Yes, I realise it wasn’t lost, but people living just a few blocks away are unaware of its existence, so, perhaps a more accurate description would be “overlooked”. It’s maybe a reflection of the inner suburbs of Sydney that people seemingly aren’t that interested in either the historic architecture or the large body of street art, yet, when I’ve posted photos, the opposite seems to be the case.
In over five weeks of living in the area, I can’t recall a single day of local travels where some impressive art work or gorgeous piece of architecture that I hadn’t seen before popped up in front of me as I rolled the bike wheels around Newtown, Eveleigh, Redfern, Glebe and a dozen other inner suburbs.
The sheer delight of the daily discoveries could not be over-estimated. The patterns of the pristine wrought iron work, variety of exterior colours, the 100 year old trees that lined the streets, amazing attempts at some sort of a garden and the extraordinary paintings that popped up in the most unlikely places, down back alleys hardly visited by any humans except maybe the garbage collectors were all lures that had me biting.
The shade enveloping the road was a distinct plus on this humid afternoon, especially since it was uphill all the way.
Being on a bike was, in itself, a distinct advantage because some lanes are so narrow that cars wouldn’t even get down there and some art works are beside walkways in park areas. It’s one of the great disadvantages of the housing in the area that parking, if possible, is very limited.
Then there’s the tiny laneways that are closed off to vehicular traffic where people have put pot plants and rustic artwork all along one side. The urge for beautification seems ingrained in the human psyche.
Crossing from one area to the next sometimes entailed going through Sydney University, whose own structures are architecturally significant, modelled as they were on that shrine of learning, Oxford. It was overkill.
So it came to pass that I turned up an obscure road just six blocks away from my digs in Eveleigh called Watkin. Tucked in behind the significant paper barks and spotted gums were Greek style Ionic columns supporting decorative curved balconies and, above, on the verandah, were beautiful coloured-glass semicircular windows gracing these treasures of Victorian architecture. Here and there a modicum of greenery and a couple of tall palm trees with their slender trunks reaching skywards stood out.
By the time I reached the top of the hill I realised I’d just been somewhere special, vindicated by the later discovery that it’s Newtown’s number one rated street.