Sydney’s forgotten tunnels ~ under St. James station, Sydney

Last weekend I was given the most amazing opportunity – to explore the abandoned tunnels beneath Sydney’s St. James Railway Station.

Every year, as part of ‘Sydney Open’, tours are conducted in these tunnels. There is one catch though – you can’t pay for it – you have to win it – either by a ticket ballot or answering a question on one of Sydney’s radio stations.

I was pretty happy when I received an email saying I’d won a ticket!

So, first of all let me tell you a bit of history about the tunnels – I learnt all of this information from the passionate ‘City Rail Historian’ who conducted our tour.

The extensive network of disused platforms and tunnels {which have always been hidden from the public and never been used} were built in the 1920s for proposed rail lines to the Eastern Suburbs of Bondi and Randwick. The outbreak of World War 11 and the Great Depression meant these plans had to be shelved.

During the war, the tunnels were modified into air raid shelters to be used if the city was ever under attack. They had the capacity to hold up to 20,000 people. The RAAF used the tunnels as their ‘Air Defence Headquarters’, four stories below the streets where they used morse code and studied aviation maps to co-ordinate air traffic and ships.

After the war, the RAAF was asked to bury the shelters. This job was never completed. As the tunnels were constructed from solid earth and meshed concrete – they were incredibly hard to dismantle….Once the order was given to ‘stop work’ the workmen literally downed their tools and walked out.

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We entered the tunnels through a very ordinary looking green door at the end of the platform at St. James Station ~ {think Harry Potter ~ platform 9 3/4 style.}

Immediately I was in photography heaven…I loved the disused platforms…they were completely intact and I thought about the people working on them nearly 100 years ago.

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You all know me, my camera was clicking crazily…..this opportunity doesn’t come along every day:)

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The tiles from the disused tunnels are used to replace broken tiles in the main area of St. James Station.

We then set off through the water into the huge open chambers…it was fabulous ~ walking along in my gumboots, taking shots and hearing all about this ‘other world’ beneath the city.

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The tunnels have had other uses over time ~ scenes from the TV show ‘Police Rescue’ and the film ‘The Matrix’ were filmed down here. City Rail also practise their emergency procedures here and the Army use the tunnels for military exercises.

Even seances were reputedly performed down in these tunnels ~ yes seances….All pretty interesting huh?

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The spot where the sceances are reputedly performed.

During the war, many soldiers who were working in the tunnels, left messages on the walls to their loved ones. Perhaps they weren’t sure if they would see their families and loved ones again or maybe they just wanted to sign their name to remind future generations who they were.

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The best sign of all was the air raid shelter sign ~ ‘PUBLIC AIR RAID SHELTER’ WARNING: NO PERSON IS ALLOWED IN THIS SHELTER EXCEPT DURING AN AIR RAID.

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Something that really amazed me, was the tree roots. They were everywhere. Even thick concrete and solid earth couldn’t stop them. They were growing out of holes in the concrete, snaking their way through the tunnels ~ twisting and turning, searching for water…

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But it was the details I loved the most ~ light battens on the ceiling, light bulbs, buckets and other traces of human life in the tunnels.

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I feel very grateful to have seen this interesting part of underground Sydney.

Thank you to City Rail for such an wonderful, interesting tour…My camera and I won’t forget it 🙂

till next time,

Chris 🙂

P.s. For all the photographers out there…I never used a tripod, I steadied the camera where I could and used extremely high ISO’s to get a decent shutter speed 🙂

Melbourne…what I saw

Melbourne is a fantastic place to visit.

Often referred to as ‘the cultural capital of Australia’, this city is situated on Port Phillip bay with the city centre positioned on the estuary of the Yarra River.

4.1 million people live in Melbourne making this city the second most populated in Australia.

If you want to experience superb food, fantastic shopping, live theatre and sport, sport and more sport, then put Melbourne on your list of places to visit.

I spent three days there earlier this year.

I wandered the streets, admired the architecture, rode the trams and took in the sights.

Here’s what I saw…… 🙂

Please feel free to contact me in the comments section below or on Facebook , twitter  or pinterest.

 

Wait a minute…more awesome puppies!

Im still sorting through lots of Assistance Dogs photographs.

It’s International Assistance Dogs Week and we’re celebrating the fantastic work the Assistance Dogs do for people with physical disabilities.

So here are some more beautiful photos that really put a smile on my face….

know they’ll put a smile on yours. 🙂

Please leave your comments below  – I’d really love to hear them – or connect with me on Facebook , twitter  or pinterest.

Mt Tomah Botanical Gardens & things I saw from the road….

I haven’t been to the Mt Tomah Botanical Gardens for years. Last Sunday we decided to take a leisurely drive up into the Blue Mountains to revisit these beautiful gardens…

Mt Tomah Botanical Gardens are situated on the Bells Line of Road via Bilpin. Its about a two hour drive from Sydney and really worth the effort.

The views over the blue mountains are gorgeous, lots of clear, crisp, mountain air (in fact a bit too crisp – it was only 8 degrees!) and that beautiful blue haze…hmm…I love it..

The gardens are beautiful, lots of levels and styles and some really magnificent flowers.

We stayed for lunch and wandered around the entire garden…of course I took lots of pics. 🙂

On the way home I spotted an old sawmill complete with lots of old trucks and machinery. These trucks look like someone just parked them, got out and they have never been driven since….I love the rust, the colours and textures and all the old bits and pieces..

The sawmill still has the saw and a piece of wood on the conveyor belt ready to be sawn….

I wonder what happened here? What closed the place down so suddenly?

Our last stop was Kurrajong…St Gregory’s Church was just asking to be photographed in the late afternoon light… 🙂

I hope you enjoy the pics…

Please leave your comments below  – I’d really love to hear them – or connect with me on Facebook , twitter  or pinterest.

Photo of the day….Black & white of a black & white!

Sometimes photos just work. I mean all the ducks line up, all you have to do is press the shutter.

I love zebras. I love the way they are unique and no two are alike!

This photo was taken at Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo.

I composed the photograph, and just at the right moment, he bent his front leg – as if he knew –  and I took the shot!

I converted the photo to black and white. I really love the tones and the contrast.

What do you think?

Please leave your comments below  – I’d really love to hear them – or connect with me on Facebook , twitter  or pinterest.

Photo of the day….Portrait of Ray

I LOVE this photo. This is my husband Ray. Triathlon competitor, marathon runner, sports fanatic and all round nice guy.

Tomorrow morning he takes off on an epic 7 day journey, with over 100 others, riding his bike from Sydney to Southport. Its close  to 1000km…

He’s doing this to raise money for ‘Youth off the Streets’, a fantastic organisation that provides services to assist homeless and disadvantaged young people.

If you would like to donate to this wonderful cause, run by Engadine Rotary club, please visit http://www.sydneytosurfers.org.au/

Ride like the wind Ray,

love chrissy

x

Photo of the day…The Empire State Building – classic black & white

The Empire State Building New York. Classic. Iconic. Well photographed.

This shot was taken from a boat on The East River on a cold winters day.

Black and white photography is timeless and ageless. It goes hand in hand with architectural photography.

A client purchased this print from me to hang as pride of place in her home.

I could sit and look at this shot all day long…. 🙂