South Sydney

My sixth visit to Sydney, getting well off the usual tourist path exploring sights in the south of the city by car, all between 45 minutes and 1.15 hours drive from Sydney CBD. I started with the unexpectedly large and varied NSW Rail Museum, one of the best of many railway museums I’ve visited around the world. The museum collection dates back to 1962 but the Thirlmere site in it’s current form was opened in 2011. It has some attractive locomotives and without doubt the most eclectic range of carriages and wagons I’ve ever seen, including ones for transporting sheep, molten metal, prisoners, and sorting mail (different ones!), a railway worker payroll van, dining cars, Pullmans, and an early double decker carriage which would be familiar to anyone who travels by train in Sydney.

There was more heritage at the well presented Camden Museum, telling the story of this historic town 65km from Sydney CBD, which grew off the back of the wool industry in the 19th century.

The Australian Botanic Garden in Mount Annan was huge, covering 416 hectares between Camden and Campbelltown. It is the largest, but certainly not the most interesting, botanical garden in Australia. It focuses on native plants, with over 4,000 species represented.

Campbelltown Arts Centre is a smart place that opened in 2005.

The reason for visiting it was the Japanese Garden behind it, a present from Campbelltown’s sister city Koshigaya, which opened in 1988. It’s not large but home to a timber bridge, teahouse, zen garden, waterfall, and many koi…

To finish with my last stop in Sydney, La Perouse Museum, a short distance from the airport. It tells the story of French explorer Comte de Lapérouse who arrived in Botany Bay only a week after the First Fleet in 1788. The First Fleet were Britain’s second voyage to Australia (after Cook), and carried convicts for the new penal colony. Lapérouse aimed to spend four years sailing the world but his two ships went missing after Australia, and were eventually found shipwrecked in the Solomon Islands. The museum is housed in the 1882 Cable Station, at the time Australia’s only link to the rest of the world. It’s a bit sparse inside but provided welcome shelter from the fourth day of torrential rain and wind in Sydney, with another week forecast.

I got a couple of fleeting photos hiding behind my umbrella of Pere Receveurs Tomb, he was a French Catholic priest who had sailed with Lapérouse, and the Macquarie Watchtower, which was quite significantly alternated from it’s original design after a large fire in 1957 destroyed much of it. After this I was looking forward to some welcome sunshine in Auckland…

Author: jontycrane

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