This one grew somewhat accidentally from my night of hardcore music in the southern suburbs of Sydney when I decided to stay overnight nearby to avoid travelling home late. It led to my taking the chance when I could through the year, to get a better sense of some of the suburbs of Sydney.
From my hotel room I could glimpse the sea so drove out to Cronulla in the early morning for a walk and some breakfast. I was not alone as people headed down for a swim or walk. There were surfers catching waves with the sun golden behind. I could see the city skyline in the distance and planes coming in across the water to Mascot. I sat breakfasting peacefully in a cafe looking out over the sea and had a greater sense than I had ever had of a place usually massed with the weekend beach crowd.
Summer Hill, in the inner west of Sydney I had seen from the train but never stopped in so driving back from the city one day I stopped and walked about a bit through streets of many charming older buildings. There were touches of art deco in some apartment blocks and a shopping centre reflecting the range of cultural backgrounds in the area and changing demographics.
My overnight in Manly brought again a feeling beyond the often stereotypical images of iconic coastal locations with transient populations of tourists and day trippers enjoying sun and sand. Walking and driving backstreets, I began to appreciate for the first time the landscape beyond the beachfront. Talking with my friend who lives there I had my first real sense of it’s early history as a holiday destination for many people from the country and the way these experiences often transfigured into permanent connections.
Finally, the suburb of Harris Park, close to Parramatta in the centre of the Sydney basin and in recent years transforming to be highly valued for its proximity to this busy place and it’s interesting mix of housing and people. There is much of early colonial history in the heritage precinct of Elizabeth Farm now layered over with the richness of the different communities that have made it home creating a vibrant space.
As with many of my experiences during the year it was the walking both the main street and beyond that brought some new sense of these places beyond stereotype and preconceived notion.