The Goods Line was officially opened last Sunday, so we took the opportunity of a dull rainy day to go & have a look.
Raised 4-metres above the street, this disused rail corridor that connects from Ultimo Road Haymarket to Macarthur Street Ultimo has been transformed into a playground for Sydney-siders at a cost of $15 million.
The University of Technology has numerous buildings beside The Goods Line, so this area will be a fabulous meeting place for the thousands of students. It also allows pedestrian & bicycle to travel safely above the streets & is close to Darling Harbour & China Town.
The Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority commissioned ASPECT Studios & CHROFI to design the space, which runs 500-metres. The Goods Line South will be the next part of this project & will travel from Ultimo Road to Railway Square.
The Goods Line reminds me very much of The Highline in New York City. No problem with doing something similar, as The Highline is a very beautiful much used area of green space, habitat & biodiversity & something that I would consider an outstanding success. To have something similar in Sydney is a boon as far as I am concerned.
The rail line has not been used since the 1980s. I really like that much of the rail track has been left in place to retain the history of the site. The rail bridge over Ultimo Road is an important part of Sydney’s history as well. It is the oldest triple girder iron bridge in Australia & was built in 1879. It’s good to keep such infrastructure & even better to incorporate it into The Goods Line.
The Goods Line consists of a large wide area for pedestrians & cyclists. There are many raised & lowered garden beds along the length. There are also raised areas of lawn like giant carpets for people to lounge upon & soak up the sun like lizards.
Seating is a strong feature with many attractive wooden seats, concrete seats, single metal seats & other areas where people can perch & talk. There is also public art & lots of bicycle racks.
There are entertainment spaces, an amphitheatre-like place where meetings can be held or where people can listen to live music or watch performances. There is also a small playground in amongst the flowers.
There is a water playground for the children that only turns on if interacted with. In this are several movable dams, which help children learn while having fun. The whole area has places to climb & jump & has a sandpit connected with it. In the sandpit area is a historical sandstone culvert that not only looks beautiful, but offers an interesting place for children to play.
There are metal table tennis tables. Be sure to bring your own bats & balls, as these are not provided. All the tables were being used while we were there. It was good to see.
There is also lots of quiet seating provided in pockets along the line of mature Hill’s Fig trees that are growing along Darling Drive. These gorgeous trees cascade over The Goods Line & add significant greenery, plus much-needed shade. They also provide food & habitat for local wildlife & dull the sound of local traffic.
The seats under the Fig trees have power points for people to recharge their computers & the like, so I imagine will become a favourite place for students to study.
Many of the buildings that line The Goods Line are interesting in themselves, & add to the significant character of the place. The Dr Chau Chak Wing Building, locally known as the ‘Paper Bag Building’ & designed by Frank Gehry, is connected to The Goods Line & offers much visual interest. I think this building will be of particular interest to photographers & may become one of the most photographed buildings in Sydney.
The Tramsheds of the Powerhouse Museum also look terrific. The maroon of these buildings would look amazing on a blue sky day. Of note was that the hard surfaces such as the ground and the raised areas were albido, so they reflect heat upwards & do not retain heat as much as darker surfaces do during the night. Not only will this help lower the urban heat island effect, but visually the lighter colours add to a sense of cleanliness & expansiveness.
Everything made of metal like the table tennis tables & many of the seats were a bright yellow. Not only did this make them easier to see, but also added a cheery feel to the place. Most people have a positive association with the colour yellow seeing it as a happy colour. Add light expansive colour, flowers & grass of the grass & the trees & you have a positive colour range that allows people’s minds to rest.
Even the wooden railings were oiled & looked impressive. I like it when things don’t look cheap or only half done.
There were a number of bubblers offering fresh water. Again the birds & other wildlife have been considered because fresh water is available for them from a bowl at the bottom of the bubbler. Of course dogs can drink from this too. Obviously the designers were aware that wildlife, especially birds improve the experience for people. Bird song is another thing that makes most people happy, even if they not consciously aware of hearing birds. Bird song also provides white noise distracting the ear from hearing traffic.
What I found particularly interesting & pleasing was the choice of plants. Native grasses have been sparingly used. Hooray! Instead Boronias mix with alyssum & Gaura. Kangaroo Paws mix with Salvia & Echinacea.
Apparently more than 30 different exotics & natives have been planted. Many of the flowers are blue, so I would not be surprised if Blue Banded bees move in. That would be really special. There are beehives in the CBD, so these flowers will also support the bees.
“One of the big lessons from the High Line is that plants, and especially flowers, change people’s behaviour. They slow down, they look, they hold hands, they connect, so though the Goods Line isn’t the High Line, it’s good to see some flowers. The garden beds are fitted into the wedges and platforms where the railway tracks escape the path. ….. Right now the plants look marooned in the gravel, but once they settle the effect should be of something slightly wild and unkempt and appealingly full of flowers; an unexpected garden in the city.” See – http://bit.ly/1QhHTOM
I like the gravel. It’s a nice change from woodchip & just as effective for cooling the soil. Plus it offers homes for insects. The gravel also makes a visual link to the past when this was a railway line.
The only thing I don’t like is the row of ornamental pear trees. Sure they are hardy, but they are far from attractive & these that are pruned to grow straight upwards do not provide much in the way of shade. I think they could have chosen a better species of tree for the space. I did like the Banksias. They are interesting trees for overseas visitors, tough as nails & also provide for the wildlife. I also liked that old Pepper trees were retained.
All up, I think The Goods Line is already a success. Once the gardens grow it will only improve. A lot of good thought has gone into making this a space that is very people-friendly. Add the fantastic Paper Bag Building & it all becomes very special. Take the steps down and walk around this building. It looks completely different from the back & I think it is well worth it to see from all angles.
More green space in the city – who could complain? Well done to all involved & thanks from me. This is somewhere I would most certainly take visitors. The connection to China Town, Darling Harbour & the Powerhouse Museum makes The Goods Line a very attractive place to visit.