Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Desalination Overrun

The protests regarding the Sydney desalination plant have died down as the project is well and truly under way and seems unstoppable. There are only so many issue frustrated NSW residents can be worked up about at once. However, I was alerted to an article on the BBC regarding a new desalination plant opening in Barcelona. The quoted cost seemed low - 230 million Euro - almost exactly 400 million Aussie dollars at today's exchange rate. A quick check of Wikipedia reveals that the Sydney plant's estimated costs (and we now how they tend to end up) are already at 1.8 billion dollars. The proposed Sydney plant will generate 250 Mega-litres per day of desalinated water, compared to Barcelona's 200 ML/day.

Crude maths suggests a capital cost to build a plant that generates a litre of day of desalinated water to be $7.20 in Sydney versus $2 in Barcelona. I'm sure there are factors I've missed (pipe length, property costs etc) but it's hard to see how such a difference can be explained.

While researching Inner West light rail for my recent post, I came across the excellent Eco Transit website. An informative article by Gavin Gatenby (much better researched than this back of the envelope effort) exposed the project cost differentials between rail projects in WA and NSW. Interestingly enough there was a factor of greater than 3 there as well. Are we seeing some of the same effect here ? Anyone know any more ? I'm surprised more people aren't protesting the rail estimates as the NSW public are really suffering as a result.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Newtown What's On: Week ending July 19

Here's the latest Newtown What's On, a (more or less) weekly guide to what's going on in Newtown. I welcome corrections or suggestions to mayorofnewtown 'at' gmail.com. If you run a venue, please add me to your mailing list.

Mayor Recommends
Caroline Nin - Hymn to Piaf
Vanguard, 42 King St, Newtown
July 14 - July 25

Music
Wednesday July 15
Caroline Nin - Hymn to Piaf
Vanguard, 42 King St, Newtown
(and every night)

Thursday July 16
Caroline Nin - Hymn to Piaf
Vanguard, 42 King St, Newtown

Adrian Mears Quartet
Sound Lounge at Seymour Centre, Corner City Rd and Cleveland St


Friday July 17
Ned Collette and Wirewalk
Factory Theatre, 105 Victoria Road, Marrickville


The Catholics
Sound Lounge at Seymour Centre, Corner City Rd and Cleveland St


Caroline Nin - Hymn to Piaf
Vanguard, 42 King St, Newtown

Time Machine
Newtown RSL, 52 Enmore Rd, Newtown

Saturday July 18
Caroline Nin - Hymn to Piaf
Vanguard, 42 King St, Newtown

Jacob Manricks Quartet
Sound Lounge at Seymour Centre, Corner City Rd and Cleveland St

Hill Top Hoods (sold out)
Enmore Theatre, 119-132 Enmore Road, Newtown

Sunday July 5
Caroline Nin - Hymn to Piaf
Vanguard, 42 King St, Newtown

The MFW
Town Hall Hotel 5pm


Theatre
Unit 46
Factory Theatre,
105 Victoria Road, Marrickville
Wed - Sat @ 8pm Sun @ 5pm
June 25 - July 19

This Way Up (coming soon)
Newtown Theatre
, Corner King and Bray St, Newtown
July 28 - August 15

New Directions - Horrific Acts for Charity (coming soon)

New Theatre, 542 King St, Newtown
July 22 - July 25

Gutenberg The Musical
Seymour Centre
, City Road, Newtown
July 14 - July 25
See website for session times

Exhibitions
Michael Keighery - Neurotica
Wilson Street Gallery
, 30-34 Wilson St Newtown
July 19 - August 8

Other
Newtown Jets v Auckland Vulcans
Saturday July 18, 3pm. Henson Park, Marrickville

Regular Events
Funky Cafe, 256 King St Newtown
- Live music Mon - Sat night

Madame Fling Flong
- Tuesday night movie $20 with drink/mezze. Bookings advised.

Sandringham Hotel
- Live music every night and Sunday afternoons

Town Hall Hotel
- Local DJs Friday nights 11pm - 4am


Eveleigh Markets
- Farmer's Market every Saturday 8:00 - 13:00


Addison Rd Centre, 142 Addison Road Marrickville

- Marrickville Organic Markets every Sunday 8:30 - 15:00

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Mayor's Top 5 - Newtown Pubs

Well this is the big one - the Mayor's list of the top pubs in Newtown. Hopefully this one will not please all my readers - everyone has an opinion on Newtown pubs and I'm really looking forward to some heated feedback. Newtown has a generous range of great pubs - covering most tastes; although it's unfortunate timing that both the Newtown and Imperial have been closed for the last couple of years, leaving the area without a noted gay pub for the first time in decades.

An interesting fact is that all the pubs in Newtown have operated on the same site since the last last century; although most have changed names, and one was closed for a while, that's still an impressive record. The downside to that is that apart from the re-opening of the Cricketers in 1999 as Kelly's, (replacing an unpopular McDonalds) no new pubs have opened in Newtown in more than 100 years. If you're ever downstairs and sober-ish at the Townie, take the time to check out the historical posters on the walls. The photo of the old swill-friendly bar in the Union in particular is a corker. I can also recommend this site and the Council's archive for some history.

A downside to preponderance of great pubs in Newtown is the dearth of decent bars; Madam Fling Flong being pretty much the only one. Let's hope Clover's new laws will eventually encourage the opening of some more bars in Newtown, enabling me to compose a Mayor's Top 5 Bars. In the meantime, here are the Mayor's Top 5 Newtown Pubs:

Honourable Mention - Nice Fac(ad)e, Shame About ...

The Sydney Park Hotel and The Union Hotel get an honourable mention for their classic Art Deco exteriors, but neither of them are really popular Newtown destinations. To be generous you could call Sydney Park Hotel tired - as the St Peter's end of King Street keeps picking up here's hoping that St Peters Hotel will start to attract a more varied clientele.


The Union Hotel has more character - at least in the front bar. For some reason the back bar was converted into a massive RSL style bistro a few years ago that has all the character of an airport departure lounge.

... and so to the Top 5.

Number 5 Zanzibar


First entry in the Top 5 was a close one between Kelly's on King and ZanziBar. Both have improved noticeably in the last 6 months or so - Kelly's de-emphasising its Irishness (and seemingly running Karaoke 24/7 - how many times has the Mayor seen Fingers do Gay Bar ?), and ZanziBar de-emphasising the Moroccan theme that it inherited when it ceased being the Oxford.

ZanziBar just pipped Kelly's into the Top 5 for its more recent mini-renovation; downstairs now has an urban feel, complete with band posters and graffiti, and upstairs has become more of a club. Zanzibar also has Newtown's only rooftop bar which the perfect place for a gin tonic as the sun sets over King Street.

Number 4: The Sando


The Sandringham Hotel (known to all as the Sando) has been a mainstay of the Sydney live music scene for ages now. It seems to have finally survived the run in with the neighbours (who moved next to a pub that had been there for 100 years and started complaining about the noise - a pet hate of the Mayor's) and now reliably runs live music both downstairs (often free) as well as in the dedicated and sound-proofed gig area upstairs.

As well, it is rumoured that God has started drinking here since the Shakespeare changed its name. I'm pretty sure he'd be happy at how the Sando has maintained its unpretentious character over the years.

Number 3: Town Hall (The Townie)


Aptly known as the Downfall, anyone who's been in the Town Hall before midnight would justifiably be surprised by this placing. Horrifying by day, the Townie (of course) comes into its own after 11pm or so as the crowds drift in after gigs/shows or from other bars in the area. The Friday and Saturday night DJ sets add life to the downstairs crowd; upstairs, formerly the epicentre of late night townie life, is slightly calmer, and the smoking areas outside are always jammed.

Despite the size of the venue and the late hours it keeps, the vibe of the Townie is always chilled - non-judgemental, pretty much dick-head free, and friendly. The one downside of The Townie would have to be the bouncers, almost comically unable to detect the inebriation or otherwise of punters, and frequently and randomly restricting entry to completely sober patrons.


The Mayor was lucky enough to visit the manager's residence upstairs at the Townie a few years ago, and is very much hoping that one day the extensive outdoors area can be converted to Newtown's second rooftop bar.

Number 2: Coopers Hotel



Coopers Hotel, which started life as the Shakespeare in 1869, and was known for a while as the Cooper's Arms, has successfully survived a recent renovation managing to maintain the local feel of the downstairs bar while converting the upstairs backpackers into a sophisticated bar, bistro and outdoor dining/smoking area - even if the fishpond didn't last.

Like The Bank (name and location unchanged since 1880), the Coopers has become a destination bar, drawing outsiders to the various birthdays, engagement parties and the like upstairs on weekends. Recently live music has been re-introduced to the Coopers after a couple of years absence. Really the biggest problem with the Coopers these days is that it has to close at midnight.


Mayor's Number 1: The Courthouse Hotel


Perennial Newtown favourite and television star, Newtown's Courthouse aka 'The Courtie' has to be one of the best places in Sydney to while away a Sunny Sunday afternoon. The much loved beer garden has undergone a pretty serious tidy up recently that hasn't dimmed its popularity with jug drinking locals, and indoors has remained as grotty as ever. The pokies (such a key issue in 'Love is A Four Letter Word') are unobtrusive, and there's even a pinnies room. Being off the beaten track means that it draws a mostly local crowd, fiercely protective of the friendliest bar in Newtown.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Mystery Photo III - Celebrating a Milestone

Mystery Photo III was 'miles from home' - readers were asked to identify the location of the milestone below, that appeared to be 11 miles (it looks older than 1966) from Sydney.


Of course, if you'd seen the other side, or had some idea of Sydney geography, you may have realised that it was actually only 2 miles from Sydney - and 13 from Parramatta.



That knowledge may not have been enough, even armed with a map and a protractor - or Google Maps - to locate it accurately. One gets the impression that the milestone may well have been moved sometime over the last century, given how neatly it snuggles into the recently landscaped footpath and garden.


So where is it ? BM-dog guess it accurately - with lots of help from Marrickville Greens, who identified - via the vegetation appropriately enough - that it was somewhere near the Parramatta Road side of Sydney University. In fact it's on Science Road in the shadow of the Main Quad - E16 on this map.

If there are any historians from the Uni reading this I'd be interested in hearing the history of the milestone - my guess is that it was salvaged from Parramatta Road at some stage (construction of the Footbridge Theatre maybe) but this is pure speculation.

When in doubt - google ! This Sydney University heritage page lists 'Milestone Sydney II' - uncertain if it's an original or a copy - but definitely pre 1900 and if orginal relates to an 1810 Macquarie Road. Take a look at the listing. There's also a 1995 conservation study of Milestone I (Parramatta XIV) available at Sydney Town Hall by appointment.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Mystery Photo III - Miles From Home


Who knew Newtown was so far from Sydney ?! Or is it ?
Whereabouts in the broader Newtown area is this delightful stone hidden ?

No prizes other than smug self-satisfaction - which is surely reward in itself.

Newtown What's On: Week Ending July 12

Here's the latest Newtown What's On, your weekly guide to what's going on in Newtown. I welcome suggestions: email the mayorofnewtown 'at' gmail.com. If you run a venue, please add me to your mailing list. New this week - In The Hood - a recommendation in a neighbouring suburb.

Mayor Recommends


Newtown local MJ Woodbridge supporting Melbourne Trio 'Me and the Grown Ups'
Vanguard, 42 King St, Newtown
Thursday July 9 @ 8pm

Music

Wednesday July 8
Daryl Beaton Band + Rosie
Vanguard, 42 King St, Newtown

Thursday July 9
Me and the Grown Ups + MJ Woodbridge
Vanguard, 42 King St, Newtown

Friday July 10
Gest8
Sound Lounge at Seymour Centre, Corner City Rd and Cleveland St


Vic Chesnutt and Victoria Williams
Factory Theatre, 105 Victoria Road, Marrickville

Johnny Cass and the Dukes
Vanguard, 42 King St, Newtown

Saturday July 11
The Idea of North (Acapella)
Factory Theatre, 105 Victoria Road, Marrickville

West End Composers Collective
Sound Lounge at Seymour Centre, Corner City Rd and Cleveland St

Urban Dance Centre
Seymour Centre, Corner City Rd and Cleveland St
2pm and 8pm

Wildkatz

Marlborough Hotel, Corner King St and Missenden Road, Newtown

Butterfly Effect (sold out)
Enmore Theatre, 119-132 Enmore Road, Newtown

Sunday July 12
...nothing yet ... email me !

Theatre

Wrong Way Up
Newtown Theatre, Corner King and Bray St, Newtown
July 28 - August 15

Horrific Acts for Charity
New Theatre, 542 King St, Newtown
July 22 - July 25

Unit 46
Factory Theatre, 105 Victoria Road, Marrickville
June 25 - July 19
8pm, Sunday 5pm

Exhibitions


Roni Feldman - Collective Resolve
Wilson Street Gallery
, 30-34 Wilson St Newtown
Until July 12

Other


Regular Events
Funky Cafe, 256King St Newtown
- Live music Mon - Sat night

Madame Fling Flong
- Tuesday night movie $20 with drink/mezze. Bookings advised.

Sandringham Hotel
- Live music every night and Sunday afternoons

Town Hall Hotel
- Local DJs Friday nights 11pm - 4am


Eveleigh Markets
- Farmer's Market every Saturday 8:00 - 13:00


Addison Rd Centre, 142 Addison Road Marrickville

- Marrickville Organic Markets every Sunday 8:30 - 15:00

In the Hood

Tuesday July 7, 7:30pm, Friend in Hand Hotel, 58 Cowper St, Glebe, $10/5, 9660 2326.
Something special...

Word in Hand plays host to a massively chewy treat when spoken word legend Tug Dumbly fires up the Barbie to unleash his Banjo Paterson award winning epic ode to meat Barbeque Bill and the Roadkill Café.

Tug’s tale pits the locals of a sleepy north coast hamlet famed for its magnificent meat up against a horde of nefarious New Age invaders, whose plans for remodeling the town include the removal of the famed Big Steak, as well as stifling the trade of the town’s most celebrated son Barbeque Bill – it’s cleavers at ten paces!!