Scrap Yard Spirit

The bus zigzags through Sydenham and St Peters, going east. It travels along Railway Road, past the cappuccino bulging with froth that is painted on the corner cafe, and high up a ghost sign for a newsagent emerging from underneath faded whitewash.

Newsagent Sydenham

Then the buildings come to an end. Twenty years ago the houses here, 152 in all, were demolished due to aircraft noise from the third runway. Their front fences remain, their steps leading up to nothing but the expanse of rarely traversed lawn. Further back, behind the lawns, is a memorial to the demolished houses in the form of an oversized, exterior living room. The giant concrete sofa has tiles decorated by students from Tempe High School, anguished figures of princesses and punks with “go away” speech bubbles.

Sydenham Green_Ceramics

All of this is familiar to me. I know this west to east journey well, the zigzag along narrow roads until they meet up with the Princes Highway. The bus turns and travels along the highway, past the rug shop and the self storage place and the fence with the hole cut in it to reveal the water meter.

water meter

I thought I knew all such notable sights of the Princes Highway, but I was wrong.

I gaze out from the bus window, down past the drab landscaping surrounding the complex of car goods megastores, when my eye catches something. It’s not something I expected to see leaning up at the entrance to a scrap metal yard with a backdrop of shipping containers. The last time I saw this object it was hanging in the centre of Martin Place, glowing above a giant television screen. That was sixteen years ago. But hey, I can still share the spirit.

Rings St Peters

St Peters VB

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13 Comments on “Scrap Yard Spirit”

  1. carolruff says:

    ha ha. That was a great read. Thanks Vanessa
    x Carol

  2. Hi Vanessa, Did you know that at Recycling Works Emporium, 45 Parramatta Rd Annandale, theres an enormous carnival float head currently hanging from the rafters. I asked the owner, Frank, about it. He told me it was a giant fish head from the Sydney Olympics used in the opening ceremony. Worth a look! Rose

    • Vanessa Berry says:

      Thanks Rose, I’ll go and have a look – I think I remember these, were they floating on the harbour? I used to live around the corner from Recycling Works but haven’t been there for years.

      • I thought it was a giant insect. I watched the Olympic Opening o tele in Hong Kong, and its a hazy recollection. I’ve got a duple of ghoulish photos taken in Recycling Works in my “postcards from Parramatta Road’ album (in progress) on Flickr. You might be interest din taking a look: https://flic.kr/s/aHskroy4CS

      • Vanessa Berry says:

        Great photos Rose! I do love that store with all the individually priced stainless steel cooking implements, you capture so many highlights and details, thanks for sending the link.

  3. That’s awesome Vanessa, what a find! Great piece, and topical 🙂

  4. jml297 says:

    Thanks for sharing the trip in vivid detail. Laughed out loud when I spotted the rings – great photos too!

  5. Fantastic! You’re in my ‘hood! I also just got an email from the NSW Writers Centre with an interview with you! Such a delightful surprise.

  6. Ash says:

    Awesome find. An ignominious end for the Olympic rings. I would personally love to get a hold of one of the letters from the old Coke advertisement in Kings Cross.

  7. nickgadd says:

    What a great discovery! Nice spotting of the newsagent ghostsign too.


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