31 August 2008

Sister Cities

Celebrating Sydney's Sister Cities: Florence, Guangzhou, Nagoya, Portsmouth, San Francisco and (possibly) Wellington.


If you stroll around the Mercato Nuovo in Florence you may come across "Il Porcellino" (the piglet - though it's not a pig but a boar) - a brass fountain sculpted in 1612. Apparently tossing a coin in and rubbing its nose ensures a return to Florence (shades of the Trevi Fountain in Rome?). There are copies in various places around the world, including outside Sydney Hospital. It was donated in 1968 by the Marchessa Clarissa Torrigiani in memory of her father and brother who had both been renowned surgeons at the hospital. There is a coin box to make a donation to the hospital, and rubbing its nose is purported to bring good luck.

Below: Il Pocellino, in Florence's Mercato Nuovo, and the Sydney replica.


Formerly known Canton in English, this port in southern China, located on the Pearl River, has changed immeasurably since I was there in May 1978. Thirty years! I've looked at pictures on the web, and WOW - the river is lined with glittering towers.

Below: The Pearl River. I seem to recall this was taken from Shamian Island, which was once an area divided into two European concessions : French and British.

Below: The buildings of the Canton Trade Fair, now the International Import and Export Fair, a huge event which happens twice a year. It was opposite our hotel, the Dongfang, so we were lucky enough to visit. It was choc-a-blok with Maoist industrial and agricultural proaganda. Marvellous!

Below: The Dongfang Hotel. It's a lot glitzier than this now. The view from my room.

Below: School children in Shamian Island district
Below: Pictures from the Guangzhou Chinese Garden in Sydney


Below: On Botany Bay is a signifier of Sydney Ports Corporation's sister relationship with Yokkaichi Port Authority in Japan. Yokkaichi is in the Greater Nagoya area.

For a view of the Nagoya Gardens in Sydney's Hyde Park, visit Julie's blog, Sydney Eye .


There's no Mary Rose in Sydney, and Admiral Nelson's Victory never came here, but Portsmouth's link would Sydney is all about ships. It is from Portsmouth that the First Fleet bringing the first convicts to Australia sailed.

Below: Sculpture The Bonds of Friendship commemorates the relationship. There is an identical one in Portsmouth

Below: Anchor from the H.M.S. Sirius, the flagship of the First Fleet
Below: The Victory at Portsmouth
Below: The Naval Museum at Portsmouth


It seems pretty obvious why San Francisco and Sydney have a suister relationship. An iconic bridge, a beautiful harbour, an out, proud and political gay community, lovely terraced houses in now trendy parts of town, hills, a vibrant Chinatown, and a tower with views. There's even a prison on the harbour, though Alcatraz is somewhat larger and more contemporary than Sydney's Pinchgut.

Below: THAT bridge

Below: "Painted ladies"

Below: Storm approaching, from Coit Tower
Below: Hmmm, not QUITE the same Painted Lady, Ms Emma Chisett of Darlinghurst


Controversy! Is Wellington a sister city or not? Sydney City Council claims it is, but Wellington City Council has other ideas, relegating Sydney to the status of "Friendly City", saying "a friendly city relationship is less formal than a sister city relationship and it generally has a lower profile. It is likely to be a long term relationship, but the level of community support and involvement is not as high as with a full sister city relationship." So there, Sydney!

I visited New Zealand in September-October 1984. Bet things have changed since then! I couldn't think of anything specifically related to Wellington in Sydney (apart from a large number of New Zealanders living in Sydney)

Below: View of Wellington, weatherboard houses tumbling down the hill and the Botanic Gardens.

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