the annotated eastern boundary

[A technical note about images: often within blog posts, I include links to images which are hosted at my Flickr site. If you’re browsing with Mozilla Firefox, you might want to try this: right-click on the link and then “open link in a new tab”. This way you can keep on reading while the image loads in the new tab.

If, on the other hand, you’re still clinging belligerently to Internet Explorer, I’m fresh out of ideas.]


Saturday, April 22, 2006: The time had come to walk the Eastern Border between Petersham and Stanmore.

I rang around for some company. Surprisingly, at such short notice, I managed to rustle up four worthy companions. Locals included Bec, Tully, and Tully’s flatmate Polly. Sunny was our special guest ring-in from Stanmore.

The rendezvous was Tully’s place. Nearly all his flatmates were home, including Heather. Heather told me that after reading the blog, her brother had called her up. They’ve now arranged to spend some time hanging out. So there you go. Bilateral Petersham: bringing families together.

We set out, maps in hand. Tully had his mega professional camera, which still uses old fashioned film. It was a rather festive atmosphere: new friends, out on an autumn afternoon, embarking on a rather pointless activity.

Almost immediately, Sunny found an item of clothing hanging on a fence. A small black top. Bec thought it might suit Luciana, so we gleaned it.

Our route took us from the corner of Addison and John (the bottom corner where the ‘sham meets the ‘ville) all the way up to the top end – where Phillip Street terminates at Parramatta Road. In the meantime we had a plethora of tricky twists and turns to negotiate. While you read, you may wish to refer to this handy visual reference – an annotated map of the journey (start at the bottom).

* * * * *

At the south-east corner, the boundary runs along the rear of the John Street property-line. A little way along, there’s a lane which allows access to the border. Positioned in the rear corner of this lane, next to a recycling bin, is a tall cactus in a bucket. We stared at the cactus, and at the fence itself. When there’s a wooden barrier stopping your progress, the reality of the border becomes tangible. Unlike the imaginary line dividing the ‘sham from it’s neighbours, the borders between individual houses are visible, physical, impassable obstacles.

While we were standing in the lane, an aeroplane passed overhead. It left a clear white line almost directly above.

* * * * *

The corner of Denning and Newington presented an interesting dilemma. The border runs right to the edge of the property line. In order to avoid straying from the ‘sham, I had to jump across a little corner. I marked this point with red electrical tape. Sunny placed a welcome mat (which she found in the back of a nearby ute) for me on the other side.

* * * * *

College Lane is our eastern-most point. The lane backs onto the Newington High School. We could see into the art rooms: cardboard boxes stacked high with visual art diaries. I imagined myelf standing in the lane, safely within Petersham, delivering a guest lecture – the students peering at me, through the windows, from Stanmore.

* * * * *

The top of College Lane butts onto Stanmore Road. However, for some reason, the borderline doubles back around the three buildings. These belong to Stanmore. In order to continue down Stanmore Road, we had to backtrack. We thought about scooting through someone’s yard: into the house and out the front door again. This way we’d be sticking as close as we could to the border. Someone was home in a nearby house, but no amount of hollering would rouse them. We continued back down the lane until we found an empty lot.

empty lot

It was big and grassy, the lawn freshly mown, and the sun streaming down into it. Tully and Sunny were game. You’ve gotta love gung-ho accomplices. We jumped the fence, making a racket as the gate wobbled back and forth. Bec wasn’t keen on this momentary trespass. She continued around the long way. It was peaceful in that empty yard. It seemed huge. We hopped over the other end and waited for Bec. Nobody noticed us, nobody came to ask what we were doing. So much for neighbourhood watch.

* * * * *

On Middleton Street I spied a discarded photograph. It was a shot of someone’s stereo and video-game joystick thingies, posed rather artlessly. It was like the kind of image people use to sell their stuff on e-bay.

* * * * *

At the corner of Middleton and Stanmore is a Hungarian butcher. Hand cured and salted meats hang from hooks in the ceiling. A husband and wife team work there. I bought a “beigli” (a sort of dense walnut cake) and some home-made pasta.

* * * * *

Video Ezy sits at the junction of Stanmore and Marshall. Since it has now unequivocably been declared a “green zone” we sauntered right on in. Both Tully and I had DVDs to return. Jo was working behind the counter. She was a bit too busy to be able to listen to my diatribe about the injustice of the store being called “Video Ezy Stanmore“, when it’s really in Petersham. I will return another day, when she has more time to fully appreciate the gravity of such issues.

* * * * *

The boundary line strikes the edge of the railway at a diagonal. On the brick wall at this point, amongst countless indecipherable tags, some cheeky vandal has sprayed the words: “VISUAL POLLUTION”.

We had to scoot around Crystal Street to rejoin the border on the northern side of the railway trench. Not even Tully was up for running across the train lines.

* * * * *

harpsichord shop
There’s an old Harpsichord shop on Crystal Street. Does anyone know anything about this anachronistic retail outlet? It looked well shut.

* * * * *

York Crescent is a cute little street which empties out onto a gorgeous triangular yard. We were momentarily blinded by this picturesque spot. Before we knew it we had stumbled into foreign territory. We were in Stanmore!

stanley st stanmore
As you can see from this photo, the street sign clearly indicates that Stanley Street is in Stanmore. We beat a hasty retreat. (For the sticklers out there, rest easy, this transgression has been logged).

* * * * *

There are some beautiful old ivy-covered warehouses at the corner of Charles Street and (I think) Westbourne. Evidently in a past life they belonged to “MacFarlane’s Furniture Company”. Above the front doors, they each bore the moniker “MATERIALISED”.

* * * * *

Nearing the end of our trail, we encounted the old Petersham Inn. I seem to remember it was a gay venue in the late nineties, but it’s since been redeveloped into “luxury apartments”. A nasty handmade sign was pasted up above the letter boxes in the foyer. My favourite part is the small print at the bottom. I can just imagine the “dirty thieving junky” thinking to himself “You know, they’re right. Perhaps it’s time to stop sponging off society, and find myself an honest job.”:

dirty theiving junky

And, just outside, this fossilised spew:

local chunder

4 thoughts on “the annotated eastern boundary

  1. Worthless Half Brother

    For those that belligerents that persist with internet explorer…
    right click, Open In New Window.
    What about Opera users Luca? Do we not crack a mention?

  2. shortleftleg Post author

    Oops. WHB, i didn’t mean to start a browser war! That was just a cheap shot I guess. The thing you have to realise about Opera users is that they’re already so web savvy they hardly need advice from me… (Consider your mention hereby cracked).

  3. Tully

    The boundary walk was nothing if not educational, and I know I’m starting trouble, but I have to ask – is this art?

    We instigated a moment of culture, so there’s a relation to art… but how were we imitating, supplementing, altering or counteracting nature? Were we “being” in the second person singular present indicative? If this is all some kind of elaborate performance, why aren’t I being paid?

    I feel pretentious, that’s a good sign I think… well suppose I should imitate life and invite you to a barbeque on wednesday night.

  4. Michele Purcell

    that plant on the bucket isn’t a cactus, it’s a sort of philodendron.
    It looks just like the one outside our house in fact, only they’ve trained it to be tall and lanky. Perhaps it needs a few workouts at the gym too!
    Mum xxx


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