Watch and wander in the park
You don’t need to wander far for satisfying results in the world of Instagram. Sometimes the best and most photogenic discoveries can be more or less on your doorstep and may go unnoticed on a daily basis, such as, in my case, the fabulous clock tower looming over Eddy Avenue a few minutes from my office and Surry Hills apartment. It sits atop Central Station, a massive sandstone edifice that dominates the southern end of Sydney’s CBD and is the city’s biggest rail terminus. It is from here that trains zoom intrastate and across borders, including in days past the old “red rattlers” that chugged along and sometimes swayed alarmingly. But now the trains are all sleek and silvery and rather anonymous in design and, while certainly more efficient, entirely lacking in character. I walk past the clock tower most days and never fail to check the time, which seems much more of an occasion that consulting my watch or iPhone. The tower was unveiled in 1921, 15 years after the opening of the station proper, its delay due to the hiatus of World War I. It stands at the southern end of Belmore Park, past this avenue of plane trees and the curved benches and diagonal paths carpeted in yellowing leaves this Sydney autumn, and the scene looks positively Parisian. Year round there are ibises galore, their beaks the shape of giant crochet hooks, which are most efficient in turning out the rubbish bins. They are not pretty creatures and the seagulls are pesky, too, mostly because tourists feed them as they wait for opentop buses to arrive for jolly outings to the eastern beaches and best sights. It feels like a bird park some mornings and not in such a good way when a passing pigeon poops on your head or woolly winter hat. There are always people practising tai-chi and even a persistent juggler some mornings, but he is not a very good one and sends skittles flying every whichway, which at least wards off the ibises, or “devil birds” as my daughter-in-law, Ella, and I call them, as they are wont to give us the evil eye. The park leads north to Chinatown and it would be easy to walk around the block instead to go and buy dumplings and stalky vegetables, but I like the scruffy nature of this patch of Sydney guarded by that immense tower, keeping permanent watch.
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