I walked every street in Woy Woy

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


The next walkies I did start here and my most recent walks are here.

This site is the 2005 archives.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Walk #58 - Astronauts

(Walked 10th of September 2005)

My notes tell me there was a "clearing sky" and "morning birds sounds, white roses with beautiful scent, muggy ... plenty of sprinklers on ... dogs laying in shade not barking".

I've also noted that there are "more birds sounds in 70s streets due to native trees fashionable in 70s, gums & paperbarks mainly".

Most of the streets I walked were named after astronauts. Lovell (Gemini 7 & 12 in 1965 & 66, Apollo 13 in 1970), Glenn (Friendship 7 in 1962, Discovery in 1998), Carpenter (Friendship 7 & Aurora 7 in 1962) and Shepard (Freedom 7 in 1961, Apollo 14 in 1971).

Next post & its photos

Walk #57

(Walked 9th of September 2005)

#57 is lost but my notes indicate I got the bus down to Cowper Road again (near the Mt Ettalong end of the beach), had a pastie from the shop and the architecture was mostly seventies and eighties.

There was also "distant clunk and roar of a bulldozer at Ettalong, the heavy scent of a jasmine climber, rottweiler on a balcony." I remember the rotty. It gave one bark and stared at me stolidly in the way of rottweilers. Lovely dogs but they don't come across as terribly bright.

There were palms, pencil pines, frangipanis, banksias, tea trees and Geraldton wax bushes and lorikeets twittering in a flowering gum.

I remember the guy yapping into a mobile phone and dragging a choking malamute along. It was hot and a bit muggy by then. Not ideal weather for walking a malamute. It was a very sandy area too. Dead grass on verges was going bald. A couple of streets further there was a birthday party with a rather strine country singer on the stereo and a lot of whooping from the partiers.

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(Originally posted 2005)

This week I’ve started in on Leviathan: the unauthorised biography of Sydney. Been meaning to read it for a while. Done by John Birmingham so it’s very readable. Birmingham also did He Died With A Felafel In His Hand which is so funny my boss at the time went purple and couldn’t speak.

Excerpt from Leviathan about a bunch of violent nutters in the eighties, including a deserving case who comes to a sticky end:

[A tiny fascist political party] unexpectedly found itself called upon to explain its position. The party’s slack-jawed mouthpiece denied they were in any way racist. [They] didn’t believe in the superiority of one race over another. [They] simply believed that the Anglo-Celtic culture of Australia should not be endangered. As more people noted what they were saying … the party’s internal bulletin, announced that the time had come for taking it to the streets.

Student unions noted an escalating number of bashings of Asian students after dark, both on campus and in the clutch of inner city suburbs around the neo-Nazis’ favourite watering holes. There was a shift not just in the frequency of political violence, but also in its intensity and focus. The targets began to change. The party bulletin [] featured a regular [column] in which critics of the party would find their name, phone number and address published with an invitation to the ‘curious and adventurous’ to dish out a little nationalist justice. Journalists such as Gerard Henderson, Andrew Olle and Adele Horin who covered the immigration debate or related topics in an unsatisfactory manner began to receive phone calls and death threats late at night. Academics and unionists found their car tyres slashed and graffiti daubed on their houses. Greenpeace and Community Aid Abroad shops were broken into and looted.

Violent overthrow of the dominant paradigm doesn’t come cheap, however, so in early 1984 the party leadership cooked up a scam to rip off the GIO and raise money to buy all the firebombs, balaclavas and nail-studded clubs they would need to make people understand the righteousness of their cause. A woman who rented a room at [the party's] headquarters came home one day to find the place ransacked, her jewellery gone and party fuhrer [] shaking his head


[The party] began working its way down the enemies list, widening their attacks from vulnerable students and the occasional journalist to gays, lesbians, Aboriginal, peace and anti-apartheid groups, academics, liberal congregations such as the Pitt Street Uniting Church, the Anti-discrimination Board, union activists and, somewhat recklessly, a couple of Special Branch cops who had been assigned to their case. Terrorising the wives and families of heavily armed secret police­men was not the Nazis' first step on the happy staircase to success. After [they] raided the meeting of a gay migration lobby group the hammer came down.

Having suffered through months of harassment the gays were ready for a fight. Their resistance seemed to unnerve the storm troopers and a handful of hysterical pansies and angry dykes proceeded to bitch slap them out of the room. Special Branch quickly obtained a search warrant and charged over to a house in Petersham used as an alternative headquarters by [the party]. They found a tape recording and photographs of the raid. Most of the those who took part were arrested and charged. The cases were heard in Glebe local court and attended by observers from a resistance group called Community Alert Against Racism and Violence.

‘It was unbelievably pathetic,’ said CAARAV’s Betty Hounslow. ‘Shane Rosier, one of their big men, was just this really pathetic bloke in his late forties who was, you know, a bit chubby. He wore these brown trousers that kept riding up the back and an old yukko-Iooking brown cardigan. They found a lot of weapons in his house… coshs, chains, and studded balls. And his story to the magistrate was that the weapons were part of his collection. He’d always been interested in weapons, he said. His grandfather was a famous gun collector. He and his dad had always wanted to have a gun collection just like old Granddad’s, but they’d never had enough money to collect guns so they had to collect cheaper, working-class weapons. And this was why he had all these things. He said the tape of the raid was left on his doorstep one morning. Like a little abandoned baby.’

The pressure told and the Nazis turned on each other as deeply ‘repressed suspicions and rivalries burst through to the surface. Everybody seemed to accuse everyone else of being police spies and sexual deviants. The final slide into ignoble collapse was marked by the gunshot murder of Wayne ‘Bovver’ Smith in [the party's] headquarters at Tempe a few years later. It was an almost perfect example of the hapless farce which so often attended the adventures of Sydney’s neo-Nazi elite in the 1980s. Bovver, twenty-five years old and already weighing 108 kilos thanks to the three or four stubbies of beer he’d consume for breakfast each morning, was shot eight times with a sawn-off .22 rifle by Perry Whitehouse, ten years his senior but less than half his size, during a drunken, confused and basically pointless argument. When Whitehouse blew him away, Bovver was wearing a singlet bearing the message: Say No To The New Gun Control Laws.


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Veranda porn

A snippet from my current reading.

Our move next to Squid’s place came about in an odd way. It happened that in the previous year my grandmother had died, leaving my grandfather living alone in his old wooden house on the cliffs–the place in which my mother had lived as a girl. It was just before Christmas 1928 that Grandfather became peculiar.

I should perhaps qualify this. To me Grandfather McDonald had seemed a little peculiar for as long as I could remember. He had for years called himself a Tolstoyan. I realize now that he must have been a Tolystoyan with variations of his own. For instance, although he was a vegetarian he would eat no apples because this was forbidden in the book of Genesis. A photograph of Tolstoy in the old house could almost have passed as Grandfather, with the same beard and stern, determined expression.

Anyway, when he became peculiar my mother had to go back and forth to “Thermopylae” to clean the place and cook him an occasional meal. He usually muttered and growled at her while she worked, or else sat out on the veranda to watch for passing ships–he had been an old Port Phillip pilot and before that a master in sail.

Just under the house he had a collection of nautical odds and ends, and from this he had resurrected the wheel of the Arabella, a schooner wrecked years before somewhere off the Victorian coast. He fixed this to the veranda rail and standing there would steer the house towards the Heads, muttering and cursing and glaring at the horizon.

This of course didn’t hurt anyone, and no one minded when he fitted the veranda with navigation lights and a binnacle. Complaints from Peters and other neighbours only began when he found a megaphone and used it to roar and blaspheme at ships out in the channel.

It was decided I would sleep under Grandfather’s window on the north veranda, which was the side of the house least exposed to the weather. Even though thick tea-tree protected it, there were nights when the canvas blinds flapped wildly and the roar of waves sounded so close that I would find myself dreaming we were out a sea. These were the nights Grandfather was likely to get up and take the helm. Once or twice on windy moonlit nights I saw him, beard and hair blowing, pyjamas clinging about him, the ghost of a captain on a ghostly ship. The only way to handle him then was for my father to run outside crying, “Ready to take over, sir.” Then Grandfather would relinquish the wheel and allow my mother to lead him back to bed.

But these nights weren’t frequent. Usually the Bay was calm and from my bed I could hear the lapping of waves on the beach at the base of the cliffs. Sometimes on these still nights I could hear through the thin wall Grandfather debating Darwinism with himself, taking first one side and then the other. Darwin always lost.

Veranda porn from one of my very favourite books. All The Green Year by D.E. Charlwood. I'd post the whole book for your reading pleasure but copyright doesn't run out until 70 years* after the author's death and it appears he ain't even dead yet.

* It's really 50 years but we got shafted last year in the American-Australian trade deal and now George Bush dictates copyright law on Australia authors. Thanks a lot, weasel.

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Sunday, January 22, 2006

Walk #55 - Knob

(Walked 5th of September 2005)

Back to Ettalong on this one. My notes say some fancy bit of the roof at the Ettalong Markets had come off and I remember it was glowing a gale the day before.

King's Store & Booker Bay General Store
(Big version)

The caption on this photo at Flickr says: "Stood there for yonks waiting for a clear shot. It was one of those days for traffic.

The Booker Bay General Store at 72 Booker Bay Road is in my history list as built circa 1918. The house on the back of the shop is lived in, presumably by the current owners.

King's Store at 78 Booker Bay Road is down as circa 1920. The house at the back is lived in and the shop itself is now part of the house by the look of it.

Booker Bay is one of the original villages on the Peninsula before it filled up with houses. You can see the village still in the number of pre-war houses around the bay."

Found a couple of other old buildings from my hist list. The old dairy at No108 Booker Bay Road is gone. "House, Sam Murray, 1 Bilba Avenue ... c.1910" was still there by the look of it. There was a garage obscuring it but I could see a rusty green tin roof with the right pitch and size for 1910.

The graveyard at "42-50 Bogan Road and 159/161 Booker Bay Road" is long gone but the two big old pines at its entrance are still there. You can see them clearly in this (large) photo.

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Walk #54 - Sprogs & Dogs

(Walked 3rd of September 2005)

This one I did on a Saturday and it was pretty noisy. Everyone was out and about with their pets and their kids and their boats and there was a footy match in progress at the oval nearby. There's nothing else in my notes except the drawing below.

53 Brick Wharf Road

No53 Brick Wharf Road. Which I now suspect is one of the old boarding houses from the Federation period (circa 1890 - circa 1915).

Old House
(Big version)

No idea of the age or original purpose of this building. Looks like it was a house and it might be Federation. So far I've found no old photos and no mention of it in the library.

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Walk #52 - Dark & Windy

(Walked 31st of August 2005)

(Original posts from #48 - 59 lost and I'm re-writing from my notebook.)

"Gusty as hell," my notebook says, "Leaves, grit, DOT forced against side of car." The azaleas were out "full throttle this time", as well as bright orange daisies and the tiny white flowers of a prostrate tea tree. I remember there was also a lot of orange jessamine and roses and several front gardens full of palms. There were also jonquils, according to my notebook, and I'm not a big fan of them. They look okay but they smell like shit.

I went up to the end of Australia Avenue and crossed the footbridge over some swampy ground. There was a small park that seemed to be entirely reeds and a sign saying 'Kahibah Lagoon and Wetland'. There were a few cigarette butts and choc-milk cartoons on a narrow path into the reeds so I'd say it's used as a teenage hang-out.

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Walk #51 - Plateau

I remember this one. Another warm winter day and I was sweating like a nervous flier but the time I got to the top. Got a couple of great photos though.

Box Head Blue
(Bigger version)

More photos here
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Walk #50

(Walked 26th of August 2005)

(Original posts from #48 - 59 lost and I'm re-writing from my notebook.)

My notes say "couple of fat geese, mud, jungles, berserk dogs". Don't remember the berserk dogs (there's been so many) but I remember the geese and mud and jungles.

I got the Cowper Road bus and got off at Neera Road. Along the creek there the tide was out and I could see the mud flats with geese and native waterfowl scratching about on them. There were a couple of houses whose owners appear to've got into mung beans in the seventies and planted palms and monsteria and strangle vines in their backyards.

I remember it was a warm day and the sun was out. Neera Road was flat but then I went up Mountain Ash Way it was a shit as hell. It was the first or one of the first steep I did and I remember stopping in the shade half a dozen times on the way up. It was hard yakka but I got to the top without a block-and-tackle and a team of navies and was much pleased.

My notes say I did another eight streets but I don't remember the rest of the walk.

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Walk #49

(Walked 23rd of August 2005)

(Original posts from #48 - 59 lost and I'm re-writing from my notebook.)

My notes say it was bloody nippy again but I wore powerful underwear and a scarf. There were plenty of 40s and 70s houses and one with a very steep-pitched roof and dormer windows. A very European look. There were dozens of dogs and cats and Dear Old Things parked out in the sun warming themselves over. There was a budding cherry blossom tree and a couple of frangipanis putting out a few leaves in the sun.

It appears that I walked all the way across the Peninsula from Lens Avenue (near the ridge) to Ettalong. Not as long a walk as The Long March but not short either. My notes say: "Sat at foreshore watching waves and ferry. Half Tide Rocks just visible. Big wet dog." Okay, now I remember. That dog brought me a stick and I threw it for him a few times then he settled down on my feet and ate the stick with every sign of enjoyment.

After that it looks like I walked back to Springwood Street and caught the bus home from the bowling club. If I remember right the wind got up and whispered pleasantly through the mesh of the bus-stop.

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Walk #48

(Walked 22nd of August 2005)

(Original posts from #48 - 59 lost and I'm re-writing from my notebook.)

There were rainclouds out to sea and a stiff breeze as I set out. The wind in the gums and palms and banksias on Adelaide Avenue made a beautiful sound.

There were a lot of Federation rooflines under renovations and additions amd several sixties houses. The clouds came on shore and the wind started to gust. There was the roar of the bus as it went past and a big saw somewhere that sounded like the veggie-saurus from Jurassic Park.

In another street pines roared softly and there was a great swirl of leaves. It was overcast by now and the wind was getting cold. Iluka Lagoon was not visible and there was a nice forties house on the corner of Calypta and Kallaroo Roads.

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God Of Walkers

(Originally posted 20th of August 2005)

We walk-every-street walkers have a god and I just found out.

"Phyllis Pearsall was a remarkable woman. Born in 1906 she had already lived a rather bohemian life as a writer, painter and traveler when in 1935 she got lost in London while using a 20 year old street map which was at the time the most recent available. Working from a bedsit in Horseferry Road (in SW1!) and with the aid of James Duncan - a draughtsman borrowed from her father, a Hungarian mapmaker, she began to catalogue the 23,000 streets that featured in the first edition. Working eighteen hour days she walked a total of 3,000 miles in compiling it."

Phyllis Pearsall.

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Walk #47 - Flowers For The Dead

(Walked 19th of August 2005)

Warmer than it looked today. It was overcast when I got up and it’s still overcast now. Bit of wind too. But by the time I got to Rip Bridge I was sweating like a clingwrapped pig*.

St Luke's
(Big version) St Luke's.

My feet are throbbing like buggery too but it was a good long walk and one I’ve been looking forward to for a while.

Went down Yob Street, another long straight road, then round the back of the Mountain and up onto the bridge for some photos. I walked to the start of the walk and when I add that onto the walk itself it’s…Bloody hell, it’s 13.3 kilometres (8.26 miles). That’s more than the Long March! No wonder my feet hurt.

St Luke's Portico
(Big version) St Luke's portico.

Started near St. Luke’s. It’s an environment centre now but it was a church and the outside still looks the same, minus the cross. A tiny white weatherboard church on a corner. Lovely. Only the interior’s been stripped. Couldn’t find a foundation stone but my research says it was built in 1904 and the plaque on it says “Built c. 1902 … Heritage Item No 119″. I ticked it off my list of Old Stuff to be photographed.

A couple of blocks before St. Luke’s I had ten years frightened off me by the world’s tiniest dog. Bloody chihuahua. The little bastard was lurking under a bush and exploded into a frenzy of yapping as I got level with it. I’d been wandering along in a bit of a doze and I leapt six feet. Bloody thing yipped like a squeaky toy and wouldn’t shut up. The owner apologised and said the dog gets the postie (mailman) every day. No wonder the postie looks so haggard.

Yob Street was in two halves as far as the oldest houses on it go. The first half had houses from the thirties and forties but nothing I could see before that. The second half, the Whatsit Street end, had dozens of pre-1920s houses as well as thirties forties. There were seventies houses along the length of it. There were a lot of rentals at the two ends. At the McMasters Road end there was a house with GGD (Garden Gnome Disease) then a house with crappy hip hop thumping out of it and they pretty much set the tone for Yob Street. Bit further down a couple of blokes in baggy shorts and fake bling were playing touch footy in their front yard. They fancied themselves as cool dudes with ‘tood. Too much Saturday Video.

Down around the middle of Yob Street there were quite a few rentals due for the chop. They were saggy-roofed and neglected and you could feel the eyes of real estate agent’s upon them. Let’s rip them down and put up some nice pricey units, you could hear them thinking, Cram 'em in and rake in the moola! There was also a bloody awful brick-over of a classic fifties house. Don’t try that at home, kids. But there were some nice revamps of forties and pre-1920s places there too.

Yob Street is not actually straight. It looks straight to the casual glance but there’s actually a tiny angle on it. Which means that when you get halfway down it you can suddenly see Patonga Ridge at the end. Yob Street runs right down to Umina Beach. You can’t see the beach until you get to it but you can see the ridge.

Anyways, it was a pleasant view to glance up at as I wandered along. Right down the Whatsit Street end of Yob there was a seventies house. Must’ve been very fash when it was new. Sprawling squat A-shaped house in beige brick with stripey cafè-style awnings and juliet balconies. Balconies on the ground floor. The seventies was definitely the decade style forgot.

By now I was starving. I could smell fish & chips cooking somewhere and it was half past twelve. Turned the corner onto Whatsit Street and trotted across to the kebab shop. Sat there at one of the tables on the footpath and sank my teeth into a hot, fresh chicken kebab. Yum.

As I chewed I stared at the pub on the corner. The bottle shop at the back was definitely fifties. Just look at that roofline. The pub itself I think is twenties. It got a revamp a couple of years ago. Re-tiling on the outside walls, new wooden and glass doors and wooden half walls with big windows opening above them. The half walls were in a wide aperture on the very corner of the pub and another one ten feet along down the side. They’re the old front bar and sports bar doorways. The curve on the very corner of the pub is twenties. I’d put money on it. And the veranda height says twenties too. There’s a restaurant on the side but that used to be the Post Office. Looks like it was a shop before that. On the 1st floor there was a gym and in the room next to that there was a line of washing strung across the room under two old brass candelabras.

After a good long masticate I washed my hands, got a drink and got on my way. I was only halfway through my walk.

Walked the last block of Yob Street and sat at the beach for a bit. No haze at all today and Barrenjoey Head looked close. Took a photo then headed off towards the Mountain. Went along a couple of short streets behind the pub. More scruffy rentals but also some well-kept houses. They were quiet enough at lunchtime but come tonight they’ll be getting the racket from the bands in the pub.

The road to the Mountain was very mixed. A lot of forties and seventies as usual and then plenty of eighties to now. There were some more of the scruffy rentals up near the Mountain but mostly it was owner-occupied houses and blocks of retireree units.

Old Brick Shop Opposite King's
(Big version) Old shop opposite King's Store.

Near the Mountain there were three old shops. One of them was from the fifties but two of them were 1900 - 1920 I think. Can’t find them in my photocopied list of Old Stuff from the library. I did find two shops on the list though, at Nº 72 & Nº 78 Booker Bay Road. Locals know one of them as King’s Store. They’re listed as circa 1918 and circa 1920.

The road round the back of the Mountain was dark. The sky had lowered a bit and a couple of kookaburras decided it was dusk and started up their evening song. But then they spotted me coming along the road and flew off. Got a photo of one still on the branch though.

Across the road, against the side of the Mountain, there was a big bunch of flowers taped to a streetlight to mark a fatal road accident. Not surprised. It’s a busy road and the cars zoom down off the bridge like Lucifer’s behind them.

My feet were giving my hell by this time and I was pretty sweaty. Climbed up to the Governor Phillip Memorial again and had a nice sitdown. Gazed down into Fisherman’s Bay and across to Hardy’s and thought about icecream and flasks of icy cold drinks. The breeze around a couple of hours before was gone.

Had another look at the plinth with the maps on it. It was put there for the Bicentennial (1988) and shows where Governor Phillip and Captain Hunter landed when they explored Broken Bay in March 1788 and June 1789.

Took a photo of the maps of the plinth. Hope it turns out better than the last one. [UPDATE, January 2006: It did.]

Then it was out onto The Rip Bridge for some more photos.

Fisherman's Bay
(Big version) Fishermans Bay.

Hardy's Bay
(Big version) Hardys Bay.

Booker Bay
(Big version) Booker Bay.

Booker Bay & Hardy's
(Big version) Booker Bay & Hardys.

It was about 3PM and the sun was a bit low in the sky. The water on the north-east side of the bridge was silver grey and the ridges behind Koolewong and Tascott were a soft dark green.

(Big version)

Silver Side
(Big version)

(Big version)

I was a bit pooped. I tottered off to the bus-stop. Didn’t have to wait long. Just long enough to notice the sign for Mullbong Street has been nicked again. Then the bus sprung round the corner and I flagged it down frantically. My feet wanted to go home and have a nice lie down.

* clingwrapped pig courtesy of Tony Squires, newspaper columnist & TV sports thingy. Back to where you were.

Next walkies post God of walkers
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Walk #46 - Pressed Tin

(Walked 17th of August 2005)

When I got up this morning the sky was blue and the sun was already warm. It was almost hot on my walk. Saw a couple of people in tee shirts. I've worn a shirt for most of my walks this winter. Only needed a jacket a few times.

All the streets I've walked this last fortnight have been flat straight streets. All the same, all different.

All with the same amount of dogs, a few of them roaming the street and most of them barking ferociously at the slightest thing that moves. Cats perched on fences soaking up the sun. Lorikeets and honeyeaters nibbling at the flowers and magpies cawing and hopping about on the ground.

All with the same type of cars, the same mix of houses from the fifties to the seventies and a sprinkling of pre-twenties, eighties and noughties on a solid base of thirties and forties. All with the same fashions in gardens helping me date their houses.

But they only look the same at first glance. They all have little quirks and idiosyncrasies. Every now and then you stumble upon a purple house or a pink one like today. Or a new house being built with a strong stylistic influence from the fifties. Or a cat that’s so eager for a pat it leaves its food bowl and runs up to strangers. (For its troubles I gave the cat a double-handed ear massage. I think it expired from bliss.) Or pressed tin on the front of a sagging old rental house. Or some tiny unspoken war like houses opposite each other flying the flags of enemy footy (football) teams.

Such small delights make every single walk interesting and make even streets as quiet and dead as Woy Woy's come alive.

40s & Older
(Big version) Colorbond roof.

I noticed another pattern today as well. Maybe 10% of houses and units built in the last ten years have tiled roofs. The rest have Colorbond roofs (the new version of the old tin roof). The tiles are mostly on the blocks of units for retirees. Interesting. Not world-shaking but just the sort of thing you don't notice until you start walking every street.

I've been tired and grumpy lately. Bit of pain from the guts and I'm not sleeping well. But I rarely feel like not walking. Haven't felt like that since I got into the swing of this walkies thing. I've felt much healthier since I started.

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Haka & Fun with Wangs

From Bash.org: Purely in the interests of science, I have replaced the word “wand” with “wang” in the first Harry Potter Book … Let’s see the results

Haka - video of & meanings behind that cool NZ Maori war dance. The one used to intimidate rugby enemies.

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Walk #45 - Gallipoli

(Walked 15th of August 2005)

Bloody windy today. Very strong gusts and getting stronger. The denudatas being stripped of flowers, the huge old gums on the Mountain bowing and tossing, leaves and twigs and stray newspapers flying through the air.

Had a nice long walk planned. But I was a bit tired and the wind was starting to drive dust into my eyes. So I finished halfway and nipped off home by bus.

It wasn't windy when I started out. Bit of a light breeze, high white streaks of cloud, the day warming up. I wondered if I'd be hot in my jumper. Wasn't long before I was glad of it.

Found a couple more tiny parks, noted some more lanes for a future Walk project, regarded the magpies with suspicion (it’s nearly swooping season), noticed the azaleas are coming out again but almost all the camellias have had theirs buds killed by the cold nights. The bottlebrushes and banksias haven't peaked yet and the pencil pines are showing their seed cases.

The first few streets had plenty of fifties and seventies houses among the thirties and forties ones. Not much in the last twenty years except sympathetic renovations.

I went past the unofficial used caryard again (cars for sale are parked outside the Council depot on the main road) and down the side of the primary school. A long building near the fence looked like it was built in the forties. Further along there was a much older school building. It had two classrooms and was about the size of a house. At first I thought it was but openings in the veranda rails showed it was classrooms and they were old enough to be the original rails. It was hard to date. There was no date on the school sign and there’s nothing online about the school’s history. I’m guessing when I say 1900 but I could easily be right.

The street beside the school is Waterloo. It was mostly seventies, with a few forties houses in original form or bricked-over in the seventies. Close to the Mountain the streets were older. Thirties and forties mainly with a few dozen pre-1920s houses lurking behind layers of extensions and renovations.

Warwick was a real hodgepodge of building eras, including a brand spanking new set of units still being sold. They weren't bad. White with grey roofs. The street trees were jacarandas. They make beautiful street trees when in bloom. Though they’re loathed with great passion and vehemence by those who hate leaves.

By the time I got round into Gallipoli, the wind was gusting hard and half the time I had my eyes closed due to the dust being whipped up. What I did see of Gallipoli was mainly forties and thirties with a sprinkle of the ubiquitous unattractive seventies houses.

At the end of Gallipoli I was halfway through my planned walk and dead tired. The extra flowering of plants all winter has been great but it's meant I've been suffering hayfever all winter. I've got a pretty mild case but it’s starting to take its toll in the form of headaches and tiredness and today's wind was playing hell with it. So I stopped at the end of Gallipoli and caught the bus home and now I'm thinking about having a nice afternoon nap.

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Walk #44 - Tasmania To The Great War

(Walked 13th of August 2005)

Today I walked from Tasmania to the 1st World War. I started at Hobart Street and finished in The Dardanelles. It was hard on the feet.

It was a good long walk though and chewed off a decent chunk of my remaining streets. I’m halfway now and could easily finish before the end of spring (31st of December).

It was nippy when I went out. The sun was warm as usual but there was a cruel breeze. But I was only chilly for a few minutes and by the end of my walk that breeze was cool rather than cold and was welcome.

Hobart Avenue was mostly forties and before. There were a few seventies brick-overs and a couple of sixties places but not many. Makes sense. It’s close to the beach and Whatsit Street.

There were three old shops on it. None of them is on my list of pre-1940 buildings from last week’s research. Pity. They looked old enough to be included. They were all thirties or earlier. Two of them have been turned into pricey cafés and the third is an empty rundown house. There was no demolition or development order on it so I’m guessing it’ll be there for a few more years. [UPDATE, January 2006: Unfortunately not.]

It was a pretty quiet walk. The Bledisloe was on and ever rugby tragic on the Peninsula was indoors with his sweaty mates oohing and groaning over goals and penalties.

An elderly dog wandered about making friends with people and nearly getting run over and a big vee of ibises flapped over heading for Barrenjoey Head. I turned down the second street and found The Garbage House. You know those Dear Old Things who’re found dead after three weeks surrounded by cats? It was one of those houses. A crappily built seventies place on a corner. The three VW vans on the verge were stuffed full of garbage. All in white plastic bags from the supermarket. There was a narrow veranda running halfway down the side of the house. It was filled with more garbage in bags and some boxes. The garbage bins out the front looked empty. The weirdest things in this universe are human.

The Garbage House
(Big version. This photo taken 6th of January 2006. On the 13th of August 2005 the veranda was also piled high with garbage.)

That street and the rest of today’s streets were long and straight and ran parallel to Ocean Beach Road and fitted the seventies settlement pattern I noticed last week.

There was another lawn bowls club and an oval at the end of the street. The BMX and skateboard park on the other side of the oval was too far to be noisy. There was some bellowing from the soccer game on the oval but I didn’t stay long.

I plodded along, getting dozy in the sun. A small excitable dog rushed at me and jumped up, spinning ecstatically in the air then bounding off again. It was a puppy and rushed around grinning like mad. Its name was Ruby and it had three kids to work all that puppy energy off on. A couple of blocks further there was a large lugubrious dog laying in its driveway. Every few minutes it lifted its head and let out an aggrieved howl. A small dog a few houses away barked hysterically in reply.

Sat on a low wall for a few minutes rest. Got a couple of books from the op shop before I started. Had a look at them while I sat there and was disgusted to find the Tales of Mystery & Imagination are “retold by M.W. Thomas”. Bugger. That’ll have to go back. I want the real deal. But I also got a hardback 1991 copy of Miles Franklin’s My Career Goes Bung and something called Love On A Branch Line which I’ve heard of in a vague sort of way.

Put some more sunblock on and got back on my feet. The traffic was picking up again now. The Cup was finished. A Dear Old Thing passed me going the other way and Staffordshire terrier dragged its owner along. A few minutes later I sat in a bus-stop and coloured in the last street then got the bus home.

I’ve still got a big chunk of the flat streets in the middle to walk and most of the hill walks. But I’m halfway now.

Next walk

Fun With Maps

(Originally posted 16th of August 2005)

Went on a research thingy today. Looking at maps in the local library. They've got a restricted access thing upstairs. Most of the local history stuff is up there.

(Big version)

Despite it being a crappy-looking seventies library the inside's pretty light and airy. The upstairs is a sort of suspended floor at one end of the building. Half is the office bit where all the boxes of donated material are sorted and tagged and catalogued and put in folders and the rest of it. Then there's the usual shelves and microfiche readers and big steel drawers full of stuff and nice big tables to lay things out on.

I had a good long gander at local council maps going back several decades. They gave me a nice clear picture of 20th century settlement on the Peninsula.

Got confirmation of most of the patterns I'd noticed myself:

Before all the land was filled up, the houses clustered around Umina, the train station at Woy Woy, Ettalong & Booker Bay, along Ocean Beach & Blackwall Roads and filled up all the foreshores.

A wide band of land along the bottom of the ridge wasn't built on until the seventies.

Learned some new things:

A lot of land was sold in the twenties but it was built on over the next couple of decades rather than immediately. (I'd assumed a lot of the forties houses were on land previously occupied by pre-1900 houses.)

Lots of owner-builders used to bring fibro sheeting up from Sydney in their own trailers. They had to come up the F3 which is a very windy road so as well as breakages from jolting there must've been a fair few flying sheet incidents.

Got a few references to be going on with and I'll be up there again next week with my photocopy list honed down to the bare essentials. Having a couple of those maps up on my wall will be excellent.

Next walk

Walk #43 - Springwood

(Walked 10th of August 2005)

Walked another long straight old street today. It runs parallel to Ocean Beach Road and is about two thirds its length.

Terrace Style Units
Terrace style units at the Whatsit Street end of Springwood.

Around halfway along Springwood there’s a small housing estate with a sign saying “IOOF Centre Houses”. It looks rather like a retirement village but was clearly built in the forties or very early fifties. Maybe for maimed soldiers or something. Googled and found a potted history mixed in with a bit of a rant about them by some pollie.

Springwood has a lot in common with Ocean Beach Road. A similar pattern of settlement. Though Springwood has a lot less seventies houses. One of the few seventies houses I did see had a brush fence round it and a Federation style veranda added. It also had some leadlight repro windows. Couldn’t see the garden but I’m guessing it had lavender and other bushes popular around Federation. It was a great example of how even an ugly boxy seventies house can be redeemed. Can’t find exactly what I’m looking for on Google but this will give you an idea of the veranda. Ignore that rather extraordinary protruberance protruberating from the roof.

When I get my digital camera I’ll be off on an orgy of photography. I want to photograph as many of the oldest houses I can and have a good long leisurely look at them. So many of them are a jumble of additions and extensions. And make a record of them before they all get knocked down and replaced by bland clumps of units.

In a short street up the top end of Springwood there was a new house being built. One of those flashy, unnecessarily large houses that’ll be sold in five years when the owners finally sink under the weight of their mortgage.

Anyway, stopped and asked one of the neighbours what happened to the guy with the strange caravan who’d lived there. He’d always had bits and pieces of old furniture on the verge waiting for the Council collection truck to come and there was a handwritten sign attached to the front fence detailing some grievance against the Council or the State government or someone.

In the driveway he’d had the strange caravan. It was a homemade affair. Built over and around and on top of an old standard caravan I think. It was double-storey and the exterior was sheet metal. Interesting choices. The neighbour said he’d sold up and taken the caravan out to the bush (the countryside) to look for gold. I don’t imagine the poor dear got very far. That probably illegal, over-shiny, roasting hot caravan would’ve got him picked up by the wind or picked up by the cops.

Down near Whatsit Street there was a row of eighties units. The dormer windows were a bit lumpy but the general design and execution was not bad. They were in the style of single storey workmans’ terrace houses in Sydney. Very much the sort of thing, sans dormers, Doreen & Mar (The Sentimental Bloke) would’ve lived in.

When I started out there was a bit of a breeze and it built up steadily as I walked. By the time I finished at Whatsit Street, there was a wind howling along the powerlines and whipping newspapers out of people's hands. Above Maps & Exploration in the library a window was rattling like a poltergeist had hold of it.

Right now black cloud up from Sydney is creeping across the sky and the sound of the wind through the tiny sliver of window I’ve left open is the shriek of an angry ghost. God, I love the wind noises.

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Walk #42 - Two New Patterns

Not the most exciting walk today but pleasant enough. Apart from the bit where the old guy peering half-blind over the steering wheel of a 4WD (SUV) nearly ran me over. He was having enough trouble working out where the road was, let alone the pedestrians. Perhaps it was him the ambulance rescue truck was chasing.

Magnolia Denudata Through The Fence
(Big version)

Mostly little yappy dogs behind fences today. Bored silly. A rottweiler pup wandered out to the footpath to make friends but got scared when I put my hand out. A plump cat streaked home along the verge and sat watching me suspiciously from a warm rock in its front garden. More magnolia denudata in full and beautiful bloom too.

I found another park not on my map and sat there for a while. It was just a couple of house blocks square. A low fence, a jungle gym and swing, couple of picnic tables and two dozen paperbark trees. Very pleasant spot to spend a few shady minutes.

I was facing a long straight street running from Ocean Beach Road (which is one of the main roads) back to the ridge. There are long straight streets on either side of Ocean Beach Road, running perpendicular to it. I've walked maybe half of them now and all of them have had mostly forties and some seventies houses on them.

There are shorter streets, like the astronaut streets, running parallel to Ocean Beach Road. Those streets are almost entirely seventies. A few of them so far've had a couple of sixties houses.

Add to that the amount of the parallel streets with paperbarks as street trees and the increase of paperbark parks through the seventies streets and I think we're seeing a couple more patterns.

1. The long straight streets running perpendicular to Ocean Beach Road were made in the forties or possibly the thirties, and the shorter streets running parallel to Ocean Beach Road were made in the sixties and seventies.

2. The sixties and seventies streets weren't made until dry land on the Peninsula started to run out and boggy ground became profitable.

Not the world’s most earth-shattering discoveries but it's fun to make them for yourself.

After I'd sat there thinking all that through I finished my walk. Up behind the high school, down the hill on the other side then home.

There was no footpath behind the high school. There was a de facto storm drain on the downhill side of the road. That was more even ground than the lumps and dips of driveways on the other side.

On the uphill side of the road there were two and three storey houses pressed back against the hill with steep driveways and staircases up to their front doors. Peering between the trees on the downhill side I worked out they must have a view over to Phegans Bay and perhaps to the F3 (motorway between Sydney & Newcastle).

The downhill side was all pine needles and lantana and goat tracks down into the back of the high school. It smelt like stale pee. The sound of tardy teenagers below was barely audible over the little yappy dogs going berserk on balconies on the uphill side.

It was a warm day. Verging on hot. I was pretty warm when I got home and thirsty despite the mid-walk apple.

Next walk


(Originally posted 8th of August 2005)

If the previous post seemed a little tense and distracted, it was. Opened up my email when I got home and found an email from my aunt. My father's emailed my aunts and uncles telling them he's not speaking to them anymore.

Jesus. H. Christ.

As long as I've known him my father has been irrational, petty, tyrannical, self-deluding, selfish and ... I said irrational already.

Now, after behaving like a complete swine after Gran's death, he's decided not to speak to his brother and sisters anymore.

I'm so fucking tense. My scalp is so tense it feels like my skull will crush under the pressure and there's a tennis ball-sized headache thumping over my eye. I'm twitching with the effort of not booking a flight to Perth to bludgeon some sense into him. After everything he put my aunts and uncles through after Gran’s death and now this.

Think I'll totter off and take a handful of headache tablets.

P.S. I forgot egomaniacal and self-important.

[UPDATE, January 2006: My father has since cut off everyone in the family, including me. Looking back, this has been coming for a long time and if he could be dragged to a doctor I doubt he'd get a clean bill of mental health. Sad but true.]

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Walk #41 - Egg & Spoon

Rather nippy wind blowing on and off today. Snowed down south in the last few days and the wind was coming up the coast off that. But I was warm enough while I was walking. And it wasn’t constant so the cats and birds had time to sun themselves.

So did a black rabbit with a white nose. It was crouched on someone’s lawn as I went past. Thought it was a blackened stump but then it twitched. The whole lawn had a nibbled look so maybe it was let out to earn its keep as lawnmower.

Met a lovely friendly dog and saw three other beautiful beautiful dogs. The friendly dog was bitsa. Medium-sized, short-haired, white with brown ears and a pointy nose. It trotted straight up to me and gazed up at me fondly. It sniffed my hand and leaned against me for a scratch behind the ears. Then it puts its paws up on my legs so I could give it a nice hearty chest rub.

The three beautiful dogs were in the back of a ute on Whatsit Street. They were so beautiful everyone stopped to watch them go past. Young dogs with long bushy tails. Classic dingo colour. Deep gold. We asked each other is they were pure dingo. Their heads were certainly dingo shaped. The muzzle shape and the forward pointing ears. But they had a bit more brow ridge. I’ll never know I guess, unless I spot their owner on foot one day.

Birds were twittering and carrying on in the trees in the side streets when the wind dropped. The magnolia denudata and camellias and bottlebrush and golden wattle are still flowering. The bottlebrushes attract lorikeets and some sort of sparrow thing. Honeyeaters like bottlebrushes too I think. They certainly go for the wattles. There was one sitting warbling on a fence. I got quite close before it flew off and noticed it had a pale yellow patch between its legs. The back view was a bit unfortunate. Looked like a white bum with a grubby bumcrack.

I walked four side streets today. Nothing to write home about in terms of visual splendour but interesting enough. Found a few more pre-20s rooflines and one house that looked almost untouched since a refit around the thirties.

The settlement pattern is really starting to emerge. I’ve walked nearly half the Peninsula now and so far I’ve seen a lot of the main clumps of settlement. The thirties, forties and seventies are fairly evenly spread over the Peninsula, with higher concentrations of the forties round the three main centres: the train station, Ettalong & Umina. The seventies has a few dozen streets of its own, streets that just didn’t exist until then, mainly on former swampy ground and in South Woy Woy round the big end of the golf course. The pre-30s houses are a lot more scattered though there’s fairly high concentraions of them round the train station, Ettalong & Umina and along Ocean Beach Road.

All that can be read in a local history book in the library of course. But seeing it for myself gives me a far greater understanding of the Woy Woy and Woy Woyans. And a chance to make a list of the worst and best of Woy Woyan domestic architecture.

The dogs were yapping and howling a lot today. They started off again as I went past. They’d already been excited by the ambulance sirens and noise from the school carnival.

The carnival was at the end of McEvoy. There’s some bush there and an big oval in the middle of it. Had a glance as I marked off McEvoy on my map. The place was overrun by kids in school uniforms and someone with a loud hailer (bullhorn) was exhorting the eight year olds to line up for the egg-and-spoon race.

At the end of my walk I came out onto Whatsit Street. Outside the supermarket there was a guy in a bear suit and a barbeque to raise money for some charity. I handed over my gold coin and got a sausage.

Then I got the bus up to the top of The Rampart. Pretty steep going up that hill. The bus was in first gear all the way up. The view was great. Across to Phegans Bay, the whole sweep of Umina Beach from Half Tide Rocks to Patonga Ridge, and out over Patonga Ridge to Barrenjoey Head and the Northern Beaches beyond. Loverly. (Map.) It’ll be a bastard getting up that hill on foot but it’s all in a good cause and the photos will be great.

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In other news

(Originally posted 5th of August 2005)

My basil is dead. I've been nursing it for a week or so and today it turned up its toes.

No idea what killed it. Maybe not enough sun. I don't know. The label says 'full sun or part shade' and it's been in the kitchen window where it gets the afternoon sun. I'll get another one and try again.

One of the Dear Old Things may have joined the basil on the other side. There was an ambulance in the driveway this morning and a small silent crowd of neighbours outside her flat. The ambulance guys were in there for yonks then one of them came out for the trolley and the back board. Fifteen minutes later I saw the same ambulance going full tilt down the main road, sirens wailing. Not a good sign. Poor bugger. (UPDATE, January 2006: She did join the basil, poor thing. Massive stroke. She lived a few days in hospital then didn't wake up.)

It's been a big week for ambulance activity. They've been howling up to the F3 (Newcastle to Sydney freeway) nearly every day this week and I've been woken up in the middle of the night by sirens a couple of times.

But it's not all doom and gloom and death. One of my recently acquired daisy bushes is hale and hearty and has a flower ready for tomorrow's sun.

Next walk

Walk #40 - A Maze Of Lanes

(Walked 2nd of August 2005)

Today was dogs, lanes, the sun, the sixties and sheep.

Wattle Against The Sky
(Big version) Not a strictly relevant photo but I don't know what walk it originally belonged to.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if a house with forties add-ons is a holiday house turned retirement house or a pre-20s cottage. When people build a holiday home they build simply and cheaply and sometimes used recycled windows.

So you find yourself staring down the side of someone’s house for ten minutes trying to work out which it is. This leads to curtain-twitching from suspicious neighbours and the local stray comes to see if you’ve got anything to eat or steal. And you go away none the wiser. What you really need is some old maps from the local Town Planning office.

As well as the stray there were plenty of dogs out and about today. I walked mainly in the heart of the Peninsula, the older side streets in the centre.

Dear Old Things were out for a walk with their Dear Old Dogs trailing wearily behind them. Some sort of small terrier with short white hair and black spots chased a car down the road with vigour and vim then came back for a sniff at me. A couple of large silent dogs sat together in a hole in their front yard. They gazed at me with mild interest then shut their eyes again. The grey one raised its muzzle to the sky to get the sun on its throat. An middle-aged Staffordshire terrier gazed at me hopefully as I went past. Not sure if it wanted food, a scratch or a new owner. Down at the beach an elderly balding dog of unknown breed sat sedately with its retiree owners and watched younger dogs gambolling in the surf and biting each other on the leg.

I sat at the beach for a while. The sun was warm, almost hot. A chubby guy sat on his tackle box and fished off the beach, a small power boat zigzagged past through the deep water channel, a couple of parents chased their toddler and made it spit up the handful of sand it was eating.

It’s a narrow stretch of water just there on the corner where Ettalong Beach ends and the ocean beach starts. I was sitting directly across from Half Tide Rocks on Wagstaffe Point. There was a light white haze over Barrenjoey Head and beyond that the faint brown haze that hangs over Sydney (Barrenjoey Head is the northenmost point of Sydney). That was to my right.

Between Barrenjoey Head and Half Tide Rocks was the Tasman Sea, Box Head, Lobster Beach and Little Box Head. I can name them all now without the aid of a map.

To my left was Kourung Point on the other corner of Wagstaffe, Ettalong Beach opposite Hardy’s Bay and along to Memorial Avenue. Nothing at the ferry wharf. The Excrescence Formely Known As The Memorial Club was partly obscured by some nearby bushes and, beyond them, the tea tree forest. It looked very neat and dense and shady from a distance. Reminded me of the illustration of the hundred acre wood in one of my old Winnie-the-Pooh books. It’s tea trees instead of whatever-they-ares but it looked that tiny grove Where The Woozle Wasn’t.

There are lanes between the older streets. In the wide part between the ocean beach and the lagoons where the streets are laid out long and straight. You can pick the lane streets pretty quick. No driveways. All the garages are at the back with access off the lane.

Between the streets the lanes form I-beam shapes laying on their sides. They’re pretty much all connected. Bet they’re a real bastard for the police chasing some swine on foot on a dark night.

The lanes are a network of almost-secret streets covering half the Peninsula. You can walk by lane only from McMasters Road to Whatsit Street. That’s a bit over 3 kms (1.86 miles). All up there would be over 20 kays (12.43 miles) of lanes that I know of. At a conservative estimate. Walking them will give me a quite different experience of Woy Woy.

So far I’ve seen little of the sixties in the architecture of the Peninsula. The forties and seventies are the predominant types. There’s the older houses, sometimes partly obscured by forties and seventies renovations and additions, and clear but quiet thread of fifties houses. But before today I’d seen only a handful of sixties houses and all of them along the beach streets.

Today’s streets were very mixed. Fairly steady building from the twenties (or further back) through to the present, with the two big population increases of the forties and seventies. There were more fifties houses in five middle-length streets than in the whole length of Ocean Beach Road & Bourke Street and a good dozen sixties houses. There’s another three streets between today’s lot and Whatsit Street and I’d put good money on finding the fifties and sixties there too.

The sheep I can’t find a picture link for. They were horned sheep and sheep of any kind were not what I was expecting to come across on a quiet street in suburban Woy Woy. Thought they were a dog at first. One was laying on the grass just outside the fence of a house. It had a brown head and a white body and short sharpish horns and floppy ears. The other one was the same breed. It was inside the fence. The house was a rather scruffy place. A rental perhaps. One half was two-storeys with thirties windows upstairs and fifties ones downstairs. The other half was pure fifties. The sheep just stared at me and enjoyed the sun.

That was the last street of today’s walk. I was getting v-e-r-y sleepy in the sun and also very hungry. I marked the last street off on my map then tottered off to get some lunch and put some more films in for developing. (Can’t hardly wait to get my digital and cut the photography budget back down.)

Just one final word for today: please, for the love of God, if that’s your pleasant fifties house on Ocean Beach Road, get rid of the iron lace and that rather twee lamp.

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Hills & Ridges

Bit of a map to show you how many hills there are round Brisbane Water.

Hills & Ridges
(Big version)

The green is where the hills and ridges rise up from the flat land of the Peninsula and narrow fringes of flat shore.

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Saturday, January 21, 2006

It was aliens wot did it

Weasel caught in own web

On the news last night they showed John Howard, Australian Prime Minister (president) and all-round wanker, visiting some Australians in a London hospital ward. They were injured in the London bombings on the 7th.

There was a woman in a head brace. Didn’t catch her name. She asked Howard if he thought the bombings where linked to the invasion of Iraq and if we’re next. He was not amused at being called on camera. She was just an ordinary Australian and she called him on his bullshit and backflips. I liked her.

I’d give you a link but I can’t find one. The bomb scares a few minutes later bumped the gladhanding off the radar. Here’s the national newspaper if you want to dig yerself. No registration required.

It Was Aliens Wot Did It

Couldn’t find a date for that map with the two swamps. The magazine it’s from is a 1970 amateur local history and has very few attributions in it.

I was at the big table in the library again. Next to the big window. There’s a single shelf of local history books in the Woy Woy library. Most of them are in a room in the Gosford one, which is the central one for the Gosford Library system. I looked for a date for the map then wrote down the call numbers of a few other books to come back to. Local history books are Not For Loan.

Found a book called Paddocks, Palaces & Picture Shows which was about the history of local cinemas. Found the section on Woy Woy with its lovely old black and white photos.

One cinema ran from 1915 to 1924 and the projection room regularly caught fire. No address for it but it seated 200 so it must’ve been a decent sized building and it was “near the railway”. When it was demolished in 1924 a bank was built on the site. That was easy. There’s a 1970s Commonwealth Bank two doors down from the corner, opposite which is the train station.

The next one was built in 1922, also on Blackwall Road, on a site 90 feet by 200 feet and seated 1,535 people. Couldn’t work out where that site was. I know the road there fairly well. The area of the shops is only one block long and I’m sure I know all the old buildings on it. There was a lot of verbiage about the films they showed there and the lovers’ seats and then “closed in 1974 and the site bought by AV Jennings [national property developer] for a shopping centre”. Bingo! I was sitting right next to it. Looking straight ahead out of the big window in the library is the front half of the library, then the old firestation to the left of that then the white pebbledash wall of the small shopping centre.

I felt a warm glow of satisfaction. With my knowledge of those sites, the old pub round the corner and the 1914 building still standing next to the bank, I’m building up a decent picture of what the place was like before it started to boom.

The alien thing was the busdriver. Most of our busdrivers are pretty normal sort of people. Today’s guy has always seemed pretty normal. Not so today.

He’d been talking to the only other person on the bus when I got on. They carried on. Graffitti was the topic and the busdriver said “You know who does that right?” He lowered his voice dramatically. “Aliens!”

The other guy and I snorted but the busdriver nodded empathically. He seemed dead serious. Why aliens? “Because you never see them do it!”
Uh huh. Mate, aliens are not going to come all this way just to abduct a few lonely farmers and scrawl some badly-spelt graffitti in Woy Woy.
“But you never see them!” was his defence. And the occasional dead TV or mattress in a ditch? The Council! To put up the rates!

Mate, those little pills the doctor said you should take? You should take them. For all of us.

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Walkies #39 - Longest Street

(Walked 29th of July 2005)

The longest street on the Peninsula is Ocean Beach Road. It runs from Woy Woy Inlet to the beach and is 6 kilometres (3.73 miles) long. (The Long March was 9k (5.59 miles).)

It’s mostly straight and made a good plodding walk. I deviated from it only once, to polish off a couple of small streets missed on The Long March. They didn’t take long but long enough for a very unattractive drunk sitting on a rubbish bin to hit on me.

I’d covered about six blocks of Ocean Beach Road weeks ago but I started from the start and went over that bit again for the sheer satisfaction of walking the whole street in one go. So now it makes a nice black line down the middle of the Peninsula, making the areas of unwalked streets look smaller.

I’ve now walked a bit over a third of the Peninsula. I’ve been walking since March and my planned finish date is the end of Spring. Which is the 1st of December in Australia. It’d be good to finish at the beginning of Spring (1st of September) but looking at how far along I am now, that seems unlikely to happen. I could pile on the speed but that would take a lot of the fun out of it.

Anyways, back to Ocean Beach Road. The two little streets were 100% seventies, including that unlovely block of flats with the drunk out the front. But Ocean Beach Road was quite an architectural delight. Didn’t start out that way though. There were some nice forties houses at the Woy Woy Inlet end but also quite a lot of seventies places.

As I walk the streets of the Peninsula I think a lot about the settlement patterns and it seems likely the pre-1940s housing would’ve been fairly scattered. There would’ve been some clustering around the main parts. Up near the station, at Booker Bay and at Ettalong. But other than that, there was the whole Peninsula to spread out on.

Around the station there’re few pre-war buildings left. The old Woy Woy pub is still there, preserved in alcohol no doubt, a pleasant house a few doors down which may or may not have been the original cop shop and a few shops with high facades and the dates on them. The rest was bulldozed between the forties and seventies to make two small shopping centres, the Clock Tower Centre (mostly offices) and various small shops.

So I’ve been looking closely at rooflines and down the sides of houses in the hope of spotting the oldest houses. Usually I find one or two a week. Today I saw dozens.

At the beginning it was mostly the seventies and forties. Just one pair of old cottages, one well-maintained and the other looking rather careworn. Then after a dozen blocks, the thirties set in. Then I started noticing some older rooflines.
Classic roofline
Left: Cumberland Street Sydney circa 1879.
Right: Australian farm house around the same time.

These two drawings are versions of the same roofline. I’m not yet sure exactly when they were replaced by other styles but I’m thinking 1890.
They're the sort of older rooflines I was seeing on Ocean Beach Road. Almost all were partly disguised by forties building. Additions mainly, add-ons on the front and back of tiny pre-war cottages. I spotted a few under seventies reno’s too. Had to stop and have a good long stare at the first one to see if I was seeing what I thought I saw. Yep, there it was. I stared hard enough and the outline became obvious. A cottage like the one on the right above, side on to the road, with an addition on each end in the forties or seventies, a hideous layer of render and a beigey-yellow paintjob. The delightful little sunroom on one corner I couldn’t date. Might’ve been 1980s, might've been quite recent. Another block down and another cottage facing the same way, an addition on each end and another one a block after that.

(Big versions)

On the right hand side of the road they faced Ocean Beach Road. There was one with a bullnose veranda I wasn’t sure about. Hard to tell if it was a pre-war cottage with a forties roof and a brand new bullnose or a forties holiday house. I’ll go back for another look and also see if I can find it in the library.

No reno
(Big version)

A lot of them down past McMasters Road had lean-to additions on the back and in the classic forties style on the front. Sometimes the original cottage windows had been replaced with wider forties ones. Sometimes they were replaced again with tacky seventies aluminium windows. Way to spoil the symmetry and balance.
Right down the beach end there was a cottage with its roofline intact. It was in good nick and had yuppies living in it so I’m guessing there was a sizable addition out the back. It was beautiful. Couple of nice bottlebrushes in the garden, lovely soft green paintjob, bullnose veranda.

From there I went down to the beach. A motorbike was changing gears up on the hairpin bend on Patonga Ridge, three surfers were sitting astride their boards on the flat surf and a class from the local primary school was poking around in the sand in their sunhats. A couple of sand dunes along a guy was asleep on his back with his mouth open and his tackle box by his side. The sun was almost hot on my back. I started to get sleepy. I jumped up and headed for the busstop.

On the way back the bus passed a couple of magnolia denudata in full flower. Beautiful.

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Francine Finished

Francine started her walk of every street of Minneapolis in January 2002 and finished on Sunday the 10th of July 2005. She had a small celebration with friends at the finishing point and got on national radio and on the telly.

Since then she’s been off her feet recovering from (unrelated) foot surgery. She’s become something of a celebrity, with dozens of articles about her on the net and no doubt some more in the print-only media. She’s also connected to her fellow every-street walkers around the world and is mentioned on related and unrelated blogs.

News sites across America:
1,071 miles under her feet (Star Tribune.com)
Duluth News Tribune
KARE 11.com
WCCO.com (includes news footage)
The Boston Globe
WKBT.com news
The Odd Truth (CBS)
The Buzz
Lancaster Online
Cave News - Unusual news stories
College of St. Catherine News.

Non-news sites:
New York City Walk
Catron County Walk
Me, my life + infrastructure
Coffee Grounds
The Hiawatha Project
Car Free 2005

Francine’s website:
Francine Corcoran Photography

Got a link about Francine I left off the list? Bung it in the comments.

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Walk #38 - Howling Gale & Ferry Ride

Got the kettle on and am going to inspect my pot plants for wind damage when it boils. There’s been a howling gale here today and it’s still windy. It’s just on sunset and instead of the clouds going pink or purple or whatever, they’re gold and there’s a weird and beautiful golden light. Beautiful end to a day of thoroughly enjoyable weather.

Davistown houses
(Big version)

Went on a ferry ride. Up into the smaller part of Brisbane Water and back. Up close to the mangrove islands, little old houses inhabited by Dear Old Things, big ugly glass rich people’s houses to diss, a Dear Old Thing on the ferry who couldn’t remember where she was. Very nice afternoon out.

Fishing Boat
(Big version)

Before that I Walked one short street overlooked on a previous walk then walked along the foreshore park. It was bright and sunny but too windy for the seagulls to crowd round after food. Only the pelicans were still up in the air. The ducks and seagulls and one fat white goose were huddled on the ground with their beaks tucked round under their wings. The magpies had gone wherever magpies go in such weather.

(Big version)

Pelican Island Beaches
(Big version)

Had my lunch on a seat under a stand of pines and listened to the wind howl and shriek along the powerlines and through the pines. The sun sparkled bright white on the water, the boats jerked and twitched at their moorings, pelicans hung in the air facing into the wind, two old guys walking along the footpath giggled with joy as they leaned into the wind. Twiggy bits off the trees were scattered on the ground everywhere and there was the occasional crash of an unfastened gate somewhere. Hope it’s still windy when I go to bed tonight. Love laying there all tucked up in bed listening to the wind.

Been searching my map for another Long March to do. I can feel another one coming on. Perhaps tomorrow, if it doesn’t rain.

Next post - Francine Finished
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Walk #37 - Turkeys, Steak & Icecream

(Walked 24th of July 2005)

Went back up to that high street where I got the cloudy misty photos over the Peninsula. Scarcely a cloud in the sky all day so there was no way I was going to get the same type of photo as the one above. But I’m after photos of the good views in all weathers and they’re certainly good views up there.

View Along Veron II
(Big version)

So this time I had an extra film and nothing was going to stop me from getting all the photos I wanted. Well, that was the theory anyways. Forgot to change the batteries before I went and ran into a bit of aggro with that.

Phegan's Bay From Timbertop Drive
(Big version)

But I did get those lovely views over Phegans Bay I missed out on last time and that was the whole point of the walk. I was pretty warm by the time I'd climbed up there and got rather hot under the collar over the battery issue. But I forgot about all that looking for the right angles for the best pictures. The water in Phegans Bay and what I could see of Brisbane Water and Hardys Bay was bright blue in the afternoon sun. A pelican flapped along over Blackwall Road and more sirens went up to the F3 (motorway). Must’ve been a big prang up there.

As I came back down from the horn of Timbertop Drive a brush turkey stepped out of the undergrowth and stood near the kerb. I got my camera back out. It saw me and legged it across the road. I stalked it and managed to get off a couple of shots. It was in the shade though so I don’t know how much you’ll be able to see of the black turkey against the dark green of the trees in shadow. It went into the undergrowth on the downhill side of the road and I could hear it rustling about.

Brush Turkeys
(Big version
Fact sheet thingy

A few metres further along a couple more turkeys crossed the road. Male and female this time. The males are black with yellow beaks and red jowls. Unless it’s red beaks and yellow jowls. We’ll know when I get the film developed. The females are dark grey with brown bits and white specks. The better to hide in the bush I s’pose.

Anyways, these two were too far away for decent photos so I stalked them. I walked as slow as I could, not treading on anything crunchy. The turkeys looked at me suspiciously and wandered along the curb. I took a photo in case they disappeared downhill. They stopped and squinted at me worriedly. I tried to look harmless. They started walking again. They were still in the shade so I was after at least one photo of them in the sun. They were heading into a patch of sun. Yes! Slowly they went, slowly I went after them. Slowly slowly they paced towards the patch of sun. They reached it! They stepped into it! I pressed the shutter button! Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Bloody battery was too low again. I gritted my teeth, steam came silently out of my ears. I gave it a few minutes while the turkeys scratched the grass and looked at things they might like to eat. I had another go. The battery would be okay for one shot now. I aimed, I steadied, I pressed. A vague whirr and buzz from the camera. I’d run out of film. Stone the bloody crows.

By the time I got a new film in the bastards were gone. They disappeared down someone’s driveway. I could hear them, or the other one, crunching over some dry leaves but I couldn’t find them. Ah well. Another day maybe. Got off another view picture to console myself. (UPDATE, January 2006: Luckily, as you can see above, the sunlit turkey photo was able to be developed.)

I’d gone for just the views from the top of Timbertop but seeing as I was there already I ripped off another walk. A few streets at the foot of the hill.

It was quiet now except for birds in the trees on the ridgeside. I could smell bush burning. Couldn’t see any smoke though. Must be someone firing up a barbeque using wood from the ridgeside. After a few minutes they put some steak on. Definitely a barbie then.

There were almost no cars on the road. A quiet snipping came from one backyard and a large dog barked at me lazily over a brick fence. It was the kind of warm afternoon where everyone who’s not out on their boat is laying on the sofa with the cricket on or BBQ’ing steak.

Magnolia Denudata Against Frangipani
(Big version)

So far all the magnolia denudata I’ve seen for months have been in bud but not with more than a few flowers. Today I saw four of the pink and white ones completely covered in flowers. Beautiful. They’re hard to photograph well but I took a few photos and we’ll see how they come out. Also got another golden wattle photo. The wattles are in full and glorious bloom all over the Peninsula.

Marked off the last street of today’s walk and started back. I was pretty warm and my feet were starting to throb. They seem to throb more on the weekends. Weird. How do feet know what day it is? Anyways, I’d been hearing Mr Whippy (icecream van) for the last half hour and the sound was driving me batty. A nice cold icecream would go down a treat and take my mind off my aching feet. I could hear him in a street nearby. Then he came up the street I was walking. Oh bliss! I got a double choc top with extra choc and a chocolate bar sticking out of it. It went down a treat and I marched off home with renewed energy.

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Walk #36 - Dogs, Ducks & A Kick In The Head

(Walked 22nd of July 2005)

Went down to the foreshore today. The long flat grassed foreshore that stretches from the Mountain to Brick Wharf then round the point there and along to the ferry.

Last time I was down there I could see a bushfire on Killcare Heights. No fires today. But plenty of that glorious warm sun again. Lots of people walking their dogs.

Blackwall Foreshore I
(Big version

A crowd of ducks were waiting for the next bucket of bread scraps at some Dear Old Thing's place just back from the foreshore. Her elderly kelpie leaning against the fence with a blissful expression as I scratched it. She told me she feeds about 200 ducks every morning at 7AM. Bet the neighbours love that.

A cat perched on a fence miaowing for attention as I went past. It sniffed my doggy hand cautiously and decided I was good for an ear massage no matter what I smelt like.

Blackwall Foreshore III
(Big version Panorama)

There's a tiny islet of sand opposite the end of Burge Road. When I say tiny I mean maybe 10 metres (32.81 feet) across. Last time I saw it was a couple of years ago. It had a low mangrove bush on it then I think. Today it had a couple of tiny bare trees and a low bush at one end. There seemed to be some grass on it too. I wondered if it'd still be there after some of the big winds we’ve had in the last year or so. But with all that growing on it I think it's here to stay. Fascinating to see it in the early stages of its evolution.

It was of course covered in pelicans. There were also two groups of pelicans nearby in the water. They were milling round in a circle, dipping their beaks into the water. Must've been milling round a school of fish. After about 15 minutes they started to drift off.

A small kid was standing on the rock wall that runs along Blackwall foreshore. She was trickling breadcrumbs down onto the mud in the mangroves for the ducks to eat. There was a few ducks but they buggered off when the cockatoos moved in. They were the white cockatoos with a tinge of pink and no crests. They stalk about on their big feet muttering to each other and picking seeds out of the grass or, in this case, breadcrumbs out of the mud.

It was half tide. The kid was standing at the end of a bunch of mangrove trees. Behind her and me was a small stand of pine trees. No sound from them. The breeze was too weak. In one tree a couple of cockatoos were cooing and billing. With the winter sun so warm lots of birds are displaying mating behaviour. The male was jerking himself about trying to work out how to mount the female. Eventually he raised a foot and accidently kicked her in the head. She squawked and knocked him off the branch and shat on him as he fluttered down and away. It's the other end you want, mate, and few of them regard a kick in the head as foreplay. In my experience anyways.

I enjoyed the view for a few more minutes. To my right was the curve of the foreshore park going to the foot of Blackwall Mountain. The trees along it were a mix of pines and gums and the private jetties were painted white or unpainted wood greyed by the sun. The houses were from the twenties or earlier through to the eighties and one nineties house with a boxy look softened by unpainted wooden slats shading the windows.

One of my favourite houses on the Peninsula was there. A small white wooden house with a closed-in veranda. Maybe from the twenties, maybe earlier. With a big old pine at one corner. Must be heaven to lie in bed in that house listening to the wind rushing and whispering in that pine and the waves lapping against the bank of the river.

At the end of the foreshore was Blackwall Mountain and Spit Bridge off the tail of it going across to Daleys Point. Most of St. Huberts was obscured by the two nameless mangrove islets then Rileys Island was beside and behind them. Rileys is a mangrove island too but bigger and has some tallish pines in the middle of it. Behind Rileys was the hill of Saratoga and behind that the ridge of Koolewong or Tascott. The mangrove trees where the kid had been obscured the rest of the view to my left.

Directly in front of me was a big old mangrove tree. A smaller one beside it had been the victim of a midnight chainsaw raid. It was laying in pieces in the mud, opening up a clearer view for the house immediately behind me.

A few metres to the right a shag was sunning itself on the prow of a small white wooden boat. That was tied up to an unpainted jetty. Past that a fisherman was dozing in a dingy with his line drooping in the water. You can't chuck a rock on the Peninsula without hitting a dozen guys with fishing rods. It's hobby fishing heaven.

A couple of motor boats buzzed past out near the islets and the cockatoos exhausted the supply of breadcrumbs. My bum was getting cold so I went.

Walked a couple more streets. One with the world's most boring set of units across the road from a smart white fifties house with perky blue trim. There was a rather pleasing set of units in the next street. Brand new, built of squarish sandstone-coloured bricks, soft grey roofs and trim. Very nice. There was also a beautiful reno of a twenties or thirties house. (Took a photo. Which you'll get to see next week some time.) There's also a pleasant little white wooden church on Blackwall Road. Very simple. Windows with small panes of coloured glass rather stained glass windows. I've had a gander inside and it's dead boring. Pity. But the outside is everything you could want in a little wooden church.

There's another, even smaller one a few blocks down. No idea what its inside was like. It's an environment centre or something now.


Along the foreshores is the biggest shift. Used to be mostly Dear Old Things who'd been here since God knows when and bought land on the foreshore when it cost ten pounds an acre. Now there's a few of those Dear Old Things left, a few of their grandchildren living in the DOT's house while they sell the backyard, and rich bastards living in whacking great houses or flash apartments.

In the side streets there's less change. Another generation of retirees is moving in to replace the Dear Old Things as they drop off their perches. So that's yuppy commuters and soon-to-be DOTs and a few young families. The architecture's changing but that's mostly along the foreshores where it always changes first (see: rich bastards). The architecture in the side streets and along the main roads is turning away from the horrors and excesses of the seventies and eighties and back to the gentler outlines of Federation revival and sympathetic restoration.

Another Dear Old Thing in Kmart when I went to get this week's photos. Poor dear couldn't put the last number of his PIN into the machine. He kept bunging three numbers in then pressing 'OK'. But it was mildly entertaining and distracted the rest of us from the smell of his trousers.

There was a terrible crowd at the photo counter. A tangle of technical incompetents who couldn't get the SIM card or whatever out of their camera and into the printer machine then back out of the machine and back into their camera. But I got my photos and clambered back out over the tangle.

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