When Sydney Living Museums approached Lego® Certified Professional Ryan McNaught to collaborate on this exhibition we insisted on three things: a lively and colourful installation capturing the spectacular features of Sydney Harbour; a line up of technically awesome and inspiring structures; and finally a busy, hands-on, interactive experience where visitors could build and display their own Lego® creations.
Ticking all of these boxes, and more, Sydney Harbour Icons with Lego® Bricks features the Sydney Opera House, Ryan McNaught's fourth attempt at this eccentric and challenging construction; the Sydney Harbour Bridge, complete with a moving train, traffic jams, maintenance crews, commuters and revellers; Luna Park with it's beaming face, bone shaking Wild Mouse and gently turning Ferris Wheel; a flotilla of watercraft at work and play, including P&O’s newly launched cruise liner Pacific Aria, the replica tall ship Endeavour, a hardy tug and a handful of speedy yachts jostling at the starting line of the Rolex Sydney-Hobart race. Shimmering and sparkling overhead - perhaps the most improbable models of all - is a world first Lego rendition of joyously exploding fireworks, ushering in the brand new year.
This famed waterway not only symbolises Australia in many people’s minds, it greets you like no other seaport in the world. We all know the word ‘iconic’ gets over-used but looking around this ridiculously picturesque stretch of water, icons literally compete for your attention, as if they’re lining up to get their photos taken.
Ryan McNaught, Certified Lego Professional
LOST IN TIME
The replica tall ship HMB Endeavour was launched in 1993 after five years under construction in Fremantle, Western Australia. With its blunt nose, portly hull and spidery web of Manila-rope rigging, the tall ship HMB Endeavour seems lost in time as it glides idly past Sydney Cove, oblivious to the sleek and shiny pleasure craft that hurry by or the brash and bustling city towering along the water’s edge. Unlike the original 18th-century ship’s timbers of elm, oak and spruce, the replica Endeavour is crafted from West Australian jarrah and old-growth American Oregon pine. Apart from this and other modern ‘necessities’ such as engine, satellite navigation and hot showers, the HMB Endeavour is among the world’s most accurate replica tall ships. Find out more about the HMB Endeavour and its epic story and, better still, come on board this amazing vessel, bobbing along side the docks at the Australian National Maritime Museum.
People often ask me if Cook walked along the wharf and saw our beautiful new tall ship, would he think it was the original? My response always is that if the original Endeavour and ourselves were alongside the wharf at the same time, Cook would pick ours because it was in better condition than his.
John Dikkenberg, Captain, HMB Endeavour
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race
CRUISING IN COMPANY
In 1945 a handful of Sydney yachties from the just-formed Cruising Yacht Club hatched the idea of a friendly race to Hobart, Tasmania, dubbed ‘cruising in company’. It was 1100 kilometres of unpredictable seas. Crewed by enthusiastic sailors, the nine yachts lacked reliable safety systems, lights and two-way radios and luckily avoided tragedy. No-one braving the inaugural race would have guessed that 70 years later this ‘cruise’ to Hobart would set the international benchmark for sea safety, rescue and race communications. Watched by millions, the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race ranks alongside the Melbourne Cup and Australia-England cricket test series as an icon of Australian sport. Find out more about the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia and make sure to snag a good look-out spot on boxing day, to see the yachts make their way 'out the heads'.
BUMPING INTO THINGS
Tugboats are the workers of the harbour. "While they're all about function", as tug master Jeff McClenaughan, tells us, "they're also a lot of fun to operate." Early tugboats kept Sydney’s maritime trade alive by assisting sailing ships to dock in or depart from the harbour and by hauling ships to nearby ports in all kinds of weather and seas. Before radios, tugs raced through ‘the heads’ to meet incoming ships – with rival operators sometimes stooping to dangerous tactics. While engines made ships more efficient offshore, tugs were vital to manoeuvring large vessels alongside wharves or guiding them through confined and sometimes treacherous ‘inshore’ waters. Today, with cargo ships no longer docking in the harbour, the work of Sydney’s plucky tugs ranges from nudging work platforms, fireworks barges and buoys into place to towing ocean liners, tall ships and aircraft carriers. And best of all, according to Jeff, a tug surrounded by tyre fenders can 'bump' into anything it likes, without doing any damage. Read more about the tugboats of Sydney Harbour at the Dictionary of Sydney.
PACIFIC ARIA CRUISE SHIP
ESCAPE AND ADVENTURE
The oldest cruise line in the world, P&O, has run ocean-going passengers ships since the early 19th century. It also brought the first ocean liner to Sydney in 1932. Originally based around mail and cargo delivery, P&O launched its first dedicated passenger cruises in 1844, running between Southampton and Mediterranean Sea ports. The popularity of ocean cruises to Sydney peaked between 1945 and the early 1970s, when the scene of a homecoming liner gliding down the harbour or pulling out from the docks swathed in colourful streamers, was a familiar spectacle. Once the jet age took hold and the cost of air travel dropped, most travelers opted for an overnight haul to London rather than spending a leisurely three weeks at sea. Today family-friendly cruises are enjoying a comeback, with the majestic Pacific Aria and its sister ship, the Pacific Eden, joining Australia’s P&O fleet in November 2015. Meet the fleet here and find out about P&O's cruising adventures.
... one of things that I love about this ship is that we turn around in Sydney, probably one of the most beautiful harbours in the world. So when we come through we turn to port as we come up the channel, Bradley's Head on our starboard side, we're reducing speed all the time, all of a sudden Fort Denison comes into the sunlight and then you see the bridge on the starboard side. And we sound the whistle, the kids love it, everybody's screaming and cheering and certainly on the top they're all waving down and then we put the ship alongside here - fantastic.
Captain Gavin Pears, P&O Cruises
Sydney Opera House
A MOST SCRUTINIZED BUILDING
Like a ship in full sail, or a family of gleaming crustaceans sunning themselves on the seashore, the Sydney Opera House is one of the world’s most scrutinized and eccentric buildings. The Opera House was opened in 1973 after 15 years of construction, during which the architect, Jǿrn Utzon, famously resigned, while controversial and dramatic changes were made to his original vision. Standing at the forefront of 20th-century architecture, it’s also one of the world’s most famous performing arts centres. In 2007, six decades after Utzon submitted his design, UNESCO added the Sydney Opera House to its World Heritage list. Find out more about the history and design of the Sydney Opera House here.
... we placed a building that celebrates fantastic art forms like ballet and opera and music, right here in the middle of the harbour. I think Sydney needed it, as Sydney matured as a place, it needed to have a cultural icon, something where all those talented people that we have in this city could actually be showcased. It showed that Australia and Sydney in particular had matured to the point where those special things, those arts, are valued highly.
Engineer Peter Macdonald, Principal, Arup
CANOODLING IN THE RIVER CAVES
Since 1935 thousands of visitors have canoodled in the ‘River Caves’, howled with delight on the Wild Mouse roller coaster and endured unfortunate wardrobe malfunctions on the rubber-walled Rotor. With their amusement attraction failing in Adelaide, the park’s original ‘showmen’ owners relocated their rides to Milsons Point. Luna Park was built by a team of 1000 engineers, fitters, riggers and labourers, and tricked up by a creative coterie of artists. It was a hit from the beginning. And despite a number of financial setbacks, redevelopment threats, local opposition, near misses and terrible tragedy, the devilish face remains aglow, a sinister and seductive beacon sparkling irreverently on the harbour’s inky waters. Find out more about the amazing history of Luna Park, or check out opening hours and visitor information.
4 October 1935 - Luna Park opens with rides relocated from Luna Park Glenelg [South Australia]. The concept is based on the success of the first Luna Park which opened on Coney Island, New York in 1903.
Sydney Harbour Bridge
Here is Sydney, Australia’s most famous bridge is nicknamed ‘the coathanger’. Following eight years of construction and employing 1400 workers, this majestic steel-arched bridge opened in 1932, connecting the city’s newly developed and leafy northern suburbs with the CBD and Sydney’s southern districts. While its hardy engineering, mechanistic form and raw beauty hailed from the 19th century, it symbolized progress and hope for a nation gripped by economic woes. More than 80 years on, packed trains and around 220,000 cars, along with cyclists, joggers, pedestrians and wide-eyed tourists cross this ‘living landmark’ every day. Find out more about the Bridge and the BridgeClimb experience here.
New Year's Eve Fireworks
When Italian fireworks maker Celestino Foti sailed into Sydney in 1952 he gazed in awe at the Harbour Bridge looming overhead. Fifty years later that bridge would display his family’s gunpowder wizardry to the world. Initially his business created minor spectacles at local festivals and backyard parties. As the popularity of ‘cracker nights’ waned in 1980s Foti International Fireworks turned to producing epic displays and large-scale celebrations. For New Year’s Eve 2014 the Fotis lit up the sky with 7 tonnes of fireworks. Using the harbour as a giant canvas, Celestino’s grandson Fortunato sent 12,000 mortars, 25,000 shooting comets and 100,000 pyro effects aloft, to the amazement of 1.6 million onlookers lining the harbour foreshores..
I've pretty much displayed fireworks on every continent of the world and you know Sydney Harbour is probably the envy of all fireworks people, anywhere, hands down. It's not only a great location for fireworks, like a natural amphitheatre, there's not many places where you can get one and half million people down to watch an event - you can't get any better.
Fortunato Foti, Master pyrotechnician
It doesn’t matter how many times I go out on the harbour, I still get a buzz out of looking at the bridge, the Opera House, the boats buzzing around, yachts, little boats, big boats, barges, work boats, tugs, ships – it’s a brilliant place to work and it’s what I love to do.
Jeff McClenaughan, tugboat captain, Ausbarge