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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Sydney 1970...recalled..

View of Sydney through the clouds, May 2013 :-)

I have a 'soft spot' for Sydney. It was in that city that I first managed to navigate my way through a strange place when I was 18 years old. Growing up in Aussie/Italian culture, being independent was not an option. By the time I was 18 and at Teachers College, I was given a bit more freedom. So that's why I found myself travelling to Melbourne by train on a cheap ticket, with no sleeper compartment; instead it was sit up all the way (It cost $33 return ! ) . In Melbourne I stayed with a friend of my mother's.  The journey to Melbourne consisted of 2 parts; firstly a train from South Brisbane station to Central station in Sydney. From there, a traveller had to then catch another train to Melbourne.

In those days, there were 2 trains each day which left Brisbane for Sydney. I caught the early afternoon train from Brisbane, the very misnamed, 'Brisbane Express',  which got into Sydney Central station at about 7am. I remember how different the carriages were compared to the local suburban trains. They were just like ones I'd seen in movies; with the corridor and the compartments with 2 bench seats in each.  When we arrived in Sydney next morning, the  Daylight Express bound for Melbourne, left from the other side of the same platform at 7.45 am ... no problems there.

South Brisbane station as it was in 1970;  I wasn't catching that train as it's obviously a livestock train, lol!
The carriages on the Brisbane Express were like the ones in this photo found on the internet...

On the return journey, the evening train from Melbourne also arrived in Sydney early in the morning, but the train to Brisbane didn't leave until 6.33pm. Some other friends of my parents, who also lived in Melbourne had given me a small map of Sydney's CBD. These friends also  suggested I fill in some of the day in Sydney by catching  the hydrofoil to Manly.

What a find! I still had this photo taken at Spencer St Station in Melbourne.  I'm standing in the doorway of my carriage on the 'Spirit of Progress'.  How is this for coincidence? The following year when I was posted to my first school, the little boy beside me, was a student at that school. I already knew that his name was Leon because his mother was constantly calling out to him on the train!! He's a middle aged man now and I still see him occasionally at the shops! Bit spooky eh? lol

So it was, armed with this map, I walked out of Central Station, got my bearings and started off in the general direction of Circular Quay. On the recent short break that DH and I had in Sydney, I've found myself recalling snippets of details of that first visit.

Photo found on the internet of a street scene in Sydney in 1970!

I remember I walked past a Coles store (Coles variety not supermarket) and thought I'd check whether they had a cafeteria like the one did in Brisbane. They did, so I had some breakfast there. Then I continued walking and went into a few shops...I ended up buying a gift for my mum in Grace Brothers, the department store. I felt a bit tired then, as I hadn't slept very well sitting up on the train overnight from Melbourne.  I happened to catch sight of a movie theatre on my walk through the city, so I decided to go in.  I wanted to see the film but it was also an excellent way to have  a rest! lol (I'd forgotten about that until the just the other week when we were in Sydney)

After the movie I started my walk again...I remember the frisson of excitement when I caught glimpses of that famous bridge...and I kept on walking until I got to the quay! And of course I caught the hydrofoil to Manly, marvelled at sailing past the iconic Opera House, and after reaching Manly, had a walk around there and then caught the ordinary ferry back to Circular Quay.

Image of Circular Quay in 1970 (photo found on the 'net)

And then I found where to catch a train back to Central and I still have this memory of being a bit scared because the doors of the carriage had been left opened and as the train raced through the tunnels, the open door made it very noisy!  When I got back to Central , I was lost! I didn't recognise anything! I kept calm and walked outside and walked around the block. Then I found the right part of the station...I'd arrived back in the 'Suburban' part of the station but I needed the Interstate and Country trains platforms. Whew! Lol

Carriage similar to the one that I rode back to Central station  from Circular Quay

Looking back to all those years ago, I'm amazed how well I did in finding my way in a new place. The term, 'spread your wings' is an expression that means, ' to do new and different things' and I know that my first go at spreading my wings is pretty low key, compared to what others did or have done, but it's still a fond memory!

The 'old train' services such as the Brisbane Express, The Limited Express, the Fruit Express no longer run of course...passengers use the XPT service which eventually came all the way to Brisbane.

Look what I found trawling the net looking for information about the old services; an old timetable, dated 1969! Now I realise that it would be difficult to read so here is a link to the page. there are actually 2 more pages of information at that site.

So that's some memories that my recent trip to Sydney evoked :-) 


Susan said...

Thanks Maria - loved the post - I have very fond memories of Sydney too - and by 1970 - I was finally out of high school and was able to slightly spread my wings - still living at home - but nothing as adventurous as a trip to Melbourne.

Janice said...

What an adventure that must have been then...the transportation complications sound amazing...when you think that my 18 year old daughter went to Sydney from London possibly in about the same time as it took you. her excitement at discovering the city, and then finding Melbourne ( which she fell in love with ) was similar to yours! Oh to be 18 and discovering Sydney for the first time! Jx

Anonymous said...

Dear Maria, this is a real trip down memory lane. I do admire the way you can find all this information tucked away in your memory. I find it hard to finish a sentence these days without help - as you know! ha ha.
It was lovely to catch up with you and Bruce yesterday. And I didn't realise until I got home how prettily you had presented the passionfruit. Thank you.

Cathy May said...

Loved finding your blog, Maria. I was nostalgically seeking an image of a compartment on the Spirit of Progress 1969-70 and there was the pic of you framed in the door. Those trains were part of many a baby boomer's experience of setting out into the world at the time, I'm sure. Three friends and I embarked from Perth to Cairns in December 1969 - return ticket second class $110. We were horrified to find that after the sleepers on the Trans, it was sit up for the next five nights - Overlander, spirit of Progress, Brisbane Express and then two nights on the Sunlander. But I fell in love with Cairns and and with the trains as well, as long as I went first class! I look forward to following your journey of discovering the simple life.