Santos Museum of Economic Botany: Adelaide, Australia

If you’ve ever had an interest in the history of food, clothing, and textiles,

and how they became a part of a region’s economy, you’ll want to visit the Santos Museum of Economic Botany when you’re in Adelaide, Australia.

The museum has educated the public on the sources of food, drugs, and clothing that entered the economy of Australia during the 19th century.

Unearthing the Past

When you visit, you’ll learn about the historical uses of food, seeds, and other plants that were used in Australia during the Industrial Revolution. Believe it or not, at that time it became a priority for emerging industries to hide where their products came from. In addition, for more than a century, the Santos Museum of Economic Botany was instrumental in revealing contributions made by populations of Aboriginal peoples which would have otherwise remain hidden from public consciousness.

The Pomological Collection

Many consider this feature the highlight of the collections which you can see at the Santos Museum of Economic Botany. The Pomological Collection includes models of 129 pears and 192 apples, and serves as an intriguing look into the history of economic botany as it contains varieties which no longer exist today. The models were acquired for the museum in the late 1800s and are made out of papier-mâché. 

Santos Museum of Economic Botany: Permanent Exhibits

If you visit the Santos Museum today, you’ll be able to see permanent exhibits like the Fungi Model Showcase, which features over 200 models depicting fungi in different stages of growth. You’ll also see authentic fruit models from Germany that were used in the 1880s to educate farmers in setting up their crops.  

Although interest in the Santos Museum waned during the 20th century, the museum was renovated in 2009 and is capturing the interest of the public once again. The museum is now part of the Adelaide Botanical Garden, where you’ll have the opportunity to explore over 3000 items, many of which are presented with their original labels;

If you’re visiting Adelaide, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to explore this intriguing aspect of Australia’s past. For more information about the Santos Museum of Economic Botany, please contact us.

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!

Sydney’s Sirius Building is Still Standing Tall

Sydney’s Sirius building is not only striking to look at, but it has one of the most unique histories of any building in the world.

Though there are many who still wish it would go away, the building has more than its share of fans who have fought throughout the decades to keep it standing.

Below we will discuss the history of the building, as well as the best way to see it when visiting Sydney, Australia. 

Brutalist

The Sirius building is Australia’s most noticeable example of “Brutalist” architecture. This bare-bones style literally means “raw concrete”, which is probably the best way to describe the 1970s era high-rise. This style gained popularity in the 1950s and 1960s and there are many surviving brutalist structures today. 

Changing Times

When the Sirius building was erected, Sydney’s “Rocks” area was not as developed as it is today and the Sirius building’s apartments were given to displaced public tenants. The area went through a kind of renaissance, and growing public sentiment did not approve of this now valuable space being used for city funded homes. This was met with much opposition from people who saw it an attack on the working class. 

There were multiple efforts to save this landmark building and give it heritage status, but it has yet to be awarded that distinction. There are continued efforts to make the protection of the Sirius building a priority, even after it was sold to a developer, who planned to renovate the building, in 2019.

If you plan to visit Sydney, Australia, those who are in the know contend that the view from the Sydney Harbor Bridge is the best way to see the Sirius building in all its glory. 

Sydney Australia’s Sirius building has a controversial past and many would still like to see the high-rise building torn down or at least completely remodeled. However, a growing number of people appreciate the building for its unique architectural style and history. It has survived so much and is still standing tall near Sydney Harbor. 

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.

Stroll Among Beautiful Foliage at Royal Botanic Garden Sydney

Visitors to Royal Botanic Garden Sydney can enjoy thousands of plants from both Australia and around the world.

This free garden offers a variety of tours for both large and small groups, or visitors can simply relax and connect with nature while taking a leisurely stroll through the garden.   

History of Royal Botanic Garden Sydney

Royal Botanic Garden Sydney opened in 1816, and it has since grown into a massive 74-acre garden filled with a variety of both common and rare plants. The free garden introduces visitors to the beauty of nature through a variety of exhibits and special events.  

Royal Botanic Garden Sydney was once home to as many as 20,000 Grey-headed Flying Foxes, a type of large fruit bat. These enormous fruit bats, which can have a wingspan of over three feet, were once a secondary attraction in the gardens, as many tourists visited the gardens to see the bats as well as the wide variety of plants. However, the bats have been removed from the gardens as a result of the damage that their presence caused to many of the plants.

Visiting Royal Botanic Garden Sydney

Royal Botanic Garden Sydney is home to a variety of exhibits that capture the uniqueness of each species of plant. Some of the most popular attractions include several guided toursholiday events, and a whimsical train that takes visitors on a scenic ride through the gardens.   

Royal Botanic Garden Sydney is located near Sydney Harbor and the Sydney Opera House. Admission is free, and it is open daily. Hours vary depending on the season. The garden includes a gift shop and several cafes.

Nature enthusiasts can easily spend hours wandering among thousands of plants at Royal Botanic Garden Sydney. If you find yourself heading to Australia, be sure to add this free attraction to your list of must-see things to do!    

Cockatoo Island: An Overview

History

Cockatoo Island, which is located in Sydney Harbour, has a rich and varied history.

From 1839-69 the island served as a penal colony for convicts.

Most of the prisoners who were shipped to the island were second time offenders. One of the two boatyards currently located on the island was constructed by the prisoners. While there are no longer prisoners on the island, Cockatoo Island is one of the 11 Australian Convict Sites listed with World Heritage.

The history of iron being taken from Cockatoo Island dates all the way back to the 1880s when Pearl Luggers loaded heavy iron rocks onto ships. The rocks were then used for various projects. In the 1920s exploration of the island was officially started, only to draw to close during WWII when Cockatoo Island served as both a refueling center for Catalina flying boats and as a radar station. Shortly after the end of WWII, BHP started mining the island’s rich iron deposits. At the peak of the mining operation, miners collected 2 million tons of 67% Fe Iron Ore annually. At that point, Cockatoo Island was home to 350 people.

The most recent feather in the island’s history is that in 2008 it served as the backdrop for a few scenes in the highly successful, 2008 movie, Wolverine.

Visiting

While the island no longer has any full-time inhabitants, it is a major tourist attraction. The Sydney Harbour Federation Trust manages Cockatoo Island and has dedicated a great deal of time and other resources to preserving the structures that were created by both the convicts and mining families who once called the island home. 

Today tourists are invited to explore Cockatoo Island. You can reach the island via Sydney Ferries. You have the option of either spending a day on the island, exploring the old buildings, or you can take advantage of the opportunity to go glamping on Cockatoo Island. No special equipment is needed for your overnight glamping stay. You are able to stay in the pre-pitched army tents or in one of the designated buildings.

Cockatoo Island is often used for festivals and concerts that take place throughout the year.

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.

Take Fabulous Pictures at Purikura Photoland in Sydney

Get creative with self-portraits and full-length photos at the Purikura Photoland

on the second floor of the old mall at Sydney’s Haymarket. The self-operating photo booths come from Japan where they were developed in the late 1990s.

Japanese Style Photo Booths

Purikura is an abbreviation of Purinton Kurabu or Print Club in Japanese. The selfie photo booth is the rage in Japan, part of the kawaii or “cute”  pop-culture. Its popularity has spread to Australia and other English-speaking countries. These booths are popular with teenage girls and others in Japan. Young women can take glamour shots with different hairstyles and makeup in this photo booth.

The photo booth allows you to edit your photo with different backgrounds and lighting. More than one person can appear in the photos. There is usually room for three people in a booth.

There are several types of machines to give you a different look. This is a great way to take photos with smooth skin and wide, bright eyes. You can take a photo wearing a new outfit or even a costume. You select the background you want for your editing.

Customize Your Prints

Once the photos are completed, you are directed to an editing station where the real fun begins. You can use a stylus on a touch screen along with digital stickers to put your picture into any situation. You can add stars, sparklers, dots, and other backgrounds. This is where you can add writing in bubbles or captions. You can make yourself look “otherworldly” with the editing. The finished edited photos can be printed out on stickers and cut up to give to friends.

The process is not difficult and it is a great way to entertain yourself and children. You insert payment to start the photo process on cue and you have three minutes to be photographed in different poses. You can take as many photos as you would like on different machines that offer various looks. The Purikura machines are located in an arcade with other games and machines. But they are the most popular!

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.