Newcastle Customs House

Customs-House-watermark

This is one of my favourite buildings in Newcastle, the Newcastle Customs House. It’s a beautiful masonry building designed by James Barnet, who as the New South Wales Colonial Architect also designed many of NSW’s most distinctive buildings, like the General Post Office in Sydney’s CBD.

I particularly love the tower; it’s 32 metres high and the clock, lantern and time ball are still intact, one of only three such examples in Australia. It must have been quite a sight in its heyday.

The building is heritage listed and known as the Customs House Hotel now and run as a popular restaurant and bar. You can still really feel the history though and they’ve done a great job of preserving the old while welcoming the new too.

I’ve tried taking photos of the building before but I’ve never been very happy with the results. It’s quite a tricky building to photograph, particularly at night. I’m happy with this one though. It feels bold and dramatic, which I think it needed to be to do the building justice.

Customs House Hotel black and white

 

I also like it in black and white. It feels a little more timeless and I think that suits the building too, in a different way.

Photos © CJ Levinson 2018

An Afternoon at Fort Scratchley

Fort Scratchley canonCannon outside the fort

I went on a group photowalk around Fort Scratchily in Newcastle yesterday afternoon. I’ve not done that many group photowalks before and I enjoyed it. It was nice being with other photographers and I think other people seemed a bit more comfortable around us as well which was nice.

The weather held off for most of the time, before absolutely bucketing down. I was well and truly soaked by the time I got back. It made for some interesting and atmospheric photos though so I can’t complain too much.

Fort Scratchley is an interesting place. It sits atop Flagstaff Hill, giving good views over the Tasman Sea and the Hunter River, and was originally built in 1882 to defend against a possible Russian attack. It’s probably best known for returning fire during the shelling of Newcastle by the Japanese on June 8, 1942.

It’s a museum now and an interesting place to spend an hour or two wandering around. It also still keeps the seafaring tradition of firing a gun in tandem with a ball drop, which happens at 1pm every day and is interesting to see.

I’ll have to go back for a proper tour at some stage, hopefully when the weather is a bit better.

Most of the photos came out quite well and the overcast sky lent itself particularly well to black and white photos. I wanted to give them more of a contrasty, filmic look and I really like how they came out.

A few of the photos had rain spots on them as well but I actually quite like the effect. It reminds me a bit of the discolouration and scratches you’d get with film sometimes which I find interesting.

So that was my Sunday. Hope you had a nice weekend too. 🙂

Fort ScratchleyApproaching Fort Scratchley

Fort Scratchley

Looking towards Newcastle

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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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