Sunday 20 September 2020

Winter Wanderings Series: Elizabeth Bay

Edmund Dulac, 1911
nota bene: The Snow Queen has never visited Sydney in Winter

The Winter season has come and gone and the capriciousness of Spring is upon us. Our central heating was switched off several days ago, a little earlier than previous years, so the ups and downs of the temperatures may see us shivering for a couple of nights before things settle down. Fear not, Dear Reader, we aren't likely to be caught in a snowdrift around the Pipistrello roost. The winter doona is still on the bed, as is the wooly coat on the Oaken Armchair, and the temperatures we contemplate are positively laughable to anyone in, say, Canada. A Warm Temperature Climate makes for complete softies!

Gustaf Fjæstad, 1947
Neither would have GF find inspiration in our Winters

There was a time, seemingly long, long ago, when we may have decamped from the frozen steppes of Sydney for a week or two chasing something warmer, but this year was different, insofar as it being mostly mild, my not feeling the cold so much as I, ahem, age, and anyways it being the Year of the Plague.

Early Colonial allotment map of the
Three Bays flanking our 'Hood 

Today I thought to show you around my neighbourhood, where all of the winter wanderings of 2020 have taken place. So settle in for some armchair travelling of a distinctly local kind: Elizabeth Bay.

Elizabeth Bay House
Presently closed but the seats afford good views
 and some shade from the winter sun

View of Elizabeth Bay from the porch
Magnolias still putting on a show in this pic

Iris now in bloom around the pond

The closest park for taking some air, a book and a blanket is the last remnant of the original land surrounding the 1839 estate house for which our suburb is named, Elizabeth Bay House, built in the Colonial Regency style and now a museum. We call it the Fish Park, owing to the many healthy koi  carp in the pond, a.k.a. Arthur McElhone Reserve. No feeding allowed!*

A small and popular park
With park benches and lawn on which to loll

The magnolias are finished
And the frangipane leaves starting to bud ...
... But the azaleas, meanwhile,
Are going Nuts!

Stepping out of this park, we swing past the 1928 Spanish Mission des-res apartments, Del Rio:

The discreet back face of Del Rio,
Conceals lush gardens, swimming pool and harbour jetty

We walk a mere street's length (although there's naught mere about this veritable Millionaire's Row) to our next park, situated right on the water, replete with marina and café. Billyard Avenue is bookended by Del Rio and another 1926 Spanish Mission showcase, Boomerang**, on the harbour side, with red-bricked Art Deco apartment blocks facing the Millionaires on the other.

A tantalising glimpse of the Moorish design
Within the gentleman's residence Boomerang

A peek past the Italianate apartments Alabama,
To a corner of Boomerang
Just need to admire these poinsettias first

And we've arrived in Beare Park,
Giving us another view of Elizabeth Bay

The point between Elizabeth Bay and Rushcutters Bay
Where sits the 1961 Bauhaus apartment block, Oceana

The café at the Marina affords us a view
Of housework of a different kind.
The greenery in the distance is The Zoo

Victorian-era cast-iron Drinking Fountain detail
Exhorts us to Keep the Pavement Dry

Then back up the hill and we're home and hosed. We can do the loop around Elizabeth Bay passing the two parks at a brisk clip in well under half an hour, but there's never any reason to rush. There has been a hatching of puppies in the area and the parks are dog-friendly, and four-legged residents need admiring. There are roses to stop and smell and lots of interesting architecture along the way, grand and modest and everything in between. Art deco features strongly and we're mostly in tiny apartments and the majority of us don't get a view or our own outdoor space, so we count our blessing every day for living within skipping distance to our bay's parks in Sydney Harbour.

* Last year there was a late night robbery of many of the carp by some allegedly Chinese, shady underworld characters. I cannot say if the present residents were recovered from their ordeal or are replacements but there was a lot of tchh-ing about the Incident by the two-legged residents of the 'hood.

** A house that get's its own Wikipedia page!

Image credits: 1,2: Wikimedia Commons; 11: via Pinterest; all else: Flying With Hands


  1. For whatever high crime or misdemeanors committed by your ancestors, I think it cruel their descendants have to suffer from these upside down Seasons. I'd almost rather listen to an American Born Duchess talk Sussex branding than hear Bing on Xmas Eve in Sydney.

    I know nothing of these Penal Colony customs but find it unduly harsh consecutive life term sentences entail to daughters as well.

  2. GSL: Yes, the Antipodean seasons do make for some Lewis Carroll-styled imaginings, especially at Xmas. But when you put the options thus, I think I'm fairly well satisfied with listening to Bing with an eggnog and hand-fan whilst the crickets keep up a spirited chorus as accompaniment! As to rolling life sentences, I'm not au fait with the nature of the crime for which my ancestors did commit, I dare say they would be a mere trifle compared to the more lurid and headline grabbing variety which are the stuff of the Modern Era's obsession - else the Ancestors would have been sent to Tasmania, the Russian Doll penal colony within the penal colony, and not Sydney - so I suspect that we're all suffering from a case of Stockholm Syndrome and have grown to love our gaoler.

  3. I didn't realise we had Spanish Mission architecture in Australia, but the example you photographed, Del Rio, is very attractive. Now I must have a look for Spanish Mission buildings in Melbourne.

  4. Oz has some stunning Art Deco architecture. A fellow blogger in Melbourne often shows superb examples from there too.

    No discernible winter here for several years now; maybe this year will be different. We have had recent lows of 0 C, whereas in years past we've had -15 C. I do hope this continues.

  5. Beautiful & such stunning views. I’ve always loved the Australian Victorian/Edwardian houses .... the drinking fountain is wonderful .... the Victorians always went to great lengths to make everything and anything beautiful, even toilets !!! I always watch Australian Masterchef ... they go to many parts of Australia .... it is very beautiful, even the cities and very underrated. XXXX

  6. What a delight to see such lovely photos of early Spring in your Elizabeth Bay area. The Art Deco buildings are a great treat to see, as are your beautiful spring flowers.
    I do enjoy seeing snow, maybe once a year, but briefly. Waking up and looking out on a new snow fall is magical, but after a few hours I am more than happy to bid it farewell.

  7. Hels: There's not a lot of the Spanish Mission in the area, so Del Rio and Boomerang sharing the same street makes for an uncommon treat. DR's grand frontage can only be seen from the water - handsome loggias and arches and beautiful landscaping. I'm sure Melbourne will have a couple of surprises, too.

    Cro: I sometimes feel that my general increased tolerance to the winter season is due to a change in my constitution but the figures don't lie, it is milder here as well. -15C would be a challenge for anyone, so you couldn't help be pleased with the mere zero.

    Jackie: I love the embellishment on the Victorian features in our landscape, and there's plenty of Art Nouveau to admire as well but the biggest boom in development in this area came at the time of the pared back Art Deco movement, so those quirky Victorian details really get to stand out against the more streamlined backdrop. I don't watch Masterchef so I hadn't realised the show is a travelogue as well. Armchair travel is available everywhere! xx

    Rosemary: It is surprisingly verdant in the inner city, so it's nice to get to enjoy gardens on our doorstep without donning the gardening gloves! ... I was beside myself with excitement during my first London winter and will never forget seeing the crisp blanket of snow over the rooftops and being the first footprints on the tramp to the Underground station in the still predawn morning. It doesn't last long, though, does it?

    THAT IS SOMETHING SPECIAL..................XX

  9. You live in a very lovely neighbourhood. It must be wonderful to be close to three bays.

  10. Contessa: Thank you, although it's very densely populated and you'd be none the wiser that you are surrounded by water when you're at street level, so when you suddenly see it through gaps in buildings, it is indeed rather special. xx

    Loree: Thank you, we think so too. It's sometimes not apparent that three bays surround us since our very large Harbour is populated along all its shore and it veritably undulates with bays, so it feels more like the suburbs are merely following the contours. But they all have their own flavour and we do love ours.

  11. I wish to be transported to Elizabeth Bay this very moment! How lovely it is where you live.

  12. Bea: Come on down! A bit tricky at the moment as the door is firmly shut to, ahem, aliens, but there have been plenty of Americans in the past, and will be again sometime in the future, who've otherwise been given a warm welcome to these shores. Of course, any visit these days comes without the customary seven-year transportation clause, haha!

  13. Wow, it's gorgeous there! It reminds me of Monte Carlo. I love the architecture.

  14. Stephenie: Yes, it's very pretty and we're very much of the opinion that we're indeed fortunate to live where we do. Sydney is a huge city, geographically, with so much variance, but being in one of the urban spaces around the Harbour is our favourite place to be.

  15. Loved this personal armchair travelogue... the cozy winter scenes and the old map of 'Darlinghurst!' The perfect name of a neighborhood, 'I live in Darlinghurst.' would be such fun to say : ) Photos are stunning, very much envy the history (very little of this in south Florida, but we do have nice beaches and palm trees : ) and the gorgeous parks and the walk to the bay. Just lovely... thank you for sharing some winter scenes that look comparable to ours. Nostalgia dependably bubbles up for the snowy days and crackling fires and hot chocolate of northern climes, but we beat it back with gin and tonics and a cruise to the beach (and no driveway to shovel :) Debbie xo

  16. Debbie: Thank you, and you would be in good company in owning up to thinking Darlinghurst has an appealing ring to it. We also have a Darling Harbour! There's a twist to it all, of course, but that'll be saved for another day :) ... I imagined Florida to be rather a treat for its Art Deco architecture, but at least I pictured the palm trees and G&Ts rightly! x


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