Watershed moments. Excursion 2. Tin bird territory.

There’s a man up a ladder picking inedible figs as his dog watches on. Eye-catching in its simplicity, this back-lane mural will turn out to be today’s most interesting find as I resume my tracing of the Johnstons Creek catchment rim.

I am in the staid north-western corner of Stanmore, which is characterised by rows of neat, late 19th century houses. Yaz, the Completing Sydney blogger, visiting this suburb for the first time not so long ago, decided that ‘here is that combination of historic and adorable that we come to expect from the Inner West’, making it ‘the kind of place you might want to live in if you’re after that quiet suburban life, not too far from the city – perfect for small families who also happen to be multi-millionaires’.

As I emerge from a knot of neat, rubbish-less back lanes there is an imposing house opposite with bird cowls on its chimney. Spot the real bird on the television aerial! I’ve had to look up ‘bird cowl’, the correct term for these covers that apparently increase the draft of a chimney. In this neighbourhood there are flocks of them. Perhaps the original builders of these houses did not foresee that ridge-top winds would blow smoke back down the chimneys. Original features, such as mantelpieces and fireplaces, are a real estate selling point in Sydney’s older suburbs, but I wonder how many owners persist with wood fires for their heating in winter?

After turning a few street corners I come to a place where the ridge line ducks between two houses. Detouring round the block to get to the spot where the line emerges in a rear lane, I will use the tall palm tree as a marker.

I find the palm tree, but I have been out for the allotted Covid-safe outdoor exercise hour so it’s time to head back to the car.

In any case the clouds are louring and it’s going to rain again. I turn my back on another flock of bird cowls bracing themselves for the worst.

29 June 2021

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