Soundscapes of Sydney

by k8carr

surry hills 1

Fluid Radio published this piece I wrote about the sounds of Sydney, and what I will miss about it when I leave.
Here is the first bit of it. But check it all out at the link below.

Soundscapes of Sydney
Published by: Fluid Radio 10/11/2013

Lately I’ve been waking to a new noise. It’s spring and instead of slowing emerging from sleep to the sounds of squawking rainbow lorikeets or the bin truck arriving as usually happens, I’ve been jolted awake earlier than usual by a much louder noise. I’ve been speculating that it could be channel bill cuckoos or koels who have arrived from Indonesia to breed in the spring, but the truth is I don’t really know. I’m no expert on birds.

This new noise has started me thinking about the soundtracks of Sydney, and my home in Surry Hills and how much they change with the seasons. I’m leaving this biggest and brashest of Australian cities for a little while soon, and perhaps I’ve become more than little nostalgic for it because of that. But for me part of the beauty of this city is its array of sounds made by the cacophony of determined animals who have invaded it simply to survive.

I live in more of an alley way than a street. It is about half commercial buildings and half houses and there is a lot of concrete, and a lot of storeys, which makes it quite dark and cold. The hard surfaces mean noises bounce around like ping pong balls and it is almost impossible to tell where exactly they originate from.

But despite these challenges I’ve developed something of a sonic map of my suburb. There are the roads of course, which carry the soft white noise of cars, and there is central station which I can hear if I’m up very late at night when the trains start up again and it is quiet enough for their rattles to carry all the way to my house. There are the revellers who stagger down my street from Oxford St and beyond. There are the stadium rock concerts, and fireworks which, it being Australia with our apparent love of pyrotechnics, are unleashed with astonishing regularity. But amid these are the subtler sounds of animals, mainly birds and bats. Apart from the lorikeets and currawongs, there are seagulls which head in this way from time to time, and can be heard squawking and scrabbling with one another. There are the flying foxes, which stream between centennial park and destinations best known to themselves, at times stopping off to snatch something from an avocado tree near me. I find their rejected fruits in the gutter. There are, of course, plenty of cat fights, and once as I walked home after seeing David Attenborough give a talk I’m sure I even heard an owl.