This week, The Past Present is turning its attention to the laneways, byways, roads and streets which make up Sydney. Sydney has an extraordinary range of streets, lanes and roads, many of which have a fascinating history. The image above, from a postcard dated circa 1905,shows one such street – Barrack Street.
Although other early colonial barracks in Sydney, like the Hyde Park barracks, are perhaps more famous, the earliest colonial military barracks complex was known as Wynyard Barracks. They were built on the eastern, southern and western sides of what is today Wynyard Park. The park itself was left as an open square in the centre of the barrack complex and became known as Barracks Square, or sometimes the Parade Ground. These barracks played a role in one of the more famous events of early colonial history. In 1808 an event later known as The Rum Rebellion occurred. During this event the New South Wales Corps arrested Governor Bligh. The corp was stationed at the Wynyard Barracks, and it was from here that they marched on the governor.
In 1848 though, new barracks, known as the Victoria Barracks, opened in Paddington. Wynyard Barracks were closed and the land surrounding the old Barracks Square was subdivided. Yet an echo of these earliest barracks remains – Barrack Street itself.
Freighter unloading Canadian logs and lumber in Snails Bay. log raft and tug at left of freighter. Get around tariff against lumber
This week, there have been a number of news reports around possible changes to trade agreements between various countries. With so much interest in trade, it seemed the ideal time to share this fascinating glimpse into the history of trade in Sydney, and in Australia more generally.
The image above, showing Snails Bay in Birchgrove, provides an amazing glimpse into the history of Australian tariff policy. The image, which shows a freighter unloading Canadian lumber offshore in order to avoid the tariff on Canadian lumber, particularly highlights the lengths that some importers were willing to go to in order to avoid paying the import tariffs on various products, in this case, Canadian wood.
In the 1930s tariffs on goods imported to Australia were substantially increased in order to protect Australian industry and employment. This was the time of the Great Depression, and the tariffs were an attempt to not only protect Australian industries and workers, but also to deal with various problems associated with international payments. Many of these tariffs remained unchanged until the 1970s, and the tariffs on imported wood still appear to be debated today.
This week, with the days being so hot and humid, many Sydneysiders will be looking to the seaside for a welcome break from being too hot! Whether swimming, or hoping for a slightly cooler seaside breeze, the beach has been a popular destination for Australian’s hoping to beat the heat for decades. As the postcard above shows though, visiting the beach today is certainly a different experience to what was the norm in the early 20th century.
Since the earliest days of European colonisation, and doubtless before, the sea has been a popular way to cool down on a hot Australian summers day. Balmoral Beach, featured in the image above, has been one popular destination for Sydney residents. Yet where today the beach might be teeming with skimpy bathers, in the past moral codes and social views of propriety meant that visiting the beach was a very different pastime. As the image above shows, people went to the beach fully dressed in suits or long dresses, even at the extremities of the day when it might be expected that such social mores would be relaxed. Even children had to be appropriately ‘turned out’ for a visit to the seaside!
This week, with so many Sydneysiders hearing about or spending rather a lot of time in the general vicinity of Brooklyn, due to the major crash on the M1, it seemed the perfect time to share this beautiful image. Brooklyn is a beautiful little town on the Hawkesbury River, but though it might be a small town, it has a big history!
Brooklyn is a small town north of Sydney and is often considered to be the most northern town in the Greater Sydney Metropolitan Area. For much of its history, Brooklyn was actually known as Peats Ferry, but then in 1884 a survey was made for the subdivision of the area and the name and suburb of Brooklyn was officially registered. Yet Brooklyn probably wouldn’t exist as a town if it weren’t for the development of the Northern Railway. Transport has indeed had a long and central role in the history of Brooklyn.
In 1887 a single track section of the railway was extended beyond Hornsby to the Hawkesbury River. From there, passengers would be ferried across the water to continue their journey north. It wasn’t long before it was recognised that a bridge across the water, to create a continuous railway journey, was needed. In fact, before the railway even opened, in 1886 the contract for building the bridge was awarded to the Union Bridge Company from New York. The bridge, which was known as the Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge was the final link in the railway, and also an engineering masterpiece of its time.
Even when the bridge was completed the station at Brooklyn, known as the Hawkesbury River Railway Station, was a vital place in the train network. The climb from Brooklyn up the hill to Cowan is quite steep, and before diesel and electric trains, steam trains could not make the climb alone. Instead, the trains would stop at Brooklyn, which was a ‘staging post’, and have what was known as a ‘push up’ engine attached to the end of the train. This engine would then provide the extra push needed for the trains to make it up the steep incline!