Stone Churches in Western Sydney and Blue Mountains

Old stone churches are beautiful and Sydney has its fair share of them. My fiancee and I recently scouted out the churches from the foot of Sydney’s Blue Mountains to the top at Mount Victoria. I’m hoping this will be a useful summary for others. Our methodology was comprehensive, if not a little unimaginative, and involved setting aside 2 weekends, pulling out the UBD map and visiting every little church icon in the areas of interest. I’ve listed the ones that caught our eye. If you’re after stone or a cute rendered church, this list covers just about all your options.

For convenience, I’ll describe a church that looks like it’d hold less than 100 people as small and more than 100 as large. My estimate is based on a vague estimate of the number of rows of pews and might be a little off but should be helpful. Most, if not all, churches that we called required the minister of the church to take the ceremony. If you have your own minister, they may be able to do a small part of the service but don’t hold your breath. We only obtained hiring charges for a few churches and they were of the order of \$650 to \$800 (thank liability insurance for a slab of that).

Penrith Area

  • St Stephen’s Anglican, Penrith: Large grey rendered stone/concrete church on a main street. The stone/rendering isn’t in the best of shape, in part due to a few pieces of graffiti that have left marks after removal. It has plenty of parking though the grounds aren’t particularly pretty.
  • St Thomas’ Anglican, Mulgoa: Lovely, small-ish, yellow sandstone church set way back from the main road, surrounded by bush. Mid 1800’s era building, full of character. The grounds were locked when we drove by but the minister was very friendly on the phone.
  • St Paul’s Anglican, Emu Plains: Cute, classic, small-ish, yellow sandstone church on spacious grounds in a residential area. Has a little grove of trees. Based on our conversation with the minister, is only available to parishioners or local residents (Emu Plains to Lapstone).
  • Christ Church Anglican, Castlereagh: Very small, white-washed, rendered concrete church with brilliant views over the Hawkesbury. Very cute and well maintained. Simple grounds, as one would expect.

Blue Mountains

  • St Andrew’s Presbyterian, Wentworth Falls: Small, yellow sandstone church on a reasonably small block surrounded by pine trees. Looks like it’s well maintained but we didn’t think it as pretty as some.
  • Catholic church, Leura: Very cute small chocolate and cream coloured, rendered concrete church. Has some lovely trees and grass on the grounds along with a little off street parking. I’ve heard that you need to be attending a local catholic church to use it, but your mileage may vary. [Picture below]
  • Presbyterian church, Springwood: Very well kept, larger yellow sandstone church with a tall spire. Has a gorgeous, large jacaranda tree near the church entrance and is quite beautiful despite being on the main street. It was a little difficult to get in contact with the minister due to limited office hours.
  • St Peter’s Anglican, Mt Victoria: Charming, unassuming little yellow sandstone church. Has a simple and well kept grounds and a bell outside. This is classic simplicity and was our favourite. Cute. [Picture below]
  • Leslie Memorial Presbyterian, Blackheath: Classic, smallish brick church. Hidden behind a few trees on large but uninteresting grounds.
  • St Alban’s Anglican, Leura: Clean looking larger brick church, with classic looks (recently rebuild after fire). Surrounded by plenty of lovely trees but on the main street.

Hawkesbury

  • St James’ Anglican, Pitt Town: Small, beautifully maintained, classic yellow sandstone church. Has Moreton-Bay fig trees on well kept grounds with a nice amount of grass and lovely views. The most beautiful we saw (but wasn’t as cute as St Peters, Mt. Vic, for our money). [Picture below]
  • Scots Church Uniting, Pitt Town: Tiny sandstone church, on reasonably small grounds across the road from St. James Anglican. Cute and well kept.
  • St Matthew’s Anglican, Windsor. Very large, regal, red-brick church. Building dates from mid-1800’s. Surrounded by a cemetery. Very large windows, bell-tower and high roof.
  • Uniting Church, Ebenezer: This was too distant for us to bother seeing but is worth mentioning anyway. Apparently it’s Australia’s oldest church building, is stone and is very picturesque.

Leura Catholic

St Peter's Anglican, Mount Victoria

St James' Anglican, Pitt Town

In order: Catholic church (Leura), St Peters Anglican (Mt. Victoria), St James Anglican (Pitt Town)

Hope you find this useful. Email me if you’d like any more info.

So Long Hong Kong

I love it when your employer sends you overseas to do something cool. A few months ago I was sent to do some maintenance work in two data centres in Hong Kong. While the 8pm-3am work periods surrounded by rows of howling IBM p-Series servers and shipping-crate-sized Sun tape libraries did affect my sleeping patterns, there were still enough daylight hours to get out and see Hong Kong’s skyline, Hong Kong’s fashion, Hong Kong’s shopping malls, its shopping malls, its sights, its shopping malls, its skyline and… did I mention its shopping malls? (Yes, there far too many).

Hong Kong was fun. I love architecture, I adore big cities, the food was brill and I could still speak English. I think I’d go mental if I lived there but it was a great experience.

You might ask why it’s taken me 4 months to publish these photos. The answer is that I got all inspired after seeing Steve Jobs unveil Apple’s new iLife ‘08 software. Sorting and uploading a bunch of photos is quite rewarding and relaxing, especially when I’m pleased with the shots (and I am).

And why “So Long Hong Kong”? Yeah, I quit my job last week (and the weight lifts off his shoulders), so I don’t expect a return trip any time soon. I wonder if my new employer will send me to the orient too!

Enjoy the shots: Hong Kong Apr07

Ship Run Aground - Pasha Bulker

The NSW coast has been battered by heavy storms this month. Aside from large scale flooding, fallen trees and some nasty accidents, the 40,000 ton coal freighter “Pasha Bulker” ran aground off the coast of Newcastle… actually it was more like it ran aground in Newcastle as Nobby’s beach, Pasha Bulker’s pseudo-wharf is a mere 15 minutes walk from the middle of Newcastle city.

So, armed with the 5mp camera on my new Nokia N95 and with some excellent company, the trip was made to Nobby’s beach to see just how big the ship was and how incredibly close to the shore it was (the answer was “very close”. I’m sure you could wade out to if it wasn’t all fenced off!).

I present the Pasha Bulker . (In the same vein, you might also enjoy the shots of the beached Guadalupe that I took in Mauritania in 2005)

Pasha Bulker run aground near Newcastle

Rock Climbing at Barrenjoey (Christmas ‘06)

I’ve not done a whole lot of outdoor climbing (everyone’s a gym climber unless they know and trust someone who has gear!) and these two days just left me wanting a whole lot more. Barrenjoey Heads is on the northern beaches of Sydney and contains plenty of beginner-intermediate grade sport (pre-placed bolts and protection) and traditional climbs (place and remove your own as you go). Most of the routes are in the difficulty range of 10-22 (US 5.5-5.11b) making them a great place to find your feet climbing outdoors. We found Boxing Day to be a little crowded but the bucketing rain early on New Years Day seemed to discourage just about everyone which meant we had practically the whole (dry) crag to ourselves.

I present to you the photos, starring Jono, Chris B, Chris C, Naomi, Damien, Edwin and Harold the lizard:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/edwin_steele/sets/72157632600703119/ (shots by Edwin, Chris B, Chris C)

So, who’s for Moonarie in Christmas ‘07?

Five(ish) Things

Deeper than the average answer (because they’re deeper than the average question). Presenting Five(ish) Things I Don’t Know About You:

  1. What’s the most fun work you’ve ever done, and why? Work - Building or re-engineering a system or a piece of software (more “satisfying” than “fun”, though)

    1. Name one thing you did in the past that you no longer do but wish you did? Kicking a soccer ball in the street with friends — simple, hassle-free fun.
    2. Name one thing you’ve always wanted to do but keep putting it off? Driving or riding REALLY, REALLY fast and living in Russia, France or Italy (I get two, I’m writing here!)
    1. What two things would you most like to learn or be better at, and why? Telling others about Jesus (what could be greater than seeing a life truly changed?), Russian language (facilitating a fuller and more relaxing experience when I move there)
    2. If you could take a class/workshop/apprentice from anyone in the world living or dead, who would it be and what would you hope to learn? St Francis of Assisi (living and appreciating a simple life) or Condoleezza Rice (Competence, determination through adversity and integrity in political affairs)
    1. What three words might your best friends or family use to describe you? Sensitive, astute, committed
    2. Now list two more words you wish described you… Courageous, selfless
  2. What are your top three passions? (can be current or past, work, hobbies, or causes) My friends, rock climbing & knowing, loving and serving God

  3. Write—and answer—one more question that YOU would ask someone Q: What are you going to do with your answers to these questions? A: Write down some “next actions” for improvement and achievement so you won’t come up with the same answers in 5 years

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