"I believe we should go back to square one and I think we should consider what the real problems and possibilities are with our harbour and we should start again."
- Rick Leplastrier
Thanks Clover. Fellow citizens, lovers of the Harbour.
You know, theres a lot in a name. East Darling Harbour when I first read it the hairs on the back of my neck went up and I thought does that mean that in the minds of the planners they have this image that they want a bit more of the same? And I thought to myself, West Rocks Docks. You see, the vitality of any great maritime city I believe is in the richness and diversity of its docks, that is where boats of all sizes and scales can berth and where people can just wander those docks and see all the various actions and things that are going on. The word quay is interesting it comes from the word hedge strangely enough which I think is to do with a thickness, and I think its something about a thickness of activity.
Ive sailed on Sydney Harbour since I was a kid, since I was twelve, and I think I know it pretty well. Small boats, bigger boats and one of the most wonderful things for all of us of course was the fact that something like a 50,000 tonne tanker would suddenly just career its way through the fleet and if you had your wits about you you could just get across its bow if you were on the lay line and all those behind you had to do another four or five hundred metres. And youd also play the sides of these big ships because they changed the direction of the wind. Its the scale of these ten-storey steel monsters that I personally love so much.
But when were talking about a working harbour, were not, I believe, just talking about those things. I think were talking about a whole range of maritime activity, theres the working side, the slugging side of the harbour, the making of the docks, the punts, all the people who do that wonderful scaled hardwood work, theres the ferries, all the cruise boats; theres boats of all different types, the pleasure boats even the gin palaces and the fizz boats, but the whole spectrum and all of those boats have to be worked on, they have to be placed somewhere and it seems to me that if youre going to make a brief for such a competition (and Im not going to comment very much on the five schemes) they all have a certain similarity about them simply because, I believe, the brief framed them up in such a way that there was to be something like fifty percent open space, so much office space and residential. There was an equation that was put into that brief that I think was a financial equation. I believe the government is setting up this change to this particular area in order to (1) make money and (2) hand it over to the private realm and the developers so that we as a public body can wash our hands of our public responsibilities to our public place. Theres a lot of intelligence in those five schemes, particularly for me the local one, but I think its not on the right foundation and if you have to set up a competition like this I believe the sort of questions and the sort of information that you have to give is something like this:
Sydneys ridge roads are clogged at rush hours. Why arent we developing our ferry service so that it services us to get to these places with the greatest of pleasure and the greatest of convenience? Why is not the western side of the harbour being reconsidered for its ferries and its services, trunk routes and fine routes going up the river systems? Weve got the technology and if you ask that question you say Circular Quay cant cope and its too far around the corner. Where does the next ferry terminal go? Surely thats central to a brief like this and if you think about that youd say, well where would you put it? A couple of the schemes intelligently put it straight through to East Circular Quay youve got Quay East, Quay Rocks West and if you go to the south end of the site down towards Darling Harbour that end of the site as the crow flies is 150 metres from Wynyard Station and the platform of Wynyard Station and the platform of the apron of the Quay at the dock are very close to being the same.