I know they’re not sheep, and I know it doesn’t say baa, but that’s where my mind insists on going with this. Hard to know if they’re implying meat market with this signage, but it was shaping up to be a busy Friday night, the boys already arriving in their hotted up cars. Despite the rather good write-up on the food here, we took the quiet way out – Thai takeaway and a cold beer, back on the verandah of our hotel room, overlooking the (cattle-free) garden.



This tells it like it is, and while the promise of such carbohydrate delights is inviting, the people sitting inside didn’t look like they were especially enjoying their chosen sugary floury treat. You never can tell though: the appeal of the sign (and, yes, this is basic, but I like it, particularly the K of cakes and the scripty and) is not always indicative of the fare on offer. In this case the sign had more appeal than the display in the window, but, hard to believe, I once had an excellent cake from a bakery that used Algerian Condensed!

Large upstairs room


The sign on this door is just too fabulous! In fact, I’m a little stumped as to what to say about it, other than to wonder why it was deemed necessary to label a room in a building that is hardly large enough to get lost in. Maybe I’m being too harsh: this is a community centre, and we all like to be given clear directions for when we turn up for something in a place we’ve never been. And I didn’t get lost—that would have been impossible—but I was certainly diverted.

Prancing horse


Halloween might not have a high profile in my neck of the woods, but Melbourne Cup Day certainly does. I haven’t studied the form yet, but I’d better hurry up so I can go and place my bet! As usual, I will make my choice based on several (completely subjective) criteria: the colour and design of the silks (very important), the name of the horse, whether or not Bart Cummings is the trainer (less important these last couple of years), and the number of the starting gate. I bet the Cessnock Hotel will be jumping this afternoon. The region is home to several thoroughbred horse studs, including Coolmore, just up the road in Singleton, where Makybe Diva, first horse to win the Melbourne Cup three times and highest stakes-earner in Australian horseracing history, gave birth to her foal, Rockstardom.

Sunshine biscuits


I wouldn’t mind some Sunshine biscuits, especially because they Are Better! I am not particularly nostalgic, nor do believe that old typography design is better than new typography design, but there is no doubt that advertising like this has a quality that current advertising (for me, at least) lacks. I wonder if, in years to come, we will look back at advertising in the convenience store windows of today in the same favourable light that we view old signage like this. Seems improbable, but if I’m still around in another fifty years or so, I’ll let you know.

Sewing machines


Here is an excellent example of using an available setting to advantage! The stepped side of this building could have been made-to-measure for this sewing machine shop and haberdashery: either that or the sewing machine brands custom-named to fit so conveniently. I like the way this block of type has been designed to work in the space, and although it is fading and far from recently painted, it is still striking and legible.

Mechanics’ institute


Mechanics’ Institutes, established in Scotland in 1821, were formed to provide education in technical subjects to working men. They also housed libraries which aimed to provide an alternative pastime to gambling and drinking. The first Australian Mechanics’ Institute opened in Hobart in 1827, followed by the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts in 1833. In Victoria, more than 1200 Mechanics’ Institutes were built, including this one in Leongatha, which operated until 1982 and played an important role in the development of the local community. The building itself, containing a Public Reading Room, Members’ Room and Billiard Room, is notable for the construction of the walls, which are made from river weeds covered in plaster, a technique unique to the area. Also notable is the sign, the individual letters full of life and character.

Texas sized


This week I went to the Royal Easter Show for the first time since Sydney Showground relocated from Moore Park to Olympic Park—which has to be at least 15 years ago because the move took place before the 2000 Olympic Games, for which the park was constructed. The Show, first held in 1823, is an annual event where ‘city meets country’. My favourite events are the woodchopping and working dog shows and the district agricultural exhibits, but just milling with the crowd is its own entertainment. The food on offer verges on the scary, however. The vast array of junk food includes fairy floss, spiral chips on a stick deep-fried to golden perfection (don’t ask), hot dogs slathered in something that looks like sauce, giant buckets of popcorn, burgers, enchiladas, ribs, pluto pups and donuts. This is just one section of the over-the-top signage of one food stand, which fortunately was located a decent distance from the animal pavilions. The graphic depiction of BBQ and a jaunty typeface was not enough to lure me, although had I not just eaten a sensible serve of sushi, I might have been tempted by a pulled pork roll.

No paper


Oh joy, to have a notice like this on your door so that you didn’t have to deal with all those pieces of paper you never know what to do with. Unfortunately, my office is no more paperless than anyone else’s. The idea of a paperless office—to minimise paper by keeping information in digital form instead—was first touted as long ago as 1975, when it was predicted that the office of the future would see paper become redundant for routine uses such as record-keeping and bookkeeping. But everyone who has ever worked in an office knows how much paper is used! Improvement in printers and increased electronic communication (much of which is printed out) actually resulted in the worldwide use of office paper more than doubling between 1980 and 2000. I suspect there is plenty of paper in the room behind this door, and that they just don’t want to take delivery of the local rag.

Eat drink


On my recent visit to Melbourne this is pretty much all I did, and if the innumerable bustling cafés and restaurants were any indication, that’s all anyone in Melbourne ever does! I was full to dolly’s wax of excellent breakfast from another establishment when I saw this directive (in fact walking to my destination the long way round to counterbalance effects of said excellent breakfast), so I didn’t really pay much attention to where the sign belonged. It stood out more for its no-frills message than its typography—and that in itself is noteworthy in a city that breathes such a high standard of design and style.