Saturday, 6 July 2013

Goodbye Monorail.....Hello Monstrosity

In my opinion the monorail in Sydney has been an iconic feature of the city for many years. I can still remember how thrilling it was to step onto this strange, space-age looking vehicle and glide over the city streets for the very first time. It seemed society was one step closer to that futuristic world from the Jetson's cartoons that I loved so much as a kid. Sydney has never looked better than it did from that angle. You got a bird's eye view of the street below and glimpses into secret worlds of offices and apartment blocks that made me so curious about those who inhabited these spaces. As 'city' people I imagined they must lead very exciting and glamorous lives.

One of my favourite parts of the monorail ride was the moment it emerged from the city streets into the splendour that was Darling Harbour. Back then I looked on Darling Harbour as a cosmopolitan mecca, bustling with people from all around the world. The fact that the only thing to do there was eat bad food and buy over-priced and tacky souvenirs didn't bother me in the least.

The monorail was built in 1988 and it was almost a decade later that I moved to Sydney for the first time. I lived in Pyrmont and had to travel to Surry Hills for work. The most convenient way of  doing this was to catch the monorail and then walk up Oxford St. Suddenly I was one of those 'city' people I had stared at in awe as a girl from Newcastle. I could now look down my nose at the tourists who oohhhed and ahhhed from the monorail because I took it to work every day!

Despite my attempts to be sophisticated and city-like, the monorail never lost its magic for me. I'd still do the circuit three times some days just because I enjoyed it so much. The fact that I was sharing a bedroom in an apartment with someone I barely knew might also have had something to do with my reluctance to go home, but the monorail will always have a special place in my heart. It was with great sadness that I read about its impending demise, although it's been on the cards for a while now.

I must admit I was shocked when I learned of the hostility many people feel towards the monorail. They claim it is an eye-sore, that it's inefficient and expensive to run. It will apparently be replaced by light rail, but no matter how light this rail is it will never capture that feeling of soaring above the crowds and traffic that the monorail did. I for one will miss the monorail, and regret that it wasn't appreciated as it should have been in its time. Will future generations condemn us for not keeping this iconic structure that has been part of Sydney for nearly three decades?

Speaking of eye-sores I also regret the decision by the state government to proceed with the rape of Barangaroo. To allow James Packer build a second casino in Sydney is a complete travesty. The whole process to approve this obscenity reeks of corruption and greed, but what else can you expect from the O'Farrell government and trough-swilling Neanderthals like Packer? They at least are predictable, but what bothers me is the lack of public opposition to the development. This is not the government's land to give away, it belongs to the people of Sydney, and I think it's time they were reminded of this! Australia is not Dubai and I seriously doubt that most people want one of the most prominent buildings in Sydney to be a monument to greed, stupidity and the social scourge that is gambling.

An artist's impression of the development at Barangaroo....It's very subtle so you might not be able to pick it out straight away. Hint: Unlike the O'Farrell government it's on the left.

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