Street lights and telephones keeping a city functioning
Whale oil lamps might have provided the first public lighting in Australian streets.
They were replaced in 1841 by coal gas lamps, like the one in this photo, and then again by electric lights.
In 1888 Tamworth, NSW, was the first city in Australia to light its streets electrically. Sydney followed in 1904.
Street lighting is an important form of infrastructure that supports the social and commercial life of a community. Similarly, reliable telecommunications infrastructure is essential for the wellbeing of rural and urban people.
- List different types of lighting.
- Which ones are more environmentally friendly, and why?
- Why are light emitting diodes (LEDs) being installed in traffic lights?
- Why are satellites so important for communication in Australia?
Redfern Railway Station: a transport hub
Redfern Station in Sydney opened in 1855, just north of its current location.
In the early 1900s the main terminal was moved a few hundred metres further north and became known as Central Station.
The Central terminus was designed as a vital transport interchange where people and goods moved between trains, horsebuses, steam trams, horse-drawn cabs and carts. Good planning made change possible, as buses, cars, electric trains and light rail took their place.
Although the vehicles have changed, Central Station still serves thousands of people very well each day.
- Before trains, what other forms of transport did people use to get around?
- How many of these can you see in this photo?
- List the ways these different types of transport affect the environment.
- In this photo, what is the most environmentally friendly form of transport?
Urban pollution: mountains of horse poo
Even before there were motor cars, large cities had to deal with transport-related pollution.
The horses that powered most of Sydney’s transport vehicles produced tonnes of manure each day.
On the far right of this photo of Pyrmont Bridge, Sydney, you can see a person in a white shirt sweeping the gutter. The council paid boys, nicknamed ‘sparrow starvers’, to collect manure because it was a marketable commodity.
As late as the 1930s, horse manure was collected from Sydney’s streets and sold as garden fertiliser.
- What is the environmental problem being caused in this photo?
- What environmental problems do today’s forms of transport cause?
- What kinds of transport do people use to get around now?
- How are different types of transport today contributing to climate change?
Packing cream on the Dorrigo: a land of milk and honey
Rich volcanic soils and relatively high rainfall make the Dorrigo Plateau in northern NSW perfect for dairy farming.
European settlers arrived there in the 1860s but it was not until 1875 that dairying became really viable. In that year Thomas Mort and Eugene Nicolle developed refrigerated railway vans for milk, enabling dairy products to travel to distant markets.
Around 1900 when this photo was taken, dairy farmers on the Dorrigo Plateau took their cream on horseback to the butter factory in Bellingen. It was processed there, then sent to Brisbane or Sydney by rail or ship.
By 1906 the town of Dorrigo had its own butter factory.
- Which group of Indigenous people was displaced by European settlers on the Dorrigo Plateau in the 1800s? How were they affected?
- List all the ways dairy products were transported in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
- What was the environmental benefit of building a butter factory at Dorrigo?
- Where are milk and butter produced today, and how far do they travel to reach your home?
Horsepower in the city
In the late 1800s transport in Australian cities revolved around horses.
The two vehicles in the centre of this photo are a water cart and a horse-drawn bus. They are travelling south along George St, near Haymarket, in Sydney.
Water carts were used to fill horse troughs and to carry water around the city. This cart is sprinkling water onto the roadway to keep the dust down.
The horse-drawn bus was one of the first forms of communal public transport in Australia. Each bus carried 12 to 14 people.
- What else could horsepower have been used to transport?
- What forms of public transport exist today?
- How would your life be different if there was no public transport?
- How has the development of modern transport contributed to global warming?
Darling Harbour: part of the working port
Every city needs well-designed infrastructure that allows for the easy flow of materials, goods and people.
In the late 1800s, Sydney’s Darling Harbour was central to the distribution of goods and materials around the country. It was a transport hub where rail, ships and horse-drawn vehicles came together. Coal and wool were brought there by rail for export.
By 1905 the harbour also had a gas works and two coal-fired power stations that produced electricity and provided hydraulic power for the city’s lifts and wool presses.
- What types of transport can you see in this photo?
- Why are transport hubs important?
- What are other sources of energy apart from coal and gas?
- What is the difference between a renewable and a non-renewable resource? Give examples.