History Walks: Battery Point
Walking in Battery Point certainly gives one an uncanny sense of stepping back in time.
The streets and sandstone buildings have the wonky, eccentric charm of a Victorian Dickensian yarn, and the sense that the architecture and layout has been largely untouched for over a hundred years is palpable as you move through each building or landmark; each as striking and curious as the last.
The site was settled as a defensive outpost for the penal colony in the early 19th century—with artillery mounted on the south side of the point (hence the name, Battery Point). And while the military function of the site has long been decommissioned, the sense of historicity remains. The forbidding origin of the area has evolved into a de rigeur cultural aura, where tourists vie for access to boutique B & Bs and historic apartments and cottages.
The cafes and restaurants along the strip have a homely, rough and tumble feel, and the proliferation of antique, curio and book stores adds to the feel of a trip through the looking glass, into a time and place that is slightly removed from the normal passage of time, where objects and artifacts sit aloof from the turbulent ebb and flow of fashion and trends.
At dusk the streetscape takes on a particularly resonant aspect. As the sun descends, the quality of the light softens the lines and angles of the buildings and the whole area takes on a surreal glow that underlines its otherworldly, other-timely aura.
Descending Kelly's Steps from the Point, one is thrust back into a slightly more familiar world of traffic and commerce, but the sense of an experience of an other, anachronistic world lingers persistently in the mind.