Visitors to Sydney might notice a little piece of graffiti between Town Hall and St Andrew’s Cathedral in the middle of the city — copperplate script spelling the word ‘Eternity’. What’s the story behind this optimistic message? A reformed alcoholic by the name of Arthur Stace.
Who was Arthur Stace?
Stace was born in 1885 in the underclass inner-city suburb of Redfern, raised by a poor family before working in a coal mine, suffering from alcoholism and being thrown in jail for drunkenness by the time he was 15. He then became a lookout for a gambling den and a scout for a brothel in his 20s, before joining the armed forces during World War I, enlisting in the Australian Imperial Force in 1916 aged 32, then being medically discharged three years later.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
A drunk during the Depression, Stace converted to Christianity in 1930 after being inspired by a sermon in a Broadway church. He was captivated by a homily called ‘The Echoes of Eternity’ by local evangelist John G. Ridley — “Eternity, Eternity, I wish that I could sound or shout that word to everyone in the streets of Sydney. You’ve got to meet it, where will you spend Eternity?”
And Stace took that literally. Despite being illiterate and barely capable of scribbling his own name, Stace managed to produce a stylish copperplate ‘Eternity’ with a flourish on the tail of the ‘y’ in chalk on every empty patch of concrete he could find throughout Sydney. For 35 years of his life, the reformed alcoholic woke up at the crack of dawn to scrawl ‘Eternity’ in yellow chalk on footpaths from Parramatta to Martin Place and everywhere in between.
Indeed, because Stace was so prolific and worked so early in the morning, ‘Mr Eternity’ became a bit of a mystery man around Sydney before the secret was revealed in a newspaper interview in 1956. Stace narrowly escaped arrest for defacing public property on dozens of occasions, but he had a well rehearsed defence for the police: “I had permission from a higher source”. Stace etched his iconic message an estimated half a million times over three-and-a-half decades, continuing his work until the day he died.
Stace died of a stroke in 1967, but his graffiti remains an iconic symbol of the city half a century after his death. There’s that aluminium memorial next to the Sydney Town Hall, and ‘Eternity’ is a common motif in the Sydney street art scene. An opera — The Eternity Man — was commissioned by and performed at London’s Almeida Theatre in 2003, before being adapted into an award-winning film of the same name in 2008. Stace even touched the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, with ‘Eternity’ appearing in lights at the opening ceremony, as well as on the Sydney Harbour Bridge during New Year’s Eve celebrations that same year — a fitting message to usher in the new millennium.
Only a very small number of Stace-written Eternities survive today. One, remarkably, exists inside the bell at the top of the General Post Office in Martin Place — the bell was dismantled and stored during World War II and builders noticed the scribble inside when they put it back up in the 1960s. That’s the only surviving ‘Eternity’ in Stace’s home city — Canberra is home to the other, on a piece of cardboard Stace wrote for a fellow worshipper, which now sits in the Eternity gallery of the National Museum of Australia.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.