Marie Lecocq - 2011-09-20
What kind of a Sydneysider are you? If you’re a lover of vintage clothes, jazz and world cuisine and you can think of nothing better than finding the best café terrace to devour the novel that lies waiting in your pocket then Newtown has to be your place. If however, a beach, a towel and a surfboard are more your kind of fantasy then make your way to Bondi Beach! If both sound pretty good then Sydney could be Australia’s town for you.
Harbour City is often the landing point for holidaymakers who have set out to discover the vast Australian continent. Bondi Beach with its reputation for being a party Mecca is something of a unmissable place to visit for many a traveller. This characteristic beach on the East side of Sydney is renowned equally for its surfers and athletic bodyguards. It is such a photogenic location that Australian TV shoot a semi-realistic series here called Bondi Rescue with its heroic lifeguards saving the lives of careless swimmers or sounding the alert of approaching sharks.
This long and beautiful stretch of fine sand is the golden temple for “the beautful people” who devote themselves to art of body sculpture. These adepts of minimal clothing by day, transform in to night birds as soon as the sun sets. This is when they head for the numerous pubs and restaurants that line the commercialised Campbell Parade. The licentious image given by this iconic spot nevertheless hides the extreme strictness of Australian laws for public places. Even if alcohol fuelled party going is par for the course in Australian culture, drinking and smoking on the beach is strictly forbidden and there are steep penalties for transgressions. So it’s not worth even trying as the whole area is covered with CCTV.
As far as beaches are concerned, Sydney is still way ahead of the other Australian cities. Each spring, the "Sculpture by the Sea" event hands over the promenade at the beautiful Bronte section of Bondi Beach to artists for an environmental theme. At the weekends a family atmosphere is always guaranteed there. You can even set out to discover Aboriginal cave paintings at Marks Park, or native flora around the North Bronte cliffs.
…or the Bohemian district?
Moving on to a different area and a different atmosphere where you swap your beach towel for a retro dress and your surfboard for a café table. This is Newtown, Sydney’s bohemian district. Its main street called King Street is also known as "Eat Street" because of its countless restaurants. This former students’ haunt which once had bohemian days just like Paris’ Latin Quarter has in recent years encountered a certain amount of gentrification. However, it remains to be a meeting place for all kinds of alternative crowds. The gay and lesbian community feel at home in some of the bars here, the punks love to browse specialist shops whilst anarchists congregate at their headquarters in the Black Rose on Enmore Road.
Everyone else just saunters along window shopping at the “op shops”, where aficionados of vintage clothes are happy to pay more for a second-hand pair of 70s shoes than for new ones. Or you can find wonderful little treasures in dozens of second-hand bookshops scattered along King Street.
The area has been the heart of Sydney’s musical life for decades and the Indie rock scene of the 1990s has suddenly reawoken to something of a revival in recent months. Newtown is now trying to revive its cult venues, like the Sandringham. Theatre is also alive and kicking here due to a few intimate little places such as the Enmore or New Theater, which is the oldest theatre still in business in Australia. These theatres are greatly appreciated for their atmosphere as they provide a rare alternative to the mass culture imported from the United States. A few festivals also punctuate the calendar of this attractive district of small terraced houses from the Victorian era with its splendid university, inspired by England’s Oxford and Cambridge.