The Charles Dickens Statue in Australia

Did you know that there are a few statues of Charles Dickens in the entire world?

That’s because Charles Dickens had very specific wishes for how he wanted to be remembered in his will. 

Charles Dickens’ Will

Charles Dickens is one of the world’s most loved and well-known authors. His will stated that there were to be no public memorials built in his memory. He wanted to be remembered through his many works instead. 

For the most part, his wishes have been respected. However, there have been a few statues crafted to honor him throughout the world. You can find one of these statues in Sydney, Australia.

History of Sydney’s Statue

The Charles Dickens Statue in Sydney is in the Centennial Parklands. It’s believed to have been built and placed in the park around 1891, about 21 years after his death.

In 1971, most of the statues in the park were removed. The Charles Dickens statue was placed into storage and moved from one location to another for about 40 years, and no one knew its exact whereabouts during that time.

Throughout these years, there were quite a few inquiries as to its location, but in 2007, a letter was published asking about the Charles Dickens statue’s location, and it was finally located.

Restoring the Statue

When the statue of Charles Dickens was located, it needed some restoration. The head had been lost due to vandals and was also missing a baby finger, a scroll, and a quill. It took a year and a few tries to find the marble that matched the original. Photos of the original statue were used to recreate the missing pieces.

The Charles Dickens Statue Today

The Charles Dickens statue was placed at the junction of Dickens Drive and Loch Avenue, its location from 1897-1971. The statue was unveiled on Dicken’s 199th birthday in 2011. You can visit the statue at any time, but if you happen to visit on his birthday, you’ll find a celebration, including cake!

Balls Head Reserve: A Rare Aboriginal Carving of a Whale

One of the most interesting points of interest you’ll see while visiting Balls Head Reserve is the aboriginal carving of a whale. 

You’ll find the carving at the Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability. The first thing you’ll notice is the size.

The figure of the whale is approximately 20 feet long, making it one of the largest aboriginal carvings you’ll ever encounter. 

The Discovery

Workers who were responsible for helping renovate the Coal Loader were stunned when they discovered the carving. No one knew of it’s existence up until that point. Today, it is a one of the sites most people say they must view while they’re visiting the area. While everyone was surprised by the whale carving, there is a history of aboriginal carvings in that area. There is historic data that many carvings were mapped that dates back to 1899. Sadly, most of the carvings no longer exist, which makes the whale carving even more special.

Considering that it’s very old and that the area sustained significant damage the Coal Loader Centre was originally constructed, the whale carving is in surprisingly good condition. Although some of the original, shallow carvings have been eroded by time, the bulk of the carving is highly visible.

Activities at Balls Head Reserve

The Aboriginal Carving of the Whale is just one of the things you’ll enjoy when you visit Balls Head Reserve. Additional activities include touring the community nursery, shopping at the artisan market, and taking in one of the many environmental events that are frequently taking place near the whale carving. The site is open to public tours.

Take Me There!

The easiest way to view the Aboriginal Carving of the Whale is going to the Waverton Train Station. From there, it’s an easy 10 minute walk to the carving. The walk provides you with an excellent opportunity to take in the area’s natural beauty and catch sight of the remaining pieces of the original Coal Loader Centre.

Toronto Music Garden: A Work of Art

Inspired by the classical music of Bach, this exceptional garden is the collaborative vision of cellist Yo-Yo Ma,

and Boston landscape designer Julie Moir Messervy.

Echoing six musical movements, Toronto Music Garden depicts Bach’s First Suite for Unaccompanied Cello in its design. The garden’s intended home was Boston, but plans were scuppered by city regulations and red tape. Toronto Mayor Barbara Hall, Director of Parks Susan Richardson, and philanthropist Jim Fleck rescued the garden and provided the site for its creation.

Toronto Inherits Beauty

In the late 1990s, Yo-yo Ma had a great interest in the French-German theologian Albert Schweitzer. Their shared love for Bach’s music gave birth to a beautiful idea. Yo-Yo Ma began a film, now called “Inspired by Bach”, based on the six dance movements within the work. The cellist felt that nature was intrinsic to the music. A beautiful, artistic, magical garden was needed to create this musical environment. The lakeside property was perfectly located, stretching along the western edge of Harbourfront. Julie Moir Messervy transformed the site into a garden using natural elements to evoke different moods describing the six musical movements. 

Visitors Begin a Musical Journey

Prelude describes a flowing river. Evenly spaced Hackberry trees visually divide the land, imparting tempo and rhythm to the environment. The visual riverbed flows into the Allemande. A thickly planted Birch forest gives the German Dance a European setting. Visitors see a Maypole and find themselves in the lively, spiraling French Courante. Calming the Courante, Serabande brings serenity and stability to the garden. Pine trees form an arc-like grove around a large rock with a reflecting pool. Guests then enter the fifth movement, Menuet, symmetrically designed, with a circular performance area. The last movement, the triumphant and lively Gigue, opens into an amphitheater with grass-covered steps and waterfront views.

Toronto, on the northern shore of Lake Ontario, is the perfect site for this award-winning garden. From conception to realization, the garden is a celebration of life. There is nothing like it in the world.

Wendy’s Secret Garden: A Story of Loss and Restoration

In the hustle and bustle of the digital age, it has become difficult to find a quiet space untouched by the stress of daily life.

Luckily, even in the large cities of the world, you can find a small, secluded place where time stands still.

One such space is Wendy’s Secret Garden in Sydney, NSW, Australia. Wendy’s is a peaceful garden with a whimsical artistry derived from the deep love and poignant sorrow of it’s creator, Wendy Whiteley. 

Cultivation in Mourning

The Story of Wendy’s Secret Garden begins in the 1970s when Wendy and her husband, famous artist Brett Whiteley, purchased a home along Lavender Bay in the Lower North Shore suburbs of Sydney. From this perch above unused railway land bordering the bay, Brett Whiteley created many of his iconic Lavender Bay paintings. When Brett passed away in 1992, Wendy found solace in clearing the overgrowth and debris from the abandoned railway land behind their home. As she cleared the space, Wendy planted herbs, shrubs, and trees with a view to their aesthetics and no regard for conventional horticultural knowledge. Some plants, like the giant fig tree and stand of bamboo, she left in place and incorporated into her garden. Others, she cleared entirely.

When asked about her methods, Wendy commented:

“I didn’t know anything about horticulture when I started the garden. I just knew what I liked. I’ve since learnt what likes being here. It’s a symbiotic relationship between the plants, myself and my gardeners”. 

It was the beauty of the space that drew her in; with views of Lavender Bay and a natural sandstone cliff, the small valley was a perfect gardener’s canvas. In 2001, Wendy lost her only daughter, Arkie, to an adrenal tumor at the age of 37. A cluster of palms a gift from Arkie to Wendy, stand as a memorial to Arkie, and have been dubbed “Arkie’s Bungalow”. Throughout the garden, these relics and monuments to the past blend with new growth, creating an enduring symbol of the cycle of loss, grief, and renewal.

A Living Memory

Today, Wendy’s Secret Garden serves as a living memorial to Brett and Arkie Whiteley. Although the garden initially faced legal battles with the New South Wales government, it has since been established as a public park through the North Sydney Council. Thanks in large part to the book Wendy Whiteley and the Secret Garden by Janet Hawley, published in September 2015, the North Sydney Council succeeded in obtaining a 30 year lease with a 30 year option for the garden, thus securing the garden as a public park to be appreciated by generations to come. 

Sources:

Wendy’s Secret Garden. https://www.wendyssecretgarden.org.au/. 2017. Accessed 24 August 2019.

“Wendy’s Secret Garden”. Atlas Obscura. https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/wendys-secret-garden. Accessed 24 August 2019.

Forgotten Songs at Angel Place

Forgotten Songs is a striking visual and audio sculpture located at Angel Place in Sydney, Australia.

The sculpture combines the jarring image of bird cages suspended above the walkway with recordings of 50 native birds that formerly inhabited the Sydney area.

It provides an eloquent object lesson concerning the changes humans have wrought in their thirst for development, and encourages the observer to consider their own place in the birds’ former habitat.

It Takes a Village

Forgotten Songs was conceptualized by artist Michael Thomas Hill to draw attention to the many species of birds who have lost their homes due to habitat destruction since the arrival of European settlers in 1788. The resulting artwork was fully realized through the efforts of a team of scientists, artists, programmers, designers. Dr. Richard Major, the senior research scientist on the project, analyzed the habitat, soil, and water availability in the area to determine which birds would likely have existed in the area prior to European settlement. He further determined which of the birds were diurnal and which nocturnal, so that the sculpture could be programmed to play the songs of the birds that are active at a given time of day. Actual audio recordings of the birds were procured in the field by Fred van Gessel.

In addition to Hill’s artistry, van Gessel’s recordings, and Dr. Major’s research, the final product can be attributed to Lightwell (Audio System Design and Programming), Freeman Ryan Design (Graphic Design), and Aspect Studio (Landscape Architecture). The result is a haunting and ghostly composition of bird songs and imagery to remind us of birds who no longer grace the trees of central Sydney.

A Call To Action

According to the Australian Department of Environment and Energy, 50 species and 81 subspecies of Australian birds are currently endangered, including 8 species and 14 subspecies that are categorized as extinct. The primary cause of animal endangerment and extinction worldwide is loss of habitat due to human development. Forgotten Songs is meant to recall the beauty of the habitat that has been lost, and to remind the observer that we must all work together to take action before it is too late. 

Sources:

“Forgotten Songs”. City of Sydney City Art. https://www.cityartsydney.com.au/artwork/forgotten-songs/. Accessed 25 August 2019.

“Numbers of Living Species in Australia and the World”. Australian Department of The Environment and Energy. https://www.environment.gov.au/science/abrs/publications/other/numbers-living-species/discussion-chordates. Accessed 25 August 2019.

The Butterfly Room: Tasteful Taxidermy

The Singapore House of Frewville, South Australia offers an exciting mix of Asian tropical and British Colonial decor.

The Butterfly Room has proven to be the crowning glory of the Singapore House’s diverting style.

The Butterfly Room has proven to be the crowning glory of the Singapore House’s diverting style.

Asian Fusion and Eclectic Decor

The creative geniuses behind Singapore House’s unique cuisine and fascinating design are Montie and Hailey Waraich. The Singapore House combines the dishes of Montie’s North India home with Southeast Asian fare to create flavor combinations that will satisfy even the most ardent foodie. The design of the restaurant cultivates an atmosphere of casual eclecticism, with ornate Persian rugs, flowery hanging lights, and wicker and hardwood furniture. The colonial-era obsession with taxidermy as decoration is tastefully evident throughout the restaurant, but nowhere is it more striking than in the Butterfly Room.

A Fascinating Exhibit

The Butterfly Room features a dark hardwood decor, which lends the private dining area a more intimate appeal. However, it is undeniable that the most striking aspect of the Butterfly Room is the butterflies. More than 600 shimmering butterfly specimens adorn the walls, pinned to boards singly or in pairs, and placed in display frames in a continuous layer from ceiling to bar. The delicate, preserved bodies of butterfly species from around the world offer a dazzling exhibit as intriguing as it is delightful. The Butterfly Room is large enough for various private events, and has its own small bar. It serves as a unique venue for private parties and events year-round, and has become a must-see for people from around the world.

Sources:

“The Butterfly Room – Frewville, Australia”. Atlas Obscura. https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/the-butterfly-room-frewville-australia. Accessed 25 August 2019.

“About Us”. Singapore House. https://www.singaporehouse.com.au/. Accessed 25 August 2019.

“Singapore House”. Event Scene. https://www.eventscene.com.au/function-venues-adelaide-listings/203-glen-osmond-rd-frewville-sa-5063-singapore-house/. Accessed 25 August 2019.

Jenny Butler. “The Butterfly Room”. Apartment Therapy. https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/the-butterfly-room-123726. 5 August 2010. Accessed 25 August 2019.

Neely Karimi. “Restaurant With One of the Coolest Walls Is About to Turn Ten, The Singapore House Story”. Glam Adelaide. https://glamadelaide.com.au/restaurant-with-one-of-the-coolest-walls-is-about-to-turn-10-the-singapore-house-story/. 7 June 2019. Accessed 25 August 2019.

Take a Ride Through Time at the Sydney Bus Museum

Looking for a bit of historical fun on your trip to Sydney?

The Sydney Bus Museum is home to a collection of retired buses that date back to the 1920s. What’s even better than that… You can ride them!

Here’s what you need to know:

The Museum Basics

Headed up by a team of history-loving volunteers, the Sydney Bus Museum is open to the public on the first and third Sunday of each month from 10 am to 4 pm. With your entry ticket, you get all-day access to the museum and unlimited rides for the day on the running buses. The bus ride takes visitors 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) to the Queen Victoria Building and then loops back to the museum in Leichhardt.

What’s in the Collection?

There are twenty-six New South Wales (NSW) government buses, eighteen buses that were previously privately owned and operated, and fourteen additional international buses and smaller vehicles such as tow trucks and training cabs.

The oldest bus in the collection is the Ruggles from 1924. The Ruggles was operated as a private bus by The Riley Brothers until it was retired in 1946. It took on a new life as a food truck in the 1960s and 1970s and was unused for some time until its discovery and restoration by the museum in 1978.

Buy a Piece of History

The museum gift shop has the usual items you’d expect such as model trains and collectible t-shirts, but this “Bus Shop” offers so much more. There are many original historical pieces for sale such as vintage signs, ticket machines, destination rolls, and conductor bags. Check the website for the latest items available as they are subject to change.

Volunteers 

“Working together as a team to preserve and promote Sydney’s road transport history.”

The mission of the museum is clear, and the volunteers work together to make it all possible. Every position, from the drivers and conductors, to the guides and administration, is filled on a volunteer basis. Each volunteer follows a strict code of conduct with the aim of preserving these wonderful historical treasures.

The Sydney Bus Museum is definitely worth the trip, so be sure to plan ahead to view and ride these historical buses.