Sunday, 27 April 2008

Maps from F.A. Brockhaus, a 19th century Leipzig printing house, were found - along with a note from an eBay seller - among a store of discards in southern Queensland.

We drove using the New England Highway, stopping in Armidale on the way out and in Tamworth on the way back. This was a mistake. Ten hours on the road is too long. But a junior football carnival on in Armidale meant we needed to find an alternative. Better, by far, to stop in Glen Innes or Tenterfield. The final hour or so was pretty close to murder, and not recommended to safe drivers.

The first map in the set - both occupy a page slightly bigger than A5 - shows Sydney's central business district (CBD). At least that's what we call it nowadays.

The map shows the 'neue kunst gallerie' and online resources date the map around 1895. The AGNSW website tells the story in some detail, so it's possible to get closer to an accurate dating. A building was erected as the Academy of Art in 1879 "where the glass pyramid in the Botanic Gardens now stands".

This is not the building marked on the map, however. "Present day courts 7 and 8 were commenced in 1896 and opened in May 1897," the website goes on. So the map dates from at least 1897, if not later (you'd need to get the survey or drawing to Germany and engraved, before printing).

Baths on Woollomooloo Bay date from the era. Currently, the Andrew 'Boy' Charlton Pool occupies one of the sites marked.

Where the Opera House now stands a structure called 'Fort Macquarie' was visible in the days when the German artist worked. (Whether he visited Sydney itself is another question.) The Jewish Synagog is visible on the map, in its current location.

Opposite the train station (now Central) is an armory. Cowper Street in Glebe is clearly visible, but the university (marked in text) is off the map. Where the southern pylon of the Harbour Bridge now stands, is a 'battery' (presumably with guns, for protection).

The site of the to-be-built East Darling Harbour development (dubbed Barangaroo by the state government) is occupied, in the map, by a gas works.

The second map shows the extent of development within a perimeter of about 15 kilometres. Major centres (Canterbury, Marrickville) are shown in red. In the map, 'Gipps Town' occupies the location of Five Dock and Five Dock on the map is where Drummoyne is now.

The water off Pyrmont in the map is named 'Johnstones Bai'. A suburb south of Leichhardt called 'Elswick' is no longer there. And a stream originating in 'North Ashfield' (Croydon) that debouched into Iron Cove is no longer there apart from an unnamed piece of water alongside the City West Link.

So the map is illuminating. But not perfect, or else made from an imperfect survey. Campsie, for example, is not marked (but was certainly settled then), nor is Strathfield (ditto), apart from the station, which is shown - the Northern Line was in place when the map was made.

In the east, 'The Mill Stream' runs from Centennial Park down to Botany Bay, near the mouth of the Cooks River. Tempe is there, as are Waterloo and Coogee. South Head is named 'Inner South Head'. (Outer South Head is the bit where the Macquarie Light House now stands.)

Fletchers Bai is Turramurra and Bronte is called Nelsons Bai. The Victoria Barracks is where it is now, as is Waverly Park and Waverly Cemetary (so some things don't change).

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