June 07, 2012
Horse 1334 - Ten Suburbs. No.7 Pennant Hills 2120
As I sit here and type this out into my phone (whilst struggling with the Sydney Morning Herald) in the Corner Cafe Pennant Hills, I really do get an idea of the comings and goings of this suburb. The people in this suburb on the whole drive nicer than normal motor cars, they wear nicer than normal clothes, even the coffee which is sitting in front of me is nicer than normal.
Pennant Hills (at least this side of the railway station) is the quiet, peaceful; almost Norman Rockwell-esque version of what a modern Australian suburb is like. Almost conspicuous by their absence, neither Coles or Woolworths have set up a supermarket in Pennant Hills. I imagine that if the locals want to do their shopping, they they do it in Thornleigh, which is one suburb to the north.
Perhaps Pennant Hills is most famous for the 6 lane arterial road which roars through it. On the other side of the railway line to where I'm currently seated, there are a number of car yards (which are also nicer than normal - being Toyota, Skoda, Holden, Hyundai and Audi), a KFC but the Hotel Pennant Hills has obviously given up and has decided to barricade itself against the noise by blocking up and covering over any trace of the windows of what I imagine would have been a Georgian style pub. I am assured that there is a 350 seat bistro somewhere behind the walls but from the outside it looks as inviting as a Soviet power station.
Head a little bit to the east though and instead of the maddening bustle, you find yourself in Lane Cove National Park. Two miles from Pennant Hills Station and a million miles from care. It's curious that apart from Pennant Hills Road, if you head eastwards, there are no north-south roads until you get to Lane Cove Road which is another 6 lane arterial.
At this point Lane Cove National Park's main features are Scout Creek and Camp Creek. They both cut very deeply into the landscape which has created an area of quite tense, temperate rainforest. Lane Cove Valley Walk is somewhere down below at the bottom and that in turn forms part of the Great North Walk which eventually ends some 250km away in Newcastle.
I find it extraordinary that Sydney keeps on playing this trick again and again. You don't have to go very far at all to find yourself completely surrounded by no buildings. A lot of cities are built on grids but Sydney had to contend with a very squiggly landscape and changes in height; it coped by having roads meander and leaving pockets of bushland very close to people's houses. Less than 2km in a straight line from the offices of some of the biggest technology companies in the world like Microsoft, Orix, Lucent Technologies etc. you can find wallabies and wallaroos, rainbow lorikeets, galahs and big lizards going about their business; completely oblivious to the industry going on around them.
Before I completely paint Pennant Hills in a rose wash, I should point out that this is the first of the ten suburbs that I've actively been made to feel unwelcome in. Whilst seated here, someone tapped me on the shoulder and said "You look like you don't belong here"; I really had no idea why, for I was clad in a plum-coloured collared shirt, a black crombie coat and a nice pair of jeans. Was it supposed to be a compliment to suggest that I was of a better quality than the suburb? Was it a put-down? Either way, who goes around saying stuff like that anyway?
I'll assume that Pennant Hills possibly has nicer than normal people, though immediate experience might lead me to believe otherwise.
NB: This post was mainly written on Saturday 2nd May, and would have appeared as Horse 1332
Posted by Rollo at 12:50