Sunday, November 22, 2009


An early 7.30 appointment took me into Hunter Street near Pitt first thing last Thursday. I rarely go to town in the day, and then usually it is a rushed visit, but this was a pleasant, unhurried time where I felt casually disconnected from the arriving workers. I felt like a tourist. The early morning light of what was to be a hot day was even more Sydney flattering, if that's possible. The streets were spotless; it took some restraint to not pick up a solitary ugly cigarette butt alone on the footpath.

With business finished quickly, I headed up to the hill to Macquarie Street, planning to go through the Gardens across to the pool. It was heart-stoppingly beautiful, everything falling into place, the time, the light, the warmth, the familiarity, the pride. I love the topography, the way everything runs to the harbour, the water, the light, your heart.

From the high point entry to the gardens, my favorite gate, the Morshead Fountain Gate, the cove is in front of you, dropping away before rising again to the ridge of Mrs Macquarie's Road. I just stopped and looked and it didn't matter how long, I could have looked longer. I really felt like a tourist. And I did have a little camera in my dilly bag and tourist does as tourist whatever.

Moreshead Fountain

I'm not sure when I last saw it working but with the morning light behind beading the slightly arching drops it stopped me in my tracks. Lieutenant-General Sir Leslie Morshead, 'Ming the Merciless', was knighted for his defence of Tobruk in World War II and the fountain was erected in 1966 in his memory and the men who served with him.

There weren't many people around, only one tourist tourist under those bat trees, head bent back dangerously, the bats at their morning toilet. What did especially catch my eye, I must have seen it before but can't recall, was the handsome old(ish - they can live to 1500 years; maybe it is just a baby or middle-aged) Boab Tree (Adansonia gregorii).

If Utzon had seen only a cockatoo in flight there would have been inspiration enough.

There was a man under a broad tree, his head wrapped up somehow, with a large bag and an umbrella of sorts. He looked like a man who knew where he wanted to be. He looked Turkish.

"That's a good spot"
"Yes" he beamed.
"It's going to be hot. Will you stay long?"
'Till 2 o'clock"
"And then?" I presumed.
"I'm going home to do some things", smiling eyes and mouth.

K was waiting at the pool. Luckily, he knows I like to talk to water, and trees, and strangers.


Anonymous said...

Thursday was bloody hot. I rode in at about 6.00 myself. Later on, you could have dropped in on your way back from the Boy George pool to see me in the Hospital Road court: the air conditioning wasn't working at all.

wanderer said...

Ah, a nice cup of tea in chambers, or a back seat (under a ceiling fan?) in a stifling court - sounds rather subcontinental - anyway, in the absence of your offer, I headed in the other direction and a change of clothes and a bus fare saw me at my own work, and air conditioning. The Boy was gorgeous. Did you ride home, flowing black and sweaty under wig?

Anonymous said...

I rode home some time later, but the wig, jabot and gown were put in a bag prior to the walk back to chambers, mainly because you aren't meant to smoke in robes and I have had a relapse on that front.