Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Suburb No 46: Summer Hill

As so often happens on 52 Suburbs, this week's suburb was sparked by last week's. Hanging around
in Dulwich Hill, I kept hearing about neighbouring Summer Hill. I'd never been but I remembered
that 20 years ago, someone's boyfriend lived in Summer Hill - and although I'd never visited, I used 
to think, poor guy, living all the way out there in Summer Hill

Was it still that bad, I wondered. It was, after all, right next door to delightful Dulley. How different
could it be?

Quite different actually. For a start, Summer doesn't have two main roads coursing through it like

Dulley so it feels calmer, more village-like. While Dulley has a handful of wonderfully original
shops still run by their original owners (plus one brand spanking new bookshop), Summer has a
range of 'pretty shops', more cafes, restaurants. And while Dulley is multicultural, Summer seems
more anglo, with more professional types - they have to be to pay the heftier mortgages.

So yes, different to Dulley - and very different to my previous perception. As a long-time tailor there
told me, 20 years ago nothing much was going on in Summer Hill. Now, "it's all happening".

History in brief. Originally home to the Wangal and Cadigal people - and an unusually high number

of kangaroos. First white property ownership in 1794 by a former convict and jailor, Henry Kable.
Named after somewhere in Britain. Suburb of toffs in the 1920s with mansions aplenty. But by mid-1900s,
working class. Today, a few mansions survive with a mix of federation homes and apartment
blocks. Increasingly populated by young families who can afford the real estate - "nothin' under a mill'".

Let's Go Summer Hill.

Part 1: A stroll around the village

then and now, 1918 v 2010

Alan, former photographer but not anymore - "my hands shake like semaphores!"

'The Pink Terrace' Judy Kurtz, Red Door Gallery :: 1

'The Fruit Shop' Judy Kurtz, Red Door Gallery :: 1

'The Pink Terrace' Judy Kurtz, Red Door Gallery :: 2

wallpaper and window

worlds apart

how can you smoke in front of your kitten?

the Paris of the inner-west?

the barefoot busker, Gabriella

fellow musicians

excuse me sir but there's a violin on your tie

business people of tomorrow

off to get some smokes

well preserved

window of opportunity - Trinity Grammar School

sun and lemons

Part 2: Shopping day

For a smallish (1.1km sq) suburb, Summer Hill has a variety of shopping experiences on offer. 
A few caught my eye...

'The Fruit Shop' Judy Kurtz, Red Door Gallery :: 2

fruit and veg, artfully arranged :: 1

fruit and veg, artfully arranged :: 2

Gus the busy butcher, Summer Hill Village Quality Meats

rare, medium or well-done?

Sunday lunch

hand-made linen, The Trading Circle

former flour mill, once used to make pizzas

Part 3: A little Asia in Summer Hill

Having said that Summer Hill was more anglo than Dulwich Hill, it still has a healthy multicultural
blend. One of the largest communities in the area is Chinese (not surprising as Summer Hill borders
Ashfield, an extremely Asian suburb). As a result, an old 1920s Masonic hall on Liverpool Road has 
been converted into a temple, the Wong Tai Sin and Kwan Yin Kur temple, a mix of Toaist and Buddhist.
Having driven past it many times on my way to a friend's place in Ashfield, I always wondered
what it was like inside.


'Orange in C# minor' Judy Kurtz, Red Door Gallery

Cooee, there's a temple in Summer Hill!

light :: 1

the King and I


details :: 1

smoke and fresh air

'it makes you glad you're hungry' (unless you're allergic)

light :: 2

religion divides and unites

So that was Summer Hill. The beauty for me - that your stroll through a 'village' with a vaguely
European feel could end with a visit to a temple so smoky with incense, you smell like a forest fire
for days after.

Only six more suburbs to go. How odd. Hope to find the time to get much further out west this week.
It's been ages since I felt really guilty about my fuel consumption.

Until then.


  1. details



    Its inspirational the way you connect obscure patterns and objects.

  2. I am so excited that Summer Hill made the cut! I've lived here a while now. I was talking with a friend day about how we all seemed to talk about the shops as "the village" and what made it so. I think your reason is spot on.
    And thanks for capturing the colour! Summer Hill in Winter!

  3. Love it as always!
    I'm getting great pleasure from forwarding your weekly updates to friends who live in your weekly suburbs - and they love them too!

  4. My dad was born and grew up in Summer Hill, and his mates had a little ditty about him which we still use today (he is 81)

    Burglar Bill from Summer Hill
    Never worked and never will!!

    Of course he was neither idle or a burglar but its funny how the ditty has stuck!!

    Faves this week:
    Window of opportunity
    Light 2
    and I JUST love the LIGHT in Sun & Lemons.

    Many many thanks again Louise, I am sad there is only 6 weeks to go!!
    Country towns of Australia next?
    Di xx

  5. Only 6 to go??? I can't imagine life without 52 Suburbs! Why didn't we lobby for 104 Suburbs?!!!

    Nah, isn't there some old theatre philosophy, "always leave them wanting more"?!! We should let you move on to other things.

    Thanks for another beautiful post. I love Alan, such character in his face.

    Going back for another look, got to make the most of each one now!

  6. your work...

  7. Chris - Thank you. Pairing up my images is just as much fun as taking the shots and roaming. I especially love it when I don't 'see' a perfect marriage until I look at all the images on my desktop and suddenly, ah! A match made in some sort of image, story-telling heaven!

    Twenty10 - Glad you like the way your burb looks!

    J Bar - I can see why.

    Matt - Thanks for sending them around!

    Di - Love the ditty. Who knows what's next Di, but don't be sad - you have the book to look forward to!!

    Jodie - Ha! I don't know how I'll stop either. But I need to work on getting the book together first before I launch into the next project. And yes, Alan, what a face. He does shake a fair bit but he seems to cope well.

    JD - Nice to hear from you JD. How's the bike?!

    Feeling Fuzzy - Thank you! Glad you see the beauty too.

    Louise x

  8. I am a newbie to your site, and the others have said it all before me for Summer Hill along, that alone the other 45 suburbs already covered. It is a wonderful project and your style is, on the surface very simple.

    I like the rack of lamb, the patterns on the steps, the comparison of the lace and the wrought iron, the depth of field of the (peach?) blossom.


    What book? A different project, or this project?

  9. another great suburb i used to live next door in ashfield and myu friend goes to respite its acutlay opisat the trainline ive been there on the way to and from cpp a few tiems and i oten wonder who they sleep with the respite place being right across the road from the trains its called grovner cotage and theres a nrusing home there to i think and it is old i used to go there as a baby 25 years ago

  10. I'm going to stick my neck and say this is the best so far (but how to compare). My favourite is Gus the butcher. Not the most colourful of the images, but beautiful composition and I think you captured something, er, well, .. meaty!

  11. amazing photos... I'm lightheaded :)

  12. Louise my friend, you've done Summer Hill proud. Beautiful shots that capture the spirit of the place. Look forward to catching up soon. xo

  13. Hi there,

    Long time reader, first time commenter!

    I love your photos! - have lived in summer hill for four years, and all but one or two shots are new for me too! :)

    awesome work!

    all the best with the final weeks of the project :)

  14. Julie - Thank you - and yes, there will be a book of 52 Suburbs, published early to mid next year. So if you stick around this blog even after the 52nd suburb, you'll be hearing all about my 'journey' into assembling a book and the joys and challenges contained therein!

    Ellen - Sounds like good planning - a respite across from the train!

    jacinnnaaaa - Many thanks!

    Nick B - Stick that neck out! Gus is a great butcher by the way, you can just tell he knows meat.

    copywatiress - ooh, love that you felt light-headed!

    Bogdan - Salut to you too! Romania huh? Imagine doing 52 Suburbs there - very interesting I bet.

    Vanessa - Hello there lady! So glad you think I 'got' the Summer. Look forward to that stroll around the 'faces'.

    Rachel - Welcome to the comment box. So happy I could show you around your neighbourhood! And thanks for your support of the tail-end of this little project. Hope you can stick around until the bitter end!


  15. Hi Louise,
    Are you taking requests? When you say you are hoping to head "much further out west", if you're stuck for ideas (hah!), I'd love to see you do St Marys, my old stomping ground.
    I don't know how you find the energy to keep doing this, but I'm glad you do.

  16. Simply gorgeous, Louise! You're a genius.

    p/s:Can you photograph the Sydney Olympic Park in the future - for the 10th anniversary since the Games? It's right in my backyard!

  17. oh boy.

    i really really want to live in australia. i wish i could easily come over. germany is so --- nasty and boring...

  18. I was directed to your site through a friends blog, being hesitant about the context of Sydney suburbia (I've been a Inner-West patron for my entire 17 year life). What a delight to open up to Summer Hill, the location of my pre-school and the closest Suburb to Ashfield with good cafes. Because I've been there so often you begin to look past the interesting decorative features, shops and people but I certainly regained that sense after seeing this. I loved that you shot the Butchers shop, or "Gus'" as its fondly known as in my family, as well as the "retro" shops and cafes Summer Hill is known for.

  19. About the week you were in Summer Hill I was strolling up the side of the old Post Office in Moonbie Street when I saw what at first glance was a Telstra technician crouched at some cable junction. Then I saw it was actually a girl with a bloke behind her in the same position; he seemed to be sodomising her or simulating the act. Both were wearing summery shorts on a brisk day and after I'd hastily crossed to the other side I glanced back and she'd staggered to her feet with weak protestations, holding a bottle of piss-coloured liquid. I curtailed that day's Victorian facade-gazing.

  20. excellent photos, love the light! being a resident of summer hill, def. shown me a fantastic new perspective. thanks!

  21. I found you by Googling "Is Summer Hill a nice suburb?" I really like your blog, and I will come back to it for further research! I am thinking of moving house you see, and don't know much about the area. So, thank you!

  22. Summer Hill really is a village - you're always running into people you know there. And it's Cafe Central.

    I met the future Mrs HAL when we were living in flats in Summer Hill. We now live in Ashfield but HAL Jr went to the Moonbie Street pre-school. There's a picture of her on the wall of Gus's Butchery making sausages on an excursion there.

    Funny thing - the postcode border with Ashfield goes down the middle of Prospect Avenue but then jumps behind Trinity so it can be in Summer Hill!

    Many years ago, my Dad (who lived in Enfield) went to the Summer Hill Public School Opportunity Class before going on to Fort Street Boys' High.

  23. Love the photos and Summer Hill! My sister (the bare foot busker) is in here!!

  24. Beautiful suburb peaceful I love this place. I’m from Philippines but I checked out the history of where I have live now..lovely place.. 🥰💖😘