My partner Rob  would say that graffiti is just not on…period!  This is due to his battle over the electricity sub-station near our property at Blackheath.  He has been painting out tags and trying to screen it with bottle brush for years. Only now  is he beginning  to win  the battle.

Sub-station graffitiSub-station graffiti
Oh, dear…out with the  paint brush  again.

One day I decided to document  the various forms of graffiti all the way from Blackheath to Sydney (via shank’s pony and rail).

Govetts Leap Road, on the way to Blackheath village, had a lot of new footpath  laid in the 1960s.  The  local kids had a field day before the concrete set.

Concrete Graffiti
A bit of a dance party went on here.

Oh heavens, it’s me!
Footpath art.
Yes, an early version of Wallace  I do believe.

And Grommit  wandered past as well.

There is a more recent example of people leaving their mark at the Blackheath  Medical Clinic, constructed in 2011. I think Julian and Corinne were imagining themselves on Hollywood Boulevade  rather than Wentworth Street,

Comcrete graffiti, Blackheath
Graffiti a la Hollywood

I do think  a footpath is fair game….well at least not a hanging offence, due to the temptation factor.

During the   climate change strike  recently there were  chalked  ‘call to arms’  messages all around the village. They will only last until the first spring downpour, but I loved the passion behind them. You are our hope for the future dear young people.

Climate change graffiti.

It was a different matter when I boarded the train.  Scratched into a window was one of the saddest examples of graffiti I’ve ever seen.

Train window graffiti
Wanton damage, but clearly an expression of pain.

Many train windows are targeted.  However, the carriages themselves were surprisingly free of illegal ‘artwork’.  This may be because State Rail has introduced new technology which can sense the presence of fresh spray paint and automatically contact police.

Of course there is graffiti  on sidings all the way down the rail line; some just simple tags, others more elaborate.  Apparently those within the graffiti culture can ‘read’ the tags.

Is this vandalism or urban art?


And so to Central Station.  There, on the wall of a cubicle in the women’s toilets, I found  this gem.  I was tempted to forgive such a  glowing symbol of optimism?  I can’t help feeling it was etched by a newly arrived English backpacker.

Graffiti, toilet cubicle, Central Station Sydney
Yes! Next stop Bondi Beach

My final destination that day was the Sydney Botanic Gardens. I didn’t know what to make of the graffiti in the bamboo grove.  Viewed enmasse,  it did have a certain artistic quality.

Graffiti on bamboo, Sydney Botanic Gardens
Almost art?


The whole issue of graffiti is open to interpretation.  Some   people take the view that  tagging is about  tribalism and  identity  among the marginalized young,  and therefore should  be tolerated.    Others view  paint scrawled slogans  as valid political commentary.  And when does graffiti become acceptable urban art? It’s all very subjective.

Witty street art

I’m not sure that my own yardstick is valid.  I hate tagging, even the more decorative examples. Top of my hate list is when beautiful sandstone retaining walls are defaced by taggers.  Yet much as  I  love trees, I did find the carved bamboo quite aesthetically pleasing.  And if there is a bit of whimsical humour involved in street art, I’m all for it.

Street Art


  1. Poor Rob, he’d blow a gasket if he saw how much graffiti there is inside the cell block of Richmond Castle. Over 2,500 pieces of vandalism, and all with a story to tell.
    I used to hate graffiti, some it I still do, but the stuff you see alongside the railway tracks approaching London is very clever. I have no idea what it means or says, but I admire the skill. I do however think Banksy is overrated!

    • Pauline

      Well of course that is the interesting thing, Marcia. At a certain point graffiti becomes social history and a tag develops into something we find aesthetically pleasing.

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