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Preview: Happy Antipodean

Happy Antipodean

A blog by Matthew da Silva since 2006

Updated: 2017-12-11T14:10:32.079+11:00


'The departure of the Australian contingent for the Sudan'


Down in the lower-ground floor of the Australian War Memorial (AWM) behind the current exhibition that has been set up to illustrate the lives of the Special Forces there's another gallery where you can see exhibits dating from the earliest years of Australia's "official" military experience. There is no acknowledgement for example of the frontier wars fought by the colonists against the

Gorman House Arts Centre, Braddon


Yesterday morning when checking out of the hotel I got directions to Lonsdale Street where the clerk told me I could get a coffee. I drove south on crowded Northbourne Avenue and turned left into Girrahween Street, Braddon. I found a parking spot on Lonsdale Street and paid the fee. In the café with nothing to do I sat and looked at the Wikipedia entry for Braddon.  The suburb has changed a

Finally we vote for marriage equality


On 17 April 2013 New Zealand's Parliament voted to allow people of the same sex to marry. When the law was passed people in the public gallery stood up and spontaneously sang a waiata, a traditional Maori song of celebration, 'Pokarekare Ana', which is said to date from the time of WWI. It is a love song. Today, in Parliament, as soon as the clerk proclaimed the new law passed, people in the

Tanner the dog in Pitt Street Mall


In July I wrote twice about meeting Tanner and his owner on my walks around the place and yesterday when I was in the CBD I saw the two of them again. Tanner was making a splash and getting a lot of attention, and his owner was trying to get him to sit down so that passersby could take photos of him. He's such an enormous, shaggy animal! I was in town to go and meet with my lawyer because I had

Book review: Green Bans Red Union, Meredith Burgmann and Verity Burgmann (2017)


Subtitled ‘The saving of a city’, this book started out as a doctoral thesis and was first published in 1998. When Meredith Burgmann was elected to the NSW Parliament to represent the ALP in the lower house she had things on her plate that prevented her from turning it into a book and so her sister – political scientist and labour historian Verity Burgmann – agreed to work on the book. This is

The opening of Trades Hall, Sydney


From Herman Morton’s 1956 book, The Architecture of Victorian Sydney: On 26th January 1888 the Right Honourable Charles Robert, Baron Carrington, G.C.M.G., Governor of New South Wales, in full panoply and with a retinue of all the governors of all the Australian colonies, rode in state to the north gates of Centennial Park to declare open the great space which the foresight and energy of Sir

Design of the Pyrmont public school


In his 1956 book, The Architecture of Victorian Sydney, architect Herman ‘Mick’ Morton tells the story of how so many schools came to be built in NSW in the last decades of the 19th century. Sir Henry Parkes brought down his Education Act in 1880, to counteract the condition whereby twenty-six per cent of children of school age were illiterate. Nowadays, of course, conditions have changed and

Brutalism nine: Hyde Park Square


This is the ninth blogpost in a series about brutalist buildings in Sydney. This post deals wtih the two buildings at 201 and 227 Elizabeth Street, one being the former T&G Building and the other being the former Aetna Life Building. They are located opposite Hyde Park. Unusually for a development application (DA), the city council’s file contains a separately-bound report, which has been

You shouldn’t need to tell people to distrust Nazis: a report from the front line


A piece appeared recently on the New York Times’ website about a neo-Nazi living in Ohio.  The newspaper had commissioned the report and sent a journalist out to the Midwest to interview Tony and Maria Hovater. The report garnered adverse reactions on social media and the paper wrote a follow-up piece to engage with its audience but the negative tweets continued to appear. I noted on Twitter

‘Mr Eternity’ street art


On Sunday when I was walking to the shopping centre I came across this stencilled design on the pavement outside Channel Ten in Pyrmont. There were other occurrences of the same stencil on Bay Street, Ultimo, near Broadway, and it was also stencilled twice on the pavement on Broadway between Bay Street and Mountain Street. I had written about the ‘Yes’ graffiti that had been written on the

How Queensland electors voted this time


At first glance it seemed that minor parties did well in Saturday’s Queensland election, especially the right-wing, nationalist, xenophobic Pauline Hanson’s One Nation (PHON) and the progressive Greens – in other words, parties at the extreme ends of the political spectrum – but so far it is doubtful either will actually get any seats in Parliament. Or if they get any, it will be one each. Minor

Muzak in Darling Harbour


I had noticed these speakers the other day when I was walking through Darling Harbour on my way to Oxford Street to get some lunch. They are positioned on top of marine bollards and they match the new speakers that are positioned on the light poles on Pyrmont Bridge as well. The city council has seen fit to intrude into the neutral space that everybody can enjoy by playing inane muzak in the

Mapplethorpe at the Art Gallery of New South Wales


I wandered up to the AG NSW yesterday and had a look at the Mapplethorpe exhibition that is on. A few weeks ago I had gone to a talk held at the gallery led by curator Isobel Parker Philip with the participation of contemporary Australian photographers Samuel Hodge, Paul Knight and Spence Messih, that was held to complement the exhibition. That talk was interesting but a bit unfocused, but

Protecting whistleblowers and journalists' sources in the digital age


As well as Paul Farrell from BuzzFeed we had on the panel host Julie Posetti, Peter Tonoli from Electronic Frontiers Australia, and Elise Worthington a journalist at the ABC who works on investigative pieces. The hashtag for the evening was #protectsources. The Panama Papers release was enabled using encryption, and was unprecedented in history in its scope. But in India they are creating the

Homelessness "can happen to anyone"


This is the latest in a series of blogposts about homelessness. For this post, I spoke with Mekonen, who is the CEO of the Station, a drop-in centre at 82 Erskine Street, near Wynyard Station. I had found that people begging on the street in the city often go to the Station for a meal during the day, so I wanted to find out more about it. MdS: Ok, [the voice recorder is] recording. So, I was

Getting to be Virgin Australia's group chief advisor just “a whole string of accidents”


Peter Cai holds a senior position at one of Australia’s largest airlines and I was fortunate to be able to hear him talk about his career at the Urban Land Institute’s Young Leader’s Summit earlier this month. “I started off just like any other diligent, good-natured Asian kid: I did advanced maths, chemistry, physics at high school. My only act of rebellion was I did modern European history on

SMH Live: 2017 Year in Review


Lisa Davies, editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, led discussions in front of the large and demonstrative audience of subscribers – who are mainly older Sydneysiders – at a function centre on the roof of the Star Casino yesterday evening. I had bought a ticket and queued and happened to wander into the auditorium at just the right time. I was standing outside with hundreds of others on the roof

Brutalism eight: Sydney Masonic Centre


This is the eighth post in a series on brutalist architecture in Sydney. The interior shots of the Sydney Masonic Centre were taken during the Sydney Open viewing day that took place earlier this month. Other images were taken, as per usual, from records in the city archives. In a note from the city engineer to the town clerk dated 10 April 1972, it was noted that the grand secretary, United

Designing better workplaces


Last night’s talk was organised by the University of Technology, Sydney’s Information and Knowledge Group as part of the seminar series called Information Innovation @ UTS. The subject was activity-based working and the technologies transforming workplaces. There were three speakers. Angela Ferguson is an interior designer with 20 years’ experience who works at Futurespace. Stuart Munro is a

Who voted 'No'?


By comparing the same-sex marriage postal survey results with Commonwealth electoral districts and the results returned for them for the 2016 Census, we can get an idea of why a number of places - especially in western Sydney - voted 'No'. You can click on the table below to see an enlarged version. I've included all federal electorates that returned a 'No' vote of above 50 percent. We can see

Remembering the October Revolution


Tonight’s guest of the Search Foundation was Bea Campbell who talked about the importance of the 1917 October Revolution in today’s world. Other speakers were Melanie Fernandez, the deputy CEO of the NSW Council of Social Service, David McKnight, associate professor, Journalism and Media Research Centre, UNSW, Winton Higgins, who teaches at the University of Technology, Sydney, and Meredith

Callistemon, Cassiopeia, casuarina


This blogpost serves as a mnemonic - as way to remember - because I've had a specific memory lapse several times over the past couple of years. More than once I haven't been able to remember "casuarina" - the Australian native tree with needle-like leaves that you often find growing next to rivers. I remember reading about casuarinas in a book about Sydney by author Peter Carey: he was

The palace was an active player in Whitlam’s 1975 dismissal


Professor Jenny Hocking’s book is in its third edition but there are other documents that she wants to look at that are not open to view, and there is a pro bono Federal Court of Australia case being mounted by Tom Brennan and Corrs Chambers Westgarth in Sydney to test the Archives Act so that the so-called “palace letters” can be released. A Chuffed campaign has been launched to raise funds for

Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation dinner, Wayside Chapel, Potts Point


The dinner took place last night. As well as supporters for change from the broader community, there were a number of notables in the crowd, including Canadian Senator Larry Campbell, Adam Searle, the Leader of the Opposition in the NSW Legislative Council, Peter Baume who was a NSW Liberal senator, John Nicholson who used to be a judge and who now helps run Rainbow Lodge, a service for people

Launch of Housing Supply Association


The NSW planning and environment minister, Anthony Roberts, launched the Housing Supply Association on 26 July 2017 in Pyrmont. This is part of what he told the room. Note how he creates a matrix of narratives that interweaves the most pressing reality of housing - that it is prohibitively expensive for many people - with other issues, such as regulation and demographics. It's a bit of a dance: