Earlier this month I was invited to be involved in this year’s Sydney Open. In case you missed it, I photographed the Newington Armory Gun Powder Magazine to help promote the all-new After Dark Tours. I, along with hundreds of other Sydneysiders then made a day of it and crammed as many of Sydney’s most interesting buildings as I could into the First Sunday of November. Here are some photos of some of the places I visited for Sydney Open. Special thanks again to Sydney Open and Sydney Living Museums for having me on board.
Located in Circular Quay at the gateway to Sydney’s CBD, 33 Alfred Street has been a prominent feature on the Sydney skyline for more than 50 years and remains the home and headquarters of AMP (the Australian Mutual Provident Society) to this day.
Opened in 1962, the AMP ‘Sydney Cove’ Building, designed by Peddle Thorp & Walker (now PTW Architects), was Sydney’s first to break the city’s 150-foot (46-metre) height limit, imposed from 1912. At 117 metres, it was Australia’s tallest building, almost double the height of anything else in Sydney at the time. It is also considered of state heritage significance.
But the building courted controversy for more than just its scale; its postwar International style was unlike anything Sydney had seen before. The twin crescent towers soared 26 storeys, linked centrally into an H-shape and set free from their podium. They symbolised an emergent new culture, that was dispensing with traditional ties. An observation deck on the top floor was open to the public, offering Sydneysiders and visitors views of the city and harbour from a never-before-seen angle.
Aluminium and glass curtain walling was used to capture magnificent harbour and district views. It was also one of the first buildings to use seawater air conditioning, requiring an onsite ‘frogman’ to maintain its water-intake pump house.
Part of this new building language was the use of public art. A Tom Bass sculpture on the western facade depicts the Goddess of Plenty watching over a family, to invoke AMP’s founding principle: ‘Amicus certus in re incerta’ (a true friend in uncertain times).
Behind this Sydney Cove treasure, AMP Capital will be transforming the precinct where 50 Bridge Street currently stands. The new Quay Quarter Tower, designed by Danish architects 3XN, represents the first major project in Sydney designed by a Danish architect since Jørn Utzon designed the Sydney Opera House in the 1950s.
A Development Application (DA) has been received to revitalise the AMP Building, with the sensitive renewal of the building’s facades, reinstatement of lost building features, refurbishing internal spaces and significant improvement to the environmental performance of the building to bring it in line with premium commercial office standards.
It follows two years of consultation and will restore the building to its rightful status as a premium-grade office tower in keeping with its history, and its prominent place at Circular Quay.
One of the finest examples of Gothic Revival architecture in Sydney, complete with towers and castellation, Government House Sydney is the official residence and office of Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AO QC, 39th Governor of New South Wales, and Mr Dennis Wilson.
The building was designed in England by Edward Blore (architect to William IV and Queen Victoria), modified by Colonial Architect Mortimer Lewis to suit its Sydney location, and constructed between 1836 and 1845.
Over the years the building has been extended, refurbished and modernised to suit the tastes and needs of successive governors. Visitors will be able to view the restored grand historic interiors, replete with exquisite hand-stencilled original ceilings. The House also showcases a significant collection of portraits, furniture, decorative arts and gubernatorial (governor-related) memorabilia, many produced in NSW and of heritage significance.
Government House Sydney is a busy ‘working House’, which is host to many vice-regal and charitable events, royal visitors and state functions during the year. Set in a beautiful landscaped garden, with views over Farm Cove and the harbour and an unusual perspective of the Sydney Opera House, visitors are warmly invited to view the State House of New South Wales.
Chief Secretary’s Building
From its imposing position facing Government House in Macquarie Street to the exquisite detail of its sandstone colonnaded facade, the Chief Secretary’s Building is, by design, a symbol of power and politics. Completed in 1881, it was designed in the Victorian Free Classical Style by Colonial Architect James Barnet for the Colonial Secretary – the most senior official in the colony after the Governor and Chief Magistrate. Within a decade it was expanded by Barnet’s successor, Walter Liberty Vernon, who added an elaborate attic and dome in French Renaissance style and a six-storey wing along Phillip Street – much to Barnet’s horror.
Advising on the building’s statuary, paintings, decorative arts and furnishings was Henry Parkes, an early Colonial Secretary, keen to ensure they were of a calibre befitting the aspirations of the colony. Indeed they were. The Colonial Secretary’s offices and Executive Council Chamber played a pivotal role in Australia’s formation as the main Sydney venues for the political congresses leading to Federation in 1901.
The Chief Secretary’s Building served as the seat of government administration for 120 years, and following a refurbishment, today houses a variety of tenants including the Justice Department of NSW and the NSW Industrial Relations Commission. Heritage-listed as a building of both state and national cultural significance, it falls within the group of early buildings on Macquarie Street collectively called ‘a poem in stone’.
Among its treasures are the heraldic crest above the main entry, and the regal figures placed (in 1884) in each of the three foyers. Parkes had commissioned Italian sculptor Giovanni Fontana to carve three imposing statues in marble, representing Queen Victoria, the Prince of Wales, and an allegorical figure called New South Wales – crowned with a wreath of waratah, nature’s bounty at her feet, symbolising (in Parkes’s view) NSW as the ‘mother of the Australian colonies’.
STATE LIBRARY OF NSW
The State Library of NSW is the oldest library in Australia. It started out as a small subscription library in Pitt Street in 1826 for colonials who were desperate to read books. From these early beginnings it became the world class, global library it is today.
In 1869 the NSW Government purchased the library, then located on the corner of Bent and Macquarie streets, to form the Sydney Free Public Library, the first truly public library for the people of NSW.
In 1898 David Scott Mitchell promised to bequeath the NSW Government his extraordinary collections of Australian books and art (40,000 items), on the proviso that a new building was constructed to house them. Designed by the NSW Government Architect Walter Liberty Vernon, the Mitchell Library was opened in 1910 on the corner of Macquarie Street and Shakespeare Place. Sadly, DS Mitchell died before the building was completed.
In 1919 another benefactor, Sir William Dixson, offered the Library an extensive collection of historical paintings. The Dixson Wing, completed in 1929, was added to the south side of the Mitchell Wing to provide storage and gallery space for Dixson’s collection.
To rationalise the Library’s growing collections, the building was again extended in 1942. Cobden Parkes, the NSW Government Architect from 1935 to 1958, added the portico, the ornate vestibule with its reproduction of the Tasman Map in marble mosaic, and the main reading room. The name was changed to the Public Library of New South Wales.
In 1964 the Domain Wing was added to the southeast corner, and in 1975 the name changed again to the State Library of NSW. A final round of changes saw the Macquarie Wing addition in 1988 by Government Architect Andrew Andersons, bringing a new reading room (now the Governor Marie Bashir Reading Room), as well as upgrades to the public space and amenity.
Visitors should keep an eye out for the statues of Matthew Flinders and his faithful cat Trim, located outside the Library on the Macquarie Street forecourt.
The Mitchell Building has recently undergone a remarkable transformation. Heritage areas never before open to the public have been reimagined with beautiful new galleries, a learning centre and casual seating. Six new exhibitions stretch across the entire first floor of the Mitchell Building, including an impressive salon hang of over 300 paintings on permanent display for the first time.
The Mitchell Building has been a prominent Sydney icon since 1910, so improving public access to it while respecting its heritage features remains a priority for the Library. The building project uncovered some lovely heritage elements which have become features in the new spaces. Beautiful arch windows now provide previously unseen views onto The Domain. Ornate 1940s wooden doors removed from the Level 1 northern corridor of the Mitchell have been repurposed, and will now open up into the Michael Crouch Room.
50 MARTIN PLACE
When 50 Martin Place opened in 1928 as head office for the Government Savings Bank of NSW, it was the city’s tallest, most expensive building with the world’s largest banking chamber. It has since been transformed as the global headquarters of Macquarie Group.
From the street, the building’s Beaux-Arts facade showcases a solid red granite base, topped with four Ionic columns and pilasters, clad in pink-glazed ceramic tiles. Twelve storeys in height, it was crowned originally with a two-storey attic and, intriguingly, a rooftop rifle range.
At ground level, the grand hall and banking chamber are lavishly detailed in the Neoclassical style, featuring marble and scagliola – a form of plaster – on massive stylised columns. The award-winning adaptive re-use of the building in 2014 under a team led by Johnson Pilton Walker (JPW) sees old and new beautifully enmeshed.
Inside the atrium are two futuristic circular glass lifts. An extraordinary eight-storey-high installation by artist Nike Savvas, Colours are the country, can be seen during the lift journey. Straddling the atrium is a new steel-framed glass dome, designed as a fifth facade to be seen from neighbouring buildings as a shimmering lantern.
The refurbishment of 50 Martin Place won a string of awards, including the 2015 Harry Seidler Award for Commercial Architecture and Best Adaptive Re-use from the Urban Design Institute of Australia. It is also Australia’s largest heritage building to be given a Six Green Star rating from the Green Building Council of Australia.
SYDNEY MASONIC CENTRE
The Masonic Centre, on Castlereagh Street, is one of Sydney’s most enigmatic pieces of architecture. Its mystique lies not just in its imposing concrete form straddling Goulburn and Castlereagh Streets, nor in the 24-storey Civic Tower that seems poised above the podium on a pinhead. It is because these two dramatically interlocking elements were built some 30 years apart.
Architects Joseland & Gilling designed both podium and tower in the early 1970s, as headquarters for the United Grand Lodge of NSW and the ACT of Ancient, Free and Accepted Freemasons. But from 1974 to 1979, only the podium was erected.
Decades later, the air space above the podium was sold to a developer, along with plans for a glass curtain-wall tower. The new owner saw beauty in the original plans, as did PTW Architects, who completed the tower faithfully to the former design, while giving it a new defining feature — that precarious balancing act. The illusion made Civic Tower Australia’s first building to be fully supported on a central lift core, without perimeter columns extending down to footings.
During the tower addition, the podium was also amended at street level with a geometric awning of suspended glass, which tempers the elements while leaving the structure visible.
SYDNEY TOWN HALL
Sydney Town Hall has been the seat of the city’s administration and the Lord Mayor’s office for over 120 years. It is also the public stage for civic celebration and entertainment and a meeting point for the people of Sydney and its visitors.
Built on the site of Sydney’s first European cemetery, Sydney Town Hall is a striking blend Neo-Classical revival and French Second Empire architecture and the Hôtel de Ville in Paris, with its mansard roofs and wrought-iron cresting.
The design is derived from a competition-winning entry by architect John Henry Willson, interpreted and embellished by successive architects and engineers. Willson did not live to see its first stage completed (1880), leaving city architect Albert Bond to be credited with its execution. Despite its name, the main (Centennial) hall wasn’t completed until 1889. Mostly the work of architect George McRae, it features the first large Wunderlich (pressed zinc) ceiling in Sydney and the largest pipe organ in the Southern Hemisphere.
Sydney Town Hall is linked to an office building, Town Hall House, which houses City of Sydney staff. Designed by Ancher Mortlock and Woolley, the building opened in 1977. In sharp contrast to the ornamented Town Hall, this modern concrete office building with its striking repetitive angular geometry has been identified as an important local example of Brutalist architecture. As the last project before his death in 2015, architect Ken Woolley provided advice to company Smart Design Studio, who refurbished the public areas of Town Hall House.
THE BUSHELLS BUILDING
The Bushells Building was built in 1924 as a seven-storey factory for Bushells Tea and designed by the prominent Sydney architecture firm Ross and Rowe. The factory housed innovative new tea-blending, packing and dispatch methods under one roof. It has local historical associations as its location in The Rocks provides evidence of the working history of the area.
The offices of HAVAS will be open to the public, and offer two perspectives. One is a journey through time to learn about the history of Bushells interpreted through the original equipment used by the factory. Alongside this is the intelligent re-use of the building as a commercial home to a modern innovative communications company. Visitors will be able to access three levels of the building to view the original timber structure, tea extractors, packing slides and lift shafts. The top floor still retains evidence of where the official tea tasting was done!
I spoke to Samantha Brett from 7News Sydney about some of the work I’ve been doing with Lost Collective for the past decade.
Sydney’s abandoned history is being kept alive thanks to the efforts of a former builder – Brett Patman from Lost Collective – who’s now turned to building a vast collection of places normally hidden from public view.
During the past couple of years running Lost Collective, I’ve received all kinds of correspondence, good and bad. One of the most rewarding things would have to be when people drop me a line to share their connection to the places I photograph. Not long after I shared the original Wangi Power Station gallery, a former worker named Cliff was kind enough to share some amazing pictures from his personal collection, taken around the late 70s and early 80s while the power station was still operational. If you have any pictures of your own prior to the closure of Wangi Power Station, please drop me a line.
The hydrogen-cooled 60 MW Parsons generator, viewed from above the operating level. This is the favourite photo from Cliff, the gentleman who was kind enough to supply almost all of the pictures you see in this blog post. This is turbine number 6, sitting just outside the “B” mechanical workshop, the supervisors’ office, and the meal room above that. If you look carefully, you can even see one of the supervisors in his office through the window. The metal stairway near the centre of the frame leads up to the meal room, where Cliff can remember sitting with his colleagues and listening to the radio as Australia II won the America’s Cup in 1983. You can clearly see the high-pressure, intermediate-pressure, and low-pressure manifolds on the drive end of the turbine. Modern designs would never plan to have a generator spinning at over 30000 RPM this close to a staff area. On Monday 9th December 1957, turbine number 2 burst from its housing, flying 25ft through the air, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage and rendering the generator inoperable for about six months while repairs were carried out. It’s very lucky the office wasn’t next to that one.
Cooling water screens for the condensers in “B” Station filtered out the aquatic life and other solid objects which would otherwise interfere with the pumps. This screened salt water could then be pumped to the condensers to cool the steam after it had been spent in the turbines. Once the steam had been cooled back to a liquid state, it could then be returned to the system and reused in the boilers.
The image on the left is a view through the dividing area between the turbine and boiler house, during the construction of Wangi Power Station. Photographed by Sam Hood for the Newcastle Morning Herald. This image is from the Hood Collection part I in the State Library of NSW . The second is my own photograph taken from approximately the same spot December 2015, 61 years later and 30 years after closure.
A photograph from the coal stockpile beside the coal plant, looking towards the “B” Station lift tower. The openings on the right side of the frame are where the bulldozers would push coal onto a conveyor where it would begin its journey to the top of the power station and into bunkers. The building on the far was the main store of Wangi Power Station.
This was a steam driven feed pump used to supply boilers with the water required to generate the steam which drove the turbines (to the rear of where the photographer was standing). Rather than being electrically driven, this pump used steam bled from the turbine for energy. In the background is part of one of the pulverised fuel boilers, meaning this photo was taken somewhere inside “B” station.
The image on the left is looking from “B” Station over the length of the entire turbine hall to the far end of “A” Station. Wangi Power Station consisted of six turbines in total. “A” Station contained three 50 MW Parsons turbo-alternators, while “B” station had three 60 MW Parsons units, giving the power station a total generating capacity of 330 MW. Comparatively, Australia’s largest power stations, Eraring and Bayswater , are still operational at 2,880 MW and 2,640 MW respectively. You can see an operator and a supervisor (going by the uniform) to the far left of the frame, looking at a turbine control panel. The image on the right is my own, taken in 2015. When viewed against that on the left, it makes me think of a jaw with all of the teeth pulled out.
A shot from the “B” Station end of Wangi Power Station, looking over the switchyard. The outlet canal can be seen running from the power station into Lake Macquarie . You can see the main car park to the right of the frame, and a domed building on the furthest side of the switchyard, which was the new apprentice workshop. Before this had been built, apprentice training took place inside the power station itself, in a workshop, off from the main workshop area.
This was part of a trial feeding system that was being tested at the power station. I have limited information on this, so if you have a better understanding of what was happening here, please leave a comment. Supposedly, this trial was being developed to test the use a coal slurry to as fuel in the “B” Station boilers. The overall shot places the scene between the coal plant and the end of “B” Station. A large hopper looks to divert some of the coal being fed via the main coal feeding conveyor down to a green hopper. From this hopper, the coal feeds to a ball mill before passing through what appears to be some cleaning tanks. The top level of the furthest structure features what appears to be an orange centrifuge which might have been used to separate the water from the pulverised coal particles. Perhaps it was part of a trial to determine if washed coal had a higher efficiency rate than that of the dry, raw processed coal. As I mentioned, I’m hypothesising, but I’d quite like to know the story behind this, so please do get in touch if you know.
Boiler no 2A was one of the six spreader stoker Babcock and Wilcox cross drum boilers, used to heat steam to a temperature of 840ºF (449ºC) which drove the Parsons turbines. Rapidly rotating blades would fling coal, between the size of a marble and a fist, onto the grate via a gravimetric feeder. Coal fell onto the feeders via the four chutes seen on the front of the boiler. The coal would then pass through the boiler, over the grate, and then fall to waste removal at the end. On at least one occasion, this boiler was re-ignited after a shutdown by throwing an oily rag onto the coal already inside the boiler on the chain grate, with the hope of it catching alight. I’m not sure if this was standard practice, but hey, whatever gets the job done in an era where safety was still negotiable. The access hatches at the base near the floor were used to unjam the grates. You might also notice that one of the hatches has been left slightly ajar, showing the glow from inside the boiler. The specifications of the boiler were sign-posted on each unit, seen above the nameplate near the top centre of the frame.
Another shot of the high-pressure end of turbine number six. You can just see a couple of operators hiding in the far left of the frame.
What a classic shot. Taken just past the main car park with a Mini passing in front of the tennis courts, which lie between the roadside and the power station itself. This photo was taken looking towards the “A” Station end of Wangi Power Station.
The outlet canal took water recovered from the condensers and returned it to the outlet canal, which ran the length of the entire power station before returning to Lake Macquarie. You can see the roadway of Dobell Drive passing over the far end of the canal.
The “A” Station screens don’t look to have fared as well as their newer “B” Station counterparts. The same requirement for filtered salt water was needed for the “A” Station condensers, although the mechanism to filter the water for this side of the power station was of a completely different design. A series of buckets would be pulled up using a chain drive, and then passed over filter screens before being pumped back to the condensers. I’m told the cast iron rollers used in these screens were great material for making engine piston rings.
Looking down the main coal feeding conveyor and over the coal plant from the roof of “B” Station roof. You can just make out a coal delivery truck coming in at the far side of the stockpile. Coal would also be delivered from Awaba Colliery via the rail line you can see coming into the plant from a distance. The transfer towers in the middle of the frame were sets of conveyors which joined, allowing coal to be fed to the main conveyor up to the bunkers.
One of the Parsons Turbines that generated the electricity at Wangi Power Station. The blue, white and chrome colours are from a bygone era in the colour coordination of generating equipment. The generator sets of most modern power stations tend to be one solid colour (and much larger). All the valving and asbestos lagged pipework makes up part of the control system. On the left end of the generator set, you can see the turbine speed indicator on the governor.
The main entrance of the power station is at the bottom left. The ground floor consisted of the apprentice workshop on the left, with nurses station around the corner to the right. The first floor was an electrical workshop. Further up the building was the canteen, which had its own unique Wangi Power Station currency. Executive offices also occupied the higher levels of the building at the end of “A” Station.
Scanned documents from induction packs of the era, which were given to new starters. The first document is a brief overview of the history of Wangi Power Station as well as some technical details including the functions, equipment and generating capacity. The contents of the document are transcribed below.
Wangi Power Station was one of five major stations built on the coalfields by the N.S.W. Electricity Commission . It has a capacity of 330 000 kilowatts.
The station was originally designed, and its construction begun by the Railways Department and was completed for the Electricity Commission, formed in 1950 as the State’s major electricity generating and bulk supply authority.
Situated near Wangi township on the western side of Lake Macquarie, the power station is the fourth largest in operation on the northern coalfields and it provides power for the State supply system.
Experience shows that it is cheaper to transmit power considerable distances from a power station than to carry fuel to it. Wangi Power Station, therefore, is well situated, being only 7 kilometres from the Commission-owned Awaba Coal Mine. Cooling water, also, is readily available from the nearby lake. Wangi Power Station comprises three 50 000 kW and three 60 000 kW generating units installed at a cost of $60 million.
Like the other five main stations at Liddell (Hunter Valley), Munmorah (Central Coast), Vales Point (Lake Macquarie), Tallawarra (near Port Kembla) and Wallerawang (near Lithgow), Wangi station is part of the Commission’s interconnected generating system which supplies most of the electric power in N.S.W.
There are important economic advantages in such large-scale operations, one of them being that the Commission is able to supply all retailing Councils with electricity at a uniform tariff.
The three 50 000 kW units have two boilers per unit, each boiler having a steam-raising capacity of 113 500 kilograms per hour at a pressure of 4 478 kilopascals, and a temperature of 450°C.
These first units use the spreader-stoker system of firing, coal of the required grade being fed by chute to a mechanism which throws it across the furnace on to a travelling grate.
The second section of the station comprises three 60 000 kW turbine generators, each with a single 249 700 kilograms per hour boiler, 6 545 kilopascals at 500°C.
These boilers use pulverised fuel. No grate is required, the fuel being reduced to very fine particles, and fed into the furnaces as an airborne coal dust.
Operation of the older “A” section has declined in recent years. The more modern “B” section makes a substantial contribution to system requirements and consumes up to 1 500 tonnes of coal a day.
Water for cooling purposes is brought in through a horseshoe-shaped tunnel under the hill at the rear of the station and returned to the lake by a 3.5 metre deep open canal.
The chimney stacks are of reinforced concrete, 76 metres high, with an internal diameter at the top of 6 metres.
The station has exterior walls of red brick, rows of— glass windows, and a precast concrete roof.
The main power station building, 228 metres long, takes up the central portion of the site, with the control room and switchyard in front and a number of stores, workshops and office buildings nearby.
For the whole job, 76 500 cubic metres of concrete, 3 000 000 bricks and 10 000 tonnes of structural steel were required.
A general information document for new starters relating to the Electricity Commission of New South Wales, as it was in 1977.
The present day view from across the former switch yard of Wangi Power Station.
While on the subject of rail transport, I thought it would be appropriate to share this piece of rail heritage I came across when visiting Yubari. The Mitsubishi Minami-Oyubari Station.
The Mitsubishi Minami-Oyubari station was part of the Japan National Railway, which serviced Yubari during more prosperous times, and is one of the few remaining examples of the Mitsubishi mining empire in the Sorachi region.
Following the closure of the coal mines in the 1980’s, many of the residents left, and almost all of the surrounding hamlets became abandoned. You can learn more about this from my Streetscapes of Yubari gallery.
Due to debts exceeding ¥27 Trillion, in 1987, the Japanese National Railway was privatised, and the infrastructure divided between six railway companies and a freight service provider. The Mitsubishi Minami-Oyubari railway ceased operation permanently.
The Japanese National Railway map above shows the areas which the Mitsubishi Minami-Oyubari railway once operated, as well as the private lines which made up the network.
As well as Mitsubishi Minami-Oyubari Station, there’s quite a lot of old stations and remaining infrastructure by the looks of things. I’d love to revisit one day and retrace some of these old train lines. You never know what you might find.
Pictured above is a snowplough engine known as Ki 1, built in February 1941 at the Naebo railway factory in Sapporo, under order from Mitsubishi Mining’s in-house engineering department.
I haven’t confirmed these measurements myself, but I’m told its dimensions are 11388mm L × 3985mm H × 2522mm W. There is no denying Japanese precision.
The carriage pictured above was the Suhani 6, a 3-axis bogey passenger car (plate number T R 70), constructed in 1912, the final year of the Meiji period in the Omiya rail factory.
This car had a carrying capacity of 68 persons in summer, and 64 in winter. I wonder if the reduced capacity during winter was to clear space around the stove heater which used to reside on the steel plate to the left of the frame.
Here’s a front on view of the snowplough. Check out that scoop! This is my vehicle of choice when the zombie apocalypse comes.
As it turns out, this snowplough wasn’t used to haul carriages; its sole purpose was destroying snow along the railway of the Oobayashi district, located at the foot of the Yubarigama mountain area.
The last remaining steam locomotive used to drive these carriages was relocated to a purpose built museum, inside “sekitan no rekishi mura”, a now defunct theme park located closer to the city centre of Yubari. Below is a picture of the entrance.
Following the financial collapse of Yubari, funds to keep the museum operational dried up and the exhibit fell into a state of disrepair. Unfortunately, there is neither enough money or an alternative location to store the Locomotive.
Given the current financial situation of Yubari, It’s unlikely the locomotive will be saved anytime soon.
The building attached to the side of the Locomotive makes up the museum and the landscape you can see in the background makes up the now defunct theme park.
The Oha 1 (Truck: TR 11) pictured below, was also a steel and timber constructed passenger car built in the Meiji period of 1906 by the Shinbashi railway workshop.
This car had a passenger carrying capacity of 104 persons in summer and 96 in winter. The seasonal difference is intriguing. I must get to the bottom of this reduced capacity during colder months.
The group undertakes regular restoration maintenance tasks at Mitsubishi Minami-Oyubari Station, preserving infrastructure in original condition so future generations can learn about the past of Yubari’s forgotten rail heritage.
This is one of the more challenging blog posts I’ve created. The information about Mitsubishi Minami-Oyubari Station and the cars here was sourced using a PDF document made up of one single image, written entirely in Japanese (which I can’t read).
I used the Google Translate app to photograph each section of text, then pasted each part so that the photos on the document corresponded with my own. It took a while, but I got there in the end.
I guess it goes without saying that I thoroughly enjoyed visiting Yubari. Japanese culture is something I’ve had a huge fascination with for a long time now, and If you’ve followed Lost Collective for the last year, I shouldn’t need to explain how I feel about heritage and urban exploration.
This trip was something I’ll never forget. I don’t think I even scratched the surface and on a personal level, it was one of the most unexpected, unplanned and exciting things I’ve ever done.
I can only imagine how much I would have struggled to publish the content that I have over the past six months without the help of the Shimizusawa Project .
The work of heritage preservation groups is often challenging and thankless. These are are non-profit organisations relying on donations and the efforts of volunteers to make a difference.
If you are ever considering a trip to Yubari to see some of these places, please consider making a contribution to their cause.
For anyone who would like to try this adventure out for themselves, I should mention that Yubari is not a part of Japan where English is commonly spoken. As is always the case with Japanese people, they are warm and welcoming, but, unless you have someone in your group who can speak, read and write Japanese, you will likely encounter barriers which will be challenging for everyone involved.
In the event you can read Japanese, feel free to check out the main document I used as research for this article. I’d be interested to know how close (or far) to the mark my translation was.
A couple of photos even made the cut for the UrbanGrowth NSW Reception area.
Beyond the walls of the Victorian era building is a team of dedicated volunteers who contribute their time to the restoration of some of NSW past rolling stock.
You might have noticed this building yourself when making your way into the city on the train. It can be seen on your left (city bound) just before arriving at Redfern Station.
Some of the trains such as the iconic “Red Rattler” hail from the recent past, others date back over a century. The team volunteering here at the Eveleigh Paint Shop painstakingly restore these amazing examples of railway history back to their former glory.
They also build incredibly detailed scale models of former NSW rail sites, such as the old Punchbowl Maintenance Depot pictured below. Look at the attention to detail!
Anyway, back to the real trains. Seeing the vast changes in the design of public transport over the years, particularly the interiors was quite an eye opener.
When you can get close enough to see those hand carved, hand-turned pieces of wood of the armrests, decorative carving in the chair frames and the wooden shutter blinds, it gives you an appreciation for the level of craftsmanship that’s long since been lost in the design of modern public transport.
The trains are some that live in the memories of my childhood, others which ceased operation many decades before I was even born. The centurion pictured above is 103 years old!
Pictured below is the workshop where the team overseeing the restorations tinker away, bringing the rail cars back to their former glory.
This shoot was created over two initial visits for photography, then about three more visits for research by talking to some of the restoration crew. More about this later.
I’ll be publishing a new Lost Collective gallery in the near future with lots more photos and a detailed essay on the historical importance of the Paint Shop.
Eveleigh Stories is building an archive from the rich history of the locality, and presenting that through this great online resource. You can even submit your own story if you have something of your own that you’d like to contribute.
ATP’s heritage volunteers, both conservation volunteers and volunteer tour guides, play an invaluable role in conserving, enhancing and communicating our heritage to interested members of the public, ATP tenants and visitors.
If you’d like to get involved, you can register your interest here .
I’d like to give special thanks to Dave Fox (above) and Geoff Moss (below – Pic: UrbanGrowth NSW), both of whom helped immensly by taking the time to teach me about the background of the train cars and carriages, as well as the site itself. This gallery wouldn’t have been possible without them.
Dave and Geoff are part Historic Electric Traction , a group chaired with managing the preservation of the Railway’s suburban and interurban carriage collection
I hope you’ve enjoyed this latest blog post. If you’d like to stay updated on what’s coming, including the upcoming gallery of this site, make sure you sign up to the Lost Collective newsletter at the bottom of this page.
UrbanGrowth NSW leads the transformation of surplus or underutilised government-owned land to create vibrant and connected urban spaces, close to public transport.
As a state-owned corporation, they collaborate with government, industry and community to facilitate complex projects at different stages – from planning to place making, to deliver better outcomes for the city and its people.
Their work enables much needed new housing choices, community facilities, jobs in growing centres and facilitates a globally competitive and resilient state.
The area is teeming with life. Wombats, Bandicoots, Rabbits, Possums and Wallabies were running around everywhere. I remember shining my torch into the bush at one stage to see a dozen or so eyes reflecting back at me!
Conditions were perfect. Totally isolated from any light pollution, clear skies, an awesome subject for the foreground and nothing to do the next day.
Inside the prism of the lighthouse:
I checked The Photographers Ephemeris for the position of the milky way, then from about 10:30 PM on a Wednesday night I set up the shot and let the interval timer do its thing.
What was expected to be a pretty uneventful night quickly changed when I noticed the lighthouse becoming illuminated from the other side (about 9 seconds in).
I looked over the keeper’s cottages of the lighthouse to see multiple flashlights waving around in the night.
I started to panic that the two hours of photos I’d already taken were going to be ruined.
So, I ran over to where the torches were coming from, In pitch black, with my phone screen lighting the way so I didn’t ruin the time lapse myself.
Image: Green Cape light station – The newer, solar powered steel tower took over duties from the 133-year-old concrete tower in 1992.
As I got closer, I realised the people with torches were NSW Police looking at a solar panel array, still totally unaware of my presence.
From about two meters away In my most unconvincing possible tone; I said “hello”. The two police and keeper promptly swung around with flashlights.
I followed this with “I’m trying to do a time lapse, and you’re kind of ruining everything for me. Can you please stop shining your torches on the lighthouse?”.
In one of the worst cases of wrong place at the wrong time ever, the police then proceeded to tell me they were investing the theft of tens of thousands of dollars worth of solar panels.
I was then asked who I am, and why I am at a lighthouse 45KM from the nearest rural town at midnight on a Thursday.
Image: Looking South from the old Green Cape Lighthouse.
After a bit of conversation, identity checks, pleading for the torches to be turned off, and showing the police my Nikon D750 with AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED setup taking photos automatically, I was able to go back to my business with the result not being too much of an issue in the end.
A couple of hours later while walking back to the car for a new camera battery, I met the Green Cape lighthouse keeper who was sitting on the porch of his cottage.
Image: Keepers Cottages
He apologised for the what had happened. I said to think nothing of it. Let’s face it; It looks pretty suspect if you take the camera out of the equation.
We got to talking about the history of Green Cape lighthouse, which then turned into conversations of the ghosts of shipwreck victims who haunt the Green Cape lighthouse cottages, in particular, a thickly-bearded sailor who has also been reported by guests of the cottages.
Image:My beautiful daughter and little shoot helper, Heidi. Heidi now want’s to live in a lighthouse. I told her it’s a big ask but we’ll find all the other lighthouses to see just in case there is one.
So, I go back to monitor the camera at 2:30 in the morning, slightly shaken from the police encounter, hoping the time lapse isn’t ruined amongst the sounds of all the nearby scurrying animals I can’t see in the dark bushes, while hoping I don’t meet the vengeful ghost of a sailor I’ve just been warned about.
Exploring Gunkanjima has always been a dream of mine, and now Google have created the next best thing.
The abandoned island, located 15 KM off the coast of Nagasaki, Japan, was once a sprawling coal mining facility.
At one stage, Hashima had the highest population density on Earth.
Today, the island is one of the most untouched historic ruins in the world.
From the 1930s’ until the end of the second world war, Korean and Chinese prisoners-of-war, as well as conscripted Japanese civilians, were forced to work in the undersea coal mine as slave labourers under harsh and dangerous conditions.
When Japan shifted its reliance from coal to oil as it’s main fuel source, mining operations ceased, and in 1974 and the island was deserted.
Hashima was officially listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in July 2015
Given the difficulty in accessing the island, I’ve put this on the back burner. In the meantime, I’ll have to settle for the next best thing.
Google has been kind enough to map the island and add Gunkanjima to street view.
Do you remember the villain’s secret island hideout in the James Bond movie Skyfall, the one that looked like a decaying industrial wasteland?
That fictional location was actually based on a real place — the island of Hashima off the coast of Nagasaki Prefecture in Japan. Due to its unique flat shape, the island is most widely known in Japan by its nickname Gunkanjima — aka “Battleship Island.”
While we can’t replicate those unearthly sounds on Google Maps, we can now give you 360° panoramas of the Hashima with today’s launch of Street View imagery for the island.
There is also this beautifully made YouTube video featuring the creation of this Gunkanjima street view. Imagine having this guy’s job. I’m so jealous.
It was Friday night, and we had just returned from Japan after three weeks in search of abandoned buildings. The car had broken down just outside the ABC studio right before our pre-arranged interview, so while my wife and daughter waited in the car for our friend to come and help, I spoke to Sarah Mashman of ABC Hobart about Lost Collective and the way the project reconnects the communities it engages.
It was out of regular hours, and when I got to the reception desk, there was confusion about whether I was even supposed to be there. Well, I knew I was supposed to be there but the guard manning the desk didn’t.
The interview almost didn’t go ahead, the security guard wasn’t going to let me in, but luckily, at the last minute we got through the name mix up and onward to the only studio (so it seemed) to still have anyone in it.
So, we got to talking about things and stuff, and it was all recorded with a link to the interview provided at the end of this post if anyone is keen to have a listen.
It’s funny to note that the interview was here in Sydney, but Sarah was in Hobart. Can you tell the distance in the conversation?
Anyway, in the end, it was a lovely chat with Sarah and we managed to get the car battery sorted, so the night turned out to be a fun little adventure in itself.
The Society had organised a reunion for the local dairy workers, past and present who dedicated their lives and in many cases still do, to the dairy industry of the region, including the Peters’ Ice Cream Factory.
The week before the event, I was sent a document outlining the history of my photos of the long abandoned buildings thanks to Jo Barlin of Barlin Milk.
I worked away frantically writing copy to fill the captions the 800mm square dining table in a tiny airbnb apartment in Maebashi, Japan.
It was a bit of a rush job, but by all accounts, the reunion went well.
The post itself became an announcement aimed towards of the former workers of the Manning River & Cundletown dairy industries.
Laura Polson of The Manning River Times got in touch to publish an article coinciding with the reunion. As it turns out, even Laura herself descends from a family of dairy farmers.
We did a good email interview, and the news article also got the word out of the day before the reunion.
I think even a few members of the general public went along to the reunion to see the ice cream and butter making demonstrations. I wish I could have made it for that!
The remnants of Peters Ice Cream Factory in Taree have been captured by a Sydney based photographer through his project ‘Lost Collective’.
He shares the photos online to engage everyday people by, “encouraging them to reconnect with former lives and sometimes former friends.”
If you’d like to see the article in the Manning River Times, click here .
The Manning River Times has been proudly serving the people of the Manning Region, on the Mid-North Coast of New South Wales, since 1869.
Last week at the National Trust Australia (NSW) Heritage Awards, Lost Collective was awarded highly commended in the multimedia category.
It’s amazing to see the project gaining the attention it has garnered over the last year.
I just wanted to thank everyone support I’ve received. Anyone who follows what I do, It’s all a little overwhelming. I pour my heart and soul into Lost Collective. So it’s always humbling to hear that people can take something away when they look at what I do.
The last year has been an absolute adventure for me and my family. We moved house, Lost Collective was born, I travelled through Japan, and I left my job.
It was a plunge into the unknown with very little idea what my next move is, and so far so good!
But hey, with great risks comes great reward, right?
Why not just take the chance and leave a job that had never truly satisfied me for 17 years. Why not just see if doing what I love works?
I’m looking forward to getting stuck into all the content I need to work through over the next couple of months. Most coming from the recent Japan trip but there is a bit of local stuff in the mix.