It’s a Harbour, Darling

(pic - Story) Darling Harbour - Title

I’m pretty sure that is not how this body of water received it’s name, in the same way that I suspect the Darling River, which happens to be the longest river in Australia, also received it’s name (though in regards to the Darling River, I suspect that for much of it’s length it is little more than a creek, though that depends on whether we are in the middle of one of our all too common droughts). Actually, Darling Harbour was named after Lieutenant-General Ralph Darling, who happened to be one of the governors of New South Wales, Actually, the person who gave the harbour the name happened to be Governor Darling himself, which sort of goes to show what he actually thought of himself (pretty highly I suspect). The fact that nobody decided to change the name after his departure probably comes down to one of three reasons: they couldn’t be bothered, they couldn’t think of anything else, or they actually liked the guy. I suspect that the reason was probably not one of the main reasons that the name hasn’t changed.

Anyway, as you can probably guess by the name, Darling Harbour is a harbour, which means that it has boats in it. Well, not much anymore ever since they decided to send all of the cargo ships elsewhere because, well, I suspect it had something to do with not wanting to spoil the harbour by having hulking great big cargo carriers chugging through it (and as it turns out, ships have become so big these days that I suspect they would have a terrible time making their way through here, let alone turning around). As such, these days you tend to only see small yachts and other pleasure craft moored here – as well as a plethora of tourist boats (including one called the Starship Sydney, which looks like a multi-level floating nightclub).

(pic - Story) Darling Harbour - Starship Sydney
Starship Sydney

Wandering Around

Actually, my notes had suggested that I was going to write something on Circular Quay (which I have yet to do – I believe), but in my mind it was supposed to be Darling Harbour, namely because I actually went down there so as to write this post. However, I probably should get around to writing about Circular Quay, and the harbour in general because after looking through all my posts, that seems to be something that I have yet to do. Well, I guess that just adds a couple of more posts to the already huge number of posts that I am intending to write.

I’m not sure whether I can say when the first time I went to Darling Harbour was. I could have been back when I was in Scouts and went to the 1986 Jamboree. I remember that one of the activities was going to either Sydney or Wollongong, and since there isn’t all that much to do, or see, in Wollongong, pretty much everybody opted to go to Sydney. However that experience was all rather vague, and I simply have little to no recollection of the event, with the exception of a rather interesting magazine we found at the Canberra showgrounds, having a broken arm and being taken to the Wollongong hospital for an x-ray, and seeing Kids in the Kitchen perform live. Mind you, it was probably a good thing that I ended up with a broken arm because if I didn’t have one I probably would have emerged from that camp a lot worse for wear.

(pic - Story) Darling Harbour - Buildings

So, even if we didn’t go down to Darling Harbour then, it would have been when I decided to run off to Sydney with a friend around 1989 to attempt to start a new life. Mind you, that pretty much didn’t work out and within two weeks I was on a bus heading back to Adelaide. However, once again, I remember little of that adventure, with the exception of meeting a Romanian tourist at the harbour bridge and then crashing in her room at a hotel on Kings Cross, a rather large flat in Campsie that was advertised as having an ocean view, though the only view of the ocean you got was when you stood on the balcony and leaned as far over as you possibly could without falling over. Oh, and the nice couple downstairs who introduced me to Rugby League. Actually, I do remember a few other things but that is enough reminiscing.

Australia Day

So, come Australia Day 2017 I found myself back in Sydney, if only to go and see a sculpture down at the Art Gallery (and part 2 of the post if you are interested). Still, I had given myself a few extra days to wander around and visit places (such as pubs) so I could write some more blog posts (not that I don’t have enough to write already). On the morning of the 26th I decided that I would head down to Darling Harbour to have a look around, and almost immediately regretted it, namely because there were all these signs up telling people of the expected crowds. As it happens, Australia Day at Darling Harbour seems to be the place to be, especially if you are a Sydney Sider. In part I probably should have stayed around and enjoyed the festivities, but there were other things that I wanted to do, so I simply grabbed some breakfast, wandered along the dock, and disappeared inside Wynyard Station.

(pic - Story) Darling Harbour - Merry Go Round

I decided to come back the next day when it was a lot less crowded, and people where still hungover from the festivities of the day before. Actually, it turned out that Australia Day fell on a Thursday, which meant that my cousin posted a question on Facebook on Friday – “so, who is taking the day off work today?” The suggestion was not that we had planned to take the day off work, but rather that we called in sick because we were too hungover to face the monotony of the office. Apparently ‘chucking a sickie’, which is an Australian term for claiming to be sick, when in reality you aren’t, simply because you have better things to do, is a national past time.

So the next day I returned and wandered around to see what was left over from the festivities, and I have to admit quite a lot. I had already wandered up north, so this time I headed south towards the Old Goods Line that I wanted to check out, namely because I had read about it in an article in the paper. I’m not entirely sure if it is actually a part of the Harbour, and I originally was going to write a separate post on it, but now that I think about it I really can’t be all that bothered.

(pic - Story) Darling Harbour - Gardens

What’s to Do?

This is probably a rather silly question because as it turns out there are lots. Okay, simply wandering around the harbour can help you kill an hour or two, and if you happen to be there around 10:00 am you can even see the Pyrmont Bridge open and close (it is an old swing bridge). I even managed to watch it do that one time I was down there, and even took a video of it:

The other thing that always delights me is the elevated expressway that runs around its Eastern Side and then turns and cuts across the southern end. Okay, I’m sure not many people actually like expressways, but I still find these concrete monstrosites to be marvels of engineering in their own right. I remember driving along the Western Distributor, and if you aren’t familiar with Sydney it can be an absolute nightmare. There was one time when I decided to let my friend, who was on his learners, to drive over the bridge, and not being all that familiar with the place we found ourselves on the distributor being distributed to I really do not know where. Another time I hired a cab simply so I could travel through the cross-city tunnel and out the otherside.

(pic - Story) Darling Harbour - Motorway

If you are into shopping (which I’m not), then there is also a shopping mall beneath some rather exclusive, and quite expensive looking, hotels, as well as bars and nightclubs. I still remember stumbling around Sydney a few years back looking for a place that was open, and really couldn’t find anything – and this was a Friday night. These days I am much more familiar with the city, and the pubs, that I no longer have that problem. As for museums, you will find some as well, including the Maritime Museum, as well as an Aquarium, a Wildlife Park, and a Madame Tussards.

The Old Goods Line

I’m not really sure whether this needs a post all of its own – honestly, I don’t think so. Basically it used to be an elevated railway line that transported goods trains from the harbour across to the main tracks near the station. Actually, there were quite a few goods lines through this part of the city, but they have progressively been ripped up, or converted into something different, such as the inner city Light Rail. There was also a mono-rail that ran through here once, but that has also been pulled down, no doubt because it was expensive to run, and other than a curiosity, it really wasn’t used (and it was pretty expensive to go for a ride on it as well). I did manage to get a video of it before it was gone for good though.

The Old Goods Line is now basically an elevated park – the railway line, and the viaduct, is still there, but it has been paved over and gardens placed along the side. This is probably fitting for the location where we are now finding high rise apartments appearing everywhere, and Pyrmont being transformed from an industrial zone into a residential zone. The walk along the viaduct is actually quite pleasant, though not something that I would recommend anybody go out of their way to do.

(pic - Story) Darling Harbour - Goods Line

I probably should also mention the Chinese Freindship Garden, though I didn’t actually bother going inside. I’m not really all that sure why because I do quite like gardens. I guess at the time I really wasn’t all that interested, and preferred to go and check out the Goods Line (not that it is much more than a passing curiosity).

I have some more photos in an album on Flickr.

Creative Commons License
It’s a Harbour, Darling by David Alfred Sarkies is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. If you wish to use this work commercially please feel free to contact me.


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