... with open eyes, and a generous heart, there is awe 'round many a corner ...
Wednesday, 29 July 2009
When is an island no longer an island?
I read a quote today about Obama and the dilemma he is encountering living up to voters' expectations: "The audacity of hope clashes with the obduracy of reality." It reminded me of this gentleman - young not unattractive. Just sitting watching the water. I stood back and watched for a while trying to gauge from his body-language whether he was as sad as the image conveys. He was sad, but not enough to do anything dumb. It was mid-week, mid-winter, mid-day. It was glorious and he sat and fed the gulls more of his sambo than he ate himself.
The James Cook graving dock (a dock where the water can be pumped out) was opened just as both Rooseveldt and Hitler were departing this world, having been commenced in 1940 as a direct result of wartime exigencies. 30 acres of land was resumed from the harbour. The two vintage photographs show the island before WW2 and the same place when it was no longer an island after WW2.
Gardening was never successful on Garden Island. Like many of the promontories reaching into the harbour, Garden Island was an outcrop of sandstone with very little soil attached and neither colonists nor soldiers had any farming experience. None. They persevered, however, from February 1788 until June 1790 when the Second Fleet arrived with a few provisions for the struggling colony. Some food was grown around the Governor's house in what is now the Botanic Gardens but the real turning point also came in 1790 when James Ruse started to till the far more arable land out at Parramatta - 30 miles inland up the river that shoots off from the harbour.
I spent two hours on the island and only toured the grassy knoll- that expression sends shivers up my spine. I did not have enough time to do the Heritage Museum justice ($5 entry fee) so will go out again just for that. The restaurant between the two parts of the museum looks good, too.
It is a six minute ferry ride from Circular Quay at a return cost of $10.30. It is so worth it! That cost will take you the round trip to Watsons Bay on the ferry, "Susie O'Neill". But be warned: on a sunny weekend, the ferry will steam past some wharves because it is already at capacity.