Is this our ugliest streetscape? Plus a slide show.


This is on the road from the CBD to the western suburbs, two major hospitals, the university and the freeway to Sydney.

If we were to hold a competition for the most offensive roadway in Newcastle, this one would come second after the drive past the coal loaders.

It’s the Donald Street railway bridge in Hamilton. The bridge *fence is rusting and has dead trees up against it; on the northern side it looks as though someone has poisoned morning glory and left the dead remnants behind. (Not that I know whether there has been morning glory there, but it wouldn’t surprise me: there are a number of bushes of that other noxious weed, cotoneaster, below the bridge.)  

The fence hasn’t given way yet but it’s certainly leaning over in places. The view is saved in spring by flowering Silky Oaks on the southern side and a lovely gum and fig on the northern side. Come to think of it, these are all mature, so they may be in the firing line… 

I probably wouldn’t mind the ugliness and neglect if I hadn’t read about a park in Pyrmont in Sydney that was started in 2002 and cost  millions to develop:

The City of Sydney has transformed the former Water Police site at Pyrmont into a stunning waterfront park.  In 2005, the new City Council paid $11 million to buy the former Water Police site and allocated $14.8 million to consult, design and create a park that responded to community aspirations.
The park contract was $20 million and the building contract was $1.5 million.

  And the Federal Government wouldn’t give $4 million to the Art gallery to put in a coffee shop.

On twitter one day I read about ‘lace’ fencing. This is only one photo of it and it’s not my favourite but it’s just one idea to replce the rusty fence. If you google it you’ll find heaps. Newcastle council has a couple of nice traffic screens with etched images in them – near the foreshore and a nicer one in Wickham. I’m not sure whose responsibility fencing by a roadway is, but everything seems to get dumped on councils’ laps so this is probably no exception. Let me know if you have the answer.

I felt sorry for nearby residents until I walked down under the bridge – the greenery, even though it’s made up in part of noxious weeds, looks green and pleasant from there. Lucky them.

And only tangentially relevant: I just found the most wonderful link while I was looking for something on Hamilton. There was a photographer in Newcastle in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, called Ralph Snowball. The University of Newcastle have 1000 of his images on a flickr stream.

Here is a fantastic house in Mayfield, called Earp House, in 1900 that I don’t recognise so I presume it’s long gone;  look at what I assume is their glass house. And here is a house that is still lived in today in a lovely street, the Terrace. The Post Office hasn’t changed from the outside but is a metaphor for what the Market Place will do to your society  if you let it: after being bought and neglected by a developer it’s leaking and rotting  away inside. And imagine the barbarism of knocking down this gorgeous place.

Here is how many trees there were in Newcastle in 1906, in a view of Newcastle from Fort Scratchley. The Eight Hour Day Parade in 1890 makes me sad since so many people work ten or eight hour shifts routinely these days. You can’t see the Hill Public School for fig trees now.

Anyway, tomorrow is the charette presentation. Please let me not hiss, groan or boo.

*27.7.2010 If the bridge were rusting something would probably be done about it. You’ve heard of concrete cancer; well now, there’s concrete rust: and you heard about it here first. Sorry, it was late… Home


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2 Responses to “Is this our ugliest streetscape? Plus a slide show.”

  1. Ali Says:

    Thanks again for an informative post .I hope there is a full house tonight ( Tues 27th) @ Council. if u dont want to boo hiss give a few hear hears to those Councillors who still represent the major views of constituents, & who will stand up to retain these majestic iconic fig trees & who will therefore remain as elected representatives! (ps my ancestors were part of the founding movement for the 8hr day in Australia. 8hr Work, 8hr sleep, 8 hrs relaxation ( family, religion etc) .they must be turning in their graves!)

  2. Cosmic irony « Save Our Figs and other trees in Newcastle Says:

    […] but that it is still not possible to drive down that road. Sydney can get a $37 million park (see ‘Is this our ugliest streetscape?‘) paid for by development money and we can’t get funding to engineer a safe cliff on […]

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