III and the ducal titles of the king’s sons York, Cumberland, Sussex, Clarence, Cambridge and Kent. There’s more to Sydney than just its beautiful architecture, breath-taking landscapes and urban culture. The next time you wander the streets, look up at the street signs and ask yourself, ‘what’s the story behind the name?’
he construction of the Bourke Street Cycleway by the City of Sydney Council has gone ahead despite concerns from local residents and community groups. Loss of parking spaces, a contentious two-way separated cycleway, and the removal of trees are causing residents unease. Brian Noad, spokesperson for the Nichols Street Community Group, says the Surry Hills community is worried about the dangerous design of the cycleway. “The width of the cycleway is very narrow and we’re seeing this on King Street now – there’s not only the risk of cyclists colliding with cars, they’re also at risk of colliding with one another.” Mr Noad says that the 42 intersections on Bourke Street will be a hazard for cyclists and drivers alike and sections of the cycleway will cause people who are parking to alight directly onto the cycleway. “There’s a narrow concrete median strip between parking spots and the cycleway in some areas and so car doors will open onto the cycleway – mums who are trying to get their shopping and children out of their cars will be dodging cyclists.” Chris Cooper, an experienced city cyclist, says that he will not use the cycleway once it is complete and he does not think others will either. “Serious cyclists will realise it is unsafe and will rejoin the traffic lane.”
Mr Cooper says the whole project will be a waste of taxpayers’ money and is particularly concerned about the loss of car parks resulting from the new cycleway. “This loss is completely unnecessary. Most of the homes in this neighbourhood were built in the late 1800s and few have off-street parking. Like it or not, some residents do need and choose to have a car.” Josh MacKenzie, Senior Media Officer for the City of Sydney Council, says that Sydney needs to start taking serious steps to become an environmentally friendly city. “Once the cycleway is in place, there will be less congestion because people will be using it – our research shows that people will ride if we create safe cycleways. We have to look at smarter ways of getting around the city.” Construction began on June 12 this year and the Council expects completion by 2010. The cycleway will cover 4.3 kilometres and runs from Cowper Wharf Road, Woolloomooloo to Elizabeth Street, Zetland. The cycleway is part of the Council’s Cycle Strategy and Action Plan: 2007-2017, which was implemented in April 2007. The plan aims to increase cycling in the city and promote it as an environmentally friendly and safe transport option. Sydneysiders have no choice now but to wait and see if these plans deliver. Only time will tell.
The wheels are in motion on Bourke Street Cycleway
Constuction is underway for the Sydney Cycleway along Bourke Street.
Drawing the night away: Tristan Foster
Jamal, Enrique Del Val & Aaron Matheson - doing the drawing exercises
hey look like a group of friends gathered after work for dinner and a drink at an inner Sydney restaurant – that is, until the sketch pads and pencils come out. Drawing in the City at Night is a course created and run by Enrique Del Val and Aaron Matheson. The point of the class is to turn everyday people into artists by looking at the city in a new way. Students come from work or home to a cafe or bar located somewhere on the outskirts of the CBD to learn how to see – and draw – Sydney from a new perspective. Before the drawing begins, the students are reminded to let themselves go. “It is about being honest to what you see,” Enrique Del Val says. Students make room for their sketch pads on the table among plates and glasses, dropping pencil shavings on saucers. Instructions are given and the table goes silent. It is in this silence that the class really comes alive. The first half of the class is dedicated to drawing exercises. Students draw while Matheson and Del Val watch on and offer guidance. “The exercises are designed to be free
Municipal complaints Emily Ackew
G The Council Grip website
etting your council to act is now quick and easy with Council Gripe: a website that facilitates discussion between residents and councillors. Council Gripe, created by university student Chris Hamlin, is aimed at combating the difficulties in communication between residents and their Council. Mr Hamlin says his idea was sparked by family and friends who always had issues with the council. Chris Hamlin wanted an outlet for residents and councils to solve problems through discussion. Council Gripe allows people to “publicly submit a complaint to council, where others can comment and lend support,” he says. Making councils aware of problems in suburbs can persuade them to act and fix
problems more efficiently. Waverley Council was the first to step on board with the scheme. Mayor Sally Betts is quoted on the site as saying: “Waverley Council is proud of being an open and transparent council and welcomes feed-back on all its services.” Now 13 other councils have requested to participate in the site. Chris Hamlin highlights Waverley, Woollahra, Randwick and City of Sydney Councils as those that have responded and implemented changes as a result of complaints posted on Council Gripe. One Randwick resident posted a gripe on May 7th about a broken street sign, Councillor Kiel Smith replied on the day: “Thank you for taking the time to post on this forum and make council aware of the damage to the Greville Street sign. I will
new perspectives on city from expectation,” Enrique Del Val says in a thick Spanish accent. “Whatever happens is welcomed.” “It’s about exploring the range of ‘you’,” Aaron Matheson adds. The group is almost silent as they draw. It is clear from their expressions that they could be anywhere. Drinks are left untouched, surroundings are forgotten. The atmosphere is almost meditative – not even the squeal of the coffee machine can disturb them. “Drawing can be lonely,” says Aaron Matheson, a softly spoken Englishman who is obsessed with drawing. “But like this, it becomes a way of communication below the level of words.” John, a former draftsman, joined the class to escape the demands of his professional drawing training. He was surprised by the range of drawing styles. “The styles range from far left field to finely detailed,” he says. “Everybody is different.” In the second half of the class, students are released to, well, draw in the city at night. It is here, Aaron Matheson believes, that students are challenged. If a participant has a comfort zone, the city forces them out of it.
“The classes aren’t studio based,” he says. “So you’re out of a safe environment. It’s mysterious.” Students find a spot on the street with a view they’re happy with and set their sketch pad up on their thighs, employing what they’ve learned in the exercises to draw what they see. One of the students, Jamal, hadn’t drawn since high school and joined the class to recapture that spirit. “I don’t have a background in drawing,” he says. “I enjoyed it at school and thought this could be fun. I want to improve my skills and unlock creativity. I want to find a style.” Felicity is formally trained as an architect. Like Jamal, she drew creatively as a child and
wants to pick up where she left off. “The way they teach is about letting go of the adult way of trying to know what you’re going to do before you do it,” Felicity says. “I like being led along.” One of the most striking things about the class is how much gets done in the short time students are outside. “It’s the intensity of capturing,” Aaron Matheson says. This intensity has led to the Drawing in the City at Night exhibition. Located at Gallery Red in Glebe, the gallery’s walls are lined with drawings of the city all done during class time by Drawing in the City at Night alumni – former students, now artists.
speak with council staff today to request that this sign be replaced/repaired as soon as possible.” The following day, the sign was fixed, a speedy and efficient response which showcased the success of Council Gripe. Any complaint which is submitted on the website will receives a status. Firstly is ‘Gripe’ which becomes ‘Council Has Replied’, and finally ’Fixed’ or ‘Not Fixed’ depending upon the council’s response. This allows residents to follow the progress of a particular gripe. Chris Hamlin hopes to see the site fulfills its potential as a facilitator of communication and allows councillors to efficiently implement changes in our communities. “I intend the site to become an important customer feedback tool and not simply a name and shame site.”
Nicki Braithwaite and Aaron Matheson are drawing the city night from a fresh angle
Ambos facing violence on job
Ambos attending a scene
Ambulance officers attending an emergency in the city
he union representing ambulance officers wants the government to consider extending the penalties for attacking policemen to apply ambulance officers too. Figures ambulance officers to be increasingly at risk on the streets. Ambulance paramedic Paul Alexander has had a used syringe full of fluid squirted into his eye. He also describes an incident in which two of his colleagues were assaulted on the same job. “One of them literally had a huge chunk bitten out of his arm.” It is confronting to learn that amidst the stretchers, syringes, masks and panic that accompany emergencies, the people sent out to rescue and heal are becoming victims themselves. Figures released last month by the clinical risk department of the NSW Ambulance service claim that assaults on paramedics have increased by 60% since last year. Over 120 paramedics were assaulted in NSW in the last 12 months. “It’s a real concern, and it’s something that
we’re vigilant about,” Alexander says. The damage isn’t always physical. “We certainly cop a lot of verbal abuse on a regular basis.” It’s not at every emergency, but it’s enough to be a fear in the back of the mind. The tension of an emergency can be volatile, and people can act in out-of-character due of fear, anxiety, frustration and a sense of powerlessness. Alcohol and substance abuse can affect the situation as well. The question now being asked is whether the drug ice is repsonsible for the increase. The entry onto the scene of this high-purity form of methamphetamine can be seen to have left a trail of destruction. In 2006 the NSW State government commissioned a report examining the possible links between ice and violent behaviour, and its effects on crime. Those among the ambos have actually seen the after effects of ice at first hand. The whispers that the drug ice has a lot to do with the situations they are handling are growing
“It is probably going to be the worst drug that this country has ever seen,” says Paul Alexander, who describes the devastation caused by ice to be worlds apart from that of heroin. “Chalk and cheese,” he says. “The people who use it have no idea what the drug’s been cut with,” he says. “They become psychotic, dangerous, irrational, violent.” “I have had someone [on ice] throw me across a room.” Alexander says that it took eight people to restrain this one violent user. At this stage, nobody has adequate knowledge or training to deal with ice addicts. “We’re using the police and extra staff,” says intensive care paramedic Adam Butt. “We only have a limited range of medications that we can give.” Bob Morgan, industrial officer for the Health Services Union, agrees. “Anecdotal information is that ice has increased violent incidents, and that the nature of the violent behaviour of iceaffected persons is more extreme. However, excessive alcohol is still reportedly the greatest trigger for violent events.”
Rosebery residents oppose depot Outraged Rosebery residents are escalating their fight against council plans to locate a garbage truck “mega-depot” next to their homes. Rosebery residents say the depot will result in unacceptable noise and air pollution, and will adversely affect property values in the area. Local businesses are also concerned council workers will occupy all on-street parking, leaving no space for their customers and employees. Spokesperson for the Rosebery Residents Action Group, Graeme Grace, said: “We only need one truck in the middle of the night to drive on the wrong street, and our amenity is destroyed.” City of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore has received over 100 submitted objections and a petition of over 1100 signatures against the proposal, earmarked for Dunning Avenue, Rosebery. The proposed 24-hour-a-day facility will be used to clean, maintain and garage garbage trucks and street sweepers. The facility will accommodate around 150 council workers. The depot is part of the council’s wider strategy to rationalise its depots. The City of Sydney plans to relocate its existing depots in Redfern, Alexandria and Zetland to the new depot in Rosebery. The City of Sydney said that independent testing has found that noise levels at nearby
properties will comply with relevant health and environmental standards. “Every effort has been made to reduce the impacts of the proposed depot on the small number of households adjacent to the industrial area.” The council bought the Dunning Avenue site in 2007 for $34 million. The building’s existing 4.8m walls will accommodate garbage trucks and will also help block out noise. A spokesperson said: “[The site] is zoned industrial and is a large parcel of land with existing buildings which can be efficiently adapted to our needs limiting environmental impact and costs. Mr Grace believes the council considered the cost efficiency of the site but neglected its proximity to local residents. “The council got two or three valuations to make sure they weren’t spending too much money on the site, [yet] they got no evaluation of the site use and its effect on residents,” he said. “They are more worried about money than they are about the residents.” The City of Sydney announced in a residents community forum on 30 September that it had amended it’s development application for the Rosebery Depot. The City of Sydney indicated that it would persist with the proposal, but had no official comment as to when a revised development application will be exhibited.
Statistics from 2004 claim that 3.2% of Australians were ice users, so its use is still minor compared to excessive alcohol use all over Australia. The NSW Government launched a campaign supporting the work of paramedics last year with the first annual ‘Thank A Paramedic Day’. The campaign aims to increase respect for paramedics within the community. Former Health Minister John Della Bosca announced last month he hadn’t ruled out a policy to protect paramedics with stab-proof vests. Alexander says says that whilst this would prevent more victims, it does not tackle the root of the problem. One suggestion to curb the violence has been to increase penalties for offenders. The maximum penalty for assault on a police officer in NSW is five years in prison, as compared to two years for assault on a civilian. The Health Services Union (HSU) is calling for people who assault ambulance officers to be punished in the same way as those who assault police officers.
“It is acknowledged that it is an offence to assault or interfere in a police officer carrying out their duty to uphold the law, and maintain peace and good order. Ambulance officers (and other emergency workers) are also required to respond to emergencies and to provide, in the case of ambulance officers, lifesaving clinical interventions in an emergency and uncontrolled environment,” says Morgan. “It is only logical that the same protection should be afforded to a paramedic providing lifesaving clinical assistance to the public. Not to provide such protection not only imperils the ambo, but also the patient!” Morgan says that while the HSU hasn’t been running a specific media campaign on the issue, they have been negotiating at a political level. It may well be raised at the National Council of Ambulance Unions when they meet in the near future. This amendment in legislation has already been enacted in Victoria, where assaulting a paramedic became a specific offence in 2004.
The site of the proposed Rosebery depot
Industrial action from the paramedic union there brought about the change. Similar calls have been made in Queensland after numerous assaults on paramedics in Cairns. Ambulance officers welcome the change. “We should have a right to carry out our duties without being harmed,” says Butt. “We quite often share the same dangers [as police],” says Alexander. Morgan says one of the things can be done to enhance the job safety is that the public needs to be “properly educated that interfering with paramedics in the course of their duties is not only socially unacceptable, but that there is a significant penalty involved for any and all infractions.” A change in the law may be slow to take into effect. Until then, paramedics are on the road, on the scene. “I think that ambos have a really good built-in radar system,” says Alexander. “It is something that you acquire on the road.”
Aiming high for the homeless Philip Wen
ost experts agree that while the causes of homelessness can be wide-ranging and complex, more often than not factors such as mental illness, substance abuse and domestic violence play a major role. However, emerging data suggests there may be a new demographic of homeless people as a result of the global financial crisis. The City of Sydney’s Homeless Person’s Information Centre (HPIC) announced in August that it received a record 66,610 calls in the last year, representing a 24 per cent increase in calls from the previous year, and the highest number received in its 25 years of operation. For the first time ever, the most frequent reason of calls related to housing stress where disproportionately high percentages of household income are spent on rent or mortgage repayments. More calls were received from householders unable to pay their rent or mortgage than calls relating to substance abuse, mental illness or domestic violence. Sue Cripps, CEO of Homelessness NSW, Sue Cripps, says people who would never have previously envisaged themselves as being homeless, were now among those struggling to find a roof over their heads. “The anecdotes we are getting from homelessness services are that they are seeing more people turning up – and they are new people,” she says “These are people who perhaps would have never been homeless before, and are people who were renting on low income, but working – probably on casual shifts at supermarkets and stuff like that – and they have found themselves in situations where they have either lost the house that they are renting, because the owner has gone pear-shaped, or they just have a cashflow issue and suddenly find that they can’t afford it.” Housing NSW data shows that 76 per cent of low-income households in the City of Sydney (earning less than 80 per cent of median household income) are under housing stress. City of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore says the trend was exacerbated by a chronic lack of affordable housing. “The trend is consistent with the current global economic crisis and shows that now, more than ever, Sydney needs more affordable housing,” she says. The City of Sydney recently exhibited its Draft Affordable Rental Housing Strategy, outlining plans to create more affordable housing in inner-city Sydney, with the ultimate aim of achieving, by 2030, a scenario where 7.5
City of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore says city lacks affordable housing. Picture showing high-rise in Refern per cent of all City of Sydney housing is social housing, and another 7.5 per cent is affordable private rental housing. While the strategy will provide a further 8,000 private affordable rental housing units, the Council stressed in its research report that the ability to, and responsibility of, tackling homelessness and housing affordability ultimately rested with the Federal and State Governments, given their control of economic, health and social policies. In December 2008, the Rudd Government unveiled its national policy document on homelessness. The Homelessness White Paper: The Road Home was widely lauded as the comprehensive and progressive approach Australia desperately needed to tackle homelessness from the bottom up. The NSW Government subsequently announced its Common Ground project in
August this year, a holistic preventative approach that goes beyond the provision of crisis accommodation. The project is based on a proven model that has worked well in cities such as New York and Melbourne, and is part of the broader NSW Homelessness Action Plan, A Way Home. Reverend Graham Long, Pastor of The Wayside Chapel, expressed his delight at the apparent level of identification and commitment from federal, state and local governments, but emphasised there is a long way to go before words are put into action. “I think we can all give three cheers for the kinds of discussions that are taking place,” Reverend Long says. “We’re all jumping for joy at that, but it remains to be seen what the delivery is going to be.”
A view of the Barangaroo development site from the harbour
Sustainability of redevelopment questioned Bonnie Rando Leys
he redevelopment of Sydney’s western foreshore could hinder Council’s longterm plans to meet Sustainable Sydney 2030 emissions reduction target. In a move by the NSW State Government and City of Sydney Council, the 22-hectare Darling Harbour area, Barangaroo, will undergo extensive redevelopment from a working port and entertainment district into a new precinct. In a statement made two years ago, Lord Mayor Clover Moore said: “We know now... that Sydney’s environmental footprint is equivalent to 49 per cent of NSW. If we continue as we are, and do nothing, by 2031, it will have reached 95 per cent of NSW – unsustainable for Sydney, for NSW and for the nation.” The Barangaroo redevelopment is a key feature in City of Sydney’s plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 70 per cent and create a “green, global and connected city” by the year 2030. But the land is also the focus of industrial debate. The State Government’s recent closure of the wharf and cruise ship terminal on the Barangaroo foreshore has attracted criticism from cruise company Carnival Australia and the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) as their businesses will be redirected outside the city centre. Cruise ships have been redirected to White Bay in Balmain for a minimum of five years. If the location is made permanent, White Bay would recieve around 75 cruise liners a year, with hundreds of thousands of international
tourists disembarking to make their way into the city. A lasting arrangement for an international passenger terminal will be made after government consultation with the Balmain community. Earlier this year, Chief Executive of Carnival Australia, Ann Sherry said “anyone who travels down Victoria Road in Sydney knows that it’s a car park in the morning already, and this will be adding 600 to 1,000 bus and passenger vehicles, plus 30 trucks, at peak hour at the beginning and the end of each day.” Cargo ships servicing the city have been pushed to ports in Botany Bay and Port Kembla. Sydney Branch Secretary of the MUA, Warren Smith has said these ports are far from the primary market in the CBD, and would be forced to rely on inadequate rail transport linkages to reach the city. He says shippers don’t want to extend their routes, but rather discharge cargo directly at the market, “anything else is inefficient and inflationary”. When asked about the move of cruise and cargo ships from the Barangaroo wharves, Council spokesman, Josh Mackenzie said the issue was not particularly connected to the Sustainable Sydney 2030 plan. In a statement issued by City of Sydney in June 2007, Council reported that the impact of air pollution in the Sydney basin caused between 600-1400 deaths each year. The Council statement concluding: “With a 50 per cent increase in car travel and a doubling of container traffic predicted by 2030 if
business as usual patterns continue, the number of deaths caused by air pollution could rise to approximately 2,380 a year.” The original plans for Barangaroo did include port facilities that would have kept transport mileage to a minimum; however these have now been discarded. Chief Executive of the Green Building Council of Australia, Romilly Madew points out residential and commercial buildings are responsible for 23 per cent of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions. “Buildings also offer the single largest source of greenhouse gas abatement, outstripping the energy, transport and industry sectors combined.” The Sustainable Sydney 2030 plan offers a solid start in climate change mitigation. Dr Rafael Pizarro, lecturer in sustainable urban planning at Sydney University, and creator of the innovative White Bay Eco-City prototype, says “The plan is generally sound, as it covers the main aspects of building sustainable cities”. However it falls short in one aspect that will prove critical if we want to arrest global warming and stop our dependency on oil: how to produce food on a scale larger than the individual household or building within the urban core of Sydney. “Sydney is one of those places in the planet where food has to be hauled from thousands of kilometres (mostly from overseas) representing a major item in the carbon budget in Australia”.
Inner Sydney residents create garden beds to plant fruits, vegetables and herbs in Alexandria Park Community Garden.
Bloom time for community gardens Prue Corlette
t is just past ten o’clock on a Saturday morning and already the caravan of tour buses filled with bargain-hunting daytrippers has slowed to a crawl outside the retail outlets on McEvoy Street in Alexandria. Around the corner in Danks Street, the inner east’s favourite gourmet strip is filled with breakfasting families and foodies doing their grocery shopping. But for a group of local residents, Saturday mornings are reserved for slightly more energetic and ecologically-minded pursuits, where al fresco means getting down and dirty in the strawberry patch, rather than taking one’s latte on the terrace. For the volunteer gardeners at the Alexandria Park Community Garden, it is time to dig. Three new garden beds are ready to be filled with soil, compost and mulch, and a heady brew of worm juice is waiting to season the mix. In the shade, punnets of rocket, passionfruit and other unidentified cuttings sit waiting patiently to be assigned a home. Today the gardeners are working on the new plots on the side of the oval at Alexandria Park Community School. The original garden over at the community centre next to the school is up and running – the strawberry patch is a riot of succulent fruit, the beans are almost ready for picking and the late-winter rocket crop has already gone to seed – so the gardeners have moved on to the newest space with thoughts of a bumper harvest clearly in mind.
“One snow pea and some lettuce, was the reward for the first harvest,” says Redfern resident Maria, who with her partner Andrew, comes every second Saturday to the garden group. Growing up on a farm outside Munich in Germany, having the space to grow food is important to Maria, so after moving into a property with neither yard nor balcony, she began to investigate community gardens. The couple are typical of the growing number of inner city dwellers living without balconies or backyards who are looking beyond the boundaries of their own properties to get involved with community gardening. Driven by a trend of placing importance on the seasonality of fresh fruit and vegetables, there are currently 13 community gardens within the City of Sydney Council that not only grow herbs, fruit and vegetables, but also act as conservators of rare plants and seeds. Creating and maintaining a community garden requires long-term preparation and commitment from community members. To start a community garden, residents are encouraged to form a garden group and work with a range of different landowners to find a suitable site. But it is not only about growing edible plants, as the Pyrmont Ultimo Landcare group has shown. In the laneways, rail corridors and dusty corners, a quiet revolution has started – one that has seen previously barren and unkempt scraps of land transformed into a verdant and fertile wonderland. This group
concentrates on regenerating sites with a focus on hardy local plant species. “Anything we can get our hands on that is vacant and derelict, is a potential site,” says the group co-ordinator, Elizabeth Elenius. She points out a space not far from the Channel Ten building, behind Saunders Street in Pyrmont, that she says was a mess before the regeneration. “What we are trying to do is return the areas, as much as we can, to what their original habitat would have been.” It appears there are some initial signs of success, with reports of sightings of the timid Blue Wren in the regenerated areas. Gardening has proven to be a big hit with some of the local businesses where team building days have seen staff from corporate offices such as Google and American Express, donning the gloves and pulling weeds alongside the retirees who make up the bulk of the gardening group. “They come to us,” says Elizabeth, “and we try to accommodate them as much as we can.” But the benefits go beyond merely beautifying the area. “In Pyrmont, we have all come from somewhere else,” she says, “and so it’s up to us to generate a community. It’s been terrific and we have made such good friends.” The City of Sydney Council is currently supporting new community garden groups to establish and find suitable sites in Ultimo, Glebe, Surry Hills and East Sydney.
Large footprint found in city Peta Doherty
ypical inner Sydney residents may live in small houses but a space the size of 12 rugby league fields is what’s required to support their lifestyles. The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) Consumption Atlas is an online tool created with the University of Sydney’s Centre for Integrated Sustainability Analysis, and it has found that the wealthiest suburbs are doing the most environmental damage. Professor Christopher Dey, of the University of Sydney, says an eco-footprint is the amount of land required to produce the food, fibres, resources, materials and services that each of us use to sustain ourselves. That is an average of 8.58 hectares for inner Sydney dwellers, who along with residents of North Sydney, Mosman and Woollahra, have the biggest eco-footprints in Australia. The Australian average is 6.4 hectares, already the fourth largest footprint in the world. “It’s directly correlated with income,” says Professor Dey. “The more we earn the more we spend. The more we spend the more resources we require to support our lifestyles.” It is the pollution and the land and water used to create consumable products and services that make the inner city suburbs’ footprints so large. “If you take an average household income of $60,000 in the southwest compared to an inner city couple each on $100,000 – they will spend a
lot more and the impacts of that are a lot more.” Other products and services account for 27 per cent of Sydney’s eco-footprint. “It’s typically the small things we don’t think of – like going to the hairdressers, or making a banking transaction,” he says. It is not what you earn but how you spend. Services have a lower per dollar environmental impact. So getting a massage or going to the movies will have less effect than buying a new pair of jeans or mobile phone. The ACF runs the GreenHome workshop series to educate communities and individuals on the simple lifestyle changes they can make to reduce their ecological footprints. “We remind people that they have a lot of purchase power . . . people are quite often astonished to realise the environmental impact of their spending,” says program co-ordinator Alex Graham. Bridget Kennedy attended the program in Lane Cove and was so surprised by the impact of food production (43 per cent of the ecofootprint) that she stopped buying red meat. She also introduced a ‘Carbon Credit Game’, where family members gain credits for saving energy and debits for things such as leaving their mobile phone chargers on. At the end of the week the winner gets to choose the week’s TV and the loser has to clean the bathroom. “The kids have really got to understand the
impact of what they do,” she says. “Everything they do has an impact on the planet . . . now they have the awareness to make a choice,” she says. A sustainable eco-footprint, according to the ACF study, is 1.8 hectares, or 2.3 football fields. The problem is getting people to change. “Some people get really disheartened and say, ‘That’s not possible’. Others see the magnitude of the difference and see that something significant has to be done,” says Professor Dey. Sarhn McArthur is one inner Sydney resident passionate about reducing her footprint. From using green bags, to changing her choice of products and starting an environmental resource blog, Sarhn gradually changed her lifestyle. She recycles most household organic waste with a worm farm she received as part of a free workshop run by the City of Sydney Council. When combined with the Bokashi Bucket, a kitchen composter that breaks down organic waste, the worms only have to be fed once in three weeks and produce a fertiliser that Sarhn says has made her plants go wild. “I love the fact that someone will say something to me and I’ll research it and think, ‘I can use that’, because I was someone who really didn’t know a lot before. I just didn’t want to be average. I wanted to really tread as lightly as possible,” she says. The GreenHome workshop is set to run in inner Sydney in November.
Poster pillars help spread the word The amount of illegal bill posting has reduced dramatically since new restrictions were put in place last year by the City of Sydney Council. “The city’s bill poster campaign has been a phenomenal success. We have seen a dramatic reduction in commercial bill posters, which used to clutter major roads across the City of Sydney,” says Josh MacKenzie, a City of Sydney spokesperson. Garry Harding, the director of City Services, says that even though illegal bill posting seems harmless, it can have serious consequences. “It deteriorates quickly, and has the potential to wash into the storm water system polluting the harbour.” Over the past five years, more than $6 million dollars have been spent on removing and disposing of illegal posters.
Mr MacKenzie says that because posters usually advertise a number or address, locating the culprits is relatively straightforward. The new poster pillars have been integral to cleaning up the city. However, despite the successfulness of the program, the Council sees no need to add to the number of poster pillars. The city currently has nine poster pillar sites. “In October 2008, city contractors removed 16,023 commercial bill posters compared with May 2009 when they removed only 134 across the same area,” Mr MacKenzie says. Local store owner Bill Hennings used to advertise by pasting posters wherever he could, but is supportive of the poster pillar program. Mr Hennings now says that he does not have to worry about doing something illegal in an effort to promote his business.
S Y Lee
S Y Lee
Poster pillars in Sydney have helped clean up the city. “A lot of people gather around the pillars and take their time looking for a good deal,” he says. “In many big cities around the world they have poster pillars and if Sydney is to live up to being a global location, it can’t be littered with posters.”
How to have a whale of Rita Mu
Australia to give birth and mate, and between late August and December, the whales migrate south, returning with their mates and newborns to the Antarctic. According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the number of whales migrating along Australian coastlines has slowly grown in the past 25 years. This has led to whale-watching becoming an increasingly popular activity in Australia. According to a report released by IFAW in July this year, the average growth rate of whale-watchers in New South Wales has increased 14.7 per cent in the past decade; with just over 800,000 whale watchers in 2008 compared to only 200,000 in 1998. Along with more whale watchers, there has also been a significant growth in the whalewatching industry, particularly in the Sydney region. There are currently eight official whalewatching vessels in Sydney, compared to only
two in 2001. However, the growing number of vessels in the Sydney region has caused concerns about the impact on whales and the long-term sustainability of this industry. “It’s a huge industry. More and more people every year want to go out and see the whales, but if the industry’s not sustainable and the whales are responding negatively to it, then it’s not going to be a viable industry,” says researcher Maryrose Gulesserian, of Macquarie University. Ms Gulesserian recently completed a research project on the potential impacts of vessels on Humpback whales in the Sydney region. Using specific tracking software, she analysed and compared the behaviours of the whales before, during and after different types of vessel approach. Her research is currently a part of a bigger project being conducted by the Marine Mammal Research Group (MMRG) at Macquarie
ine o’clock!” The commentator yells through his microphone and passengers stampede across to the left side of the boat to get a better view. A fountain of water appears in the distance, and a dark grey hump surfaces for a few moments. There are gasps of applause as cameras flash. It does not take long for a giant grey outline in the water to appear next to us. A Humpback whale emerges, his great knobby head appearing from the water. He is just as curious as we are. He takes a quick peek at us before diving back under. Every year, between May and December, thousands of Humpback and Southern Right whales migrate to Antarctica along the coast off Sydney. From mid-May to early August the whales leave the colder waters of the Antarctic and head up north to the warmer waters of
As the whales migrate to warmer waters, whale-watchers are able to see these majestic animals as they surface for air. 66
a time University and the Sydney whale-watching business, Bass and Flinders Cruises. The project, aimed to ensure the sustainability of the whale-watching industry, will be the first to provide a scientific basis to the Australian National Guidelines for Whale and Dolphin Watching. Current guidelines in Australia for whalewatching strongly focus on the approach distances of a vessel – no vessel can be closer than one metre to a whale, and no more than three vessels at a time are allowed within 100 to 300 metres of a whale. Ms Gulesserian believes that whilst current guidelines are needed, it is important to consider the effect on whales of the types of approach, including the vessel’s speed and steering. Approach distances as close as 20 and 30 metres were tested by MMRG and Bass and Flinders Cruises. According to Richard Ford, co-owner of Bass and Flinders Cruises, the number of vessels surrounding a whale has a greater impact than a vessel’s approach distance. “The impact is negligible, in fact, the whales aren’t worried at all about boats approaching closer than the regulatory requirement,” he says. “However, once the traffic gets very high, there is an impact, and so there is a requirement of certain number of boats around each whale pod. It’s not a distressed impact; it’s just a reduction in activity . . . they’re just more cautious with more boats around.” “The whales are fully aware where we are at all times and they’re very much aware we’re not a predator.” With almost 16 years of experience in the Industry, Bass and Flinders Cruises is determined to ensure the whale-watching industry is sustainable in the long-term. A thriving business, with terminals in Darling Harbour and Circular Quay, it offers two whale-watching cruises every day of the week. As Mr Ford says, “People of all nationalities enjoy seeing the whales.” The cruises attract people of all ages, and although the majority are international tourists, there is also a lot of local interest. Of the research project with MMRG, Mr Ford says, “Our approach is through education and the experiences we’re giving people. Through this they can better understand why the whales are such an important mammal and the impacts man is having worldwide.” Libby Eyre, an aquarist at the Sydney Aquarium, says, “Whilst you can learn a lot about whales from the amazing documentaries
Whale-watching tours take visitors within close reach of the migrating whales.
Curious calves are known to swim out to the tour boats and operators need to be mindful of maintaining an appropriate distance. that are now available, nothing beats being on the water and seeing the animals in the flesh.” Ms Eyre has studied the songs and communication between Humpback whales since 1985. She says, “All along the coast of Australia these animals are hearing shipping noise. If boats get too close, the whales have to keep changing direction and with an increasing Humpback and human population the risk of collisions is very real.” She believes there needs to be more than just guidelines in place to ensure a sustainable whale-watching industry. “Marine life as a whole all over the world has had to get used to increased vessel traffic and all that goes with it. This is something that
will only keep increasing, which is why it is important to not only regulate activities such as whale-watching, but also to oversee it to ensure that people are doing the right thing. “As it is now, there is no enforcement and so there are some questionable behaviours by operators.” The adoption of strategies to keep whales out of harm’s way is the only way for the whale-watching industry to be sustainable in the long-term. For whale-watchers, it would be a shame to lose an opportunity to see the giant creatures in their natural habitat. Ms Gulessarian believes that with consistent management and monitoring, the whalewatching industry can be sustainable.
New life for recycled goods
Courtesy of Eveleigh Artisans’ Market Monika Tobing
aper, books and CDs are just a few of the things that have been given a new lease of life by artists at Eveleigh Artisans’ Arts and Craft Market. The markets are redefining the notion of recycling by turning used papers and broken book covers, previously deemed useless, into arty configurations that also have an environmental message. When you step into the market, which opens every first Sunday of the month, you will find a shopping frenzy. Many recycled products are nicely presented at the open-air market. Men and women, old and young, even children are found walking around the market trying and enjoying the creative products. Many stallholders have their art ready and displayed, from books, decorations, clothing and much more. Sophie Verrecchial, an Italian-born mosaic artist, has a stall in the middle of the market. Sophie proudly presents her art created from materials mostly found in rubbish tips, Salvation Army stores and recycling centres. “I use lots of material. I use glass, of course. I use ceramics. But I also use a lot of objects that I found in the street.” It is like magic seeing all the used materials that can be transformed into new products. “All used materials are very cheap and they look very ugly sometimes, but when you break them into little bits, and you reorganise them with other objects, they can take a new life,” Sophie says. If you have old books or papers that you think you will not be using anymore, do not just throw them away. The Artisans’ Market has a number of artists who will happily reproduce paper-based materials in a new form. “Basically, I’m really motivated by having things recycled and sustainable products. So I use recycled paper and I recycle old books,” says Holly Walker, another stallholder at the market who loves retro looking arts. Holly and her boyfriend work together replacing old storybook covers with new notebook covers. “I want to make these sad little old books useful again,” she says. The Artisans’ Market is located opposite the CarriageWorks in Darlington, Sydney. Its existence benefits artists wanting to promote environmentally friendly products. Direct interaction between customers and artists often provides inspiration that can even boost artists’ creativity. “I once experienced a moment where a customer came and grabbed a photo album. She said that it’d look good in a notebook. So I thought it’s really good to adapt and make things new from people suggestions that you can’t get from online,” says Jenny.
Courtesy of Eveleigh Artisans’ Market
Clockwise from left: A knitted tea cosy; sample of a mosaic artwork; and a stall’s display of photo albums and journals made from broken book covers and used papers. Besides those selling recycled products, the market also has stallholders who like to invite people to express their creativity. Miriam Ross is a mosaic and craft artist and teacher who uses the market to promote private lessons at her studio in Rosebery. She invites customers to explore their creativity with mosaics, handmade tiles, sculptures using inexpensive materials and simple armatures, basic knitting, dimensional and free-form crochet. She has been selected as the project artist for the Coogee Cares Centre Mosaic Mural grant project, and she really enjoys her time working with materials such as fabric and yarn, cement, ceramics, recycled materials, paper, metal and glass, to name a few. “I just know that if I’m not
making something I’m not happy. So I have to be making something,” she says. One of her philosophies is to create a very arty community where you feel happy to create and share. That is why she really loves teaching adults and children and has worked in many community colleges, community centres, vacation care centres, after school centres and schools, on a paid and voluntary basis. The purpose of the Eveleigh Artisans’ Market is to provide artists with a good way to start using recycled products that are environmentally friendly. “What I’m trying to tell people is I want them to know that it brings smile. Happiness,” Sophie Verrecchial says.
Courtesty of IFAW
Courtesty of IFAW
The Tails for Whales photo campaign has attracted immense support from both celebrities and the public.
A tail of a whale wins accolades
any of us have signed a petition or two in our lifetimes – saving the whales, freeing the bears, stopping global warming. It usually involves adding your name to an email and sending it off, never to be seen again. The Green Globe Awards are the leading environment awards in New South Wales and are initiated by the state’s Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water. The awards are presented to individuals and organisations who show outstanding dedication towards tackling climate change. This year, the Republic of Everyone, an advertising agency for environment and humanitarian organisations, was awarded a Green Globe Award for its work in creating a social media campaign. The campaign was aimed at promoting the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s (IFAW) dedication to saving whales by creating a unique type of petition. IFAW organises many petitions as it dedicates itself to creating awareness for the protection of species all over the world. “When we sign petitions, we have no idea where our signatures go,” says Ben Peacock, Creative Director for the Republic of Everyone. “We wonder did we really change the world by signing that? We wanted to see if we could do something positive, if we could build a better petition – a physical petition.”
Tails for Whales started as an initiative known as Project 551 in the form of an email petition, like any created by animal welfare groups, until the Republic of Everyone thought it could help expand it. The petition was created in response to the slaughter of 551 whales by a Japanese whaling fleet in 2007 and 2008. The project followed a creative process, incorporating Youtube and Facebook to promote the campaign in association with the IFAW. It released posters, blog updates and pictures. A television broadcast was also launched in association with National Geographic Channel. The goal of the initiative was to collect photos of everyday Australians and some wellknown faces making a whale tail gesture with their hands. The organisation continues to utilise a variety of interactive media including its website to promote Australia’s dedication to stop whale slaughtering. In Australia, the campaign has received the support of celebrities including Silverchair frontman Daniel Johns, singer Christine Anu, broadcaster Derryn Hinch, and Underbelly actor Gyton Grantley. On the international front, the campaign has attracted international personalities such as British model Twiggy, the cast of the movie Fame, actor Goran Visnjic from the television series ER, and members of British Parliament. According to the project’s website, the
campaign has accumulated 869 ‘tails’ from the USA, 506 from the United Kingdom, 1211 from Australia and many more from other countries. “As people join the Tails for Whales family they can continue to be activists for whale protection around the world, from ending whaling to increasing protection against ocean noise and reducing ship strikes and entanglements,” says Erica Martin, IFAW Director for the Asia Pacific Region. “Only when enough people stand up for whale protection will governments around the world invest time and action into reducing the threats to these magnificent animals.” The photographs were presented to the Environment Minister Peter Garrett on 6 June, which has been named National Whale Day. A book has also been created featuring the photographs and will be available for purchase by supporters. Meanwhile, the Tail for Whales campaign was in the spotlight at New York Fashion Week when it hosted parties and attracted support from fashionistas and celebrities alike.
The public can continue to submit their photos and see a collection of the photos by visiting the Tails for Whales website at http://www.tailsforwhales.org/.
Love counts says professor of passion
r Clio Cresswell shines like a beacon in a sea of motley maths-lovers. At the City of Sydney’s Science Festival, grey-haired academics and gangly teenagers jostle shoulders for the chance to learn about arguably one of the juiciest maths mysteries of our time: sex. And who better to learn it from than the foxiest academic in the city? “By studying patterns of behaviour and combining self-awareness with mathematics, I can show people that maths not only helps in engineering but even goes as far as relationships,” Dr Cresswell says. Dr Cresswell, a mathematics professor at the University of Sydney, insists that she is not a “hormonally crazy mathematician”. Rather, her world-famous research is a means of getting the world to engage with her passion for maths. Yet Dr Cresswell was no whiz kid. “I was not a child prodigy by any stretch of the imagination,” she says. After flunking maths abysmally at her
St Tropez high school, Dr Cresswell went on to pursue studies in mathematics in Sydney. She later won the university medal at the University of New South Wales and completed a PhD. With the publication of her book Mathematics and Sex in 2003, Dr Cresswell was plunged into the media spotlight. Tackling issues like the decreasing frequency of sex throughout marriage, aka ‘the marriage problem’, Dr Cresswell soon became the world’s first maths celebrity. Although her book has been criticised for being all froth and no formula, Dr Cresswell is adamant her theories hold water. However, she is not living proof of their validity. Such is the case with her controversial ‘12 bonk rule’, which attempts to show that the likelihood of finding one’s best match increases to above 75 per cent if 12 partners are tested first. “My problem is that I’d already had more than 12 lovers. It’s not that the maths is wrong, it’s just that I have problems committing.” While there is a certain comfort in
Naughty numbers: Can 1+1= love? Dr Cresswell says yes. Dr Cresswell’s formulas, she is the first to admit that maths isn’t the only answer. “You can believe astrology if you want, and I read my star signs from time to time, but maths is a bit more predictive.”
One minister’s fight for human rights Alex Taylor
In the 1960s, Rev McRae-McMahon travelled to the new republic of Cyprus. At the War Museum in Nicosia, she was disillusioned by the proof of torture and brutality under the recent British occupation. “I thought I was a pacifist at that time. Now I believe in non-violence but I don’t pretend I’m a pacifist.” In the 1970s, Rev McRae-McMahon stayed first with Israelis and then visited Palestinians in refugee camps in Israel and Lebanon. She visited squats in Bangalore’s rubbish tips and helped to micro-finance loans for development and independence of poor communities. Rev McRae-McMahon championed social justice in her 1980s role at the Pitt Street Uniting Church, clashing with a dangerous neo-Nazi group and battling her own ego as she was awarded numerous humanitarian prizes. Stalking and attacks from the fascists alongside the struggle with her pride taught her “how to be vulnerable” and enabled close relationships with her parishioners. She raised the debate about sexuality and religion with her brave, strategic comingout as a lesbian at the National Assembly of the Uniting Church, adding weight to calls for the church to make a decision in favour
of ordaining gay and lesbian ministers. Of it all, Rev McRae-McMahon says, “I have been honoured to live in a period of history where these things were happening.”
he Reverend Dorothy McRaeMcMahon’s passion and fight for social justice began early in life and has been honed by half a century of encountering refugees, poverty and racism. In her twenties, the former Pitt Street Uniting Church minister lived “right at the edge of a mass public housing estate where I had a lot to do with the struggling people. “I worked with those people, lived amongst them, represented them. That politicised me.” Rev McRae-McMahon was involved in the early anti-nuclear, women’s rights and antiVietnam War movements. She and her then-husband were the first in Australia to organise a group to protest against the White Australia Policy. Additionally, Rev McRae-McMahon cared for four children, including her severely disabled son Christopher full-time for 16 years. “I worked late into the night to keep myself alive, wrote endless letters to editors to participate in society,” she says. When Christopher went into care, she threw herself fully into work at the National Council of Churches, where she became heavily involved in international aid work.
“I have had an incredible life,” says Dorothy McRae-McMahon.
Making the director’s cut Lauren Said-Moorhouse
arc Furmie looks like any other regular, good-looking young guy. Dressed in dark jeans, a faded t-shirt and aviator sunglasses, you’d never peg him for an award-winning director. Yet that is exactly what he is. At only 28 he is an up-and-coming force in the Australian film industry. He has met and worked with some of the top names in the business including George Lucas, Jane Campion, Graeme Burfoot and David Denneen. “Nothing is unachievable. You have to be diligent and network as much as possible. Just get out there,” he says. Originally from South Africa, Marc Furmie spent his childhood living with his grandparents in Sydney’s western suburbs. His passion for storytelling was nurtured from a young age by his grandfather who would get him out of school to go to all-day sessions at the local cinemas. “I remember when I was around 5, my grandpa would turn up at school, say something to the teacher, and the next thing I knew she would come over and whisper to me that it was time for me to go to the dentist or something,” he says. “At school, I was always thinking about stories and basically, visualising concepts. But it wasn’t until I realised that there were people behind the movies that it became real for me,” he says. “When I realised that, it wasn’t abstract anymore.” Furmie’s love for film continued to grow and he enrolled in Fine Arts at the University of New South Wales. When he wasn’t studying film, it wasn’t far from his thoughts. “COFA [College of Fine Arts] was nurturing and obviously drew on my artistic tendencies but I would also go to seminars and courses. There was also this cinestore that a few of us used to hang out at. It was about getting ourselves out there so that we could meet the right people and make the connections.” From then, Furmie has directed several television commercials for Volvo, RSPCA and Amnesty International as well as music video work with the Rogue Traders, Seany B, The Follow and most recently, Birdie Blackman. In 2006, he received a grant from the Australian Film Commission to direct his first short film, Death’s Requiem, which he also co-wrote. Screened at over 20 international film festivals, the film scooped up awards at St Kilda Film Festival, Method Fest and two horror festivals; the Eerie Horror Film Festival and Shriekfest.
Filming on Dixon street in Chinatown, Marc Furmie checks a shot on the final day of shooting short film Dark Horse. Recently, he has been filming a new short movie, Dark Horse which delves into an unlikely relationship between a taxi driver and a girl in trouble. For this project, he and his team won funding from Screen NSW. Explaining why Dark Horse received the grant, Valerie Allerton, co-ordinator of Screen NSW’s Emerging Filmmakers Fund says, “It received funding due to a combination of the quality and creativity of the script, balance of experience. The story was well-written with a strong vision, believable characters, and a clear journey and resolution for the protagonist. “This project and team ticked all of the boxes.” Dark Horse has been a labour of love for Marc Furmie the team. One such person is long time collaborative partner and producer Simon Ritch. Having worked with Furmie for over three years, he says, “Marc and I work really well together because of our similar personalities, work ethic. We strive for the same goals and trust each other’s abilities to achieve them. On top of all that we’re actually really good mates which helps when things get stressful as we can talk openly with each other and have a beer and a laugh afterwards. “Marc and I created Dark Horse from the ground up and saw it through to completion so knowing all that went into it, it makes me very proud to see it on the screen. Having complete creative control was nice as well, as it shows anyone interested in our work what we really like doing and are capable of.” Furmie adds, “Dark Horse was supposed to be a short four-day shoot that all of a sudden
became a much bigger project. We ended up with an 11-day shoot. We were really able to do what we wanted with it so all these creative juices started flowing and so far I’m so proud of how it has come out. “The film industry can be very insular and cliché. It’s about being in the right circles and meeting the right people. Australia is a great place to not get caught up in the system. “So when we were making Dark Horse and we were able to have such creative control in its production, it was a breath of fresh air,” he says. “I do strongly believe in reaching people. It’s the reason Spielberg is as powerful as he is. I believe that I have important stories to tell, as do a lot of people. For me, directing a story, it has to be realistic and true to life. Never tell a superficial story,” he adds. It’s clear to see that Furmie is on the road to success. While he has achieved a lot in a short space of time, he is also quick to put his recent achievements into context. “I never decided to be perfect at what I do, and I’m not. It’s not about perfection,” he says. “I communicate a lot with my actors and get great feedback from them on what they believe their character is going through. A big part of getting it right is in the rehearsal process with the actors because they are your lifeblood.” His years of experience have taught him to be afraid of neither mistakes nor the familiar. “I’ve learnt by doing. Make mistakes because that is how you learn. Write what you know. Not literally but the closer it is to you, the more it will resonate with your audience.” Dark Horse is currently in post-production and will be premièring in Sydney later this year.
Seung Rok Baek
Model Rebecca Mills poses in Alana Clifton-Cunningham’s distinctively different designs.
(Scar)ves: textile art explores self-mutilation Alice Birrell
the average home-made scarf or beanie. The patterns of pieces like her leg-wrap mimic body scarification patterns that mark important events in a person’s life. Working with such a versatile medium allows Clifton-Cunningham to push the boundaries of her craft. Her shoulder-wrap, for example, demonstrates a craftsman’s handle on the materials used, which are not limited to wool. Leather, laser-cut wood veneer and gemstones are also worked in, contrasting with the sculptural lines of the stitching. Constantly developing and experimenting with techniques often means mistakes can be miracles. “I embrace accidental outcomes
with my work. It can always lead you to interesting places.” At a time when people are looking to reduce waste, Clifton-Cunningham’s unique design philosophy fittingly resonates through her focus on one-off pieces. “While the mass market fashion industry has its place, it would be nice to see the cycle of fashion slow down, and to see people purchasing items that have a longer shelf life.” When the trend is towards value for wear purchases, Clifton-Cunningham’s message is one that increasingly resonates with consumers: “I would like to see a return to the exclusive.”
Transforming Alex Taylor
A Vanessa Watson
istortion, manipulation and body scarification. Hardly words one associates with the soft, snug appeal of knitted wool. Yet this is exactly the description that Sydney-based textile designer, Alana Clifton-Cunningham, conjures up with her unique knits in the exhibition, (Re) Skin: Contemporary Knitting. Her work, exhibited at UTS in September, moves distinctly beyond the childhood realm of blankets and jumpers and into a world of experimentation that is a challenge to knitting’s usual associations of the cozy and the comfy. “I am interested in identity. Knitting conveys so many messages through the stitch patterning and structure, very similar to body scarification, so I liked the idea of combining the two to create a new language,” she says. Clifton-Cunningham has come a long way from the 16-year-old who picked up a pair of knitting needles for the first time. Back then, it was not love at first stitch. “My mum did teach me initially, but I think I gave up quickly. I really didn’t enjoy it at first but felt that it was something I needed to conquer.” Clifton-Cunningham attributes her ability to create such beautifully unsettling shapes to the materials she works with. “I am drawn to the unique characteristics of wool, and what you can do with it while knitting. “If you were to produce the same piece, one in wool and, say, one in cotton, you would have a really different outcome,” she says. Her latest exhibition uses knitting to explore concepts distantly removed from
Artist Adam Hill takes time out at his Redfern studio.
dam Hill rides a wave of satire, propelled by an ocean of ironies. For over 10 years, the indigenous artist has sung, sculpted and painted his political, artistic and professional activism. His people are originally from Bellingen, northern New South Wales, and he detests being denied free access to his ancestors’ land. Hill’s grandmother was a Stolen Child, one of the many Indigenous children who were removed from their families. She was later employed by the Aboriginal Protection Board. For the last three years, Hill has been a local of the inner-Sydney’s Redfern and has engaged with local politics in his art. The Chief of Police commissioned a
The art in making mistakes
f you saw the Mori Gallery from the outside, with its grimy brick walls and graffitied garage shutters, you may not give it a second glance But while it may seem like a forgotten warehouse this Sydney gallery has been in existence for more than 30 years. Stepping into the cave-like building, it feels more like an artist’s garage studio than a renowned Sydney art gallery. With its rusting metal door, strewn canvases and paint fumes, the Mori Gallery is chaotic, raw, and disarming. Much like its owner, Stephen Mori. “I went to art school, rebelled at art school, and then got expelled at art school. So I’ve always had a problem with institutions, but I’ve sort of become one myself, which is pretty bad.” Wearing a black singlet and shorts, the soft-spoken Mori looks, and is even built, like a truck driver. At 58, the bespectacled New Zealand native embodies the gentle, free-spirited 1960s: from his passion for the environment; love of live music and touring (which resulted in one of his two sons); to his long, free-flowing, pepper-coloured beard. “I set up the gallery as an alternate style of education when I was at art school. It was at the time when everybody was questioning education and wanting alternates to education, like free schools. “So I sort of look like a hippy. I’m not really a hippy, but I did get involved in the freedom movement in the intellectual sense. That movement was short-lived but I still try
to keep those sorts of principles that came up in the 1960s: humanitarian themes, freedom of expression, and intellectual practices,” he says. Those principles have led him to believe that art is inherently linked with humanitarian and environmental issues. “A lot of the art world tries to separate and justify that it doesn’t have to involve itself in those sorts of arguments, but I’m one who chooses to. “I don’t think you can have an art world and have those intellectual pursuits if you don’t have trees or subjects as it were. I don’t think you can have form if you don’t have subject. It’s like painting a landscape but all the trees are gone.” Mori is currently setting up Susan Norrie’s forthcoming exhibition, an Australian artist whose work and philosophy he greatly admires. The same can’t be said for many emerging artists he has encountered. In fact, Mori is wary of where art, in general, is heading. From art schools to galleries, he believes art has transformed into a vacuous and sterile lifestyle trend. “I don’t like most galleries in Sydney. I don’t like most galleries in the world because to me, they’re lifestyle and they’re art for art’s sake. They believe in their own bullshit. “They’re just real wanky,” he says. Anorexia, mental health, disability and the Northern Territory Intervention are just some of the issues being explored at the Mori Gallery over the coming months. Most artists on show are an extension of their artwork, since many are sufferers of diseases like mental health or anorexia.
the political artistic landscape painting from Hill to hang in the local police station. Though the commission was later withdrawn for financial reasons, Hill thought it fitting that his work was displayed at Redfern police station. “Fair enough, given that 99% of the people processed there are indigenous,” he says. Though his art often deliberately engages politics, Hill was surprised by the controversy surrounding his design for the façade of Redfern’s Black Theatre site. A tribute to the Cherry Pickers by Aboriginal playwright Kevin Gilbert, Hill’s design was inspired by the back-story to the play. “Rumour says that it was written on toilet paper in gaol and smuggled out, which I found
an illustrious story, but I didn’t know why Kevin Gilbert was in gaol, for the macabre murder of his wife,” Hill says. He has resonance as a fair bloke in and around the Block, collaborating with various friends including buskers and the folks at Koori Radio. He gains genuine excitement from scouting community centres for new graffiti artists, and prefers to support artist-run galleries. He is full of praise and enthusiasm for Sydney street artists, activists and their grassroots initiatives. Check out Hill’s contribution to Breathing Space at the Hawkesbury Regional Gallery until October 25. For more details visit http://www.atthevanishingpoint.com.au.
Stephen Mori has always gone against the grain. This is where art and therapy converge; a concept that is of great interest to Mori as he personally deals with an eating disorder and addiction. “We stigmatise mental health, we hide it. People get embarrassed when they find anything wrong with themselves. “I’m a real advocate of trying to stimulate more interest in mental health in the community. I’m interested in art as a form of relief from what you are dealing with.” Mori is well aware that his strong convictions do not make him popular in the media circuit or the art world. His opinions can be controversial. From a total ban of nude drawings in his gallery, which he believes to be degrading and sexist, to heavy criticisms for wealthy Australian artists who do not financially support Aboriginal land rights, and high praise for China’s sophistication, which he says is comparatively less racist than Australia’s treatment of Indigenous Australians. “I can admit where I stuff up, and I know what my problems are to an extent, but at least I can have a conversation with what’s going on. “Art’s been corrupted by this pseudointellegentsia. It’s just a small clique, and they keep it in-house. It stays the same and it takes all the funding,” he says. “Funding for art space should go to different communities everywhere and to every group starting out. Art should be about making mistakes, not about clean operations.”
Injecting reality into drug Vanessa Watson
r Marianne Jauncey is a woman of heart, and of hard evidence. A public health physician, Dr Jauncey was appointed as Medical Director of the Sydney Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC) in August 2008. MSIC, Australia’s only drug injecting centre, is a facility in which illicit drug users can inject themselves in a safer, medically supervised environment. Before taking up her position at MSIC, Dr Jauncey worked at the nearby Kirketon Road Centre (KRC), a free health service for drug users, sex workers, homeless people and youth at risk. She has also worked for NSW Health and the National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research. “You do see some pretty sad things,” she says of her decade spent in the drug and alcohol field in Kings Cross, “But to shrink from the provision of safe and sanitary injecting premises is short-sighted.” When MSIC’s clients overdose, trained medical professionals are there within seconds to revive them, with oxygen tanks and Narcan, a heroin antidote, at hand. Since opening in 2001, over 2,700 drug overdoses have occurred on-site without a single fatality. “There’s no question that supervised
at Gove District Hospital in Nhulunbuy. While in the Northern Territory, Dr Jauncey worked in the various wards of the hospital and travelled on its single-engine Cessna airplanes to various outlying Indigenous communities including Yirrkala, Ramingining and Groote Eylandt. The young doctor bore witness to the stark divide in health that often exists between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. At that stage, Groote Eylandt had the highest violent crime rate per head of the population in the southern hemisphere. Dr Jauncey saw multiple cases of Sydenham’s chorea, a complication that can occur in patients with rheumatic fever. “When I got back to university, we had a lecture and something came up about rheumatic fever and Sydenham’s chorea and the lecturer said, ‘you’ll never see that in Australia, it’s a disease of third world nations’. “It just struck me. I thought, how much of Australia doesn’t know what happens in other places in Australia? We assume that everybody has access to the same health services and level of care that we do but it’s just not the case.” When asked about her most memorable client, Dr Jauncey recalls a young woman she met while working as a doctor at the KRC. The
injecting centres save lives and make contact with an incredibly marginalised group of people. I feel very privileged to have been offered the position. It’s a service that I believe in even more, if that’s possible, after a year.” Despite MSIC’s demonstrated success in meeting its public health aims, confirmed in multiple independent evaluations, the facility continues to operate merely as a trial project. The trial, like addiction itself, is chronic and relapsing. The passage of legislation is repeatedly required to keep the facility open as each trial period comes to a close. According to Dr Jauncey, this demoralises existing MSIC staff and presents difficulties when hiring new employees, particularly nurses. “I think it’s entirely appropriate if there’s not good evidence for any kind of medical or public health intervention that you do some kind of evaluation,” Dr Jauncey says. “But if you’ve gone to the trouble and effort of doing that research, then it’s beholden upon you to act upon the outcomes of that research.” Dr Jauncey’s interest in improving access to health services for marginalised populations reaches back to her days as a young medical student at university. During her third year of studies in 1992, Dr Jauncey travelled to Arnhem Land to assist
Dr Marianne Jauncey believes rehabilitation is a right. 74
The Kings Cross injecting booths, known as Stage 2 of the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre.
woman, referred to Dr Jauncey by a counsellor, was in a state of distress and suffering from a drug-induced psychosis. “She was looking pretty bedraggled, sitting there eating these no-brand liquorice all-sorts. She was using a lot of cocaine and was street sex working, homeless, in her twenties, and hadn’t slept for days. She’d pulled out bits of her hair because of the cocaine use, had scratched herself and was bleeding.” During her consultation, the woman confronted Dr Jauncey with the desperate details of her life and demanded to know why anyone would bother to help her. “She said, ‘my mum was a junkie whore who died on the streets, and I’m a junkie whore who’s going to die on the streets too, there’s no point. I accept that, why don’t you?’ “It was at that instant the enormity of this life struck me. She’d first started injecting – or being injected – at the age of 11 and said that her mum had done that. She didn’t know who her father was, her mum had been a sex worker and had accidentally gotten pregnant and she was a result of that. “There’s a temptation, just for a fraction of a second, where you just think, ‘Is she right? Is the situation actually hopeless?’ Then you recover and you think well, no, of course it’s not hopeless. You just start one step at a time and at the moment she needs more than anything to sleep and get some food.” When Dr Jauncey next saw the woman she was waiting to see a counsellor at the KRC. Though only months had passed, she had begun to grow a full head of hair and was approaching a healthy weight. She sat, with her head down, buried in a copy of J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. Salinger’s novel, which features in high school curricula across the English-speaking world, is a powerful image in the hands of a rehabilitating drug addict and one that has remained with Dr Jauncey since. It serves as a reminder that people can, and do, rehabilitate, and that everybody deserves the opportunity to stay alive long enough to try. “People have got this sense of, ‘but you have to get them off drugs right now’. Obviously that’s an ideal outcome, but any smoker will tell you that it’s not always that easy and it doesn’t happen the first or the second time even that you give up. “Everybody deserves that chance. It might sound trite, but you can’t get someone who’s dead into rehab.”
A tenuous relationship with conformity has led Norrie May-Welby’s life down many unexpected paths.
Shared stories of sexuality Philip Wen
he life of Norrie May-Welby is an open book – she says so herself. On her MySpace page, Norrie has posted an eight-minute video in which she muses on her sexuality, sex change and experiences as a transgender woman. “I like being honest with regard to sex and gender and sexuality because it forms who we are. The way to face discrimination is just to be honest.” Discrimination has had a big impact on Norrie’s life. As a shy and sexually naïve adolescent boy, Norrie did not realise she was gay until her late teens and started wearing flowers in her hair. A happy few years identifying as a young, androgynous gay male at university followed, but things began to unravel when he joined the workforce. “It was the 1980s when the public service said it was gay-friendly and had antidiscrimination policies but was, in reality, old-fashioned. “I was allowed to be whoever I wanted to be at university. Then I joined the public service and suddenly I wasn’t acceptable.” The alleged harassment and bullying were traumatic. Depressed and distraught, Norrie came to the conclusion that if it was unacceptable to be a dress-wearing gay male, the only answer was to become a dresswearing female. “It was social pressure definitely that led to the sex change because I didn’t think of it until I had a nervous breakdown.
“I had reactive depression, or a mental breakdown, as they called it in those days. That’s when I started on hormones. That’s when I realised that being androgynous wasn’t accepted, so I had to be one gender or the other,” she says. A founding member of Sex and Gender Education Australia (SAGE), a lobby group for people of gender diversity, Norrie has been a long-time campaigner for same-sex marriage. She was a keynote speaker and performer at the National Day of Action rally for samesex marriage on earlier this year. “It’s a matter of equality. I don’t actually know if marriage is a good idea or not,” Norrie says. “Everyone should have the same aspirations available to them. Whether they choose to get married later on or not, they should know their opportunities are equal.” Norrie, 48, has been male, then female. Today, she is “40 per cent gay male, 60 per cent female”. She has been a cartoonist, a transgender activist, a campaigner for same-sex marriage, an advocate for sex workers and an occasional sex worker herself for 20 years. “Life has taken me in very unexpected directions,” she says. “I’ve ended up with friends, most of whom are in the sex industry, who party a lot and are into political activism and do meaningful things with their lives.”
Derby girls roll their way
Drew Barrymore sets her sights on winning in the movie Whip It
hirty women on roller skates, dressed in fishnets and short shorts, drop simultaneously to the floor: bums up, feet up. This is the Porn Star Fall. The Porn Star Fall, The T-Stop and the Baseball Slide are strategic plays in the latest sports craze to hit Sydney – roller derby. Sydney’s regional team, The Sydney City Assassins, just returned from its first interstate bout in Adelaide where it lost 62:129 to the Adelaide Phantoms. “We got annihilated but it was an awesome day,” says Ms Nelson, Vice President of the Sydney Roller Derby League. The Assassins will play again soon against a team from Newcastle. “Their on-the-track strategy was amazing,” she says.“We learnt so much and are looking forward to the bout against Newcastle in November.” The Sydney Roller Derby League is one of 20 all-girl, flat-track roller derby leagues in Australia, and 145 worldwide. Roller derby is a contact sport played by two teams of five on quad roller skates on an oval track. Points are scored when one player – the jammer – passes through the opposing pack of players. The role of the other players – blockers and pivot blockers – is to prevent the opposition’s jammer from getting through. 76
Above: all rivalry is forgotten in post-match celebrations; and the Sydney City Assassins after a recent bout. Don’t be fooled by the sexy get-up; roller girls train hard. They spend seven hours a week on skates alone, with extra sessions for strength and endurance. The appeal is partly in the theatrics of the sport. Skaters take on a persona and dress up to enhance their skating alter egos. Ms Nelson, or “Miss Biff,” describes her skating persona as “a cheerleader who wants to fight everyone. “It’s about being able to be strong and sporty and sexy and a woman all at the same time,” she says. The Sydney league is now gearing up for its third introductory training program, Fresh Meat, where a further 60 to 80 Sydney women will be taught the basics of skating. Karen Pieper, or Paige Turner, a project manager in corporate banking, joined Fresh Meat six months ago. “It’s like drama for people who can’t act,” says Miss Pieper. “You get to take on a persona, dress up and also get to hang out with really cool smart women.” “During the week I have to be the project manager and wear the suit and be serious. Here I get to dress up and be silly and let that fun part of my personality come out.”
into the Sydney spotlight
The revival of this sporting spectacular, originally popularised in 1930s Chicago, began five years ago with the Texas Rollergirls in America. It quickly grew into a worldwide craze that’s seen independent amateur leagues spring up in the UK, Germany, Finland, Switzerland, Denmark, New Zealand and the United Emirates. Two teams from the Sydney league, The Screaming Assault Sirens and The Sydney City CB Deviants, played their debut season this year over 3 games, drawing crowds of up to 500. “We’ve all been really focused on creating it as a real do-it-yourself grass roots sport. Two years ago we were just sitting around in a pub with some really dodgy skates and bad protective gear going: ‘How does it work?... What are the rules again?’” says Stacey Nelson. Liz Divine, or Divine Intervention, says refereeing is a good way for guys to get involved or girls who are interested but nervous about the contact aspect.“A big part of it is the community value. To meet so many different people is really wonderful.”
Clockwise from top left: Ellen Page discovers her passion for roller derby as teenager Babe Ruthless in the movie Whip it; the Sydney City Assassins are deadly in action ; a friendly post-match congratulations; and a rough tumble, which is all part and parcel of the game.
The spirit behind the disc What would happen if you told your mates that you were representing Australia overseas in Ultimate Frisbee? A common reaction is to laugh at the thought of throwing a disc in a field as part of an international competition. But over the past decade, the unique game of Ultimate Frisbee has had burst in popularity, particularly among university students. The first competitive discs were thrown in American colleges in 1968. Today Ultimate Frisbee is a thriving game played in over 40 countries on beaches, backyards, schools and sporting fields. According to Glenn Hodges, coach of the Frisbee Club of UTS, the sport has become increasingly popular in Australia since he began playing in the 1990s, “There are now more players than ever at an elite level and who undertake tougher routines.” When training for this year’s University Games on the Gold Coast, the UTS team blended athletic practices with an occasional pub outing. The aim of the annual University Games is to bring usually distant teams together to enjoy the spirit of the Games and soak up the sun and surf. Most importantly it encourages the continuous growth and support of Australian student sporting communities. However, Evan Sieff, Vice-President of UTS Ultimate Frisbee, believes his club and many others are in need of sponsorship. “In order to be taken seriously, we need some serious support.” In the frisbee sub-culture, the sport is known simply as ‘Ultimate’ which invites us into the social world behind the disc. “Once the game is over, we’re all mates. The frisbee community is very close. We all stick together,” says Evan. But friendships undoubtedly unravel when rivalries erupt at competitions. Despite UTS playing in Division One on the Gold Coast this year, the massive powerhouse that is Sydney University continues to be a threat. “Sydney have put everything into training for these University Games,” says the Sydney Uni captain, Brett Latham. Ultimate Frisbee is non-discriminatory and allows players to be of any age, sex, size or speed. It is self-refereed which further adds to its appeal as a social sport.
Flicks for kicks: Frisbee players in the heat of the moment.
Wheels in motion for a cycling city
Sydney City Council will spend $70 million in the next four years to build an extensive cycle network throughout the city. The infrastructure is part of the Council’s Cycle Strategy and Action Plan which began in April 2007. The proposed cycleway will be a 200 kilometre track which will include 55 kilometres of separated cycleways. In February, Clover Moore, Lord Mayor of Sydney, said that surveys of the City of Sydney area indicated a 37 per cent increase in residents who cycle to work. The Council’s cycle strategy intends to meet this rising demand. The plan aims to increase cycling in the city by 500 per cent by 2017 and to promote 78
cycling as an environmentally friendly and safe alternative transport option. Josh MacKenzie, Senior Media Officer for Sydney City Council, says that the cycleways will allow hesitant cyclists to ride the busy streets of the city with confidence. “People have told us they want to ride but are hesitant to do so in Sydney next to fast moving traffic,” Mr Mackenzie says. The King Street cycleway opened in May this year and is the first of many to be completed. Other cycleways due for construction will be located in College Street, Missenden Road and Union Street. Construction on the Bourke Street cycleway has begun and is due for completion by 2010.
Andrew Dodds, Vice President of Bike Sydney, says that the cycleways will give commuters and residents a convenient transport option. “Sydney as a city becomes more attractive if you can encourage not just residents but commuters who’d otherwise be driving or catching public transport to start cycling,” he says. “I’ll certainly be using the Missendon Road cycleway.” Mr Dodds says that although the cycleway infrastructure will encourage drivers to start cycling to work there is no one silverbullet solution to improving Sydney’s current transport system.
Lunchtime of fitness Thanh Hieu Dinh
adding that many of his friends also play sport at noon at the Domain Park in Sydney CBD. The Sports and Aquatic Centre is open to the general public as well as students. Leonie Lum, Programs Manager, said the activities were initiated more than five years ago as part of the University’s Lunchtime Social Sport program. “The activities offer a good opportunity to get outside to meet people and be active,” Ms Lum says. And sport at lunchtime has become increasingly popular among office workers in Sydney as well. Lunchtime Legends, a corporate sports competition in Sydney that has been running for more than 16 years, attracts a weekly participation of more than 2,000 people. Director Helmut Fleig said Lunchtime Legends has participating companies from financing, banking, insurance and the legal sector. “It’s really an opportunity for them to get out of the office because people spend so many hours sitting in the office, so it’s truly an opportunity for them to come and play,” he says. Mr Fleig says there are three principal benefits: fitness, fun and stress relief. “But the upshot of all those things is people are in a non-work environment with their colleagues,” he says. “It really does build better co-operation among staff and better attachment within the organization,” Mr Fleig says.
ome on, guys. Pass me the ball,” a soccer player urges his team-mate. The closer they get to the goalpost, the more urgent the shout. Along with it is the incessant thud of sports shoes against the wooden floor and the whistle of the referee, creating the hectic atmosphere of an indoor soccer game at the Sydney University’s Sports and Aquatic Centre during a Monday lunchtime. Many students, whether they have just set foot on campus or have been there for years, share a passion for sport. However, for these students, lunchtime is not just for eating. Instead, it is also the time to get the legs going and the heart pumping. Andrew Brown, a 20-year-old Malaysian university student, is a newcomer to the Sports and Aquatic Centre, but looks eager. “I am playing futsal or indoor soccer simply because I like it,” he says. “I have formed the team with my friends from the Sydney International Village and we usually come here between 1pm and 2pm every Monday to play the sport for two sets, each lasting 15 minutes.” Apart from futsal, students can opt to play netball and basketball. Rowan Kunz, 22, who is now in his final year at the Sydney University’ s Faculty of Law, has been playing soccer during lunchtime for nearly five years now. “Well, I like soccer, and doing it during lunchtime gives me a good break since I can run around a bit and meet a lot of friends,” he says,
Training hard: joggers ditch their office clothes at lunch time for a session of exercise at The Domain in Sydney.
Students take on ping pong Alex Jones Crouching poodles and Atlantic salmon have been spotted at Moore Theological College in Newton. But they’re not dogs or fish – they’re names used to describe the moves, mistakes and techniques of students who play in the college’s table tennis competition. Second-year student Steve Boxwell and his friends came up with the names while watching fellow students play in ‘pong’ showdowns. “We wait till something happens that’s funny or a bit unusual,” Mr Boxwell says. “We’re trying to identify signature moves people have, kind of like Street Fighter,” he says. Students have embraced the competition which was set up to promote a sense of community and foster relationships among the students. “It makes things a little bit more light-hearted and more social and gets everyone out of the books and lets people muck around,” says Mr Alby Lam, sports committee member. Table tennis originated in Victorian England, where it was played between British Officers. A champagne cork was used as a ball, which was hit with cigarette boxes over a ‘net’ of books. The game has been controlled by the International Table Tennis Federation since 1926. It became an Olympic sport in 1988. Sue Stevenson, High Performance and Coaching Coordinator of Table Tennis Australia, says it takes a lot of skill to compete professionally. “Internationally, the athletes train six hours a day, six days a week, 365 days a year,” Ms Stevenson says. “They rarely ever have time off. You have to be able to make decisions in fractions of seconds,” she says. Ms Stevenson believes Australia’s professional table tennis athletes are not exposed to the same level of international competition as the 20 million Chinese and Europeans competitors. With this said, it appears that most average players will have to be happy with the simple glory of winning a game of ping pong in a suburban garage – complete with ‘crouching poodles’ and ‘Atlantic salmon.’
Danger on the rocks Alex Jones
A fisherman barely escapes as waves sweep over the rocks.
Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter
A trapped fisherman waits to be saved from the deadly waves.
A Westpac helicopter scours the rocks for trapped fishermen.
eneath the thrill of rock fishing lies danger and tragedy few people know about. The sport has claimed nine lives in NSW this year alone and at least 50 lives over the last four years, according to the Government’s ‘Safe Waters’ website. These statistics may scare some, but for rock fisherman Vincent Hou, the risk and uncertainty adds to the sport’s appeal. “Danger is part of the reason it is exciting,” he says. “Everything you do in the city is repetitive, but if you go out on the rocks and go fishing you don’t know what you’re going to catch. The best feeling is uncertainty.” However, Mr Hou, who has been rock fishing since 2006, believes many rock fishermen remain uneducated about the dangers involved. “There are a lot of people who just don’t care. They go without really caring about the weather. If they’re lucky they get away with it; if not they get washed out into the water,” he says. Tony Wood, Crew Chief of Westpac Life Saver Rescue, has rescued many such people from the sea. He says the key to making rock fishing safer lies in fishermen wearing the necessary safety equipment. “Nine times out of 10 if the person doesn’t have a life jacket, the mission will end in a body retrieval rather than a rescue,” he says.
Sydney has several rock fishing black spots, including north and south of Maroubra Bay and Malabar Bay, and the bottom of St Michael’s Golf Course at La Perouse. The recently formed National Rock Fishing Safety Panel, established by Surf Life Saving Australia, aims to educate fishermen and reduce the number of rock fishing accidents and fatalities. Its media campaign, to be released late this year, will target newspapers and radio. ‘Safe fishing’ workshops will be conducted along the coast as well as in the western suburbs. Chris Parker, Senior Lifesaving Officer with Surf Life Saving NSW, hopes the panel will succeed where previous independent ones have failed. “Rather than trying to do it alone, this is the first time a formal group has worked together to achieve the same goal.” As the warmer months approach, life saving officers will be on their guard. “It’s the time when we see more people coming to the beach and taking more risks,” Mr Parker says. According to Mr Tony Wood, people should ask themselves one question before taking such risks: “You can go out and drown, but what’s left behind? Just think of your family.”
Women tackling AFL Every weekend 80,000 women and young girls around Australia put their bodies on the line to play AFL. Boasting some of the largest growth of female participants in any sport across the country, AFL is reaping the benefits of women flocking to show off their athletic skills. “I think awareness has been a big thing, especially in Sydney. We’ve had 10 years in the competition now and now have a couple more teams that are spread across a wider demographic. So now that we’ve expanded a little bit, we’ve got a higher presence in AFL,”says Jemma Still, President of the Sydney Women’s AFL (SWAFL). The push for better organised senior women’s AFL was certainly noticed by the sport’s governing officials. Kevin Sheehan, National 80
Talent Manager of AFL, says young women fought for the right to play the game once they had reached an age where they were excluded from the boys’ competition. “It’s quite remarkable the growth in both women and girls in women’s football. It was evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Women demanded the right to play a game that they were falling in love with,” says Mr Sheehan. You have to look no further than the SWAFL to uncover bravery, success and commitment to the game. The Newtown Breakaways, who walked away from the 2009 season with their fifth premiership, show no sign of slowing down. “I believe that wearing the red and white actually means something to the players who join each year as the club has a proud history.
2009 Grand Final: Newtown Breakaways vs. Western Wolves. As a team on the field we have that ‘will to win’ attitude and we never give up, even if we’re down,” says, Rebecca Burridge, Newtown Breakaways President and current player.
Get your kicks out of tricks
Up in the air: Trickers take the floor to perform new and daring manoeuvres.
hen it comes to pushing the limits, some people like to jump out of planes, run marathons or wrangle reptiles. But for practitioners of a sport called tricking, nothing is more exhilarating than stringing together a unique sequence of flashy flips and kung fu kicks. Tricking is an aesthetic blend of aerial gymnastics skills and martial arts manoeuvres with influence from other sports such as break dancing and snowboarding. It is performed in ‘combos’ with as much innovation and individual style as possible. Twenty-three-year-old Morgan Flook has been participarting in the sport for eight years and says it has become a lifestyle for him. “The idea is to define yourself as a tricker, show your dedication and express that in a way that you can be proud of,” he says. “Tricking is such a young sport and the direction and form its taking is very exciting,” he says Many young Australians have caught on to the new underground sport; the first Australian Tricks Gathering was held in
2007. In January next year, gatherings will be held at gyms, parks and beaches around Sydney, with trickers from across the nation and overseas anticipating an adrenaline-fuelled summer. According to Scotty Skelton, a 21-yearold tricker from Brisbane, it is often the amazing moves that first attract people to tricking, but it is the friendships formed and life lessons learned that keep them coming back for more. “To say tricks have shaped who I am as a person would be the understatement of the century. Tricking has taught me more about persistence, the importance of getting up after a fall – sometimes quite literally – and as cheesy as it sounds, the power of friendship,” he says. Recently Scotty Skelton was acknowledged as the first tricker in the world to land a ‘triple cork’ – a slanted back somersault off one leg with three complete twists. “Four years and about four million crashes later I finally got lucky enough to make people think otherwise. It’s a moment I will never forget,” he says. Tricking developed during the 1990’s
out of extreme martial arts. Athletes upgraded their competitive routines with flips from gymnastics as well as new variations of traditional kicks and twists. Ernie Reyes Snr formed the world’s first tricking group in America and shortly after, the sport went global. Trickers used instant messaging, online forums and video-hosting sites to share training videos and tips. Soon they began to organise seasonal and annual gatherings to train and learn. Tricking is a sport mainly dominated by men. However, as it becomes more and more popular, girls are getting involved bringing a new dimension to the sport. Twently-one-year-old Sarah Laidler was attracted to the sport when she saw people training at the gymnasium where she was a recreational gymnast. “I think many girls are scared to try or give up too easy. We generally don’t pick things up as quickly as the guys and that can be quite discouraging, especially when there are few girls to compare yourself to,” she says.
Close encounters the new cool Stephanie Kok
heritage, and cruises such as those run by Tribal Warrior take people on a journey to learn about the traditions of Aboriginal people. Rob Roberts, the Sales Manager at Tribal Warrior, says that the cruises connect Aboriginal and modern culture, taking participants ashore on a Sydney Harbour island to teach them about traditional Aboriginal dance and music. “It includes informative commentary and the stories passed down from generation to generation on the Sydney Harbour clans and their hunting and fishing techniques and the first contacts between the Aboriginal people and Europeans.”
Courtesty of Tribal Warriors
mothers and calves have been seen regularly in October, often very close to shore, with curious calves swimming towards tour boats. These tours also research whether rules for whale-watching are adequate, and to study their migration path. Sydney has countless landmarks, many of which are easily seen on foot. Adventurers can choose to travel by water, kayaking through Sydney Harbour. Sydney Harbour Kayaks take groups to familiar sites and other locations accessible only by water, and teach about their natural and social history. Australia’s culture is rich with Aboriginal
Travellers can learn about Aboriginal song and dance during Tribal Warrior tours.
Courtesty of Sydney Bonanza Bike Tours
t emerges from the depths of the crystal clear ocean, beautiful and graceful, yet frighteningly large, its dark body glistening with the salty water. The Humpback whale lunges into the air and comes crashing down again, a spectacular sight, and all within metres. According to Tourism NSW, “New South Wales has the advantage of offering a wide variety of nature experiences within one state. And because we are seen as the international gateway to Australia, we are able to capture a large portion of the nature tourism market.” Ecotourism educates travellers by taking them to unusual areas to witness flora, fauna and cultural heritage in a pristine state while creating minimal impact on the environment. The Bonza Bike Tours combine exercise with Sydney’s scenic views while minimising the impact of conventional tourism. Much like walking tours, they steer away from polluting forms of transport such as buses and cars. On the Sydney Classic Bonza Bike Tours, guides take participants to Sydney’s iconic sites and also lesser known places. Key sites include the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Royal Botanic Gardens, Hyde Park, Chinatown, and some museums and galleries. Australia has some of the most unique flora and fauna in the world but Sydneysiders rarely get to see them up close, except in captivity. For plant and animal lovers, there is Centennial Park’s Centennial Parkland and Spotlight Prowl and the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens’ free guided tours. Centennial Park rangers lead groups into the park at dusk on a guided walk, to put a spotlight on creatures such as brush-tailed possums, Greyheaded Flying foxes,corellas and microbats. Centennial Park ranger Rebecca Collett says, “The primary focus of the Spotlight Prowl is to join a ranger to look for animals in the park after dark as well as to educate and inform members of the public about plants and animals that are found in an urban Sydney park.” Meanwhile, volunteer guides take groups on free tours through Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens twice daily to explore the plants and history of the gardens. On the water, whale-watching tours get up close, especially during the Humpback whales’ annual migration to the south from the middle of May until early December. They also teach participants about marine ecology and other creatures such as the Bottlenose and Common dolphins, and on occasion, the Blue whale. The Whale Watching Sydney blog states that
The Sydney Bonza Bike Tours takes vistors past Sydney landmarks whilst minimising its impact on the local environment.
Two men perform capoeira in a promotional photo shoot for Brazil’s Rock in Rio festival.
Brazil’s fight club takes off
t a glance it might appear that capoeira, Brazil’s version of karate or kung fu, is simply another martial art. But in reality it is much more
than that. Capoeira was born in the 16th century with the African slave population in the sugar plantations of Brazil. Music and dance-like movements were fused with kicks and headbutts to produce a form of self-defence unlike anything else in the world. Over the years the practice of capoeira has evolved. Meire-lou Marchiori, a teacher at Grupo Capoeira Brasil, explains: “We don’t fight people, we play them. It’s a game where we develop not just physically but emotionally and psychologically as well. It combines elements of acrobatics, dance, gymnastics, fighting, music, but in the end it’s a celebration.” In these lean times, more and more people are spurning material possessions in favour
of looking inwards to achieve fulfilment. This change in values has helped lift the profile of capoeira in Australia. “The people see capoeira on television, in magazines, at school and university. YouTube and the internet have provided easy access,” Meire-lou says. While she is pleased with the growing interest in capoeira, she worries that in reaching the masses, its traditions and culture will become diluted. “That’s a big concern, the fear when people learn capoeira through YouTube they’ll lose the tradition of it, where it all comes from or how it all started. “You have to relate to another person, it’s a body language, a game, you have to develop a body dialogue.” This is certainly a concern for Mestre Roxinho, Edielson Miranda, whose school practices the more traditional form of capoeira, Capoeira Angola. “What they actually learn on YouTube is
not capoeira, it’s a physical movement.” As Capoeira Angola is born from empirical learning, you need to learn from a master who, in turn, has learned from another master.” Of course, there is nothing wrong with taking an interest in capoeira as a form of fitness. The acrobatic movements look impressive and those who practice it are trim and toned. Meire-lou Marchiori says: “Capoeira even today empowers you. You feel very strong about yourself and it changes how you present yourself for the better.” Mestre Roxinho has taken this message a step further by running Project Bantu, a program teaching Capoeira Angola’s skills and traditions to underprivileged children and teenagers of Aboriginal and refugee background. “Capoeira Angola with all its tradition, ritual and culture can educate young people and help them socialise, give them a space where there is respect. “Young people are the future for Capoeira Angola and the maintaining of its tradition.”
Published on May 13, 2012