Central Station Blues A photographic poem for those that come and go

Text: Johnny Barker

Each face hides a story, each gesture an impulse, each glance a perception, each graze or tattoo, a history. These are the details that often pass us by in the blurred motion of humanity at Sydney’s Central Station, washing over us as effortlessly as hours in the day.

Commuters, travellers and drifters forge ahead, eyes seldom meeting, headphones on, mobiles to ears, hands busily texting, each locked in a private universe – rushing to offices, homes, pubs, restaurants, country towns and coastal retreats; to see husbands, wives, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends and lovers.

A different world surfaces when you pause and slow down – lines seek definition, the air clarity, faces come into focus, emotions become manifest, and the noise – the sirens, rattling trains, stifled coughs; the laughter of the schoolchildren and the outbursts of the unstable – dissipates.

I stand on the corner of Eddy Avenue and Elizabeth Street with a camera in hand and watch a man casting his eyes beseechingly heavenward; a schoolboy comforts his weeping girlfriend; a proud Lebanese woman trails her husband as he shouts into his mobile; a teenager on ice itches for a confrontation; an elderly Greek woman pushes a new vacuum cleaner in a shopping trolley; a boy leads his blindfolded friend in a game of trust, two young junkies huddle before an open handbag and a young woman looks over her shoulder into the menacing darkness.

I’m often struck by the frailty of the human condition – the wounds self-evident – but as the same people pass again and again, I’m also witness to their day-to-day resilience.


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