Sydney Harbour Bridge and Ferry

Ferry & Bridge

A Letter of Hope to Sydney Cove, near Botany Bay
Erasmus Darwin (1789)

Where Sydney Cove her lucid bosom swells
Courts her young navies and the storm repels,
High on a rock, amid the troubled air,
Hope stood sublime, and wav’d her golden hair;
Calm’d with her rosy smile the tossing deep,
And with sweet accents charm’d the winds to sleep;
To each wild plain, she stretch’d her snowy hand,
High-waving wood, and sea-encircled strand.
‘Hear me,’ she cried, ‘ye rising realms! Record
Time’s opening scenes, and Truth’s unerring word.
There shall broad streets their stately walls extend,
The circus widen, and the crescent bend;
There ray’d from cities o’er the cultur’d land,
Shall bright canals, and solid roads expand. —
There the proud arch, Colossus-like, bestride
Yon glittering streams, and bound the chasing tide;
Embellish’d villas crown the landscape scene,
Farms wave with gold, and orchards blush between. —
There shall tall spires, and dome-capt towers ascend,
And piers and quays their massy structures blend;
While with each breeze approaching vessels glide,
And northern treasures dance on every tide!’
Here ceased the nymph—tumultuous echoes roar,
And Joy’s loud voice was heard from shore to shore —
Her graceful steps descending press’d the plain;
And Peace, and Art, and Labour, join’d her train.

I took this photo during a recent trip to Taronga Zoo. I was waiting for the ferry at Circular Quay and realised that I’d been there dozens of times before but had never actually taken a photo of the Bridge, something I’d always wanted to do… I guess living in Sydney I’d always assumed there’d be some other time and had just never got round to it. So this time I made myself take a few shots.

I particularly like how this one came out. The couple looking at the Bridge were tourists and they walked into the shot by accident at the last moment but I think they add a lot to it… they almost make me feel like I’m seeing it anew through their eyes.

The poem above is one of my favourites, A Letter of Hope to Sydney Cove, near Botany Bay by Erasmus Darwin (Charles Darwin’s grandfather). He wrote it in 1789 to accompany a small number of medallions created by Josiah Wedgwood to commemorate the settlement of Sydney Cove and it’s always struck me how eerily he predicts the city that would one day rise in its place. I thought it made an interesting contrast to the photo.

Photo © CJ Levinson 2011
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Where the Dead Rest

Waverley Cemetery

Marble tombs
Forgotten by the world:
Where the dead rest

Went to Gosford yesterday to look at a few houses to rent (no luck unfortunately). It was a long drive and on the way back I went for a short walk around Bronte to stretch my legs. I took this photo outside Waverley Cemetery, just before sunset.

The cemetery opened in 1877 and is one of the most historic sites in Sydney. It’s a lovely spot on the top of cliffs overlooking the ocean and many notable people are buried there, including poet Henry Lawson and Edmund Barton, Australia’s first Prime Minister.

I’ve walked around the cemetery before but for some reason the condition of many of the graves seemed to jump out at me yesterday. The cemetery is well cared for but many of the graves are so old now that they’re almost impossible to read and walking by, I kept wondering who they were, what lives they had lived – if they were remembered. I guess we’ll never know.

It makes me wonder how we’ll be remembered, in 140 years.

Photo and haiku © CJ Levinson 2011

Coogee Memorial

Blue ocean
Holds my heart and tears
Reminds me of you
So far away

Today is the ninth anniversary of the 2002 Bali Bombings. The bombings killed 202 people, including 88 Australians, and Bali is often considered our version of September 11, the moment when our part of the world changed forever.

Many of those killed and injured in the attacks came from Coogee, very near where we live in Randwick, and this memorial was erected in 2003 as a place of remembrance and reflection. It’s a beautiful, quiet spot overlooking the ocean and I often find myself spending time there when I’m in Coogee… I can’t think of a better tribute to their memory. I actually took this photo a few months ago, the day after Osama bin Laden died, and I thought I’d save it to post today.

In many ways it’s hard to believe it’s only been nine years since the bombings as so much has happened since. But even with Amrozi gone & so much time passed, it’s amazing how quickly the memories come back. I still remember that day so well… hearing about it on the news, seeing the fires burning, reading the names of the dead and missing in the local paper. Those memories will be with me for the rest of my life.

When I think about Bali I’m mostly filled with sadness now; for the suffering that was caused; for how the world has changed. But most often I find myself thinking of this memorial and what it represents, a place of peace and reflection, and I find myself hoping that one day, perhaps, the whole world might be as peaceful… that would be the true memorial.

Photo and haiku © CJ Levinson 2011

Update: I wrote this poem as well for the fifth anniversary. I thought I’d share it again in case anyone would like to read it.

Arum Lily

Arum Lilly

A single flower
Growing in an empty bed:
The first sign of spring

I took this photo a few days ago. Living in a block of flats we don’t really have much of a garden, just a small communal flowerbed, but a few days ago we noticed this growing in it, an arum lily. Apparently one of our neighbours has been growing them and tidying up the flowerbed. This is the first one to bloom so far.

Arum lilies are often used for weddings and other events because of their beautiful appearance but they’re actually very poisonous and are seen as a weed in many parts of Australia. I’ve always found that dichotomy interesting, how something that looks so pure and angelic can actually be so deadly. Maybe that’s part of its allure?

Photo and haiku © CJ Levinson 2011
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