Category Archives: 21st century

50 in 50: the wrapup

When I got the idea for the 50 in 50 project, I thought it would be interesting to challenge myself to take a photo every day with the same lens, and to restrict myself to using only that lens for a whole month to see what new perspectives I could get by limiting my choices. I had initially thought I’d use my 24mm prime lens because, well, because I love it and I could see myself using just that lens forever and never using anything else.

Day 50: 50

But loving that lens so much, I didn’t think that it would be a huge challenge to not use it. The 50mm, on the other hand, well, that was something different. I wasn’t exactly sure why I’d bought it and I’d rarely used it. I think I’d heard it was a good lens for portraits but, as portraits aren’t a genre I’m very interested in at all, I’m not sure what I thought getting a portrait lens would achieve.

Nonetheless, I had it and it was sitting there in my lens bag unused. Everytime I went to use it, everything would be SO CLOSE and I’d hastily swap it for my 10-22 where I was a lot more comfortable.

I’d set myself the goal of completing a 30-day project with one lens in 2020 as part of my 20 in 2020 list that I write about on my other blog. I realised at the end of October that time was running out if I wanted to get this done. I was on a short break in the middle of a very frantic time at work when I decided, in that way you make crazy decisions when you’re relaxed and on holidays, that I was going to start the project the very next day with the 50mm lens and it was going to be a 50-day project, not a 30-day one. Because 50/50/50 was just so much tidier than 30/50/30.

The challenge was set and the rules were made. I locked all my other lenses away in my camera bag and began. The main rule was that I needed to make at least one photo every day and post it. I didn’t actually have to edit or post it the day I took the photo, as long as I’d actually captured a photo every day. I was a little bit flexible with the challenge and I did allow myself to continue to use my phone for thing I’d normally have used my phone for anyway like casual daily photos and Hobart Street Corners.

So what did I learn?

Not allowing myself to crop the images, other than what was needed to straighten them, meant that I had to be a lot more careful in my framing in-camera. In some photos that were very tight, I found it difficult to make the adjustments I needed to compensate for the viewfinder showing me a slightly different view than what appeared in the image. More than once, an image that I thought I’d framed perfectly ended up with something I thought I had excluded sneaking in on the right hand side, or the image wasn’t framed exactly the way I had thought it was.

Day 2: It’s not centred!

It was also difficult to step back as far as I needed to get what I wanted into the frame, so in a lot of photos I ended up getting closer and including less in the image than I had intended. This is why there are a lot of photos from the challenge of the tops of buildings or details, because the 50mm perspective just didn’t allow everything to be included. There are limits to how far you can step back sometimes, because there are things like brick walls or roads with heavy traffic that stop you. Getting run over in the pursuit of my art is not really the way I want to end my life!

Day 5: Just one more step back would have helped this one

Doing this challenge forced me to look at things in a different way to how I would have if I was using the 10-22 lens and trying to get everything in. It helped me to isolate details that I found interesting and to really think about what was interesting about a scene. It often felt like it was a lot more of a personal way to make photos, to find the element that spoke to me within what was usually quite a cluttered space, and to focus on that and to show it from my perspective.

I’d go out with one idea in mind and then, after being in the space for a while and taking the photos I thought I’d wanted, I’d look around some more and see something completely different. I’d then go and explore the things that had caught my eye and end up with a totally different image to what I’d imagined. Light playing on a surface, a creeping shadow, a small feature that I’d never have noticed if I’d been looking at the big picture. Something on the ground. Something sitting on a fence. I’d capture these things as I saw them, and I’m glad I did because, more often than not, I’d come back the next day and they’d be gone.

Day 29: Specs in time. I came back the next day to rephotograph this scene because I wasn’t happy with any of the images, and the dandelion had gone.

Of course, not everything worked out as I’d wanted it to, and some days I ended up just taking a photo of something, anything, just to complete the challenge for that day. These were not some of my best moments.

Day 35: Hmmmmmmm……

I found I really enjoyed getting up close to a feature and making it the focal point of the image, with a very shallow depth of field to blur the background.

Day 31: Some sandstone at some old building

Some of these types of photos worked well; others not so much. I had a couple of days where I’d get a photo I really liked only to find I hadn’t quite nailed the focus, whereas similar shots with less pleasing composition were tack sharp. What to do there?! My choice was to go with composition over sharpness and to remind myself it’s okay to take more than one photo of exactly the same thing if I think it’s going to be a good one. Maybe one day I’ll remember this.

Day 42: Composition trumps focus

16 December was the last day of the challenge and I’d already picked out my subject a couple of days earlier on my morning walk, when there was great light. I’d taken a few test shots and thought I could make it work on the last day. All I needed was the same light and the same lack of traffic on the highway. Sadly, the light didn’t come and I woke up feeling very unwell. Not unwell enough to not go for a walk but not exactly raring to go either. So I didn’t get the photo I wanted to round the project off. I took a couple of photos while I was out but nothing really worked and all I wanted to do was go back to bed. Which I did.

It was a disappointing end to what had been a fantastic project that, for the most part, I enjoyed doing. Overall, I’m pleased with the photos I made for the project, and there are a couple that are up there with my favourite images of the year.

Day 10: A re-edit of one of my favourite photos from the whole of 2020

I’m not in any great rush to stop using the lens and, now I know some of its possibilities, I’m keen to use it more often.

Day 38: I love this one and several of the others I made at the same location

It’s been a great experience for me. I would say if you feel like your photography is getting stuck or same-y or you want to mix it up a bit, set yourself a challenge like this where you restrict yourself to one element. Go out for a couple of weeks, a month, however long feels right to you, and make photographs every day within that restriction. Maybe you could restrict the lens, or the aperture you use (or even both!). You could restrict yourself to making a photo at a particular time of day or within a particular location. One challenge I have always been interested in is the “one block” challenge, where you can only make photographs of things that are within one block of your town for whatever period you choose. Maybe a back and white challenge is more your thing (I did that for a year in 2018), or you photograph only yellow things every day for a month. Or birds. Or cups of coffee. Or sandstone (nah, just kidding, don’t do that). Anything where you limit your options, I think, will help you to focus on one thing and to get more creative as you can’t get distracted by the many other variables that could distract you.

Now I have to plan myself a new challenge for 2021.

Have you thought about undertaking a photo challenge like this? Or done one? Let me know in the comments.

open house hobart 2020: blue magnolia

My second tour of the 2020 Open House Hobart weekend was Blue Magnolia on Molle Street.

Some of the external timber work

This is a hidden away little 1840s cottage that is an absolutely tiny space (and, therefore, almost impossible to photograph, especially with a 50mm lens, which is the lens I have restricted myself to using for 50 days, having not considered that this weekend was coming up when I decided to do it). Nevertheless, it has been photographed very beautifully (not by me, obviously).

We were lucky enough to have one of the architects responsible for the redesign, Rosa, to show us through and answer our questions.

She said the building had been two row houses, which as far as we could tell were an upstairs room and a downstairs room each, with massively thick stone walls between them.

One of the original entrances

Kitchen? Nope. Bathroom? Nope. Basically, it sounded like living there would be like camping in a stone cottage. Now the two houses were one and there actually was a kitchen and a bathroom.

Rosa explained that there had been some 1970s additions to the house, which had been removed and replaced with the new extensions in 2017.

Stone wall inside and out

It really is cool how much they have managed to fit into such a tight space behind the existing houses on the street. The bathroom is fabulous, with the clear roof and views of the city.

Blue sky views from the bathroom

The extensions have lots of beautiful timberwork and there are doorways punched through the stone walls. The whole space fits together really nicely and it doesn’t feel as small as it is.

External wall

Clearly, a space like this has insufficient space for bookcases, so I could never live there. But it would be a lovely retreat space for a few days.

open house hobart: day 1 part 3

part 1: supreme court

part 2: construction house & jarvis house

My Open House Hobart adventure continued with my sister after our visit to the Jarvis House and lunch. We headed back to town to find some more buildings before our 4pm tour.

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Town Hall, Macquarie Street. This photo may have been taken in a hurry on my phone when I realised I had heaps of photos inside the building for this post but none of the outside.

We started at Town Hall on Macquarie Street, which was designed by Henry Hunter and opened in 1866. The basement space, known as “The Underground” was also open so we went there first.

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Underground, Town Hall. A very cool space.

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Underground, Town Hall. I wonder who A L was.

There was a flower show in the main hall so it wasn’t possible to take any photos that showed the room, but we got to see the council chambers and pretend to be Lord Mayor, so that was fun.

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Council Chambers, Town Hall.

We spoke to a lady who was visiting from Brisbane and she told us how great it was that we still had so many of these old colonial public buildings in Hobart. She told us about Brisbane Town Hall, which was build in the 1920s and sounds amazing. If I ever go to Brisbane that is definitely on my to-see list.

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Main staircase, Town Hall.

We then ventured around the corner to the Maritime Museum in Argyle Street, housed in the Carnegie Building. It was formerly the public library and was badged as the State Library of Tasmania in 1944, before the state library moved to its present location in Murray Street.

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Maritime Museum (aka the Carnegie Building), Argyle Street. See comment on Town Hall photo.

There was a great photo of the building, when it was still the library, which demonstrates that sometimes cars parked in front of buildings, much as I hate them now, are a good thing because they provide a way to date the photograph and a window onto what the living streetscape looked like many years ago. Perhaps one day I will look back on my own photos of buildings with cars parked out the front that really annoyed me at the time, and appreciate the history I have documented.

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This picture shows the Argyle Street side of the building. There is now an inconveniently placed tree in front it so this photo can’t be replicated.

We were able to see the caretaker’s flat upstairs and the boiler room downstairs, and the attendant said that the caretaker would have to climb up and down the stairs regularly to make sure the boiler was still operating. That was all sealed up because of asbestos. There was also no bathroom in the flat so we were standing round debating whether the caretaker had a chamber pot or used to have to climb down three flights of stairs every time he needed the bathroom. These are need to know issues!

We didn’t really have time to look around the museum in detail because we had our 4pm tour at the Henry Jones Art Hotel. This is within the broader Henry Jones complex in Hunter Street, designed by Circa Morris-Nunn and constructed out of the remains of the former IXL jam factory. The tour was led by the hotel’s history liaison person, Greg (how do I get this job? does the Supreme Court need a history liaison person? I’m sure they do . . .), who told us the history of the complex, the story of Henry Jones and the philosophy of the art hotel.

I didn’t know anything about the place except that Henry Jones ran the IXL jam factory and that the Peacock and Jones restaurant is very very good. The Peacock in the name is George Peacock, who ran the jam factory before Jones took it over. I love the fact that Robert Morris-Nunn built his own office into the complex. What a fantastic spot to work from!

Turns out an art hotel is, well, a hotel that showcases art. Who would have thought.

Greg showed us through the hotel’s John Glover collection, which is housed in the hotel’s restaurant, Landscapes, as well as their Glover Prize winner collection. The painting that caught my eye was the 2009 winning entry by Matthew Armstrong called Transformed at Night, which shows everyone’s favourite Hobart street, Mellifont Street, at night.

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Transformed at Night by Matthew Armstrong in Landscapes restaurant

Upstairs is a function room that used to be the offices of the factory.

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Ceiling of the former IXL factory offices

Greg told us the story of Henry Jones, whose parents were both convicts, and who started working at the factory as a child and worked his way up to eventually own the company. We heard how hard the work would have been in the factory but how the company had the philosophy of “a job for life” and built a real community for its employees that included things like a band and sports teams.

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One of the hallways

We looked at some photos of the site before the work commenced and Greg explained that if it had taken much longer to make a decision to reconstruct the complex, it probably would have all been demolished and we would have lost what is an iconic part of Hobart’s history.

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Ceiling in the hotel with a huge Oregon pine beam

It had all been all in a very bad state, but what they tried to do was retain as much of what was remaining as they could and build the new parts so as to reveal what used to be there. So there are beams and pipes out in the open.

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Wall in the hotel

One sandstone wall had been rendered over, and they removed a lot of that to bring the sandstone back to life but kept some of the render to tell the story of the history of the wall.

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What was, what is, and what was before

The carving on the main staircase up to the office is incomplete and Greg said this was because Henry Jones thought that kind of decoration was keeping people from doing real work, so he stopped the worker mid-task and sent him off to do something more worthwhile.

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Stairs up to the function room, Henry Jones Art Hotel

The best part was the story of the decades-old cold jam leaking through the ceilings and walls once the buildings were completed and heated. At first, people weren’t sure what was going on with the smell of jam permeating the hotel and then there were complaints . . .  from people whose room didn’t leak jam!

This has to be the craziest building I have ever been in. It puts whole new perspective on the word “random”.

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Random fragment of a German newspaper

The contemporary art collection is displayed in the corridors of the hotel and we wandered (quietly) around admiring it.

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Looking down on some art

Then it was time for a recovery drink after such a long day before dinner and our final event of the day.

The Dark Sky tour was conducted by Landon from Dark Sky Tasmania, a group that aims to “preserve and protect Tasmania’s might-time environment and our heritage of dark skies through environmentally responsible outdoor lighting”. Landon took us on a walk from Salamanca to the city, explaining why dark skies are so important for our health and for the environment. He said, and this completely blew me away, that six per cent of Australia’s energy emissions comes from inefficient, inappropriate and ineffective lighting.

Six per cent of our total emissions! Think about that.

As we walked, Landon pointed out some lighting and explained why it worked or didn’t work and explained why brighter doesn’t always equal better. Some of the brightest lights make it harder to see than some of the dimmer ones just because of the way they are positioned and where the light goes. There were some very bad examples at Salamanca and in the Parliament lawns, along with a nearby lit up crane and building site.

The steps behind the Executive Building, which are lit with small downlights in the handrails—exactly where you need to be able to see when you’re ascending or descending stairs in the dark—and the lighting in Franklin Square were much better examples of effective lighting. Landon was less complimentary about the Shadforths sign on the building across the road.

The final stop was the Sportsgirl corner on Murray and Liverpool Street, from where you can see four generations of street lighting, ranging from the old sodium lights to the new and very bright LEDs, which, Landon said, don’t light up the places they need to light.

Finally, we walked into the bright lights in Liverpool Street, covered one light with our hands and looked up at the sky to see the one star Landon said we could still see. I couldn’t even see that, but I have crap eyesight, so there you go.

This was an interesting and thought-provoking way to end what had been a wonderful day of exploration, and I will never look at street lighting the same way again. We headed home to get ready to do it all again tomorrow.

A day in Launceston

Recently I travelled to Launceston and ended up with a full day to myself. I spent the whole day walking around the city, going to museums and galleries and looking for things that caught my eye.

Here are some of the things I saw. No explanations, just photos.

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Taroona to Moonah

I’ve been in a heap of fun runs (walks) with catchy names like Point to Pinnacle, City to Casino, City to Surf (okay, I have never participated in that event but I needed three names to emphasise my point).

I always wondered why they didn’t include Taroona to Moonah as such an event. It’s a catchy name AND it rhymes. Win-win!

Unfortunately, the road race organisers have never cottoned on to this one so if I ever wanted to do it, it was going to have to be on my own.

I do like walking and, while the 15 km or so that this walk would be is longer than most of my “long” walks, it’s not a difficult distance for me and I wanted to do it just for the satisfaction of saying I’d walked from ‘Roona to Moonah. So I added it to my list of 19 things I intended to do in 2019 (aka 19 for 2019—I’ve been blogging about it on my personal blog) and there it’s sat since the start of the year.

I was thinking last Saturday night that I really needed to get out and go for a long walk again, take some photos and wander for the sake of wandering. Last time I did that was back in January.  After I hurt my back three weeks ago in an unfortunate incident involving wet stairs and slippy shoes, I’d not been walking a lot and I was starting to feel a bit cabin feverish.

That walk was beckoning. My back was feeling okay and it wasn’t going to be stupid-hot so I decided to do it.

I had no idea how long it would take or even how far it was but I had no expectations. I was just going to walk, take in whatever I wanted on the way and the goal would be simply to get there. Whatever happened after that would be fine.

And that’s exactly how it turned out.

I wandered my usual route along Sandy Bay Road, stopping to photograph some of my favourite places.

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Long Beach Bathing Pavilion | Sunday 17 March 2019 | 7.26 am

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Wrest Point Casino | Sunday 17 March 2019 | 7.48 am

I took a turn along Marieville Esplanade so I could go through Battery Point and pass by other friends I hadn’t seen for a while.

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1 Cromwell Street, Battery Point | Sunday 17 March 2019 | 8.22 am

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Empress Towers | Sunday 17 March 2019 | 8.36 am

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The Silos | Sunday 17 March 2019 | 8.48 am

I stopped briefly at the Supreme Court before heading down to the bottom of Collins Street to take photos for my Hobart Street Corners project.

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Collins & Campbell Street | Sunday 17 March 2019 | 9.24 am

Finally, I turned towards my destination and made my way up Argyle Street.

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282 Argyle Street | Sunday 17 March 2019 | 9.53 am

My journey took me to New Town Road, through New Town and, finally, to Creek Road, the boundary between Hobart and Glenorchy, commonly referred to as the Flannelette Curtain.

I was in Moonah. I’d done it! If I’d wanted to I could have turned back and gone home again having checked off this mission.

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Main Road & Creek Road | Sunday 17 March 2019 | 10.35 am

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I made it!

I didn’t want to though. I was way past ready for breakfast and headed to a coffee shop so I could sit down for a break and think about what I wanted to do now I’d reached my destination. It was starting to get warmer than I was feeling comfortable with and I hadn’t dressed for burny sun so I didn’t feel like being out much longer.

I decided I’d at least walk to the end of Moonah, which ended up being a trek through Derwent Park and into Glenorchy itself.

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The Carlyle Hotel, Corner of Main Road & Tregear St | Sunday 17 March 2019 | 11.56 am

I hadn’t planned on that, but I reached a bus stop with 10 minutes to wait before the next bus back to town so I figured I might as well walk to the next one, forgetting that on this route the bus stops are a lot further apart than they are on my bus route.

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Howard Road & Main Road Glenorchy from the bus stop | Sunday 17 March 2019 |12.07 pm

Not to worry, I made it in time and after over 16.5 km (I turned the tracker off when I got to the coffee shop but I reckon I would have walked about another 2 km after that) and five and a half hours, I was heading back home with a thing crossed off my 19 for 2019 list, tired but satisfied.

There are some things in the Moonah area that I wanted to check out but they weren’t the purpose of the walk and I can go back and do them another time. By bus, I think.

collins & elizabeth street

This site, on the corner of Collins and Elizabeth Streets in Hobart, has been home to several different buildings, the first of which was one of the earliest pubs in Hobart. According to Colin Dennison in the book Here’s Cheers, it opened in 1819 as the New Inn Verandah House, a name which was changed in 1820 to the Crooked Billett-New Inn.

In 1883, the owner of the building traded it for another pub in a deal with the Bank of Van Diemen’s Land, which demolished most of the building to build a bank on the corner. The billiard room of the old pub was retained and formed part of the Ship Hotel, which is still operating today.

The Bank of Van Diemen’s Land building was designed by the colonial architect Henry Hunter, who is responsible for many of Hobart’s well-known buildings including the Town Hall, St David’s Cathedral and the former AMP building on the diagonally opposite corner of Elizabeth and Collins Street, as well as many churches across Tasmania.

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Bank of Van Diemen’s Land circa 1885 | Tasmanian Archives & Heritage | PH30-1-9922

It was constructed in 1883 and the Bank of Van Diemen’s Land operated there until 3 August 1891, when it closed down suddenly, without notice. The bank had been established in 1823 but collapsed in 1891, when mineral prices collapsed, leaving mining operations unable to service their loans. (Source: The Companion to Tasmanian History, Banking & Finance).

The sign on the corner opposite the site says that the failure of the bank in 1891 “was a major blow to Tasmania’s economy in general; most of the savings of the past few decades of hard work were lost and the island’s economic fabric and its society would never be the same again”.

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Story of the Bank of Van Diemen’s Land | Collins Street

According to the history of the MBA in Tasmania by Dianne Snowden (Foundations of a Tasmanian Industry), the collapse of the bank created an economic depression and increased poverty and social instability.

As an aside, 1891 was the year Master Builders Association was founded in Tasmania. Dianne Snowden says that the depression caused by the collapse of the bank was the reason for the foundation of the Builders’ and Contractors’ Association, forerunner to the MBA, as cheap unqualified labour was undercutting standards and many builders were on the verge of bankruptcy. The association was formed to develop standard conditions of contract and to protect the interests of its members. I have a personal interest in this because the first president of the association was my great great grandfather, Alfred Dorman, who undertook work for the Marine Board as well as building the Dunalley Pub.

After the Bank of Van Diemen’s Land collapsed, the Union Bank of Australia took over the building. The Union Bank had branches in several states as well as New Zealand, and in 1951 it merged with the Bank of Australasia to become the ANZ Bank.

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The building renamed as the Union Bank 1900s | Tasmanian Archives & Heritage | NS392-1-747

Back to Colin Dennison again, he says in Yesterday’s Hobart Today that the building was acquired by the ES&A Bank (English, Scottish & Australian Bank) in the 1960s when it was demolished and a new bank erected in its place. (Other sources say the building was demolished in 1958.) The ES&A Bank amalgamated with the ANZ Bank in 1970. The photo isn’t dated but I imagine, since it says ANZ, it must have been taken after the 1970 merger. You can see the Ship Hotel on the left of the picture.

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The ANZ bank building | Tasmanian Archives & Heritage | AB713-1-6950

When researching the history of this building I came across a post on ABC Open despairing at the loss of the “magnificent marble and cedar counters” from inside the building, which they reported had been put into landfill. What a shame! This person called the replacement building “an ugly concrete septic tank of a building”. I wonder if they were happy when the ANZ moved out in 2014 and it was demolished in 2017 to make way for a new commercial building.

I haven’t been able to find any photos of it when it was the ANZ bank in recent years, but Google Maps sourced this image from 2015, after the bank had moved out but before any plans for a new building had been made.

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Here, the building is for lease | June 2015 | Source: Google Maps

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Boarded up | November 2017

It stood empty until its demolition, which happened very quickly. It was there one day, a pile of rubble the next.

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All gone | 18 January 2018

It took about 12 months from demolition to the new building being completed.

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The completed building | 7 January 2019

The first tenants for the replacement building were reported this week as including the Police Bank, a dumpling restaurant and a Chinese tea house. It’s good to see the site will continue to be occupied by a bank, maintaining the links to the past use of the site. (It also means the sign across the road (photo above), referring to “the bank opposite” will continue to be accurate!)

There is one more piece to this story and this is the St David’s Park lions. At the Davey Street entrance to the park closest to Salamanca Place are two magnificent sandstone lions. (One is hidden by the plant. Trust me it’s there.)

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St David’s Park | Davey St entrance 

According to the sign in St David’s Park, the lions were carved in a tent on the footpath by Richard Patterson in 1884 for the entrance to the Bank of Van Diemen’s Land building.

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Sign in St David’s Park telling the history of the lions

The ABC tells us that Richard Patterson was a stonemason from the UK, transported to Tasmania in 1844 for burglary. After being granted a ticket of leave in 1850, he developed a reputation of excellence in his craft and worked on Tasmania’s Government House. The lions are described as his most famous and enduring work and it’s been noted that Richard Patterson made them without any model.

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One of the sandstone lions

After the building was demolished, the lions were displayed at Port Arthur under the care of the Tasmanian Government until 1988. I couldn’t find any official information on how this was accomplished, but our ABC Open correspondent tells us that  “an enterprising Italian immigrant salvaged the lions on the back of his truck and took them to Port Arthur”. The official ABC article says that the Tasmanian Government arranged it. The sign goes on to say that the lions were restored as a bicentennial gift to the people of Hobart from the ANZ Banking Group. which erected them in the park jointly with the Hobart Council. Now someone needs to prune the plant that’s obscuring the lion on the left so we see it!