National Geographic : 1935 Dec
CAPITAL CITIES OF AUSTRALIA Assisting him in his comprehensive build ing scheme was Francis Howard Greenway, a convict, who became the official architect with the munificent salary of three shillings a day. Greenway's labors endured, as at tested by St. James' Church, the Conserva torium of Music (designed as Government House stables), and other structures still doing service. One commissioner from England, how ever, complained that the 75-cents-a -day architect was making "too great a sacrifice of time and labour to the purpose of orna ment and effect!" In 1851 came a gold strike in New South Wales. A rush was on. From all over the world arrived seekers after fortunes, as in the California rush of '49. As in our West, many of the diggers later became settlers. More men, more wealth, and more trade boomed Australia. So, too, did Sydney grow. Today old buildings are being demol ished to make way for new; riveters beat a tattoo on gaunt steel skeletons of tomor row's new shops and offices; a pathway is being mowed through two blocks to extend another thoroughfare. It is a city in transition. Sleek modern buildings of concrete and polished stone surround, but do not yet engulf, a Renais sance Town Hall, a Byzantine market, Gothic churches, a Tudor castle Govern ment House (page 676), and an Ionic Art Gallery. The florid Victorian appearance, however, is rapidly disappearing. Neon lights proclaim night clubs, thea ters, and motion-picture "palaces." Last year Sydney played to crowded houses its first all-Australian musical comedy. Li bretto, lyrics, and lines were from Austra lian pens; beaches and the Blue Mountains were its locale. MILK BARS AND CHEMISTS' SHOPS American institutions have touched the city. Milk bars, or soda fountains, fruit juice stalls, and light-lunch restaurants have become popular. But a drug store is still a "chemist shop," where only drugs are dispensed, and one buys cigarettes from a tobacconist. One large department store has devoted extensive floor space to a restaurant, where more than 6,000 luncheons are served every business day, besides providing special cafeterias and dining rooms for its 4,000 employees. Throughout the suburban dis- tricts, gasoline stations (or petrol pumps) have sprung up. One that I noticed even re joices in the name of "Ye Auto Drive Inn." Sydney's streets in the down-town busi ness section are becoming painfully cramped for the heavy traffic that surges through them. One day, as a local business man and I stood on a corner waiting for a police whis tle to redirect the traffic tide, I commented rather pointedly on the width of the streets. "Not narrow by any means," he laughed. "Why, they are so wide that we put a row of shops down the center." That, at least, is one manner of explain ing the one-way routing down Castlereagh and up Pitt Streets! But Sydney is above all a city of peo ple-a people who work and play. Aus tralians have acquired the happy faculty of working to live rather than living to work. When you see Sydneysiders yachting, going out for cricket matches, attending the races, or sun-baking and surfing at the beaches, play appears all important. Busi ness men take time for morning and after noon tea, served in their offices, yet the work gets done. The Royal Exchange is the largest wool selling center in the world, having displaced London, which held that position for many years. More than a million bales of the golden fleece are auctioned off every year. In addition, there are salesrooms for tallow, hides, sheepskins, and other pastoral prod ucts. FEVERISH BIDDING FOR BALES OF WOOL A wool sale is a fascinating thing to watch. Foreign buyers, Australian milling groups, and local wool scourers fill the amphitheater on each sale day. Catalogues are provided, in which are numbered and classified the different lots to be sold. The wool is previously put on display for in spection at local brokers' show stores, so that the selling is done only by number. At the auctioneer's call for bids two dozen men may jump to their feet, barking figures and signaling with their hands. From the feverish, noisy bidding the un initiated can hardly understand the price offered or know who has made the bid. But the auctioneer knows. There are no argu ments; his word is final. Four checkers are kept busy tallying up the sales. An aver age of seven lots falls under the hammer every minute during the selling period!