“The crowds aren’t anywhere as big as last year”, a former colleague, Anna told me as we chatted in the foyer of Deutsche Bank in Sydney. Although it’s been a couple of years since I’ve been to a Sydney Open, I had to agree. The last time I went was maybe four or five years ago, and there were often long queues to get into most of the buildings.
I think part of the problem may be that some of the buildings this year weren’t that interesting. As my friend Sue and I went through the brochure on Saturday night to prioritize which buildings we wanted to see, I’ll admit we sometimes struggled to find something interesting that wasn’t already widely accessible on any given weekday. That, and the fact that access was often limited to a foyer, as was the case with 1 Bligh Street, a state-of-the-art “green” building. It would have been fantastic to have travelled to the top floor and to have seen all of the “enviro” things such as the water tanks, the gardens and so on, but unfortunately, we weren’t able to go beyond the, admittedly, amazing foyer. There were also restrictions on when and where you could and couldn’t take photographs at a number of buildings. Presumably, these restrictions were security-focused which I understand, but was nonetheless disappointed.
We visited a number of buildings, including Hong Kong House (and heard about the building’s chequered history as a hotel), the British Medical Association Building (on Macquarie Street), and Allan’s Lawyers in the Deutsche Bank Building (which has a wonderful art collection, views, and an ear-popping fast elevator).
Our favourite, though, was the office of NSW Governor, Marie Bashir. Until entering the building, I hadn’t known she had an office separate from Government House, but indeed she does in the Chief Secretary’s Building (which is also home to the NSW Industrial Relations Commission). What we both thought was interesting was the informality of her office, with photographs of her grandchildren on her desk, various nick-nacks, a stack of CDs (and one cassette) and signed photographs of the Queen and Prince Phillip. The office was almost a little “untidy”, and so you actually got the impression this was a very real office, a place of work, as opposed to a formal, stuffy environment. But what else would you expect from Marie Bashir? Unfortunately, no photographs were allowed there also.