Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mosman and Taronga Zoo

First of all.....I have a hard time spelling Taronga.  I spell it all kinds of ways. Toronga. Torongo.  Tarango.

I just looked up the word Taronga.  I assumed it was an Aboriginal name, and I'm right.  It means "water view".  

On our last trip to Australia, we arrived in Sydney and went to the zoo pretty early on in the trip.  I was a very Australian-obsessed girl and had no interest in looking at giraffes or other African animals. I remember being much more interested in the fact that I could look past the giraffes and see the harbor and Opera House.

The Water View zoo. When you get tired of looking at the animals, ignore them and look at the water.

Taronga Zoo is located in the Mosman suburb.  We didn't see much of Mosman in 2007.  We went on the ferry,  got off the ferry, and headed right to the sky lift thing. I guess really the only parts of Mosman we saw were the ferry station and zoo.

Looking at Google Maps Now......

Mosman is located northeast of the Sydney CBD and slightly southeast of Manly.

Time to talk to Lord Wiki.

Mosman is named after a pair of twins--Archibald and George Mosman.

They were granted four acres of land in 1831 and got themselves into whaling.  

You know, I have been hearing about this land grant thing a lot lately. I really have no idea what it means.

I think I shall look it up.

Lord Wiki says a land grant is a gift of real estate. Free land!  It's usually given by government to an individual as a reward. In Australia, Britain gave land grands to released convicts.  Males received thirty acres if they were single. They got fifty acres if they had a wife; and for each child they got an additional ten acres. 

Marines and other military people got more than that.

What about the women? Huh?  I guess it wouldn't pay to be a single woman back in those days. The Sex and the City days hadn't arrived yet.

Lord Wiki says the land grants ended in 1831. Wow. I guess the Mosman brothers were one of the last to get such a lovely generous gift.

The Eora tribe that inhabited Mosman before all these British land  grants were the Borogegal people.

One famous Borogelgal man was Bungaree.   Like Bennelong, he straddled between the Eoras and Europeans.  It does seem like Bungaree was more successful, though. From what I'm reading, it seems that maybe he was more respected than Bennelong.  Or maybe I'm imagining it.

Bungaree was both funny and intelligent--played the fool sometimes, but really wasn't a fool.  I guess he's kind of like Stephen Colbert. He would greet ships as they came into Sydney Harbor and also made significant contributions to Australian navigation by accompanying Matthew Flinders on his explorations.

Well, well well..... this website here conflicts with what Lord Wiki says.  Or at least I think it does.  Maybe I'm reading it wrong.   But I THINK it's saying that Bungaree wasn't a Borogelgal. He was brought over from the Broken Bay area and the white people gave him the role as the Borogelgal chief.

Isn't it nice when other people intrude and decide who your leader should be? Actually, I wouldn't mind that.  I really enjoyed voting the other day.  I like picking a country's leader. It would be awesome if I could just go around and pick the leaders of ALL the countries. I can control the world!!!


Right now I need to stay at my desk and talk about Mosman.

The website says before the land grants happened, Governor Macquarie used the Mosman area for an experiment in trying to get the Eora people to be more like the white people.  Convicts were given the job of teaching them how to farm.  The farm experiment failed, and that's when they decided to grant the land to the white people.   

Some of you may be learning all of this while watching the current SBS program The First Australians.   Consider yourself lucky because I can't access it! When I get to the video, it says Geoblocked: This video is not available in your region.   That's really not fair.

Back to Mosman....

East of the zoo is a place called Chowder Bay.  It has some American influence. The name came from American whalers who would make Chowder out of the abundant Oysters and Pipis.

I have no idea what a Pipi is.  Lord Wiki says it's shellfish. AND it's also the name of a little red-headed girl.

Anyway, one American whaler named Captain Cliffe bought land there in 1832.  He wasn't GRANTED land because as we recall that all ended in 1831.   Cliffe named his property after himself.  Cliffeton.   And then that later become Clifton Gardens.  The area used to have a fancy hotel and now it's where rich people live.

Another person who had a strong influence on Mosman history was Richard Hayes Harnett.  He bought the land from the Mosman brothers and got all into the whole tourism thing.   He brought in more visitors, which brought in more money, which allowed them to make Mosman more pretty, which in term brought more tourists.

Could they do that with Redfern?  But it would have to be done in a way that the current residents could still live there.   I guess the best way to do this is have all the tourist venues be owned and/or operated by the Kooris.  Maybe they could have an interactive Indigenous history museum--aimed at children.  An art gallery?  A bush tucker restaurant.  Craft shops.  A performance hall.  They just need someone with the money and the heart to do this.  It would have to provide well-paying jobs for the locals and, at the same time, be interesting enough to bring in tons of tourists.

Back to Clifton Gardens.  The Theosophical Society bought a mansion there in 1922. They still own and run the place today.

 Their Australian website  names their motto as being  There is no religion higher than truth.  I like that.

Lord Wiki lists their ideals as being

1. To form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or color.
2. To encourage the study of Comparative Religion, Philosophy and Science.
3. To investigate unexplained laws of Nature and the powers latent in man.

I like those.  Maybe this group is for me. I should move to Mosman and join them.  Or should I move to Dulwich Hills which is a good numerology match for me?

They're into Reincarnation and Karma. Totally me!

The society is open to people of all religions.  You don't have to give up your old religion to join them.

Like all things in the universe, Theosophy aint all lollipops and rainbows.  It has a dark side.  In a somewhat indirect way, it has connections to Nazism.  This website explains it pretty well.

I guess you can kind of compare it to Al-Queda having roots in Islam.   

It's all about people twisting ideas to turn them into excuses to dominate, abuse, and kill others.

I'm getting conflicting information now about the Manor. The Australian Theosophical Society website lists their headquarters as being on Kent Street.   Lord Wiki says the Manor is still used by the society.   I'm going to believe the society's own website over Lord Wiki.  BUT if the society isn't using the manor, who IS using it?  Do they use it sometimes? Is it empty?

The manor is on Illuka Road if anyone wants to go and investigate for me.   Just knock on the door and say Hi!  Just wondering who lives here now. Okay?  Or if not, I'll just stop by after we visit the zoo.

Speaking of the zoo, I've been rambling on and on and haven't really given much info about the zoo.

I'll try to talk about it as briefly as possible.

It has animals.

There you go.


  1. Hello Dina :)

    One really good thing about being back at work this week after two weeks off is that I can make a cup of coffee and settle down for my daily Sydney history lesson. I love it!

    A couple of weeks ago, I visited a friend who lives in Clifton Gardens - actually in the building which used to house the staff of the grand hotel. The staff didn't live too shabbily either, it's a gorgeous old building. It was a warm night and we sat on the balcony drinking beers and eating cheese and looking at the zillion dollar view. I highly recommend a visit to the area when you go back to the zoo. There's a park...I know you like those!

    I would also recommend living in Clifton Gardens or Mosman in preference to Dulwich Hill despite the numerological reasons! Dulwich Hill is historic and multicultural, but aesthetic it isn't. That being said, I live closer to Dulwich Hill than to Clifton Gardens - in the area known as the inner west (my favourite part of Sydney).

    What a shame you can't watch The First Australians. It's a truly brilliant series, and I think very balanced. I believe I have cried at some point in every episode so far.

    Looking forward to Monday when I find out what you've been researching over the weekend!

  2. Hi Gina!

    Did you have a good two weeks off? Did you go anywhere or stay in Sydney.

    That is so cool that you got to go into the Clifton Gardens building. I bet it's beautiful.

    I have a feeling we wouldn't be able to afford Mosman. It's pretty expensive, isn't it?

    I had to go and google the inner west. I'm looking at maps and everything. See? You've already given me something to research ; )

    Maybe they'll make the First Australians on our (├ůmerican) DVD format. I know they sell DVD's to tourists. Or maybe it will work on our computer if not DVD player. I could buy it in Australia maybe. It would give me something to look forward to when I get home.

    I hope you have a good weekend!!!

  3. I did have a good two weeks off, thank you. Didn't go away, but packed heaps in to a relatively short time. I did some work on my house (it's old, there's always something that needs fixing!), spent a few days babysitting my little nephew, caught up with friends, saw a few bands, and generally relaxed. I was definitely not ready to come back to work!

    Yes, Mosman is expensive. The north side of Sydney traditionally is. Add being right on the water to that, and...let's just say it's out of my price range!

    The inner west encompasses a lot of suburbs I think you would like, and you may in fact have already visited. For example. Newtown, Balmain, Drummoyne, Summer Hill,'s a large area.

    Surely the DVD will be available in numerous formats. I'm really looking forward to it being released, as I am keen to see the whole thing again. Hopefully by the time you're here next year it will be!

    I was really interested in what you wrote yesterday as well. The whole home schooling phenomenon. It's extremely uncommon in Australia - except for remote areas, where kids are likely to have "school of the air". I have no doubt that some kids are cut out for school, and some probably do much better in alternative environments. Is home schooling common in the US?

    Hope you have a great weekend as well.

    G :)

  4. Gina,

    We went to Newtown last time. I think this next time we'll be going to Balmain. Actually, we did go to Balmain once too. We ate dinner there in the evening. We didn't see much though.

    Homeschooling is getting more and more common in the U.S It used to belong to the very fringe groups, but now it's getting more accepted into the mainstream.

    There's no exact numbers, but the estimate is about 1-2 million.

    I thought we would totally freak people out in Australia if we told them that we homeschool, but they didn't seem too shocked by it. Well, they probably think we're weird as soon as they know we're American ; ) Nothing could shock them.

    No, seriously. I was surprised to talk to a fellow mom. I mentioned that we homeschooled and she was totally cool with it. She said she had considered it herself.

    The school of the air wouldn't exactly count as homeschooling since it's still sponsored by the government. At least I don't think so.

    Here's a website that has FAQ about Australia homeschooling.

    There are much less people homeschooling in Australia. But then you have to figure in population density.

  5. No, you're right - school of the air doesn't count, as it is a government programme. Except for the fact that a kid doesn't actually have to leave the house....hence my mistakenly lumping it all in together.

    I'm not at all freaked out by the concept. I think I would have loved it had homeschooling been an option for me when I was a kid.

  6. Gina,

    I'm sure it would never have been an option for most of us. I doubt my parents had even ever HEARD of homeschooling. I don't remember learning about it until I was in my late twenties. I never heard about it as a child. I wonder what would have happened if I did. Beg my parents? I can't imagine them saying yes.

    I think in our childhood days, homeschooling was usually fringe groups (probably usually the religious right) child actors, and sick children.

    Now that I think of it, I probably HAD heard of homeschooling in that context (actors). Reading all those teen magazines about childstars. I'm sure they mentioned having a private tutor--which would count as homeschooling.

  7. Ooh Ooh! I grew up right alongside Taronga Zoo in Mosman! In fact, all the commuters going to the ferry (I went to high school in the city) were allowed to walk through the zoo early in the morning before it was open.

    I LOVED it. I felt so privileged to see the animals get their breakfast before the hordes arrived. And my association with the zoo has continued. We now live only a few suburbs away and are "Zoo Friends" which means that, for a yearly subscription we can go to the zoo without charge.



    (PS. And my Dad is good friends with Robert Hughes' sister and I know his grandson. What a small world!)

  8. I just read your comments. I have lived in Balmain as well, and in the Eastern Suburbs (Double Bay). I love the lower North Shore best (where I live now) but I wouldn't be able to afford it if I didn't live in a flat owned by my parents.

    When are you coming to Sydney? We could go to the zoo together!

  9. Fe,

    That is SO awesome about getting to walk through the zoo in the morning. I love being in places like that when no one is around. Last year, we stayed right near the aquarium and Wildlife World. They're open until 10. We bought the season pass and would go in the late evening sometimes. It would be almost completely empty. It was great!

    I would love for you to come to the zoo with us!!! We'll be staying in Sydney in the middle of February.

    That's cool that you get to live in the North Shore. We also live in a place we probably wouldn't be able to afford if our parents hadn't helped us.

    So funny about Robert Hughes!!