Bubbler review: Playfair Street, The Rocks

Playfair Street bubbler

Playfair Street bubbler

I enjoy spending time in The Rocks with my children who love exploring the cobbled paths and looking at the old buildings. After a good run around we head to Susannah Place Museum for a scoop of old fashioned lollies and the combination of running and sugar invariably leads to a request for water. Bubblers are hard to find in this part of town; it probably has something to do with preserving the heritage feel of the precinct.

Cleanliness: The bubbler was clean and shiny. [4/5]

Water quality: Clear and at air temperature.  [4/5]

Spray reliability: Strong flow. [3/5]

Ease of use: Easy to use and out of the way of passers-by. [3/5]

Aesthetic qualities: It has the same ultra modern look as the one at Circular Quay. In a place where telephone boxes and post boxes retain their heritage character this stainless steel piece of modernity is quite jarring. [2/5]

Star rating: ***

Bubbler review: Circular Quay

Bubbler on a foggy morning

Bubbler on a foggy morning

Just near the ferry wharves this gleaming bubbler sits awaiting thirsty school groups and tourists. It has a stand next to it that allows people to refill plastic bottles and so is a hit with primary school visitors to the Quay. Stylistically it is very different from a traditional bubbler, almost sculptural. I don’t like it as it feels too coldly clinical for me and it could be placed anywhere – football ground, shopping centre, school – it doesn’t engage with its beautiful harbour surroundings.

Bubbler and water bottle refilling station

Bubbler and water bottle refilling station

Cleanliness: Clinically clean. [4/5]

Water quality: Clear and cool [3/5]

Spray reliability: The spray is strong and very consistent. No ‘burbling’ from this engineering masterpiece [3/5]

Ease of use: I watched someone else use this bubbler before approaching it as it is very different to a traditional bubbler. The water sprays horizontally and the button is very responsive so there is little chance of overspray or ‘chin drippage’. You almost catch the water in your mouth instead of the more common slurping technique used at traditional bubblers. The bubbler is very easy to use.  [4/5]

Aesthetic qualities: The bubbler looks very sleek. It has obviously been constructed to withstand the marine environment by the Quay but, to my eye, it isn’t in sympathy with its surroundings. It is quite utilitarian and could be improved by some design references to its iconic location.  [2/5]

Star rating: ***

Horizontal spray

Horizontal spray

Bubbler review: Hyde Park

Hyde Park bubbler

Hyde Park bubbler

Despite walking through Hyde Park almost daily for the past six months, I hadn’t noticed this bubbler before. I found it quite remarkable really, when I finally discovered it, as the foliage behind seems to almost perfectly herald its existence.

The day prior to me taking this photo, the bubbler was unfortunately positioned in the middle of a dispute between two men, the reason it caught my eye. I decided to wait until the next day to venture over. Continue reading →

Bubbler review: King Street bubbler

King Street bubbler

King Street bubbler

Located at the St. James end of King Street, this is a perplexing bubbler. It is very short [around 70cm high]. At first I thought it might be purpose-built for children but its location just doesn’t make sense. My observations of the city’s public spaces have taught me that families hang out in the parks, Darling Harbour and Circular Quay, not outside the Law School. I next thought it might be more accessible for people in wheelchairs but I can’t see how they could easily drink from it. I’m stumped. Continue reading →

Bubbler review. Lewis Wolfe Levy Fountain, Royal Botanic Garden

Lewis Wolfe Levy Fountain

Lewis Wolfe Levy Fountain

This is the most spectacular bubbler in Sydney. The fountain was erected in 1889 and has a base of beautifully polished red and grey granite. At the top is a bronze statue of a woman, allegedly the goddess Diana, surrounded by reeds and wetland animals including bullfrogs spraying water from their mouths. The four corners of the fountain have a large bubbler mounted on them. Steps provide access for children and it is a popular stopping point for groups of school students. Continue reading →

Bubbler review. Martin memorial fountain, Hyde Park Barracks

Major The Hon. Clarence Edward Martin QC memorial fountain

Major The Hon. Clarence Edward Martin QC memorial fountain

Nestled in a corner of the wall which surrounds the Hyde Park Barracks on Macquarie Street is what could be mistaken for an abandoned bubbler. According to the plaque the bubbler was installed in 1982 to commemorate the career of former Attorney General, Major The Hon. Clarence Edward Martin QC and is aptly situated in the city’s legal precinct.

Cleanliness: The bubbler bowl contained leaves and a cigarette butt. The lever was covered in spider webs, indicating it’s not Sydney’s most popular bubbler [1/5]

Water quality: Clear and cool [3/5]

Spray reliability: The spray requires careful management or your shoes will become sodden [2/5]

Ease of use: I needed assistance from a colleague before I could get this tricky bubbler to work [1/5]

Aesthetic qualities: Metal bubblers appeal to my sense of aesthetics and this one has weathered and achieved a delicate patina over time  [5/5]

Star rating**

 

Bubbler Review. State Library of NSW, Macquarie Street

SLNSW bubbler

SLNSW bubbler

This bubbler was being used by a small boy, held aloft by his mother, when I first approached it. I spoke to some young students who were hanging around and asked them if they use it. They said they never do as there is free filtered water in the Library. It appears to be popular with lunchtime runners returning to their offices after exercising in the Domain and some of the rough sleepers who spend time in the area. Continue reading →

Do you use bubblers?

I haven’t used a bubbler since I was at school. Until I began thinking about them during the curation of the Public Sydney exhibition I didn’t even notice them but have now become just a little bit obsessed with the humble bubbler. Free water, no plastic bottles and once you start looking for them you see them everywhere in the city – what could be better? But the bubbler does have a darker side. Urban legends tell of diseases caught from them [Cold sores! Flu! Polio!!?], animals drinking from them, drunks peeing in them; a decidedly unsavoury side of these seemingly innocent public utilities. Continue reading →