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.

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.

The Green Bazaar: A Kazakh Immersion Experience

In the former capital of Kazakhstan, Almaty, stands the Green Bazaar, a coruscating swirl of bright color and exotic scents above the cacophony of good-natured haggling.

The carnival atmosphere spins you through a bewildering array of stalls displaying anything from ripe sweet melons to sheep heads to embroidered cloth and souvenirs. There is something for everyone, and if you go with an open mind, you never know what you may find!

A Feast for the Senses

Inside the Bazaar, or Green Market, vendors offer samples of traditional Kazakh foods, from fermented mare’s milk, kymyz, to horse meat sausages, to dried figs and apricots and sheep-head soup over noodles. In fact, a variety of foods from countries throughout Central Asia can be found among the crowded stalls and stands. Once you have eaten a hearty meal, peruse the stalls of spices, medicinal herbs, cut flowers, and soft embroidered cloth hats in a riotous feast for all your senses!

A Cultural Experience

Almaty, the “city of apple trees” is the largest city in Kazakhstan, with a population of 1.4 million in 2010. As a cultural and commercial center for the country of Kazakhstan, the city offers unique opportunities for visitors to immerse themselves in Kazakh culture. The city itself was established relatively recently as a Russian military outpost in 1854, on the site of a former city razed in the 13th century Mongol invasion. Not long after the city was established, the Zelionyj Bazaar appeared in 1875, as a stopover for traveling merchants. Over the past 100 years, it has grown from a small market for a few merchants to a two-story bazaar, the largest in Almaty, with the most diverse selection of food and trade goods in the city.

Sources:

Rohini Chacki. “Zelionyj Bazaar – Almaty, Kazakhstan”. Gastro Obscura. https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/zelionyj-green-bazaar. Accessed 24 August 2019.

Charles Baudelaire. “Green Bazaar in Almaty”. Silk Road Adventures. https://silkadv.com/en/content/green-bazaar-almaty. Accessed 24 August 2019.

“Green Bazaar”. Explore Almaty. https://www.almaty-kazakhstan.net/attractions/entertainment/green-bazaar/. Accessed 24 August 2019

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/kazakhstan/almaty/attractions/green-market/a/poi-sig/1384125/356858

Explore Kazakhstan.https://www.almaty-kazakhstan.net/. 2017. Accessed 24 August 2019.

Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. “Almaty”. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/place/Almaty-Kazakhstan. 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.

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.

Khan Shatyr Entertainment Center

Khan Shatyr is one of the most unique structures in Central Asia.

This giant transparent tent serves as an entertainment district in the Kazakhstan capital of Astana. 

Filling the Need

Kazakhstan is in the middle of Central Asia. This largely desert country can have some very extreme temperatures through the year (both high and low.) Designed by British architect Norman Foster, this giant transparent tent opened in 2010. According to Atlas Obscura, Khan Shatyr is 150 meters tall and covers over 100,000 square meters of space! The transparent material covering the tent allows sunlight to shine through keeping the building warm during the intense winter months in Kazakhstan. There is also a sophisticated heating and cooling system that maintains a very comfortable temperature year-round. 

What’s Inside? 

The overall purpose is to give people a place to go that is comfortable regardless of what the outside temperatures are in the city of Astana. Khan Shatyr is a large entertainment center with restaurants, shops, a miniature golf course, an indoor beach and so much more. It even contains a park that is perfect for jogging, exercising, playing, or just people watching. When you go in, you’ll hear the sounds of children playing and people mingling. It truly is the centerpiece of Astana. 

Going for a Visit

If you’re planning to take a trip to Central Asia, visiting the Kazakhstan capital of Astana won’t disappoint. Architectural marvels like Khan Shatyr are breathtaking to see and accessible to all. YouTuber Patmax Adventures paid a visit to Khan Shatyr and documented the experience in this video. The views of this fascinating building in the evening are breathtaking, and the oasis it provides allows people to spend their days in comfort despite the harsh weather conditions outside. Coffee shops, fast food, and fine dining are all available if you are looking for a great meal. Make Khan Shatyr a must-visit destination in your travel plans.