Sydney’s ‘Mr Eternity’ remembered 50 years on

This month will mark 50 years since the death of Arthur Stace at Hammondville. Internationally recognised as 'Mr Eternity', Stace spent 30 years anonymously writing the word 'Eternity' across the streets of Sydney.

Chalked in flawless copperplate font, Stace's Eternity became an icon of Sydney and featured on the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the 2000 Millennium fireworks, in the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympics, and in countless works of art, poems, and even an opera.

Eternity lg

After spending more than three decades writing Eternity on footpaths (500,000 times) – with initial inspiration coming in a sermon by Baptist evangelist John Ridley – Arthur Stace spent his final years as an aged care resident at Hammondville before dying of a stroke on July 30, 1967.

HammondCare Chief Executive, Dr Stephen Judd, whose father Bernard facilitated Arthur’s move into care at Hammondville, said Arthur’s links with HammondCare and Hammondville went back much earlier.

“They began when Arthur, an impoverished alcoholic, joined hundreds of other unemployed men during the Depression in visiting the mid-week ministry of Rev Bob Hammond at St Barnabas Broadway,” Dr Judd said.

“I went in to get a cup of tea and a rock cake but I met the Rock of Ages,”’ Arthur is often quoted as saying, and he recounts in interviews how he crossing the road that night to pray a prayer of Christian conversion under a Moreton Bay fig.

“Rev Bob Hammond had an extensive social welfare program and Arthur Stace became a keen collaborator. He served as ‘Emergency Depot Missioner’ at one of the ‘Hammond Hotels’ [refuges] - the subject of a rare Stace photo held in the HammondCare archives.

Arthur Stace signature StAnnes 25 5 46

“Rev Hammond also established a home ownership scheme for destitute families during the Depression and this ‘pioneers settlement’ became home to more than 500 people. We believe Stace visited the ‘settlement’ near Liverpool in its early years and he signed his name in the church register of St Anne’s, Hammondville, on the occasion of the Memorial Service for Rev Hammond in May 1946.

“The suburb of Hammondville and indeed HammondCare owe their beginnings to this remarkable project which embodies one of our guiding principles – seen in our services including the Darlinghurst older person’s homelessness project – to take risks to help those whose lives are at risk.

“In remembering the life of Arthur Stace, we are also acknowledging the remarkable life stories of all residents and their unique contributions to our lives. And it also recalls the legacy of care that made such a difference to Arthur when he needed it most.”

Arthur Stace Hammond Hotel copyright HammondCare web

A commemorative service and high tea (featuring rock cakes) will be held at Bond House, Hammondville for residents, families and staff on Thursday, July 27, 2017. The day will also feature art works, historical display and interviews with staff and residents whose lives have been influenced by Arthur Stace, including one resident who met him on two occasions.