A Little Bit About Leichhardt

Leichhardt is an inner west suburb of Sydney, surrounded by Lilyfield, Annandale and Petersham. On a spring afternoon I was enticed for an outing, motivated by the prospect of visiting an excellent new and second-hand bookshop – Berkelouw Books. The second-hand books are well organised in sections, kept in alphabetical order and located on an airy first floor. When we arrived, there was an animated book group in attendance, and there is also a learning and educational play space for children.

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Norton Street, Leichhardt with school, town hall and post office in view

I was vaguely aware that Leichhardt was named for the lost explorer, Ludwig Leichhardt, but it was originally known as Piperston as large land grants had been given to Captain Piper and Ensign Hugh Piper in 1811. Land was later sold to Walter Beames, who named it Leichhardt in honour of his friend, Ludwig.

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Leichhardt Town Hall

Leichhardt’s achievements included an expedition from Brisbane to Port Essington (4800 kilometres). During his second expedition, an attempt to cross the continent from east to west, all members of the expedition were lost with search parties failing to find any trace.

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Leichhardt Post and Telegraphic Office

Originally the area consisted of large estates with extensive gardens and paddocks. In the 1850s and 1860s, a trip to Leichhardt was like a day in the country, even though it is less than 10 kilometres from Sydney.

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Leichhardt Public School, Norton Street entrance

The arrival of the railway at Petersham provided easy access to Leichhardt and subdivisions of property quickly followed. The area evolved into a working class suburb, and it continues to evolve. There are many cafes and restaurants along with boutique shops and a steady stream of cars of pedestrians on the move.

Have you had a wander around an inner city suburb lately?

[Photo: detail on Leichhardt Post Office]

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My I Spy: something beginning with ‘M’

Many things come to mind around the letter M. Mountains, museums, music, manuscripts – such a multitude of things to muse upon. Here are some things that I’ve spotted beginning with the letter M.

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Magpie on the fence

Magpie

True, this magpie is largely obscured by abundant cherry blossoms, and the photo was taken whilst the magpie was sharpening or cleaning his beak on the fence, but I still like it. There are lots of magpies in my area, and one of my enduring joys is to wake up to their morning chorus. I also came across this poem called Magpie by James McAuley. It captures the essence of what I admire about magpies, including ‘the liquid squabble of his note’, the confidence and swagger of the bird.

Martians and Miners

An unusual combination, granted. These locally crafted figures are situated on a bend of the back road from Hartley to Lithgow, and provide a ready reminder to take care on the winding roads.

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Albert, the Magic Pudding, Norman Lindsay Gallery, Faulconbridge

Magic Pudding

Albert, the grumpy pudding, is one of the enduring characters of my childhood reading. He was indeed, magic, providing a wide selection of endless treats with ready ill-humour. His grumpiness is evident on his countenance. The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay remains vivid many years after reading. Lindsay’s property at Faulconbridge is a popular stop in the mountains.

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Big Merino, Goulburn

Merinos

The Big Merino at Goulburn is a well-known feature on the list of big attractions scattered around the Australian countryside. As a child it seemed enormous. This photo, taken across a four-lane road, doesn’t quite do it justice, but it is still an impressive sight.

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Merino in Leichhardt

This rather fancy merino was spotted in a gallery window at Leichhardt over the weekend. It is rare to see sheep in the inner city.

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Masks in The Merchant of Venice, Leichhardt

Masks

I spotted a window full of beautifully crafted masks whilst walking through the Italian Forum in Leichhardt. The shop was called The Merchant of Venice.

Have you spotted anything magnificent beginning with M this week? Keep an eye on what fellow spotter Autumn spies here, as well as atman.art.studio on Instagram.

Inner City Musings

Over the weekend I had the chance to have a wander around Leichhardt in inner Sydney. It is one of the many city suburbs that hums with life throughout the week and weekend with lots to see and do as well as outdoor cafes for simply enjoying the passing parade.

After an extensive and enjoyable trawl through a bookshop, we stopped at a cafe for lunch. I was struck by the sensory landscape: the traffic crawling past, low flying planes skimming the tops of the buildings, the hubbub of conversation. There was the clatter of crockery and clash of cutlery as the sun streamed in and around scudding clouds. The heady aroma of coffee – one my favourite smells. The chatter of children. The flash of a silver necklace adorned with fettered butterflies. People ambling past with the air of those with plenty of time on their hands, just a relaxing Saturday afternoon stretching out ahead of them.

The houses around the shopping area are a mix of old and new. The suburb’s origins as a working class area remain evident in the terraced houses and semi-detached dwellings. Space is at a premium, and there are several large parks which provide a green oasis of trees, grass and gardens around the streets and footpaths.

I have been lucky to live in a variety of places, from the suburbs of Sydney to miles outside of a small country town, to a large regional centre and now in the mountains. I’m yet to live in the inner suburbs and I can’t see that changing in the near future, but I can appreciate what it might be like to have the conveniences of frequent public transport along with a variety of shops and vibrant restaurant scene within an easy walking distance.

It was nice to visit and to imagine a different kind of life. It was nice, too, to come home to space and an abundance of greenery and views that still take my breath away.

Do you enjoy the metro lifestyle or do you prefer the quieter life?

[Photo: Sydney Harbour on Australia Day, 2014]