Saturday a bit after eight I headed out for Mosman for my day at the Fleet Review (Sydney's International Fleet Review). I left early because a million or so people were expected to attend, and I thought that the roads would be crowded and parking impossible. As it happened, I needn't have worried. The main crowds (1.7 million was a later estimate) were going elsewhere, and there was very little traffic
For those who don't know Mosman, it is located about eight kilometres north east of the Sydney CBD on the other side of the Harbour. The suburb is named after Archibald Mosman (1799–1863) and his twin brother George.
They moved onto a 4-acre (16,000 m2) land grant in the area in 1831, establishing a whaling station. The area was then known as Sirius Cove, but later came to be called Mosman Bay. One building survives from the Mosman period. Just for the hell of it since this post is part about light and water, this is a 1914 painting by Arthur Streeton of Mosman Bay.
Saturday was hot early, with a real haze in the air, making decent photography difficult for someone as unskilled as I. My friend and I set out in the still early light for the vantage point we had selected to see the day's events. As we walked, I kept stopping and looking, filing away mental images for later use.
Mosman is a wealthy suburb that has, In many ways, been less affected by the changes that have taken place elsewhere in Sydney. Its population is on average older and less diverse. You can get a feel from the destination Sydney web site.
With harbour views in the distance and pretty streets lined with glamorous homes, Mosman is a stylish shopping destination. Military Road and surrounding streets have plenty for the keen shopper from fashion and homewares, to accessories and antiques.
The highly desirable Accoutrement homewares shop is here, the cool and sleek Scandinavian designs in Nordic Fusion and the fabulous Mosman Interiors. Bespoke Art houses the best homewares from around the world, for bedding to cutlery head to Pond Home. Popular fashion brands range from Seed to Lululemon, Mimco to Carla Zampatti.
This is typical tourism speak, and is actually unfair. No tourist is going to go to Mosman for the shopping. Mosman is more than this. However, the architecture is attractive. Many of the often large houses were built in the early part of the twentieth century. This is an example of Mosman architecture. Love those verandahs.
We walked on ,ending at Georges Heights. This is a former military base One of the main streets in Mosman is called Military Road. I hadn't actually realised the significance, for this was indeed a military road.
When we arrived at our destination with its panoramic views, there was almost no-one there. You can see this from this photo with its views towards the heads Note also the military remains. These are gun platforms.
As we waited for the fleet to arrive, numbers increased a little, with the kids playing on the old guns. One of the constant themes in conversation over the day, a theme perhaps triggered by the military flavour, was just how lucky Sydney had been to avoid terrorist or indeed other attacks. This is really a very peaceful place.
The Australian Navy ships were to come in two waves, We could see the first wave, the small ships, crawling along beyond the heads. They seemed to take for ever. Meanwhile, a Navy Seahawk helicopter circled the harbour with a giant naval ensign hanging below, stretched out in the slipstream. My instinctive reaction was just how hard if must be for the pilot to keep the copter stable. We also watched the boats on the harbour. It looks positively tropical!
The lead ship in the first contingent came through the heads and then stopped to allow the other ships to form up properly. From that point, the convoy proceeded directly below us, accompanied by a Manly ferry that had somehow gate-crashed the show! later I would learn that many of the pleasure craft were actuslly stranded by the exclusion zones to the sometimes distree of thier passengers.
One of the really interesting crowd reactions, one that I shared, was just how small the fleet was. This is the Australian aircraft carrier HMAS Sydney, arriving in Melbourne in 1949. This was the first of Australia's two aircraft carriers. one of three aircraft carriers (the others came from the UK and the US) to serve in Korea in 1951. Accepting that technology has changed, there is something a little worrying about Australia's inability even to keep up maintenance on its main supply ship to the point that it had to be withdrawn from service as unseaworthy.
It had been a long morning, and we wended our way to get some copy (in my case a beer!) as the air display began. That was fun too, the air display I mean, something of a blast from my past.