Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Where did all the sandstone come from?

Here we have vignettes of the remnant Mort Dry Dock where I was yesterday. Yet again, the ubiquitous sandstone together with the much more utilitarian concrete! The oyster encrusted steps are gorgeous - but where did all this sandstone come from?

Sydney Harbour is dotted with something like 9 largish islands: Shark, Clarke, Garden, Fort Denison, Goat, Cockatoo, Snapper ... mmm ... and two more. So many of them have been scalped to provide building materials for the growing colony. The first image below is that of Fort Denison which in 1788 was an island named Pinchgut because that was where nere-do-well convicts were sent until the lack of food started to impact and they recanted. It was levelled to provide much of the sandstone for the CBD during the 19th century. Last year, I toured Cockatoo Island - the third image below - from which holdloads of the rock was carved or sawn to allow for the construction of shipbuilding yards. There are massive gouge's all over, and through, the island. The middle image below is a treasure that I stumbled upon on a building site in Vaucluse over Christmas. This massive circular saw is being used to tier the standstone bluff to make way for a multi-million collar three storey mansion overlooking the harbour. So the rape continues 'til this day ...
When first the land was ours
And still the mother waits in hope,
degraded by neglect,
for us to render what we owe
- a lifetime of respect.
The world's good is our own best good,
the land's health is our own
- we were not meant to pasture sand
or harvest fields of stone.
Bruce Dawe

6 comments:

JM said...

I just love sand stone!
Your question makes me remember the 'mysteries' regarding those huge constructions made by egyptians and incas... :-)

Mo said...

Very interesting to me. I lived in this area for 9mths.

Julie said...

Mo, I am assuming that you are an American based on London for a while. Now I discover you have been out here too ...

You present an interesting slant on London ...

Joan Elizabeth said...

Is it rape? We have to harvest something from the land -- crops and natural resources -- in order to survive and thrive. I guess sustainability is the key. Sandstone has made some lovely buildings and is reusable. The landscaper told me the sandstone steps in my garden were once roadside kerbing.

Julie said...

We could go into a definitional discussion: "rape" is the use of a resource for selfish personal gain with no benefit for the object and no possibility of restitution. Then we come to the thornier question: Is rape ever justified?

I did not know that sandstone was being re-used. I know that railway sleepers get reused but there probably are not that many of them left.

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