Friday, September 25, 2009

suburb no.4: Cronulla

To be fair to all points of the compass 52 Suburbs headed south this week, to the beachside suburb 
of Cronulla. Again, my lack of knowledge about the suburb was astonishing. The extent of it? A 
vague memory of a history lesson about Captain Cook and a more vivid recollection of the 2005 riots. 
Clearly time for a visit – and my usual ‘exhaustive’ research:

• Cronulla is from the Aboriginal word 
Kurranulla, meaning "place of pink seashells"
• First bit of Australia’s eastern coastline to be checked out by Europeans (Captain Cook, 1770)
• Sits on a peninsula with the longest surf beach in Sydney on one side and a quiet bay on the other
• The only Sydney beach accessible by train.

On the 40 minute drive down to Cronulla I was struck by how exciting it always feels just before I 

arrive in a new suburb. Partly it’s the shock of the new - what will I see, who will I meet (and eek, 
will I find any 'beauty' to photograph?). But I also realised I find the process of filling in the blanks 
about my own city and expanding the mental picture I have of it to be quietly thrilling.

Speaking of pictures…

catch a train to the beach


surf's up

'protect me'

yin and yang

Ms Hepburn, meet Mr Tansley

on their last legs


follow your dreams

even the bricks have ripples

and so do the windows

heart on his sleeve

shades of Miami

young and old

things of stone

rough diamonds

by the seaside

local colour

'fancy a walk on the beach?'

net net

i see green, i see green, i see green



in the eyes of some

Cronulla turned out to be far more naturally beautiful than I'd imagined. I know it's not high 
season yet but it's also appealingly 'empty' and spacious, especially in comparison to its more 
northern friends. 

As for the built environment, the bits I like best are those that are fading, peeling and generally 
disintegrating due to the constant assault by salt and sun. And that foamy, minty jade-like green. 
All of which probably drives the locals mad but there you go.

Next week, 52 Suburbs will be travelling west and east at the same time, to Cabramatta...

Friday, September 18, 2009

suburb no.3: Potts Point

Seeing as 52 Suburbs ventured north and west in weeks one and two, I thought we'd head east 
this week to the suburb of Potts Point. While I’ve driven through PP many times I’ve never dawdled 
long enough to realise it contains a who’s who of buildings from every major architectural period 
in the last 180 years:

• Grand 1830's mansions, including Rockwall House, Tusculum and Elizabeth Bay House (just down 

the hill from PP)
• Victorian terraces along Victoria Street

• Art deco beauties such as Macleay Regis, Manar and Byron Hall, as well as a Streamline Modern 

classic, the Minerva (Metro) Theatre.

All in one tiny suburb, measuring just one km long by 200 metres wide at its greatest point.

My five minute research also revealed PP is home to ‘The Yellow House’, an experimental art hub 

in the 1970’s, Ted Noff’s amazing Wayside Chapel and that today PP is considered a Paris meets 
Manhattan sort of place, complete with swanky boutiques, gourmet delis and a smart bookshop 
(and a few thousand sailors when the US navy is in town).  

After three hours of happy trawling through the streets I left the suburb of Potts Point with one 

parking ticket and hundreds of snaps. A fair swap I guess…

long before the cafe set moved in

what a difference 100 years makes

from the top

vertical life

when the world zigs, zag

cut outs ('Giraffe' by Me and Amber, Potts Point Bookshop)

negative space


for some

love available from the Wayside Chapel ('Girl' by Me and Amber, Potts Point Bookshop)

fade to blue


love blooms


chop chop
Potts Point is obviously a beautiful suburb with its smorgasboard of architectural delights and not 

too shabby setting. But what I found equally appealing is the mixed crowd that wander down 
its many charming streets. The combination of everything made the pain of a parking ticket 
almost tolerable. 

slice of suburban life

Next week? Not sure yet but I hope you can make it.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

suburb no.2: Lakemba

Lakemba - somewhere out west with a large Muslim community and a mosque. Realising this was 
the full extent of my paltry knowledge about the suburb I did a quick google search yesterday 
before I set off:
• Originally known as Potato Hill thanks to its spud farms, L. is a suburb 15 km southwest 
of the city centre, in the local government area of Canterbury
• Named after a local mayor’s property, which was in turn named after a Fijian island 
• General opinion is that L. is a Lebanese Muslim suburb when in fact it’s much more ethnically 
diverse with a large population of Vietnamese, Chinese, African, Indian and Pakistani 
• Religion wise, it has an almost even split between Christianity and Islam
• Made headlines during the 2005 Cronulla riots when religious and racial tensions came to a head.

‘Research’ completed I headed off, arriving at Lakemba around 40 minutes later...

when worlds collide

shopping for a frock


sweet love

piles of happiness

'for my prophet'


Had I found beauty in Lakemba? In the people I'd met, most definitely.

from far far away

And in the details of the red-brick Sydney I remember from my childhood when my nan would take 
me to Roselands, just around the corner from Lakemba, and buy me a bag of sweet multi-coloured 
popcorn and a couple of musk sticks.

sun worshippers

different religions

good fortune