Tag Archives: sydney

A Park of Stories

24 Apr

I have been meaning to visit Ballast Point Park – Walama for a while now, since it opened to the public in 2009, so it has taken me too long to get there.  Design Mom’s love the place you live theme gave me the perfect opportunity to pack the family up and have a look.  I’ve watched the park transform from the ferry as we travelled past, and looked at it from afar as the munchkins have played on a favourite playground, but never quite managed to physically get there.  But once again for love the place you live, we gravitated back to Sydney’s picturesque harbour, and explored Ballast Point.

Let me start by saying this is my kind of park, but initially it wasn’t the Drama Queens.  There is no structured playground, and this was a bitter disappointment to a four year old. I firmly hold the belief that the world is a playground and you shouldn’t need a set of swings to ensure endless fun.  The richer the landscape, the more fun that can be made, and Ballast Point Park is a landscape of quite divine treasures.

The Drama Queen needed a bit of convincing to come around to my way of thinking.  I explained to her that this was a park full of stories instead of a park full of playground equipment.  This sparked her interest as she loves a good story – especially when she makes them up herself.  I started to tell her and show her the stories weaved through the landscape, and as she started to see them for herself the park took on a whole new set of adventures.  There was no such convincing needed for her brother, this park is a Daredevil’s wonderland, so much to climb and explore, and he didn’t care that it wasn’t primary coloured and structured.

Ballast Point is a rich and diverse landscape of layers and stories.  The current parkland weaves an interesting and engaging tapestry of landscape design, artwork and historic interpretation to provide a valuable recreational resource for the community of Sydney.  Located in Birchgrove, Ballast Point Park is part of the expanding network of foreshore parks that the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority is developing and managing in order to return previously alienated land back to the public.  Designed by McGregor + Coxall, a Sydney based landscape architectural firm, the current format recognises a long and interesting history while addressing the functionality and significance of the site as public open space.

The site has a rich Indigenous, colonial and industrial heritage, and there are features through the park that tell these stories.  Some are literal, like the retention of industrial site features and signage, others interpretive like the display of relics suspected to have come from the excavated Menevia foundations, the original home built on the site, and some more ephemeral like the poetry and artworks that punctuate the site and recognise the site  and it’s significance to the harbour and its history.  Significantly, the park has the dual names of Ballast Point Park and Walama recognising both  the European and Indigenous history and importance of the site.

One of the most interesting layers of the park is its eco-cred.  The site is full of recycled and re-used materials, the most obvious being the imposing gabion walls made out of recycled building rubble.  The surprising flashes of mosaic tiles, electrical cover plates and marble make these walls a significant feature on their own.  The electricity for the site is produced from wind turbines located on the imposing Tank 101 artwork, and the storm water from the site is filtered through a network of wetlands on the site before it enters the harbour.  Plantings throughout the site enhance local biodiversity through the utilisation of local provenance seed stock.

Through all the design and history, my favourite part of this park is the layer that the current use has provided.  While we were there, we saw dogs being walked, people picnicking and families exploring.  The most interesting part was one I hadn’t expected.  People have begun to place padlocks on the gab ion walls overlooking the harbour.  Families, lovers, friends, travellers all seem to be locking their “love” on the site.  Reminiscent of Pont des Arts in Paris, these locks are commemorating people’s own personal life journeys of birth, love and death.

I am seriously considering adding a lock to the wall!



Just for fun

21 Mar

I enjoyed writing a post for Design Mom’s Love the Place you live theme a couple of weeks ago so much that I’ve decided to join in again! If you missed last time you can catch it again here. Last weekend was a bit of a mixed bag in terms of weather, so I wasn’t sure whether we’d actually get a chance to enjoy the Sydney outdoors, but as Sunday provided a few good sunny hours, we made the most of them and headed out.

The postcard Sydney image

Sydney really is a pretty city.  The harbour and all it has to offer create a beautiful backdrop, and never fail to bring a smile to my face.  Despite the fact that I am Sydney born and bred, the view of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House still brings a couple of little butterflies to my stomach.  This was the backdrop for our Sunday adventure.  We really were playing tourist in our own city this weekend!

I had purchased some $1 ferris wheel rides for Luna Park on a deal website a couple of weeks ago.  The Drama Queen and Daredevil haven’t been to a fun park, and never been on a big ride, so I thought it would be a fun day out without overwhelming them with the whole “theme park” adventure.  I’m glad I was right, we all had a ball!

The Luna Park entrance is a Sydney icon

Luna Park is located right under the Sydney Harbour Bridge (which is celebrating it’s 80th birthday this week), and was first opened in 1935 when it  was built on the site of the construction yards for the bridge.  Luna Park has had a bit of a chequered past with fires, protests and financial losses closing the park a few times over it’s life time.  Thankfully the park has re-opened again, and a lot of the 1930’s character has been restored, including the stunning carousel and Coney Island.  The iconic Luna Park face filled the munchkins with excitement, and it is the perfect gateway to a the world of fun that lies behind it.

I have to be honest, I’m not usually the biggest fan of theme park design, I generally find them a bit gimmicky and very commercialised.  Luna Park is an exception.  The restoration has kept so much of the original art deco character that you feel like you’re stepping back in time a little, and the roving lindy hop dancers help to reinforce the feeling that you’re enjoying a little piece of Sydney’s harbour heritage.

The restored Carousel

artwork in the park

A view from the ferris wheel

The Ferris wheel was a huge success.  Despite a small amount of trepidation from both the Drama Queen and myself about the height, the view and excitement of the ride took over.  Despite my minor height phobia, I love the Ferris Wheel at Luna Park because of the spectacular views you get across the harbour both towards the city and to the west.

The Ferris Wheel with the Harbour Bridge in the background

The Drama Queen was all smiles after her height fear faded

Most people who have grown up in Sydney have memories of Luna Park, and I am no exception.  I have fond memories of watching my sister turn green when she took on the scarier rides as I watched from the much safer sidelines, Poor Pop had to accompany her as she was generally to young to ride on her own!  Hopefully we’ve started planting the seeds of memory in the next generation.

If you’re visiting Sydney, or even if you’re playing tourist in your own city, the Ferris wheel at Luna Park is hard to pass up.  Catch a ferry, pack a picnic and smile! Our day ended in the compulsory game of chase the Daredevil, though this time it had the stunning Bradfield Park, located under the bridge as it’s backdrop.

The Drama Queen chasing Mr Perfect, chasing the Daredevil!

What do you love about the place you live?


Sydney – sun and sand minus the surf

28 Feb

I was inspired to create this post by Design Mom, a blog I have fallen in love with, particularly since it helps me deal with the Drama Queen’s current French obsession. I’m posting as part of her love the place you live theme.

It’s not hard to love the place I live. It’s hard to fault Sydney, she is so pretty, but the postcard image of the harbour bridge and the opera house, while spectacular, is only the tip of the iceberg. As a family we love to spend our weekends outdoors enjoying the sunshine Sydney normally has on tap (though the sun does seem to have been on holiday this summer). The beach is a favourite for all of us, and last weekend we headed to one of our favourites, and a Sydney gem, Shark Beach at Nielsen Park.


There are two types of beach in Sydney, the surf beaches like Bondi and Manly, and the calmer harbour beaches. Shark Beach is one of the calmer harbour beaches, and while the Drama Queen and Daredevil are still so young, it’s a great place for them to run around, splash and build sandcastles without too much stress.

The beach is part of the Nielsen Park heritage parklands that form part of the Sydney Harbour National Park. We love setting up on the grassy banks above the beach under the shade of one of the well established trees. The park is really popular with families, so there are always crowds of kids in the park and the beach. It’s not uncommon for the Drama Queen to make a new best friend while building sandcastles on the beach.


Nielsen Park is located in Vaucluse, in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, and in the latter part of the 19th century formed part of the Vaucluse House Estate. The parkland, including the Heritage Greycliffe House and it’s estate we’re dedicated as a public reserve in 1911, and it was then that many of the gorgeous historic parkland features, such as the kiosk, change sheds and beach wall were constructed. In 1975, the park became part of the Sydney Harbour National Park.


If we’re feeling a bit more adventurous, we have been known to tackle the Hermitage Foreshore Walking Trail. This walking track links a lot of the quieter and smaller harbour beaches and provides spectacular views of Sydney, the harbour and some of the more impressive harbour real estate. Nielsen Park is one of the highlights of this walking trail.



Yes, that last photo wasn’t from last weekend, it was a while ago, and the Drama Queen has grown up a bit since then, but it is a great view!

My favourite part of a lazy day at Shark Beach is the almost compulsory coffee, baby cino and cake that we enjoy in between swims and sandcastles.


What do you love about where you live?


No more nevers

17 Jan


Happy new year! I have finally given up the procrastination for my first post of the 2012. Yes, it has taken me a while, but the new year is bit busy around Drawn Outdoors HQ, not only do we have the fun of celebrating Christmas and New Year, but it’s also Mr Perfect and then the Drama Queen’s birthdays in quick succession. (I also have a really good excuse, in my quest to embrace our new christmas technology, our Ipad ate my blog post!)

Because of the number of celebrations, I love the new year. Not only is is a time for family, friends, food and fun, but it’s also a time for new starts, setting new priorities and making resolutions. Whether you’re planning to lose weight, quit smoking, eat healthier or just smile more, it’s a time for taking a bit of a look forward and back and readjusting a little.

We have a new outlook around Drawn Outdoors. It’s been inspired by my lovely Drama Queen. I’m not sure why, but she has been turning into a bit of a negative nelly. More and more often I was hearing the word never. “I’ll never have chocolate again!” or “I’ll never ever play with my ponies”. Basically her world was becoming a bit too doom and gloom for my liking, so we made a new rule…

No more Nevers

Instead of never we’ve turned it into “I can’t wait”. Now we get “I can’t wait to have chocolate again” and “I can’t wait to go to the beach”. Not only are the words different and more positive, but they come with a smile instead of a scowl. I think it has actually made a huge difference to her general outlook.

The good news is, that between the rainy days that this Sydney summer has served up, the Capricorn birthday routine of choice this year has been beaches and pubs. Mornings spent in the sand sun and surf (well as much surf as a Sydney harbour beach can serve up) and evenings relaxing in a beer garden with family and friends… I’m hoping this tradition hangs on for my birthday!

In celebration of our new philosophy, happy new year and I can’t wait until my next blog post!!! Why don’t you join us in our quest to eradicate the nevers.


Through the eyes of a three year old.

21 Oct

Ever wondered what the world looked like through someone else’s eyes?  The Drama Queen is starting to love photography and we let her loose with the happy snappy digital camera.  She’s starting to take some great shots for a three year old.  I don’t think the apple fell far from the tree with this one, she loves photographing trees, flowers and landscapes.

I’m loving seeing the world through her eyes.


Let’s go fly a kite…

12 Sep

For a 3 year old with a minor Mary Poppins infatuation, the Festival of the Winds at Bondi was like a little piece of Mary Poppins by the sea on a huge scale.  After listening to lets go fly a kite about a dozen times on the drive to Bondi (yes, I’m so glad I purchased that CD!!) we were well and truly in the kite flying mood.

Through the sea of kites and sunshine on tap, smiles radiated from every face at Bondi on Sunday.  What a way to spend a sunny spring day in Sydney!

The best part bout seeing all those kites, is knowing there is someone holding onto the string with a little bit of grit, a little bit of determination and a whole lot of happy!


Rug up and get out there.

10 Jun
OK, so it’s winter and it’s really cold, but that’s no excuse not to rug yourself up and get out there. That’s what gloves and beanies were made for.  Besides, while it may be cold and windy, that sun is still spectacular and warms you to your soul.  Make the most of the cooler weather and try and do some of the things that get harder when it gets hotter.  Note for  those of you reading from the northern hemisphere, yes, we know it doesn’t get that  cold here in Sydney, but we think it does, we’re like Goldilocks, as long as it’s not too cold or not too hot it’s juuuuust right, and that’s the way we like it

We’re at the point at our new place where it’s warmer to head outdoors during the day than stay inside, so here are my top 5 things to do on a cold but sunny winter’s day.  This long weekend have a think about giving some a try…

1 Plant some vegetables. It’s probably not something you would normally associate with winter, but there are some great winter vegetable crops you can plant and enjoy in your hearty comfort food concoctions.

The Drama Queen’s snow pea crop is starting to power, though her broccoli is a little out of season, so they aren’t doing so well.  Other vegetables you might want to try if you’re looking at some Sydney vegetable gardening, are carrots, parsnips and beetroot for root crops, broad beans, snow peas, Spinach and cabbage for the above ground types.  If you’re looking for something a little more herbal, try parsley, oregano or chives.

Pop's spinach crop

Just try and make sure you keep their feet warm with a bit of organic mulch (try sugar cane mulch it’s a great re-use of a by-product) and that you give them plenty to drink, Sydney winters are normally dry.

2 Go for a walk.  Winter is a great time to check out your local neighbourhood or try something a bit more adventurous.  There are a few spectacular walks in Sydney, one of my favourites is the Spit to Manly, a little bit of bush, and it can end with a wine or two and a nice meal.  The bonus of bush walking in winter is you don’t need to worry too much about snake spotting, they’re generally fast asleep.

Another of my favourite winter walking habits is playing tourist in your own city, and Sydney is a fantastic place to play tourist, The Rocks, Circular Quay, Opera House, Botanic Gardens and Art Gallery, you can’t beat that for a walking circuit!  and if you’ve still got puff left, you can always walk across the bridge to Kirribilli and Luna Park.

Me and the Drama Queen on one of our tourist adventures in the botanic gardens - and yes, this was in winter!

3 Do some garden renovation – lets face it some of the hard stuff in the garden is hot work, and in summer it’s just not fun.  Really, in winter it’s not much fun either, but if you can’t afford to get someone to do it for you, winter is the best time to do the tough jobs like re-mulching, pruning and building, then you’re all ready to enjoy what spring then summer have in store.

4 Share a wine in a sunny beer garden – So you’ve planted, walked, and put in the hard slog, me thinks it’s time for a reward.  I love spending time with friends and family out in the sun, and partaking in a drop or two of good Aussie wine.  Need I say more?  Just head on down to your local, find a nice spot in the sun and have fun.

5  Go skiing.  Oh how I miss our skiing holidays.  Since the Drama Queen was born we haven’t managed to make our way down to the snow.  Despite our pre children promises, it appears we have turned into those parents who stop doing some of the things they love when munchkins come on the scene.  Every June long weekend, when the Australian ski season starts I get a little pang of longing, and then every October long weekend, a little pang of regret that we’ve missed another one. So if you’re heading down to the slopes this weekend for the season opening, I am soooo jealous!  I can’t think of much better for a sunny chilly winter’s day than shooping down the slopes to stop for a hot chocolate and a chat.  Really, I think I spent more time with the hot chocolate than I did with the snow…

ahhhh... sun, snow and skis, can think of nothing better in winter

I’ll definitely be doing number 4, how about you? Stay warm and have fun!


%d bloggers like this: