A day in Sydney

I’m up in Sydney for the rest of the week, attending the Australian Historical Society conference being held at the University of Sydney. A frugal little soul, I had booked the cheapest room in my 4.5 star hotel (indeed, it was cheaper than many more humble lodgings) and was expecting a cupboard-sized room but it’s fine.  I’m located close to Central railway station with a bus station at the doorstep and about a 20 minute walk from the uni.  The building was previously used as a post office, and prior to that was the site for the Sydney Benevolent Asylum.


I was able to check in early, then headed off for the Art Galley of New South Wales.  I passed the Lindt cafe. Even though journalists emphasized how central the location was, and the proximity of the Channel Seven building, I hadn’t really registered it.


Of course, as a historian of colonial New South Wales, I made a little pilgrimage to the Domain and the early buildings that surround it, and paid my respects to the statues of Lachlan Macquarie, a man I admired back in 1973 when I did Australian history for my VCE and who, more than forty years later and approaching a Ph D, I still admire.

Then off to the Art Gallery.  You know, I don’t think that I’ve ever been to the Art Gallery here- I keep getting it mixed up with the State Library, which of course I have frequented on several occasions.

There’s usually a  statue created by Mr Resident Judge’s grandfather  in the major Australian galleries: the sculptor Charles Web Gilbert.  The Art Gallery of NSW  had a cluster of bronzes- a positive swarm of nine Mackennals, with just one Web Gilbert and an Eva Benson.

'The Dutch Cap' by Charles Web Gilbert. An unfortunate name for a sculpture, perhaps.

‘The Dutch Cap’ by Charles Web Gilbert. An unfortunate name for a sculpture, perhaps.

Plenty of Mackennals.

Plenty of Mackennals.

Quite a few of the pieces had resonances with books I’ve read.

It was getting late- I need to find a bus to get to Sydney University. Thousands of buses, but where was the bus stop? I must admit that the whooshing, belching buses gave me a new appreciation for Melbourne trams. The opening reception was held at the Great Hall, a sandstone building resonant of pomp and tradition, with portraits of Great Male Chancellors (and as far as I could see, two Great Women Chancellors) on the walls.

IMG_20150706_183402a IMG_20150706_183408a

So let the conference begin!

2 responses to “A day in Sydney

  1. Great post RJ. So many of my old haunts there. I hope you got to see one of my favourite paintings ever at the gallery- Morning Light by Eliot Gruner. I’ve walked in just to see that and walked out. It’s magnificent.

  2. Lovely post. Enjoy the conference. And I agree with you re Melbourne trams. I love them.

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