Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Taphophile Tragics

Ninamarca is a pre-inca burial cemetery located  at 3700 metres above sea level along the road to Manu National Park (which is in the Peruvian Amazon). From memory, Ninamarca was the first stop on the 2 day bus (truck actually) tour down to the Amazon and if you ever go to Manu its well worth going down by road from Cusco and flying back. (Although I'd actually recommend going to the Bolivian Amazon, its a lot cheaper and people say just as good. But make sure you go right into the jungle - somewhere like Chalalan Eco Lodge in Madidi not the 2 day jungle trip from Rurrenabarque. Manu didn't impress me that much, although we did see a jaguar. Overall I liked Bolivia a lot more than Peru although you do have to see Machu Picchu.)

As a silent reminder the tombs, called "Chullpas", mark the pre-Inca civilization of the Lupaca people that inhabited the Andes a long time ago. A chullpa is an ancient Aymara funerary tower originally constructed for a noble person or noble family. The tallest are about 12m high. The tombs at Sillustani are most famous, but chullpas are found across the Altiplano in Peru and Bolivia. Recent research has focused on the connection between chullpas and the ritual pathways etched into the landscape around Nevado Sajama, as well as possible patterns within chullpa sites.

Corpses in each tomb were typically placed in a foetal position along with some of their belongings, including clothing and common equipment. The construction of the chullpa varied with ethnic group: in general, those of the north Altiplano are circular and constructed with stone, while those of the south are rectangular and constructed with adobe. Some are unadorned, while others have intricate carvings. At Sillustani, many of the chullpas have lizards, which were considered a symbol of life because they could regenerate their tails, carved into the stone. In virtually all cases, the only opening to the tomb faces the rising Sun in the east. It is possible that chullpas were also used by the Incafollowing their conquest of the Aymara. Very similar stone constructions on Easter Island known as tupa have sometimes been suspected to be closely related to chullpas.

For more taphophilia please visit Julie's Taphophile Tragics.



Friday, 27 January 2012

Chinese Gardens (2)

The workmanship and attention to detail is amazing, you really could be in China.

The Dragon Wall is a gift from Guangdong. It features two coloured dragons: the gold-brown represents Guangdon and the blue represents New South Wales. The Pearl of Prosperity, carried by a wave between the dragons, symbolises the bond between the two states. (The white pointy thing on top of the wall isn't part of the architecture, its the top of a marquee set up in the courtyard in front of the wall.)

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Australia Day

We are one but we are many and from all the lands on earth we come ...... I am, you are, we are Australian.

Happy Australia Day

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Chinese Gardens

Tucked into a corner of Darling Harbour, just near the expressway, is a little patch of China. Once you enter you are in a different world. Quiet, peaceful and very beautiful. The city highrise is just over the wall but you could be miles away.

Initiated by the local Chinese community to celebrate Australia's 198 Bicentenary, the Chinese Garden is the result of a close friendship and cooperation between the sist3er cities of Sydney and Guangzhou in Guangdon Province, China.

The Garden was designed and built by Chinese landscape architects and gardeners, and is governed by the Taoist principles of "Yin-Yang" and the five opposite elements - earth, fire, water, metal and wood. Thes principles also stress the importance of qi, the central force of life and energy.

Yin-Yang plays such a vital role that just one missing element would disrupt the garden's harmony and balance. However when combined perfectly, the five elements form a fluid and nurturing environment.

Everything you see in the Chinese Garden has been hand picked and meticulously placed to capture the five elements and the energy of qi.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Taphophile Tragics

Chauchilla cemetery is located 30 km south of the Peruvian town of Nazca and is an interesting side trip when visiting the Nazca Lines.

For many years the cemetery was looted by treasure hunters, who destroyed the place completely, taking away all the treasures the mummies kept in their tombs for centuries. Grave robbers just left behind the corpses, which can be seen today all over the ground. In addition to skulls and bones, visitors also can see several tombs centuries’ old, as well as long human hairs, ceramic fragments and others remains scattered on the dessert surface. It is the only archaeological site in Peru, in which ancient mummies are seen in their original graves, along with ancient artifacts, dating back to 1000 AD.

The cemetery was discovered in the 1920s, but had not been used since the 9th century AD. The cemetery includes many important burials over a period of 600 to 700 years. The start of the interments was in about 200 AD. It is important as a source of archaeology to Nazca culture. The cemetery has been extensively plundered by huaqueros who have left human bones and pottery scattered around the area. Similar local cemeteries have been damaged to a greater extent. The site has been protected by Peruvian law since 1997 and tourists pay to take the two hour tour of this ancient necropolis. The site is by the Poroma riverbed and can be accessed off a dirt track from the Panamerican Highway. In 1997, the majority of the scattered bones and plundered pottery were restored to the tombs.

The bodies are so remarkably preserved due mainly to the dry climate in the Peruvian Desert but the funeral rites were also a contributing factor. The bodies were clothed in embroidered cotton and then painted with a resin and kept in purposely built tombs made from mud bricks. The resin is thought to have kept out insects and slowed bacteria trying to feed on the bodies.

The nearby site of Estaquería may provide clues to the remarkable preservation of the numerous bodies in these cemeteries. At that site, Archeologists found wooden pillars initially thought to have been used for astronomical sightings. However, it is now believed that the posts were used to dry bodies in a mummification process. This may account for the high degree of preservation seen in thousand-year-old bodies which still have hair and the remains of soft tissue, such as skin.

For more taphophilia please visit Julie's Taphophile Tragics.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Kung Hei Fat Choy

Alternatively: Gong Xi Far Tsai; Sae Hae Bok Manee Badusaeyo; Chúc Mừng Năm Mới

The Dragon is one of the most powerful and lucky signs in the Chinese zodiac, with many believing there is a balance between heaven and earth in the lives of people born in the Year of the Dragon. As well as being blessed with good fortune, Dragons are innovative, flexible, self-assured and passionate, making good artists, diplomats and politicians. However, Dragons can also be stubborn, intense and quick tempered. 2012 is the Year of the Water Dragon, with water having a calming influence on Dragons’ fearless temperament, and also making them more perceptive of others.

On Saturday the Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, was opening a revitalised Chinatown. Unfortunately it poured with rain, and from the little I saw, it looked like it was washed out.

In 2010, City of Sydney worked with the Chinatown community to develop the Chinatown Public Domain Plan. Together they developed ways to include more pedestrian-friendly streets, new spaces for markets and outdoor dining, and better walking and cycling connections with surrounding areas.

The first steps of this plan have now been completed. The City of Sydney is celebrating the transformation of a traditional pavilion into an information kiosk with artwork by Pamela Mei-Leng See – a place where both visitors and locals will be able to get information on Chinatown and Sydney. The kiosk will be accessible for people who use wheelchairs and prams and will be the City’s first customer service point with a hearing loop, to assist hearing impaired visitors. The design includes vibrant Chinese motif screens and uses energy-efficient lighting to provide a lantern effect at night.

Little Hay Street has also been revitalised, with improvements including a continuous avenue of trees and upgraded lighting and furniture. Factory Street has become home to a new everyday meeting place and Kimber Lane has not only become more pedestrian friendly, it also features an exciting art installation, Between Two Worlds, and the revitalisation of an existing artwork, Heaven and Earth.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Brickworks (3)

Several homeless people are using the brickworks as a place to shelter and sleep (and drink judging by some of the debris around).

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Brickworks (2)

The interior of the buildings are blocked or gated for safety reasons but this is what you see, peering through the wire.

Some of the old machinery is also preserved as part of the precinct.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Taphophile Tragics

St Peters churchyard, on the busy Princes Highway in the suburb of St Peters, is my kind of graveyard. Overgrown and falling into disrepair, I think its absolutely beautiful. I've known of it for years, always intended to visit but never had. I'm glad I did.

Cooks River Parish was named after the river which flows through it. On 13 May, 1838 the first service was conducted in a temporary church. The foundation stone of the present church was laid on 7 July 1838, and the building was completed in November 1839. Thomas Bird was the architect and the builder Henry Knight, of Macdonaldtown. St Peters is one of the oldest churches in the suburbs of Sydney. Built of sun-dried bricks, by free labour, it represents the English Commissioner’s Gothic style in Australia. Twelve pillars, made of ironbark, support a plaster vaulted nave. The church itself, which I remembered as being quite run down, has had a new paint job and seems now to be Evangelical Christian.

Adjacent to the church is the graveyard which was in use from March 1839 till April 1896. Bishop Broughton consecrated the graveyard on December 26th, 1840. There are 2,515 people listed in the burial register. Two thirds of these burials are of children under the age ten. Of the two thirds, more than half are under three years. There are many memorials to the pioneers of the district and beyond. Symbols of a past era – draped urns, hourglasses and broken branches are carved on the headstones. The graveyard is not only a place of burial, but a great source of social history.

Unfortunately, I don't know anything about the individuals buried there but the St Peters Cooks River History Group has an open afternoon on the first Saturday of every month which would be worth a look.

Stories behind the graves can be found on the St Peters Cooks River History Group website.

The text at the other end of this grave reads "Erected by his brother officers to the memory of Henry Reeve, Money Order Department. Son of Lieut L(?) A Reeve RM. Born in England 1 November 1821. Died at Newtown 21 June 1875."

For more taphophilia please visit Julie's Taphophile Tragics.

Monday, 16 January 2012


This corner, where King Street, Newtown turns into the Princes Highway, features the remains of the chimneys and brick kilns from the old brickworks site. These chimneys have been kept as heritage items and are a dominating feature of this area. They are now part of Sydney Park.

The Sydney Park site played a significant role in the development of Sydney during the 19th century. Brick making was begun on the site in the 1840s by Henry Goodsell and became a major industry in 1871 with the introduction of machine manufactured bricks. Bricks manufactured here built Sydney’s suburbs over a period of more than 100 years. The first batch of machine-made bricks was used in the construction of the Farmers’ Building on the corner of Market Street, Sydney. In 1893 Josiah Gentle opened the Bedford Brickworks, named after his home town in England. In 1933 the firm was taken over by Austral Bricks which operated here until 1970. The Sydney Park site has also been used for a range of other industrial development including gas storage in two tanks, manufacturing and warehousing.

The brickworks dug out the clay leaving huge pits which were filled up with municipal waste from 1948 to 1976. Since the closure of St Peters tip a final layer of soil and building rubble has been placed over the site to create a new regional park. This includes a series of visually prominent hills which provide panoramic views of the city skyline and Sydney Airport and are used for recreational activities such as kite flying. Stormwater detention ponds have been transformed into wetland habitat to partly recreate the pre-European environment. At the same time the area’s industrial heritage has been preserved with the kilns and brickworks chimneys at the corner of Sydney Park Road and the Princes Highway.