City of Sound is about cities, design, architecture, music, media, politics and more. Written by Dan Hill since 2001.

All around appears like an enchantment

Written in


"The finest terra’s, lawns and grottos, with distinct plantations of the tallest and most stately trees I ever saw in any nobleman’s ground in England, cannot excel in beauty those wh. Nature now presented to our view. The singing of various birds among the trees, and the flight of the numerous parraqets, lorraquets, cockatoos, and maccaws, made all around appear like an enchantment; the stupendous rocks from the summit of the hills and down to the very water’s edge hang’g over in a most awful way from above, and form’g the most commodious quays by the water, beggard all description." [Arthur Bowes Smyth’s journal entry for January 26, 1788, as his transport Lady Penrhyn glided up the harbour into what would one day be called Sydney. From The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes.]

I’m in Australia for a few weeks; rough notes to follow.


5 responses to “All around appears like an enchantment”

  1. rachael Avatar

    that’s a lovely description of my homeland that you’ve found. most of the explorer’s accounts were quite negative, since australia was the furthest thing possible to their green well controlled gardens and landscapes.
    for a similar outlook, i always think of how rottnest island was named after the dutch for “rats nest” (quokkas looked like big rats to them).


  2. andrew Avatar

    May I ask where you’ll be visiting?


  3. Dan Avatar

    Hey Andrew … I’m currently in Brisbane (hot, sticky, humid, fantastic), and then next week a few days each in Melbourne and Sydney. Then back to Brisbane. So much to see; so little time!


  4. andrew Avatar

    I’m in Melbourne. A couple of recommendations if I may:
    * as you leave the airport, watch for The Age (local broadsheet) printing facility on your left about 2km down the freeway. It’s damn near my favourite bit of architecture around here. I love it.
    * At the end of the freeway you’ll see a large, square, yellow tumescence jutting over the road at a jaunty angle. For a while, we suffered this thing for wedges and blades and other simplistic erectile structures. I think the firm of Denton Corker Marshall was responsible. Bloody horrible.
    * Also at the end of the freeway, depending on whether you continue on the raised section, you may pass through a tunnel of sorts like a dinosaur skeleton. Cool.
    * Federation Square is worth a look. It succeeds in some ways, fails dismally in others, especially suitability for our 40C summer climate, but I’m still drawn to it. The coffee and food at Arintji there are just great.
    * The Museum is largely good, especially the rainforest and the Koori section.
    * Southern Cross railway station. What bollocks. It used to be called Spencer Street, after the street upon which it sat. Stations are properly named after where they are. But Someone somewhere decided to rename it to a name that tells us nothing. And the year-late redevelopment proceeds. A massive wave-like roof that although impressive, looks choppy and artificial, not at all natural in its form or reminiscent of waves. It’s noisy and dark under there too. There are escalators with glass sides and vertiginous drops, too-steep staircases. But what I hate most is that 100 years’ back, railway stations had gorgeous curved metal supports, properly tapered and triangulated. Now we have ugly galvanised beams of constant thickness. Everything as simple, cheap, standard and inelegant as possible. The only bits that really turn me on are 2 large yellow pods on legs that hold the offices and admin.
    Anyway, enjoy Melbourne.


  5. ted Avatar

    I like the contraction of progressive tense verbs here: hanging becomes hang’g. I’ve never seen that (maybe I should read more old diaries!) but I can see myself doing that now…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: