If you're not Australian
, you could be forgiven for thinking Sydney is our nations capital.
It's not: Canberra
won that distinction around the turn of the last century. A city built in the middle of nowhere, because Sydney
couldn't settle on which one of them should be king. Melbourne had culture
and a certain beauty
on its side. Sydney had force of numbers and a belligerent
attitude that runs counter to the spirit of Aussieness.
To a tourist
, Sydney seems to be a charming place. So green! So open! The people are so friendly! Granted, it has these things relative to other countries. But in comparison to other capitals within this country, Sydney stands alone.
It's big. It's crowded. It's -dirty-. Crime
is high, property prices are gob-smackingly outrageous, and there's a lovely yellow haze of smog
constantly inhabiting the horizon.
The main harbour, thought to be so beautiful by some, is a mess of pollution and cargo ships. Botany Bay
, where Captain Cook
and the First Fleet
moored? The watercourse has been permanently altered by two runway
extensions sticking out into it like some huge, obscene V-sign
being flicked at you.
Kurnell, the site of the first landing on the east coast by Captain Cook? The site of an oil refinery
The place has become a direct spin-off of any large city in Europe or America(North and South). Cities can only reach a certain size before they become huge and unwieldy things. Unfortunatly, Australia doesn't have the same real-estate limitation as most countries. So Sydney continues to spread north towards Newcastle and south towards Wollongong. My imagination keeps conjuring up images of William Gibson's Sprawl: a huge cityscape that keeps extending, swallowing up smaller population centres as it oozes along the coast.
Sydney also has the distinction of being a very Americanized city: the density of population, its relatively high international profile, and the recent drop of the Australian dollar has seen American film companies flock to these shores. McDonalds, Starbucks and Burger King have become commonplace.
The people of Sydney also have their own mentality at work. Anyone who dare suggests that this is not the promised land is scorned. To them, there is nowhere else worthwhile within Australia. If there was, why are there so many people in Sydney?
Gah. This place drives me nuts.
But it's not without its charms. Otherwise, why live here?