The Edge of Civilisation in Your City

It's all oblivion past here.
It’s all oblivion past here.

When I was a child and I saw a map, or a street directory, I would always wonder what existed at the final page, as though it was the most extreme point one could adventure to. Naturally this was way before Google Maps, or even Wikipedia, so one’s imagination was left to run wild.

There’s always a feeling I get from being at the ‘edge of civilisation.’ And when it comes to things like this, perception truly plays into the awe you feel. The last page of the street directory may just be some bare field, but it leaves much to wonder what lies beyond.

And so we arrive at this place. It’s not the last page on the Sydney street directory. But it’s at the end of Anzac Parade, a major road in Sydney, which passes through many hotspots – an entertainment precinct; districts famous for gay and bohemian subcultures; universities; not to mention several turn-offs to beaches and the airport. Needless to say, travellers, visitors and locals alike would go here; but almost all turn off somewhere along the way.

Which leaves me with that sense that the end of this road is one of those final frontiers. And it is, both figuratively and literally. It’s a peninsula comparatively untouched by development; everything beyond this is the Pacific Ocean. The place is called La Perouse – why the French name in a British colony? That’s the final reason why it’s a final frontier. Australia could have been a French colony; the namesake Laperouse arrived within days of Arthur Phillip’s colonisation on the peninsula. Him and his expedition set up some structures (including the tower in the picture, which was used as an observatory), set sail to return to France … and was never seen again. A final frontier, and a last stand. Truly leaves you wondering what is beyond the edge of this civilisation.

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2 thoughts on “The Edge of Civilisation in Your City

  1. Are you sure the tower was built by La Perouse and his crew? They were hardly in the area long enough in 1788 to scramble around the rocks for a look see, a visit to Phillips and they were gone. A total of 6 weeks. The tower was built many years later in 1822 and like Bare Island was intended to be a first warning and defence system against what, at the time, was a feared Russian invasion.

    1. Correct, it wasn’t built by La Perouse himself but by the communities of people who stayed. As was the monument commemorating his last ever known location.

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