Monday, February 8, 2010

Suburb No 22: Glebe

Having started my walk down memory lane with Newtown I thought I may as well finish it by revisiting
the suburb I lived in when I first left home - Glebe (or The Glebe if you want to be pernickety
about it).

And it has been raining cats and dogs of late as every slightly damp and musty smelling Sydney-sider
will attest. Which made me think - do I really want to drive for an hour to a faraway suburb to be 
greeted with sheets of unfriendly-to-camera rain? So as much as I am itching to get beyond the city
limits - it's been a while I know - a closer suburb made sense. 

So Glebe. 19 years old, I shared a flat with my lovely friend Fiona above the newsagency on St Johns 
Road (it's still there) and worked at the Pudding Shop (when it was double the size it is now) and
the Habit Wine Bar (now the Different Drummer). Somehow, in between the waitressing and the
many gorgeous boys I befriended, I studied law at Sydney uni (if ever someone spent three years of
their life studying the completely wrong subject, it was me).

Random things I remember: Cheap rent, lots of students. Hippy and herbal. Vocal feminists.
You went to the Valhalla Cinema but not the Toxteth Hotel. Cafe Troppo. Gleebooks. Badde 
Manors and the markets. The Harold Park Hotel.

Much has changed - all of the above in fact aside from Gleebooks, Badde Manors and the markets
(and Harold Park Hotel - except it's had a radical face-lift). The first thing the locals mention
is that the 'yuppies' have taken over. But what they get really hot under the collar about is the 
demise of two much loved 'institutions': the Valhalla, an arthouse cinema (now offices), and the 
Blackwattle studios (now apartments).

Some history: The Wangal people booted out in 1780s to make way for a 'glebe' (church owned). 
Later became heavily industrial (timber, manufacturing) and blue collar. Gentrified in the late 
20th century and now a mix of amazing old mansions, more modest terraces, a pocket of Housing
Commission and a handful of newish apartment complexes. The suburb also has one of the highest
Aboriginal populations in Sydney.

Part 1: The long-time residents

deeply rooted in Glebe

Badde Manors, busy day and night

the only thing that has changed is the clientele

would a chai latte help? (stuffed antelope from Friend in Hand pub, latte from BM)

the old and the new (tiles in long-established cafe and hats in new Vietnamese restaurant)


old playgrounds (a rare roundabout at Glebe Point park and coloured poles, Glebe Public School)


the girl with the pink stripe

 remember these? :: 1 (roundabout at Glebe Point park)

remember these? :: 2 (roundabout at Glebe Point park)

 ch-ch-ch-changes (A tram travels up Glebe Point Road past the Astor, which turned into the Valhalla - 
and a shot of the building as it is today)

floral (wall art in the Valhalla building)

pieces of the past (stairway on Glebe Point Rd and original floor in Valhalla building)

 'dare to think for yourself' (helped by some reading from Gleebooks)

colourful markets (shots from last winter as Glebe Markets were rained out this week)


similar vintage (An old Mini Minor and clothes sold at Glebe Markets)


not a maxi

i see a bridge in your shoes (Anzac Bridge was originally named Glebe Island Bridge)

no men allowed in the convent (St Scholastica Convent)

 S is for service (St Scholastica Convent)

Part 2: Been Here Forever but About To Leave

Namely Harold Park, home to harness racing. Never went when I lived in Glebe - this was my first time.

And last, unless I plan on going in the next 12 months before it goes under the hammer. Apparently
harness racing just doesn't cut it anymore with a city audience awash with entertainment options. 
So they're selling up and moving on. I'm not really a fan of the sport but nonetheless, Harold Park
has been there forever and it's a nice big slice of open space in a crowded city. Ah well...

 where would you rather be on a Friday night? (Seating at Harold Park and a Vietnamese restaurant)

 ghosts of the past :: 1 (old ticket sign and booth at the Harold Park)

ghosts of the past :: 2 (old tram shed next to the Harold Park)

2 wheels and 4 legs (buggies getting ready for racing at Harold Park)

white socks all around 

they both want to fly 

"...and Lady Grey is out in front" (Harold Park and tea from Badde Manors)

i see spots


maybe these clothes once sat here (vintage fashion from Glebe Markets and Harold Park seating) 


maybe these clothes once watched this (vintage fashion from Glebe Markets and Harold Park Paceway)

 they have more in common than they may think (a driver and a young Aboriginal guy)

 we all live under the same sun (sun from the Aboriginal flag and the Aboriginal guy's 
t-shirt with Asian characters printed over the sun) 

different lives (Montana, the name of one of Glebe's beautiful homes and Moree, a town in rural NSW, scribbled on a wall)

Part 3: The transients

some people put down roots while others just keep moving (a young traveller)

wending her way around the country (I thought her tattoo was just a pretty flower but she told me all 
about the deeper meaning of it - I should have written it down because I can't remember exactly what she said...)

the Yuppie and The Young Ones (a wall mural and a group house - the boys are getting evicted soon...)

he may be homeless soon but at least he has his clarinet 

the clarinet in the stained glass window (from Glebe Town Hall)

Part 4: I can't go past old tiles

patterns from the past

did they design the tiles to look like a Chinese Bagua? (dragon from Sze Yup Temple & Joss House)



It was bucketing most of the week so I'm surprised I got as many shots as I did. 

if it rains anymore it might look like this (painting from Badde Manors)

And on a cheesy note...

love is in the air

Beauty? Yes, in the lovely old homes, the even older trees down at the park (and that glorious 
old roundabout!). And in the way that despite the obvious changes, there are still enough remnants
and reminders of the past to make the present that much richer.

I'll be posting a special second Glebe post tomorrow - about the plans for a little spit and polish
to be applied to Glebe Town Hall. The project architect for the 'refurbishment', Julie Mackenzie
from Tonkin Zulaikha Greer, happens to be one of my dear friends. So I asked her a few questions
about the project. It's the first of the '5 Questions from 52 Suburbs' mini-interviews I hope to do 
along the way.

See you tomorrow!


  1. I lived in Glebe too while going to Sydney Uni! I miss it, but these pics bring up wonderful memories.

    One of my favourite places on Glebe Point Rd is at the intersection w Bridge Rd where you can see the Center Point Tower and the CBD buildings. Reminds me that the big city is really very small.

    Thanks so much for going on this adventure and taking us along!

  2. i'm so glad to see glebe as i've been drooling over sydney terrace houses all week (on the internet)... and i wanted to mention cafe troppo on glebe point rd (does it still exist?) - it was a great place to eat gado gado on a warm evening outside in their courtyard, sipping one of their fantastic iced mochas. and the kebab shop up the road... they did the best kebabs in sydney!

  3. ElizabethB - I like that view too.
    Nat - I meant Cafe Troppo when I wrote Toucan Cafe! (Wasn't there a giant pic of a Toucan?) Anyway, have corrected my post so thanks for that. In answer to your question, no, sadly it's not there anymore.

  4. Ooh, I wanna go to glebe pt park and spin in a dangerous manner!

    Some great tatts!

    Love your blog :)

  5. i've been coming by for a long while, silently, and thought it was about time i let you know: i am in awe of your blog.

    and also, the chai at badde manors is my favourite. :)

  6. suzysiu - Isn't the roundabout fantastic! I photographed it, spun on it, photographed it some more, spun some more. Wonder how it survived the culling?

    bowb - So glad you decided to exit your cubbyhole and say hello! It's a solitary project in many ways so it's lovely to have the company.


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  8. Thanks for the beautiful shots!

    I've linked to the post on GlebeNet:

    For a walk down memory lane (but text only), I've put together a list of cafes/shops/icons in Glebe that are no longer with us:

  9. GlebeNet - Just had a wander through your list - so many memories! About to post on the Glebe Town Hall project - sounds like it'll be amazing when it's finished.

  10. Sure do remember those old metal roundabouts -
    especially falling off them on the bitumen or concrete that used to surround them!

    Love the light detail from the Valhalla and that you saw a bridge in a shoe and The Young Ones.

    I hope you don't mind me saying but I don't like the descriptions following the titles of the photos.
    Even though I'm interested to know about the photos it somehow detracts from them.
    Maybe you could put that info at the end of the post?
    I dunno. Just saying.

    Oh yeah.
    And I forgot to say that I thought Brighton-Le-Sands was one of your best - I loved it.

  11. freefalling - Interesting comment about the descriptions. I don't know why I included more this time, just felt they needed it maybe. But I wasn't sure - I know what you mean about the way they detract somehow. Hmm, anyone else think the same? Thanks for the honest feedback freefalling, always appreciated. And yes, Brighton, it was fun.

  12. Excellent job on my old stomping ground where I spent my student days and several wayward, happy, directionless years thereafter. Having lived at various times in Darghan St, Queen St, Gottenham St, Glebe Pt Road, Victoria Road and Bridge Road, it was lovely to see how you captured the fact that my Glebe of the 70s and 80s might be crumbling away slowly but it's still very recognisable in spirit. Glad you included the horses from 'arold Park. Their clip clop on the tarmac in Victoria Road was a familiar morning sound.
    Love your work Louise.

  13. Fabulous, as usual! I landed in Glebe after moving from Perth in the late 80's and thought Badde Manors was the most exotic place I'd ever laid eyes on. (Well, if you knew Perth in the 80's...) Fond memories.

    Also, re the captions - personally, I enjoy them as they are. I like knowing what the places are, plus it infuses your personality into the whole project more.

  14. Wonderful photos and connections as usual. Wish I had the nerve to wear red birds in my hair as one of your subjects did. As for the comments, please don't drop them. It adds even more connections to the photo pairings and also gives a bit of insight about you, the photographer/artist.

  15. Jamie - Nice list of homes! And yes, Glebe seems to be hanging in there thank goodness.
    Anon - Thank you. I've never been to Perth but I can only imagine what it must have been like in the 80's!
    Helen - What would the world be without people like the red birded woman? As for the comments, I think freefalling was only talking about the text in brackets - not the usual 'captions'. No plans to drop the captions don't worry.


  16. Aah, the memories I have of Badde Manors and The Valhalla and times spent with my first uni boyfriend in those very places....

    (And yes, I am another who wasted time studying law....Not for me at all....)

  17. Hi louise, I love your blog. I live in Glebe (just down the hill from Harold Park) and I was hoping you would do Glebe soon! I hope you don't mind me saying but I agree with freefalling - your 'normal' comments are just enough. They're evocative without being too prescriptive, if you know what I mean.

  18. Marina - Memories of one's first beau never leave you do they?!!

    Anon - I think you and freefalling are right - less is more. Thanks for the feedback you guys!


  19. Glebe Island Bridge is still the Glebe Island Bridge and the ANZAC Bridge is still the ANZAC Bridge. If you head to the Glebe side of pyrmont you can still see the Glebe Island bridge, although not used anymore. It was one of the most advanced bridges of its time when built. Also I have spent my school years and working life in glebe, it still has much more of a community sole than most and not as much of the yuppie effect. Great pic's but Glebe is still a great place to live with a most diverse community.

    A passionate Glebe local

  20. Chad - I was actually referring to the little known fact that the Anzac Bridge was originally called the Glebe Island Bridge when it was opened in 1995. In 1998 it was renamed the Anzac Bridge. But yes, there is of course the original Glebe Island Bridge that sits 'below', its swing span now permanently open. Glad to hear you love Glebe so much - I don't doubt it has more of a soul than many given how rare that is today.

  21. i lived here for a few years and i just loved it. the local characters, the proximity to the water, the wonderful coffee.
    i'm glad you included it in your project!

  22. Hi SJ - I just had a quick read of your blog - hope the trip is working out - but at least when you get homesick you can check in here for a burst of home.


  23. Hi Louise,

    I live in the Glebe in Ottawa, and stumbled on the Glebe in Sydney via Wikipedia.

    A great photo essay, great side-by-side shots!

    Someone here might be able to put together a photo portrait of the district, but the locals would be less colourful: civil servants and profs (me); most of the students have been priced out of the area now.

    Robert - another passionate Glebe local (but with snow several months of the year)

  24. Ah Glebe ... I might live in the bohemian north of melbourne but my heart is still there! can't believe you used to live above the newsagent ... i lived a few doors down.

    I still say i'm from Glebe. when I go back, despite the changes, a lot of the old locals are still there ... it's great to see them still hanging around (although I found out Max has died recently, which is pretty sad)

    Thanks for your awesome blog Louise. I've been trawling through them giving a bit of my homesickness some healing ... You're photos are gorgeous and inspiring and inspire me to investigate parts of melbourne that I might otherwise not go and wish i'd seen some of those places when i lived in sydney

  25. Your blog is amazing. The photos by themselves are fantastic, but then coupled with others from the same suburb and with your descriptions it really takes it to a whole other level. Love Glebe!