June 26, 2012

Horse 1337 - Ten Suburbs. No.10 Oatley 2223

If you look at a map of Oatley, three streets stand out immediately. Oatley Avenue and Oatley Parade could very well be the same street but are separated by a strip of park and Wonoona Parade East appears on the map as a double street because of a line of trees which form a line down the middle.
At the end of Frederick St, stands a clock tower made from red brick which looks like it could very well be a sewer chimney. The high street in Oatley is one of the prettiest in Sydney and the gentle hill sloping downwards towards the railway station makes it ideal to wander down.

The reason why I mention Oatley though is that once a upon a time, before there was television and when they used to walk faster in the movies, the Oatley Pleasure Grounds was home to a miniature zoo of sorts. I imagine that it must've been similar to Alexandra Park & Zoo in Bundaberg, Queensland, but the reason why the zoo was closed wasn't due to the animals, but the people. The Oatley Pleasure Grounds for a few mad seasons in the late 1920s gained a reputation for having a pretty wild Wine Bar. I found at least three headlines in the Sydney Morning Herald by accident when looking for something else entirely, that when Dame Nellie Melba performed operatic pieces in the park in supposedly "low-key affairs", the police were called in.

Just to the north of Oatley Station are a set of railway sheds. In 1926 when Sydney finally saw electric railways arrive, Oatley was the end of the electric lines and there still exists a crossover point. When the electric trains first saw operation, the very first services ran from Oatley and ran to Museum and St James. However unlike those two stations, Oatley never received any of the fancy tiling.

In the west of the suburb; beyond the line of houses, Oatley Park juts around Jew Fish Bay. What makes this patch of parkland interesting is that its probably one of the few refuges in suburbia where playtipii and echindnae are found in the wild. Traffic doesn't go through here and the Georges River is not as busy as either the Parramatta River, Port Jackson or Middle Harbour; so they're left more or less in relative tranquility.

Oatley has one rather remarkable hidden gem. Within the unassuming building of the Hurstville Christadelphian District Ecclesia, there sits a pipe organ dating from 1905. After the Grand Organ in the Sydney Town Hall was finished in 1890, the same company was comissioned to build a pipe organ in Wahroonga. That organ was moved and after rennovations, now occupies its current home.

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