Sydney, Australia

Pyrmont Peninsula

August 15, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

After moving to Pyrmont in March 2021 while being severely travel restricted due to COVID-19, here is an account of our new neighbourhood. We live in Jacksons Landing which constitutes the northern tip of the Pyrmont Peninsula. Jacksons Landing is a community of 2,500 residents in more than 1,000 apartments, terraces and townhouses on the site of the old Colonial Sugar Refinery (CSR) industrial complex. The redevelopment of the CSR site of over 11 hectares commenced by lendlease in the early 1990s, and the first residents moved in during 2000. 

The modern landscape, society and economy of Pyrmont were shaped mainly by two industry groups: sandstone quarrying and the Colonial Sugar Refinery complex. It was a long tradition for sugar plantations to distil rum and other by-products of sugar. Eventually (from the 1930s) Caneite and other building materials were processed, using bagasse, the cane from which sucrose had been extracted. For a hundred years the CSR Company processed sugar here, distilled rum and industrial alcohol, and transformed sugar cane refuse into building material. CSR was founded in 1855 by a Danish gentleman named Sir Edward Knox and commenced operations in 1877. CSR was not only a sugar refinery, it was also a distillery which at one stage supplied half of Australia’s industrial alcohol needs. It also supplied a third of Australia’s rum. As Australia’s second-largest industrial complex (behind BHP) CSR even had the resources, the engineers and the skills to produce fuel, and weapons, during the Second World War. More about Jacksons Landing here and about its First People.

Part of the Evolve Building, part of Jacksons Landing, with ANZAC bridge:


Distillery Hill building, part of Jacksons Landing:

Antias' architecture by Architects Tonkin Zulaikha Greer "reflects its industrial heritage through the use of industrial forms and materials such as rust weathered steel cladding. Such cladding is a direct response to the site: it echoes the site’s industrial aesthetic, associates the building to the Eastern Knoll sandstone cutting by use of tone and colour, and expresses the steel sheets at a scale compatible with the Anzac Bridge." (source).

DJI_0014DJI_0014 L_GI0955L_GI0955 IMG_1505IMG_1505 The building is named after a street name of a street that doesn't exist anymore. The building is overlooking the ANZAC Bridge--sunsets and thunderstorms can be observed.



Aerial Shots of Antias and ANZAC Bridge

The ANZAC Bridge, crossing the Johnstons Bay, is an eight-lane cable-stayed bridge that carries the Western Distributor (A4) across Johnstons Bay between Pyrmont and Glebe Island.

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Here illuminated for ANZAC Day in 2021. 


We often enjoy the Pyrmont Waterfront Park with its two iconic spheres--old digesters used to produce hardboard. In 1936, CSR expanded its operations to produce caneite and particle board which are both building materials. The wood chips were expanded using high-pressure steam, releasing the natural lignins in the wood that turned them into fibre that was pressed into boards for use as a building material. 

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Quarrying was carried out on a modest scale by the 1830s, when sailing ships could take on ballast at the tip of the peninsula, anchored in deep water and loading local stone. "Master masons such as the McCredie brothers branched into building: Charles Saunders levelled Glebe Island and Darling Island, then supplied stone for Sydney’s new University, its Railway Station and its new government offices. Eventually, Pyrmont sandstone was celebrated in Italianate wool stores and the Queen Victoria Building." (source

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Often, the sandstone is exposed and integrated into the modern architecture or Jacksons Landing.

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Sydney Harbour is a working deep-water harbour with commercial ships often mooring at Glebe Island and many marinas along the Blackwattle Bay.  HEI_7600-2HEI_7600-2 HEI_7284HEI_7284 HEI_7255HEI_7255

Fisher boats deliver fresh fish to the Sydney Fishmarket, the second biggest fish market in the world after Tokyo. 


Expensive day-charter boats are moored in Jones Bay Wharf at its Marina. The Jones Bay Wharf is a unique example of early 20th-century waterfront technology and represents an integral part of Australia's maritime history. Its survival serves as a key reminder of Australia's development as a trading nation and its association with important events such as World War II and the immigration boom. the combination of reinforced concrete, steel and hardwood made it a highly innovative structure for its time. The quick and efficient loading of cargo at the wharf was made possible by its rail connection, overhead lighting and modern handling facilities including several internal lifts and a mobile gantry. In the 1940s, Jones Bay Wharf was adapted to serve as a modern passenger terminal to accommodate a post-World War II immigration boom. Modifications enabled the boarding and disembarking of passengers on the upper level, while their luggage was handled on the ground level. The wharf operated as a passenger terminal until the 1960s when a new passenger terminal was constructed at Circular Quay. 

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View of The Crown and the Sydney Harbour Bridge with the Darling Harbour waters used for recreational stand-up paddle boarding. 

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Everyone enjoys the spectacular view:


During a walk along the foreshore through Pirrama Park and the Pyrmont Waterfront Park, one can see the remnants of the old timber and bollards as well as modern art installations, such as Tide to Tide which is a kinetic sculpture that translates the eternal return of the tides as well as the more unpredictable wave wash and wind chop of Sydney Harbour into movement.

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Fish cleaning station for amateur fishers:

HEI_8644HEI_8644 Low tide exposes countless oysters:


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Timelapse video of Johnston Bay with ANZAC Bridge during a storm in October 2021:

More pictures here.


Caves Beach

November 28, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

After our short stay in the Hunter Valley, we departed to Caves Coastal Bar & Bungalows which we had booked  "with Gourmet Grazing Hamper". The accommodations were near Lake Macquarie, Australia's largest coastal saltwater lake covering an area of 110 square kilometres (42.5 sq mi) which is connected to the Tasman Sea by a short channel. Our bungalow oversaw the ocean at Caves Beach, not the actual lake.

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Caves Beach is well known for its namesake - a network of sea caves at the southern end of the beach, which can be explored at low tide.

HEI_6001HEI_6001 HEI_5957HEI_5957 We enjoyed our days at the beach a lot with long beach walks, dinners at local restaurants and in our bungalow.

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I let the drone fly observing surfers from above and spend early morning hours taking pictures of the Galactic Centre.


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We also observed nature, seeing for the first time a Purple Swamphen.


Here the combined video including surfers.

More images here.






Hunter Valley

November 21, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

In November 2020, we went for a short vacation trip to the Hunter Valley--about a two-hour drive north from us. We started with a wine tasting and picnic at the Audrey Wilkinson Vineyard in Pokolbin.


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The vineyard's history is interesting as it is one of the oldest vineyards in Australia, acquired by the Wilkinson family in 1866. Audrey Wilkinson took over his father's vineyard at the age of only 15 years, with his father having died. He assumed the daunting role of running the family’s vineyard which he did until he died at the age of 85 in 1962. Audrey was blessed with a wonderful sense of taste and produced some of the finest wines in Australia. In 1897, Audrey helped develop leading-edge technology such as cement fermenters and steam-powered crushers and hopper. In 2004, the Agnew family enters the Australian wine industry with the acquisition of the historic Audrey Wilkinson Vineyard in the Hunter Valley. 

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We then checked into the Mercure Resort Hunter Valley Gardens for two nights. On our first night, we booked dinner at éléments which is run by executive chef Michael Watson "who has created a menu with an elements base, influenced by the flavours of France and Italy. Michael brings extensive experience to the kitchen, a finely tuned palate and a passion for excellence. éléments signature dish - duck confit has been an inspiration throughout Michael’s career and takes a different form across the seasons. To enhance the dining experience, food and beverage manager Amanda wise has paired éléments menu with Hunter Valley wines which enables the wines to be fully appreciated. The interior design of éléments is boutique and overlooks stunning manicured gardens with a feature fountain, éléments offers a unique space to dine and engage." After reading this announcement, we had expected a great culinary experience , but the food was rather ordinary.

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The next morning, we visited the Hunter Valley Gardens which are advertised as the largest Display Gardens in the Southern Hemisphere--we left rather disappointed after 30 minutes as the only word that came to mind was kitsch. In addition to the rather underwhelming gardens, they were full of plastic Christmas decoration including life-size reindeer and large plastic sculptures in the shape of Big Ben and the Eiffel Tower.

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Then, we did a wine tasking at Andrew Thomas Winery which was really impressive in style, how the wines were presented including the display of soil samples and taste, how the wine tasted and which convinced us to purchase a few cases and also sign up for their wine club.

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In the evening, we had an excellent chef's tasting dinner at EXP Restaurant in Pokolbin: (1) Hiramasa Kingfish, fennel pollen vinegar, chilli ferment and Hunter Wagyu Tartare, beef fat emulsion, eschallot and Duck Ham, macadamia, focaccia, (2) Sourdough, cultured butter, native seasoning, (3) Zucchini, cherry truss tomato, lemon verbena, society garlic, (4) Petuna Ocean Trout, shiitake, mushroom xo, radish, native pepper, (5) Paroo Kangaroo, onions, black garlic, beetroot & davidson plum, (6) Canelé, milk & honey, (7) Wild Fennel Cheesecake, mulberry, caramelised white chocolate, waffle. 

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Here a video of the Hunter Valley experience:

This is a photographic diary of our adventures in Australia with emphasis on Sydney and its surroundings.
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