Regular readers will know that I am drawn to street art. Today I am off to St Peter’s where I know I will find street art and perhaps a whole lot more.
Chimney Stacks and Street Art
From the top of the station stairs, four tall brick chimney stacks come into view. Located in Sydney Park, these historical identifying features of St Peter’s recall the brick making past of the area. Passengers leaving the station are immediately met with a wall of street art. I pass colourful tags, stickers, and the more “traditional” mural type street art.
In May Lane, is what appears to be a “R.I.P” piece (dedicated to someone/those who have died while engaging in their “hobby” of street art). South American artists are featured. The Lane is alive with colour. There are stylised tags, paste- ups, a yarn bomb and a concrete balaclava splattered with yellow paint. Some work has been painted over. Street art is ephemeral.
I exchange greetings with a man with a shaved head, tattooed sleeves. Only here would this exchange between an older, conservatively dressed woman and a man with face piercings and unusual tatts under one eye occur.
In Caroline Lane a painting of Orangutans rails against the use of palm oil. A large mural of children’s art warns others that it is an illegal wall – “by invite only”.
The Lane is lined by houses on one side and light industry on the other. Behind half open roller doors stands an old tired armchair perhaps rescued from a council pick up. An empty coffee cup and used ashtray rest on the worn arm.
A man in red t-shirt sits on the kerb, smoking. He tells me that the signs warning people not to paint on private walls probably relate to the owners not liking the fumes created by painting, adding that there have always been legal and illegal walls in the area.
In May Street, unclaimed mail rests on the doormat of an apparently empty house. A sign warns trespassers, while a clever piece of graffiti instructs visitors to “PLEASE wait a while”.
Unwins Bridge Road
If I venture into an industrial estate, it is usually by car in search of something specific. Today, I’m on foot, carefully keeping to the yellow zebra stripes only to find that the Sydney Trapeze school is closed.
However, there are other interesting tenants in 1-7 Unwins Bridge Road. There’s Brazilian Jiu-jitzu, The Sydney Clay Studio, a dance studio and a climbing wall. A group of little girls dressed in their pink tutus have finished their class and are making their way to the Industrial Lunchbox café with their parents for a post class treat.
On my right along Unwins Bridge Road, there’s a container terminal below road level. I notice a small tent pitched on the narrow ledge hugging the fence before the land drops down to the containers. I wonder who sleeps there.
Further on, a small A-frame shelter a bit like a kennel is covered with a blue tarp. Does the tent dweller have a dog? I ponder what future holds for the Australian and Asian plastic bag business in this day of “say no to plastic bags” before spying more colourful street art down Mary Street and a piece by Bird Hat further on.
In the 1990s, in nearby Sydenham, over 150 homes were acquired and demolished by the Federal Government when aircraft noise from the third runway made the area uninhabitable. I detour into Sydenham Green, the park that was created on the site.
A giant red lounge with a “throw rug” made up of little tiles dominates the outdoor ‘living room’ which is complete with mantelpiece, fire place and an oversized lamp with black shade.
A local man on his way to pick up a lunch from a nearby bakery tells me that “you get used to the [airplane] noise” but that many people “old, you know….had to leave”. He points to his auntie’s place and the one next door which were the only two to escape demolition.
Princes Hwy divides St Peters. Having explored some of the residential side, it is time to discover the industrial side and I walk to the Highway. It is many years since I’ve made the unpleasant drive along this road. It is even more unpleasant as a pedestrian.
I clamp my mouth shut against the fumes and try to shut out the roar of the traffic. Pedestrian lights are scarce and I make a big detour to find a safe crossing.
In a side road next to Hungry Jacks is a familiar symbol. Leaning against the wall of Metropolitan Demolitions a giant set of Olympic rings brings back fond memories of “the best Olympic Games ever”.
To quench my thirst, I venture into a pub where a few men are taking a break from their work on the controversial WestConnex. My soft drink is cool and refreshing.
Dynamo Automotive Building
On the corner of Canal Road, the distinctive façade of the well-known Dynamo Automotive building is clearly visible. The business itself has relocated and today beyond the hoardings, cranes, earth movers and mounds of dirt surround the building. The WestConnex is steaming ahead.
To reach the canal after which the road is named, I cross in front of a huge truck leaving yet another container yard. The driver, high up in his cabin, can’t see me, and I rush across in front of him hoping the lights don’t change. There is no little green man to assist me. The diversion to the canal is hardly worth it, but I wanted to see one of only two navigable canals in New South Wales.
I return to cross the highway to Mary Street where Sample Coffee Roasters in Precinct 75 is a good place for lunch. The café is one of many interesting tenants in the converted Taubman’s Paint Factory building. There’s an urban winery, a brewery, an upcycle (discarded materials used in new products) store as well as many home wares and an axe throwing centre (apparently a great team building activity).
And then I double back to Princes Hwy again to find St Peter’s church, built in 1838 and listed on the Register of the National Estate. It is peaceful wandering through the cemetery, reading information plaques of some of the deceased.
My last stop is Sydney Park where I spend some time exploring the brick works. There is a pile of plastic containers and unopened cat food stashed in the hollow of one of the kilns. There is a stencil of a fly on a wall. Coincidentally a young woman with a large delicate fly tattooed on her inner forearm walks by.
The top of a small hill in the park provides extensive views all the way to the city. I check the time on the human sundial in the all abilities playground and take pleasure in the water features and bird life of the wetlands. There are dog walkers, runners, children playing and others relaxing with a book all making good use of the large grounds of this rambling park.
Lister, the street artist well-known for his pieces in Surry Hills has been to Sydney Park. He has cheekily changed the frog footprints on the path into something else. Back in May Lane I realise that he has been here too. Why am I surprised?
Today I have found the street art I was looking for and I made other discoveries including Olympic Rings, an historic brick works, a creative precinct and extensive parkland.
Next stop: Five Dock
Plan your trip at transportnsw.info
History tours of St Peter’s church are held monthly and “Voices from the Graveyard” are a way to hear the stories of some of the people buried there.
And a map to assist you: (You can download it 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):