Ten years of transforming young lives in Waterloo

img_7293Waterloo has kept a hold on Bruce Shilling. The man known as Uncle Bruce arrived in Waterloo from Brewarrina in the state’s north west for a week’s work in 2006 and 10 years later he’s still here.

Uncle Bruce is part of a close team that run Yurangai, an after school program for Aboriginal primary school for students of Alexandria Park and Mount Carmel Primary Schools.

The clients are his friends and neighbours in the local community. The kids at Yurangai are typically from low socio-economic status families. Uncle Bruce says. “They don’t have that environment at home to be able to study and to focus on school. Yurangai does that.” Continue reading “Ten years of transforming young lives in Waterloo”


Ushering in 40 years of change

If the Sydney Opera House was a club it would need to hand out a few lifetime memberships. Since it opened in October 1973 more than half a dozen front-of-house staff have been with the icon for every one of its ballet, opera and symphony seasons.

While the iconic building undergoes theatre renovations many of these Opera House stalwarts are preparing to hang up their torch for the last time.

After almost 43 years of service Margaret Turner can count herself as one of the longest serving members of staff. “You become part of the Opera House family. [It’s] very hard to give up,” she said. Continue reading “Ushering in 40 years of change”

Sydney Opera House renovation sings to the tune of $247million


Image: John Turner installing the acoustic clouds in the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall, November 1989. Photo by Brendan Read, Sydney Morning Herald, page 3, 13 November 1989.

Sydney’s premier arts venue will close its theatre doors for the first time to undergo major refurbishments in 2017. These will be the first major works to the Sydney Opera House since it opened in 1973.

The staged works, which are due for completion by the end of 2021, aim to address some of the aspects of the building’s flawed interiors.

After a number of false starts the NSW Government has committed $202 million towards the upgrade. The Opera House will spend $45 million of its own funds. Continue reading “Sydney Opera House renovation sings to the tune of $247million”

Keeping time on Sydney

clock-face-cropBefore the wrist watch there was the town clock. It was the centre piece of community life, heralding every quarter hour.
Sydney Town Hall’s clock was installed at the top of the building in 1884, just prior to the boom of the wristwatch at the turn of dawn of the 20th century. More than 130 years later the chimes of the clock can still be heard above the din of the traffic noise.
The walk to the top of the clock tower is a series of spiral staircases. Their timber frames gradually become creakier and more flexible the further you ascend.
The tower itself was completed more than ten years before the clock was installed. At the time it boasted some of the best views in Sydney. It sits at almost 60 metres above the street on the site of the first European cemetery in Sydney.
The Sydney Town Hall clock tower is the oldest clock tower in Australia.

As the clock was a source of civic pride the Aldermen of Sydney sought a well regarded clock maker to provide Sydney with its time piece.

British company Gillett, Bland & Co, who had installed clocks in Windsor Castle, Hampton Court Palace and the Royal Courts, was selected.

Chimes ring out every fifteen minutes and a bell is sounded every hour.
In 1912 the proprietor of the hotel that once stood opposite Town Hall complained that the noise of the clock was damaging his business, preventing his patrons from getting a good night’s sleep.
Each of the four clock faces on the tower point north, south, east and west. Originally the clock faces were lit by gas burners with eight burners lighting each face.

Continue reading “Keeping time on Sydney”

The story of how female suffrage was won over a cup of Chinese tea

In this audio story I interview City of Sydney Historian, Dr Lisa Murray, about the story of the Loong Shan Tea Rooms at 137 King St, Sydney. Quong Tart’s King Street Tea Rooms were one of the first venues to welcome women in the late 19th Century. Chinese-born Sydney businessman Quong Tart made the upstairs reading room in the tea rooms available to women to hold meetings. It quickly became an organising hub for Sydney’s early suffragettes.

Continue reading “The story of how female suffrage was won over a cup of Chinese tea”