Tuesday, October 9, 2012

October 7th – A Changing Urban Landscape in Sydney

20 years ago, Sydney was a fairly unlovely place – a huge steel mill belched out choking orange, brown and purple smoke over the town (to the extent that people couldn't put out their washing if the wind was blowing in the wrong direction), while coal dust often filled the air, from the coal that was shipped out through the town's industrial port.

These are problems that they don't have to deal with any more, as the mines and the steel plant have closed down, leaving a legacy of pollution that the city is working hard to sort out.

Nowadays, there's a new problem to deal with – unemployment. Other than tourism, nothing has really replaced the 5,000 jobs that the steel mill took with it, and sadly, many of the city's young have had to go west to find jobs.

However, in spite of the economic challenges, there isn't a depressed or depressing atmosphere in what's a very quiet place – there's plenty of space in town, and with the taking away of the steel mill, the natural beauty of the town's setting on the wide Sydney Harbour is now beginning to shine through again.

We took a trip out to the Whitney Pier Folk Museum – a small museum that's been put together by the local community to preserve the traditions and everyday artefacts from Sydney's working class past. There's an infectious enthusiasm about the guides, who have a real pride in their town, and they do a great job of taking the museum above the level of ordinary.

Sydney's greatest resource is its friendly people – if they can harness their enthusiasm, they should have a healthy future.