Sunday, October 28, 2007

The car race tracks of Sydney

St Mary's, Maroubra Speedway, Sydney Speedway, Amaroo Park, Oran Park, Catalina Park, Eastern Creek...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Zetland and surrounds

Speaking of Zetland, as I did in my trams post, it's worth mentioning that South Dowling Street used to disappear into sand dunes... and that's probably why it was a bit of a centre for glass making. The massive Dowling Street tram depot was also down that "dead end" of town (now a hardware/retail monstrosity), as was the Sydney Hydraulic Company's plant (was now an Otis elevator testing facility when last I looked). They generated hydraulic power for Sydney, there being a need for power before the advent of widespread electrical distribution.

Heading south into the sand and swamp we had the old Victoria Park Leyland (aka Austin, Morris, Wolseley) car plant on the right, hard up against O'Dea Ave (where the single track tram connection from South Dowling Street to Waterloo is still visible). It became Navy land in the mid-1970s, then residential. Before all of that I think it was a pony racing track. On the left is Todman Ave and the old WD&HO Wills cigarette factory, Raleigh Park.

As an aside, let's remember Tempe tram depot here.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The railway secrets of Sydney

I will build on this as I go along, but how about the railway stations that have changed name? What about Wynyard and Central station, both of which have disused tunnels and platforms? What of the tram platforms at Wynyard, or the tram ramp up to the Harbour bridge?

The tramways of Sydney

Yes, trams, or light rail. And plenty of them, too. As in largest network outside of London (or was that just largest network outside of London but within the British Commonwealth? Whatever, it was huge.) Checkout Wikipedia here and the Tramway Museum (or SPER).

Look around you when driving - some streets are strangely wide with a big grassy reservation in the middle, like Anzac Parade at Kensington. There are even some tram stops (facing inwards, away from the road) along that same route to La Perouse, and some remaining bus stops are clearly re-used tramway buildings. Some streets and buildings curve gently to the left or right for no apparent reason, like Meagher Street near Cleveland Street, and others have tracks shining through like O'Dea Ave at Zetland. There are plenty of tram catenary clamps hanging off walls along King Street, Newtown, as well. All great examples of urban history, if you care to look.

Sydney airport accidents and incidents

There haven't been that many accidents or incidents at Sydney but some stick in the mind. How about the Vickers Viscount tragically lost in Botany Bay?

The PAA 707 that beached itself in the mud at the southern side of the western end of the 25 runway?

The PAA 747 that did something very similar at the eastern end of that same strip, turning hard right to avoid colliding with the main southern sewer and Cook's River.

Or this DC3, VH-EDC, lost again in the bay after engine failure: "On Sunday 24 April 1994, at about 0910 EST, Douglas DC-3 aircraft VH-EDC took off from runway 16 at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport. The crew reported an engine malfunction during the initial climb and subsequently ditched the aircraft into Botany Bay. The DC-3 was on a charter flight to convey a group of college students and their band equipment from Sydney to Norfolk Island and return as part of Anzac Day celebrations on the island. All 25
occupants, including the four crew, successfully evacuated the aircraft before it sank. The investigation found that the circumstances of the accident were consistent with the left engine having suffered a substantial power loss when an inlet valve stuck in the open position. The inability of the handling pilot (co-pilot) to obtain optimum asymmetric performance from the aircraft was the culminating factor in a combination of local and organisational factors that led to this accident. Contributing factors included the overweight condition of the aircraft, an engine overhaul or maintenance error, non-adherence to operating
procedures and lack of skill of the handling pilot."


Also noteworthy was the slightly bizarre crash involving Ansett DC-3 VH-BZK and a NSWGR coal train which was (as was normal at the time) crossing runway 22... and yes, they later moved the train line as well as the runway.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Secret airports of Sydney

You probably realise that Sydney has one international airport, namely Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport. You probably also realise that there's a major light aircraft airfield in the outer-inner western suburb of Bankstown. You may even know about Camden airport, south-west of Sydney.

Some of you will have heard of Schofields, the former RAN air base, near the RAAF base at Richmond. Schofields had a triangular arrangement of intersecting runways, and when the Navy moved out the strips were gradually cut, with one DC3 marooned there when a fence divided the longest remaining strip. Did they truck it out, or take down the fence? RAAF 36 Squadron moved to Schofields near Sydney on 19 August 1946 as well for a time, populating the field with C-47s. Sadly now it's suburbia.

There's even the single-strip at Hoxton Park, west of Liverpool. You may think you know all that there is to know about aviation in Sydney... but wait, there's more.

What about Hargrave Park, near Liverpool? Now suburbia.

Penrith had an airfield, too, now a park close to town.

Holsworthy is an army base that can take short-field RAAF transports.

What of Duffy's Forest, to the north?

There are also many more grass strips to list, and we'll get to them soon enough.

What about the history of Sydney's airports? What of the pony racing that was conducted on land to the east of the current domestic terminals? Or the balloon loop for the trams that brought punters to that pony track? What of the early runway alignment at Sydney, which had one runway crossing the railway tracks to the northeast? Or of the DC3 that was involved in an accident with a freight train?

There are some secrets to be uncovered here. It will take time but we'll get there!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

What I plan to cover...

The concept is simple - cover what I know. So it's the Sydney I grew up in and explored. It's the long-forgotten horse troughs in Marrickville, the disused tram tracks in Newtown, the long-forgotten airfields like Hargrave Park, and the lost velodromes like Henson Park.

I have some photos, and I'll sprinkle them here and there, but it's also the words, the memories of what it was like to grow up in Sydney in the 60s and 70s.