Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Recently I returned to Port Macquarie from a brief visit to Strathfield – an inner western suburb of Sydney (not far from Newtown, where as you might recall, I visited in December).

I traveled south to Sydney by train with my parents, as Dad, still recovering from a heart attack and (minor) stroke from last October, was scheduled to undergo an angiogram at a hospital in Strathfield. He subsequently also underwent a procedure to replace a stent that had become blocked by scar tissue.

Understandably, Dad spent most of his time while in Strathfield in the hospital, while Mum and I stayed at nearby Cooper’s Lodge (pictured at right and below), conveniently situated within walking distance of both the hospital and Strathfield railway station.

In fact, Cooper’s was originally the station master’s residence – one equipped with a number of extra rooms due to the fact that with Strathfield always being an important rail center, train drivers back in the early days would often lodge at the station master’s house between journeys.

Today, Cooper’s Lodge operates as a guest house - one that is managed by a very hospitable couple, Phil and Josephine.

Given the purpose of our visit, I guess you could say that it was somewhat of a stressful time for my parents and I in Strathfield. Yet I’m glad that I’m currently back in Australia from the U.S. and am able to be of support to both my parents at this time.

Thankfully, Dad’s medical procedures were successfully completed early in our visit. Accordingly, there was time to later relax and, for me at least, to explore Strathfield and its surrounds.

I was accompanied in these little forays by Brian (pictured above), another lodger at Cooper’s. For instance, last Friday, Brian and I took the train to nearby Burwood where I finally saw Baz Luhrmann’s much talked about film, Australia.

To be honest, I really didn’t know what to expect of this film, given the mixed reviews it’s received. As it turned out I actually enjoyed it – as one does those cartoonish-types of films that Luhrmann is famous for making, i.e. films with one-dimensional characters, far-fetched plots, and colourful and larger-than-life visuals. Once you realize that’s what it’s all about, you just sit back and enjoy the ride . . . and, oh yeah, Hugh Jackman!

Later we had some excellent food at a Burmese restaurant back in Strathfield, a suburb which, like the surrounding urban area, is heavily populated by Asian immigrants of various ethnic and national backgrounds – though, from what I could gather, mainly Korean. I greatly enjoyed being immersed in what seemed, at times, like a foreign city.

Late on Saturday night, Brian and I walked for hours through the streets of Strathfield, Burwood, and Homebush, admiring the many Federation- style buildings that these suburbs are renowned for. The next morning I revisited some of these buildings and photographed them (see the opening image and those below).

Above: A Strathfield cat! He (or she!) was very friendly and affectionate.

Above: I took this photo at the Strathfield railway station on Sunday morning, as my parents and I waited for the train that would return us to Port Macquarie.

Black crow, black crow,
tell me what you really know.
Will we flourish in this hurricane
or will we fall and die?

. . . I wonder where that black crow sleeps
as day beckons the night, or if he even sleeps at all.
I wonder what he thinks of all the human traffic far below
that’s struggled on the road so, so long

Tell me, black crow, black crow, silently you pass above,
understanding everything but you know nothing at all.
Black crow, black crow, tell me what you really know.
Do you understand the pain that we feel down here at all?

- Excerpted from “Black Crow”
by Jamiroquai.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
“Harbour City” Sights


Brian R said...

Just saying Hi as I have just found your interesting blog and this seems the best place as I was born in Strathfield and grew up in nearby Concord although I now live in the Blue Mountains. We have the same opinion of both 'Australia the Movie' and Hugh Jackman. Although an Anglican (fighting the homophobic Sydney Diocese) I spent most of my teaching career in Catholic Schools and was 'out' for a period in the 80's at a Senior Catholic School. Look forward to regular reading

Michael J. Bayly said...

Hi Brian,

Thanks for stopping by and sharing some of your journey. I look forward to regularly checking out your blog.