Category Archives: ARTS & CULTURE

Everything and anything to do with our arts and cultural activities

Wonders of apartment heaven in Zetland

For people who live in the older tree filled suburbs of Canberra, being not only the inner north but also out to west Belconnen and the older parts of Woden, Weston and inner Tuggeranong – I have a holiday experience for you.

This should be seen as experiencing a future Canberra if our glorious leaders have their way in planning and their mates in development are let loose.

So if you are off to Sydney, I suggest you try Zetland– a totally redeveloped area just north of the airport.

To confuse the punter, as the area was being developed over the last couple of decades, the developers did not favour the former industrial suburb name of Zetland – bad for marketing. Hence we have a range of terms being used such as Green Park, East Village and Victoria Park.

First the positives: The Meriton Zetland Apartments are in that modern beige/grey style (boring?), well fitted out and good for short stays.

When on special, they are good value – something to be noted given that most of Sydney apartment accommodation is no longer cheap.

There is a small human scale mall, East Village, just a short walk away and cafes and restaurants spread throughout the area. It is a great place for holiday or business accommodation.

It is a safe place to be as people spend time outside. At night in the Meriton complex they have security that watch the internal courtyards – and they have big dogs to keep them company.

They are fairly quiet. In fact the last time there we were joined by a very loud group on the same floor. A quick word to the reception and all the noise disappeared.

Now for a comment or two from a planning and architectural perspective.

This is apartment heaven just as certain local politicians would see delivered across Dickson and other cherished areas of Canberra.

Zetland is a sea of very ordinary apartment boxes and towers. I know people who shudder at the thought of going there. Get over it – and give it a go.

There are several well-designed parks and many of the streets are tree-lined. Some streets have a very generous canopy. But all this is dressing up for the rows and rows of grey/white/beige apartment buildings.

Warning! This could soon be Northbourne Ave – let alone nearby suburbs.

There’s about 20,000 people living in this area; being all sorts but predominately the residents (owners and renters) are youngish. Having said that, we have spotted the occasional retired residents.

The atmosphere when you wander around is safe and friendly – but you do feel as though you are no longer in Australia. This is not your normal suburb.

One thing that does remind you of home. The place is full of dogs. Not sure where they are all during the day – but in the evening they are everywhere – so watch where you step on that green grass after dark or early morning.

I do recommend Zetland as a place to go, to stay a short while, to travel to other places across Sydney and to have the experience of being somewhere not like Canberra’s older suburbs – but maybe the future.

From a planning / architectural perspective this is what you get when developers do what they can with a new site; it was a brown-fill site – there were industrial thingys and swamps here before all this.

Developers love to build blocks of apartments and to do so without any real vision for what the whole place will end up looking like. Any one of the buildings may have been fine if it was alone among other well-designed buildings. In Zetland well-designed external features are rare. Most are bland boxes/towers.

Yes a couple of buildings have green roofs, and they were used to gain awards, but they are in the minority; and I doubt that those green roofs actually do much beside look pretty (if you are high enough to see them at all) and demand a lot of maintenance.

So there you have it. It is an economical place to stay if you are looking for a modern apartment with links into the city or other suburbs.

Once you are in – and you want to head north for a visit? Then the tunnel to the North Sydney suburbs is just outside but make sure you use the Epsom/Link Roads entry to the M1.

Want to go to Surrey Hills or downtown Sydney? Jump on one of several regular buses (get hold of an Opal Card) that run along the northern edge (O’Dea St  – 302 or 303) or the western edge (Joynton Ave – 301).

Catch the bus into Sydney and enjoy the sights along the way – get off on Crown Street in Surrey Hills and walk around – eat, have a coffee, window shop, watch the people, buy a book  – and then get back on a bus to continue into the city or to return to wonderful downtown Zetland.

The buses will take you into the middle of the city and down to Circular Quay (catch a ferry from there). If you get off at the Martin Place stop it is a short walk over to the AGNSW or the Mitchell Library.

If you choose not to have that Zetland experience – no matter, I am sure that our glorious leaders will have it build around us here in Canberra as soon as they can.

Anyone out there with a different Zetland experience?

NO is NOT enough

New book by Naomi Klein

“This is one attempt to uncover how we got to this surreal political moment. It is also an attempt to predict how, under cover of shocks and crises, it could get a lot worse.

And it’s a plan for how, if we keep our heads, we might just be able to flip the script and arrive at a radically better future.” — From the Introduction

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Frank Hurley and Australian Native Plants


Searching for Frank Hurley along our northern beaches

Did you know that Frank Hurley was a very keen gardener and photographer of wild flowers?

In April 2018 The Manly Art Gallery and Museum will be launching a very special exhibition titled: Frank Hurley – Sydney Harbour photographer: From Circular Quay to Collaroy.

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Hillary Clinton

The Destruction of Hillary Clinton

I have already reviewed this book – click here.

However I cannot stop pondering the challenge this story throws up for anyone interested in equity, fairness, and the role of the media in so many aspects of our daily lives.

If we had a real media, this story would have been totally different. Instead what happened here was the total manipulation of the media and through them members of the public, by all forms of malicious groups of people and individuals.

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Hillary Clinton

The Destruction of Hillary Clinton

It was on hearing certain phrases used over and over again on Australian TV programs talking about the 2016 US election campaign that I became suspicious that we were witnessing a lazy press.

Almost daily  the media was taking the same phrases and words and using them over and over again – with no evidence that they could be accurate except that they were the words and phrases being used by most journalists and commentators at the time.

On the basis we were supposed to accept their words as fact.

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New Philosopher

Totally recommended reading

The theme being – Future thinking

From the publishers:

Although the term and precise starting point might be disputed, many anthropologists believe that ‘behavioural modernity’ – when certain traits such as abstract thinking and symbolic behaviour are said to have emerged in humans – started around 50,000 years ago.

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Quarterly Essay – David Marr

David Marr – The White Queen

From the publishers: Most Australians despise what Pauline Hanson stands for, yet politics in this country is now orbiting around One Nation. In this timely Quarterly Essay, David Marr looks at Australia’s politics of fear, resentment and race. Who votes One Nation, and why? How much of this is due to inequality? How much to racism? How should the major parties respond to anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim voices? What damage do Australia’s new entrepreneurs of hate inflict on the nation?

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The Monthly

Recommended: The Monthly April 2017.

This is a must read for the articles on the ALT-Right by Richard Cooke – who pulls no punches and tells it as we all know it but it seems few in the press are game to do – well done Richard; and then there’s a condemning article – with maybe far too much detail – but totally providing an accurate picture of the damage done to the NBN by Malcolm Turnbull and his pals. And what a cover!

Click here for the website

The Rolling Stones

Review: Blue & Lonesome

Once upon a time thought The Rolling Stones were one of the great rock’n’roll bands – who also occasionally sang the blues. In between those early years and now there was not a lot of great music from the Stones – loads of concerts and a mix of music – some good and some ok. Would they ever make great music again?

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Rebecca Huntley Still Lucky

Book Review

Still Lucky, Rebecca Huntley, 2017. This is a good book. The message is clear – Australians are far more optimistic than we have been led to believe by our governments and the media. This researcher has done the research, travelled the country, talked to loads of people over many years. If you are interested in her reports on her research and comments – this book will give you all that and more.

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Helen Garner

Review: Everywhere I Look, Helen Garner

Here’s a good read. Being a selection of essays and diary notes based on many events and sometimes those quite happenings that one observes.

I have not read any Helen Garner’s work but have a reasonable awareness of the topics she writes on. Other reviewers have related this work to previous writings – for me I had to take it all on face value.

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Cherry-picking the Griffin’s legacy


At the meeting in August 2016 on the government’s proposals to redevelop the West Basin of Lake Burley Griffin, the main line taken by the government was that their proposals were based on the Griffin Legacy.

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