Petersham Saturday April 8, 2006

On Friday morning, I knocked on Luciana’s door. I had two things in mind. First, to debrief about the real estate visit. And second, to get her to help me carry the bench from our balcony at the back of the building, out to the front porch. That way, we can sit out there in the morning and drink our coffee. This serves three purposes. First, we catch the morning sun. At this time of year in Sydney, the air is cool, and to spend time in the sunshine is a pleasure. All humidity has disappeared. Second, we get to check out the neighbourhood – we become local “vecchietti” ( little old men and women who sit on their front porches and watch the world go by). And third, by occupying the porch, we send a message to would-be burglars that this place is not empty – so they better not try any shenanigans on us.

Like me, Luciana was pretty upset about our landlord’s lack of sympathy. On the plus side, they did agree to install front gates, and I think they will send a handyman to tinker with Luciana’s wobbly window locks. So I suppose that’s something. We carried the bench around, and sat there with coffee. Very few people came past. I guess it was about ten by this time. One or two old folks walking by waved and said hi. It was peaceful. Not too many aeroplanes. It felt good to be there.

Later, I worked on the map given to me by Vince, Marrickville’s town planning guy. It’s a combo map of Petersham and Lewisham (collectively known as “the ‘shams”) – but since I’m only concerned with Petersham, I had to manually inscribe the border between the two. For this, the council’s cool interactive map function on their website came in very handy. (Unfortunately you need Internet Explorer to use it).

I packed up my basket, picked up Wolfie, and we headed out to collect Lisa for our boundary walk. Lisa lives on the other side of the tracks, the north side nearer to Parramatta Road. You get there by ducking under the railway tunnel. In the tunnel there’s a mural painting of the local streetscape. Some of the paint is peeling off the walls now, and there’s been plenty of graff sprayed over the top, but it still looks great. Terraces swamped with foliage bundled up against one another. I imagine the artist worked from photos, since you can see a wonky juxtaposition every three or so houses. I like this a lot.

Last week, Lisa and I talked about riding around all the boundaries of Petersham. Lisa’s a keen cyclist, but I figured, since we had Wolfie at our disposal, we might take it slow and walk instead. That way, we could consult the map – which we needed to do, a lot. The suburb boundary between the ‘shams can get a bit crazy sometimes. For instance, most of “Petersham West Street TAFE” is in Petersham (as you would expect). But one small block of buildings has been sliced away, and belongs to Lewisham. What crazy planning history made this so?

border map at the tafe

Another border conundrum happens within the grounds of the primary school (also on West St). As far as we could see, the boundary line runs right along the side of a netball court, before disappearing between the backyards of a set of houses. We had to backtrack and scoot around New Canterbury Rd to find the line again. The border then runs south down Wardell Road, but the map did not indicate where exactly the ‘sham finishes, and Dulwich Hill begins. It could be Frazer St, where I took a photo, but I’m not sure. That was it. Wolfie and I began to run out of puff. We covered only about one third of the periphery – the Western Boundary which divides Peter from Lewis. The afternoon sun was fading. We dropped off Woofie to Rachelle, and had a cup of tea.

* * * * *

Educational outcomes:

Things which ARE in Petersham, (although I didn’t know they were):

  • Rick Damelian’s prestige car shop on Parramatta Road.
  • A new restaurant which looks pretty fancy, called “Manna”. Lisa said its in the same spot where (damn I’ve forgotten the name) used to be. It was an eatery which served old fashioned roast dinners quite cheaply in the mid to late 1990s.
  • A very pink shop on New Canterbury Road selling Fashion Aids – including: “Hollywood Fashion Tape” (“From hiding bra straps and securing revealing necklines, to fixing dropped hem lines, it’s the hottest fashion item you won’t see this season”); and “Nippits” (“Gentle on the skin, nipple covers let you keep your nipples out of sight without losing your shape, and give you the confidence to front up to meetings, greetings, and events on your terms”).

Things which are NOT in Petersham (but goddam, I wish they were!):

Things which are NOT in Petersham (but which I’d like to know more about):

General discoveries:

  • The fruit shop near the western part of New Canterbury Road has closed down. It was only open for a number of months. Why did it shut? There was a nice Italian lady and her son running it.
  • The primary school has tennis courts available for after school use, and also outdoor chess tables(!)

* * * * *

Speaking of educational… Lisa, librarian extraordinaire, borrowed two great historical books for me from the uni:

  • The Story of Petersham (1793-1948), compiled by Allan M. Shepherd (former Town Clerk), Published by the Council of the Municipality of Petersham, December 1948. Gorgeous aerial photos of the ‘sham, from when it obviously covered a lot more territory than it does now.
  • Petersham Public School 1878-2003, by Hilary Davies, Copyright Petersham Public School P&C Association, 2003. The front cover boasts the slogan: “Our Efforts Make Us”. I like this idea a lot. To which I might add: “our lack of effort also makes us”. But that goes without saying. There’s an exciting chapter called “The Great Tuckshop Debacle”. More on this soon…

2 thoughts on “Petersham Saturday April 8, 2006

  1. MikeL

    …..boundary defining is big stuff lucas…. GoogleWorld will show only images of buildings like the one you’re in right now, not the invisible boundaries. Invisible, like the relations between neighbours, like What is Allowed.
    There’s a site I’m kinda monitoring in the UK. The site is Geograph. Or if you want to follow some of my thoughts about the site. They discuss 1km squares quite a bit!


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