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on 14 December 2003
In the book devoted to her adopted hometown, New Zealand born Ruth Park provides a fascinating, humourous and entertaining guide to the city which is today the gleaming glass, steel and concrete metropolis which is Sydney. Part social history, part practical travel guide, each chapter of "Ruth Park's Sydney" is defined by an easy "walk" around the sector in question, for example Chapter One takes the reader from the magnificent Circular Quay to the Rocks, in the historical context of the first settlers. Much of Sydney's forgotten history is here, albeit much on a scale so macabre as to rival Edinburgh (for example, the gallows site of early settlement times is now a park at the Rocks; Sydney's grand Town Hall lies on the remains of a convict era graveyard; and the Old Sydney Hospital grounds which now house the New South Wales houses of parliament are home to many a buried bodyless limb, hacked off in rudimentary Victorian era amputations). There are also some very interesting (though perhaps obtuse) facts, such as the chapel in Rose Bay which houses an organ once owned by the Emperor Napoleon. For anyone looking to get under the surface of modern day Sydney and discover the rich Georgian, Regency and Victorian history of the city, this well written and entertaining guide is much recommended.
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