Saltwater Dreaming

Caringbah, Sydney: A new Street Art Destination

Caringbah, Sydney wasn’t on my list of Sydney Suburbs to visit. Well, not until I learnt about their “Walk the Walls” street art project. Having a soft spot for Street Art in Sydney, I am exploring Caringbah today.

Getting to the Woolooware Bay Shared Pathway

Leaving the station, I have difficulty orienting myself. Juggling two maps, sunglasses and reading glasses I feel conspicuous and out of place.  I walk past a little white hatchback, look at my maps, look at the road signs and retrace my steps.

A woman sitting in the hatchback calls out “Excuse me are you lost?”. I chuckle, embarrassed. She points me in the direction of Parraweena Road saying “it’s a fair way away”.

New home in Caringbah

New home in Caringbah

Simple home in Caringbah

Simple home in Caringbah

Caringbah Houses

Here, like in other parts of Sydney, the small simple cottages are making way for two storey houses. It’s not like days gone by when homes were smaller. These days, people want more room.

Many fibro and weatherboard homes remain. Some have taken advantage of their deep blocks to build a second home behind them. My mind wanders, thinking about the folk who have probably lived here for years, seen their families grow up and leave home.

In this street at least, there is a sleepy beach side feel. A couple of boats on trailers are parked in driveways. There are a few palm trees and one home even has a “Beach House” sign.

Building and renovating in Caringbah

There’s much building and renovating

Beach feel to this Caringbah Street

Beach feel in this street

Captain Cook Drive

When faced with the busy six lanes of Captain Cook Drive, it makes more sense to walk out of my way to a set of traffic lights and cross safely.

Captain Cook Drive is lined with light industry and small businesses. A removal truck for Shire’s Family Removals is familiar. I met “them” in Taren Point. Often exploring one suburb reminds me of another.

My mind wanders again. Who in their right mind would spend time walking through an industrial estate? I have done so more times than I can remember….in St Peter’s, in Marrickville and more recently in Taren Point. It’s all part of discovering and exploring Sydney’s suburbs.

Light industry along Captain Cook Drive

Along Captain Cook Drive

Surfboard supplier

Surfs Up

Woolooware Shared Pathway

I have strayed into Taren Point, to the newly opened section of the Woolooware Bay Shared Pathway. Pedestrians and cyclists are already making good use of the pathway. A passerby tells his friend “it took them an awful long time to get it done”.

Returning to the Caringbah section of the walkway, I stop to watch a willy wagtail hopping back and forth, pecking at the concrete path. He is completely unconcerned by my presence.

Spot for morning tea in Caringbah

Another

Morning tea spot in Caringbah

Morning Tea Spot

Mangroves and Warehouses

The mangroves on my left give off an unpleasant rotten egg smell. A sign explains what I already know. That the smell is completely natural, caused by bacteria breaking down fallen leaves and detritus into nutrients. That makes it more palatable.

Warehouses line the path on my right and the sounds of reversing trucks and workers calling each other drifts over the fence.

The hum of fast spinning wheels warns me to step aside for cyclists who never seem to warn of their approach from behind. Another thought comes to mind. “Oh dear, some men should not wear lycra.”

Recycling Gas Bottles

Recycling Gas Bottles

Over the fence in Caringbah

Over the fence

An older woman wearing an orange peak walks towards me. She is red in the face from exertion, and stops to tell me “It’s a long walk, isn’t it? I’ve come all the way from Alexander Avenue and back”. She has no water and I offer her some of mine. She gratefully takes a long drink before bidding me farewell.

A tiny brown wren flits around the mangroves. The more colourful male remains hidden. Semaphore crabs inhabit the mangroves and are an important part of the estuarine ecosystem. I stop to watch them, noticing the orange claws of the younger crabs.

Towards the end of the track, two mums and four boys on scooters come towards me. One mother looking at her phone says “OK, we’re going to go on the bike path and turn left”. I hope they have water with them.

Mulga Walk the Walls

Street Art by Mulga

Walk the Walls Ox King

Birds by Ox King

Back to Caringbah Village for the “Walk the Walls” Street Art Project

Now, I zig zag through suburban streets back to the village of Caringbah. A few caravans stand in front yards. Grey nomads perhaps, preparing to go north when the cold weather arrives.

The “Walk the Walls” Street Art Project is my main reason for visiting Caringbah. First up is an obviously Aboriginal piece. A series of coloured dots on a black background, it is the work of Zachary Bennett-Brook of Saltwater Dreamtime and is the feature picture of this post.

Community Approval

An older woman sits on a bench watching as I photograph the piece. She tells me that “It’s so much nicer now. There was so much graffiti” adding that “an Aboriginal person did that one”. She goes on to show me the way to the next artwork.

Another Walk the Walls

Seats and another mural

Walk the Walls Caringbah

Great Patterns

The pedestrian crossing across Kingsway to Westpac leads to a little laneway and much of the “Walk the Walls” project. The project was curated by Phibs, a well-known street artist. Twenty-three artists participated in the project which aimed to stop graffiti and vandalism and to revitalise open spaces by decorate walls with large scale murals.

One woman stopped me to tell me that “I really like the seahorses. I’m crazy about them, so I love that one around the corner” She digs out the pendant around the neck to show me a little gold seahorse.

Walk the Walls

What do you think?

Seahorses by Phibs and George Rose

Seahorses by Phibs and George Rose

Come See for Yourself

Rather than show you all the pieces, I’ve included a small selection. To see more, take the train to Caringbah and wander around and through the little lanes. Most of the works are in the area around Park Lane. Not all are large so do look out for the little pieces too. Many of these are by Camo.

Beware of cars entering and leaving the car park. I found myself dodging cars and delivery vans to get these photographs.

Skateboarding by Camo

Skateboarding by Camo

Krimsone Walk the Walls

By Krimsone

More than one person stops and says something like “they’re amazing aren’t they”. A young girl points to a piece saying “Wow”. Her mum replies “Yeah it’s good isn’t?”

This project has certainly received the community tick of approval.

Walk the Walls

Look for the little ones by Camo

Angry Magpies

Angry Magpies by Karen Farmer

Camellia Gardens

The walk to the Camellia gardens takes a little longer than ten minutes along President Avenue. My head is throbbing. It is hotter than I’d expected, and I hope the teahouse is open for lunch.

Kareena Park, also known as EG Waterhouse Camellia Gardens, is a little oasis in Caringbah. I settle down at a table overlooking the gardens in the teahouse, appreciating a brief respite from the heat.

Revived by lunch and plenty of cold water, I take a stroll through the gardens. The sasanqua camellias are just about finished while the buds of the other varieties are getting ready to bloom. In a couple of months, these gardens will be in full bloom.

Camellia Gardens Caringbah

Almost finished blooming

Camellia Gardens Caringbah

Reflections in the pond

Ducks and Fruit Bats

Water flows besides the path through beautiful greenery and into a duck pond. Nearby a colony of grey headed fruit bats draw the attention of a group of visitors.

Glenn McGrath Oval

The return to Caringbah centre, takes me via the Glenn McGrath oval. Not dissimilar to the many cricket ovals found on my suburban explorations, this one has a pale-yellow picket fence and quaint looking clubhouse. The field is set up for the soccer season.

Glen McGrath Oval Caringbah

Glen McGrath Oval

The Book Station Caringbah

The Book Station

Reflecting on Today

The Book Station proves to be the perfect place to have a cool drink while waiting for my train. Seated in a comfortable old-style chair, surrounded by well-thumbed books I think back on today. A pleasant walk, great street art and newly discovered Camellia Gardens made the two hour each way train journey well worth the effort.

For more street art visit Newtown, and for another interesting garden visit Auburn.
Next Stop: Leichhardt

Useful information:

Plan your trip at transportnsw.info

The Walk the Walls artwork can be found mainly in the following places:

  • The Corner of Denman Avenue and the Kingsway
  • 344R Kingsway
  • 346A Kingsway
  • Park Lane – Rear of 324-340 Kingsway
  • Park Lane – Rear of 4-8 Park Lane
  • 9-13 President Avenue and
  • Hay Avenue

It is only fair (and best practice) to identify the artists whose street art I photograph and include in my blog. I have done so whenever possible. Apologies to those I have missed.

And a map to assist you: And a map to assist you: You can download the map here

(NOTE that the time indicated on the map does not allow for any stops. I take an average of 4-5 hours when I explore):

Walking map of Caringbah

 

Comments

  1. If this is the home of the “Angry Magpies” by Karen Farmer then I definitely want to visit 😀. I love this artist.

    1. Author

      Yes, I enjoy her work too, Lindee. Not sure Caringbah is her home but the piece she did as part of Walk the Walls is great.

  2. I love that what would be just another street/building/suburb becomes an art gallery and generates such a positive response from the community. I love that people talk about how much better it is than before, have their favorites and are eager to share with others. Lovely post and pictures.

    1. Author

      Thanks Bernadette. It seems outdoor public art is becoming mainstream. Interesting that it is often partof a crime prevention initiative.

    1. Author

      Thank you Lydia. I too enjoyed the chairs and their setting with the fine green mural in the background.

  3. I have never visited but the street art and the book station might actually entice me!

    I enjoy reading about your wandering, in particular your interactions with the locals. Sharing water, talking about the changes, this gives me great insight into the community.

    Righteo, it’s on my list to visit.

    1. Author

      Thanks Leah. It’s often the interaction with locals that makes my day.

  4. Love the seahorse mural! Haven’t spent much time in this suburb but looks like another good spot for a street art walk 🙂

    1. Author

      Thanks Katie. It was my first visit to Caringbah. When I found out about the Walk the Walls festival, it went to the top of my list of suburbs to visit.

  5. Hi Joanne
    You never stop amazing me by the amount of information that you give in your blogs. They are outstanding and give lots of info on Sydney and its suburbs that we are not aware of. Keep up the good work accompanied by your amazing photography.
    Wally and Meg

    1. Author

      Hi Wally. Thank you so much for your kind words. I love what I do and your comments inspire me to keep going.

  6. I enjoyed reading about your experiences in Caringbah . I was also really impressed by how proud the locals were in the Walk the Wall Art but thought maybe I was hearing this as the works were new so it’s great you also experienced this

    1. Author

      Thanks Tricia – the works still look great a couple of months out from the Walk the Walls Festival. Hopefully they won’t deteriorate or will be renewed when they do. The people I spoke to and who were positive about the works were older folk which I found encouraging.

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