TL2 – Day 1 – The Bridge

Somehow a journey always starts with a bridge to somewhere. I’ve brushed off the sand and shelved the flip-flops, but packed the waterproof snow boots. Got up early in fact to see if I could get a start on those final emails, before setting of  on the next great cyber-terrestrial journey.  It’ll be around the world and probably take a whole month before getting back home.  Not sure if I would have gained or lost a day on the way north-east and around the outback of the globe to Sydney.  Its all a bridge to somewhere.  People talk about the journey, but I tend to think as before and after the journey – joined by two bridges – one at the beginning – leaving home – and one at the end – arriving and thinking about normal life once more.

Anyway bridge number one being the Sydney Harbour bridge – a well known landmark is always a great physical expression of that journey from the bush down to the airport.  I try to catch a cab or a train over it – probably to say goodbye somehow in my head to all the local domestic things and hello  to the next phase of the journey.  Today however, with the morning light fading to Autumn in a few days time, the radio chimes out about a multi-car pileup on the bridge with delays and cell phone calls hanging in clouds of frustration among the thousands of cars stuck fast on it’s superstructure.

So – backup bridge plan in Sydney is to catch a country train over a smaller bridge, way up river from the harbour and which offers a convenient bypass to all the snarl-ups on the great coat-hanger. Not the bridge I imagined, but a practical one.

Its around a 50 minute train[s] to the International airport, covering most of Sydney from the North to the inner South where the airport is located.  Jutting out into Botany Bay are the two main North South runway’s we’ll be taking off from.  Rain set in just crossing the bridge and now it’s damp, cloudy and otherwise – not pleasant outside.  This seems to be what is left of the tropical cyclones which just devastated Yeppoon and Rockhampton earlier in the week.  A category 5 storm, which by the time it hit’s Sydney is really just rain and cloud swirling down from the north east coast.

Even the barman is not standing around at the Bondi Bar at the International airport terminal.  That’s how deserted it can be on a mid week afternoon.  The flight will leave mid afternoon and arrive in the morning sometime pacific time.

A Bridge in the Fanfare for the Workers of Sydney

The Sydney Harbour Bridge

It’s made of iron and rivets and paint. Tons of it.  It crosses the beauty of Sydney Harbour and spans two sides of the emerald city of Sydney, NSW.  It’s orientation catches the light of the sunrise to the east and frames the perfect sunsets in the west.  When you cross it at night the light zooms up from below to catch the strong arch, home to thousands of bats and insects which fly around up there.  The Australian flags fly at it’s zenith and seem to state something for the nation of Australia.  You see flags are a rarity in Australia, compared to the USA, where everyone has one.  In Australia only important buildings have a flag to fly.  Up on the bridge there are flags flying on the great creation of the workers 80 years ago today.  Dr John Bradfield’s original idea and masterpiece developed from around 1900,  it opened on 19th March 1932 amid much fanfare.  Notably in true Australian style, someone stole the show on a horse and cut the ribbon with his sword.

Today 80 years on the sun was shining in the morning, as I crossed the bridge on the train.  It is the feast day or St. Joseph patron saint of the worker. It took about 100,000 man years of work to create it. No computers calculating the odds, no adding machines, it was all done on slide rules and rooms of drawings and sketches all calculated down to the point where expectedly the two  sides of the bridge met.

Of course everyone has seen the bridge, it really gets a birthday every year on New Year’s Eve when it acts as the mounting bracket for thousands of fireworks to help celebrate the new year.  Yes, although originally set up to carry traffic linking the two sides of Sydney Harbour, the bridge has developed into a performance space for the common man.

As I was crossing, looking up into the arch this morning, musicians from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra were scaling the bridge and getting ready to play.  It was their anniversary as well I understand.  A fitting choice of piece being Aaron Copland’s “A Fanfare for the Common Man”.  This piece was in fact originally commissioned by Eugene Goossens whilst he was conducting orchestras in the USA, who eventually became the first permanent conductor of the Sydney Symphony.  I like the piece, I wish I had heard it, but the wind and the rain probably carried the sound to where only the seagulls and St Joseph and maybe Dr John Bradfield, who conceived the design and who made it his own quest in the early part of the 20th century.  Happy Birthday Sydney Harbour Bridge !!

— See report on the bridge fanfare –