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.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Suburb No 45: Dulwich Hill

Why 'Dully', 8 km from the city centre? Well, I kept hearing about people who loved living there and
was curious. Just up the road from the thriving suburb of Marrickville, maybe it would be similar I

Not really it turns out. While Marrickville bustles, Dulwich Hill quietly snoozes. So much so that

when I first arrived I really did wonder what all the fuss was about. Then slowly it grew on me and
I realised Dully's relative calm is part of its appeal. A handful of the shops haven't changed for 30
years, still run by the original Greek migrant owners. Yet 47 different nationalities now attend the 
local public school. There's a great cafe that caters for the baby boom Dully's currently experiencing.
And not long ago Gleebooks even opened a shop there. Oh, and for anyone trying to buy a home in
Sydney sans a crippling mortgage, it was until fairly recently, affordable.

A few facts. Started out in life as Petersham Hill, then Wardell's Bush, then South Petersham and  

Fern Hill. Finally ended up as Dulwich Hill, after Dulwich in the old country. Variety of architectural
styles, from Romanesque to Federation. Experienced waves of migration, from Greeks and Portuguese
to Pacific Islanders, Africans, Vietnamese and Chinese. Most recently it's been Anglo families
desperately searching for affordable real estate.

The new arrival that's got everyone talking, however, is Gleebooks. And after a long wait, Dully will

also be getting the light rail extension within the foreseeable future. Too much excitement indeed.

Let's saunter.

Part 1: The Greeks

They came, they saw, they set up shop. That was back in another century but some are still there. Like

George, the tailor who'll whip up your hem for $10 and give you a sermon on socialism for free. 
Anastasia and Con who run Thessaloniki, a cake shop. Luigi's Bakery, where the bread flies out the
door by noon. And David Kasmaroski's Eumundi Smokehouse (okay, he's actually Russian but it's close

those were the days

George's shop, unchanged for 30 years

George, the tailor/socialist

politics and cotton

Anastasia's cake shop

Greeks love their lace

Gregory Athanassiou, patron of the cake shop

Gregory's lucky charms

lucky to get anything after 11

they come from near and far

oranges from the Sentas Bros

signs of a former life

Part 2: Newer migrants

I met three Fijians, two Bangladeshis and one Eritrean. Just a few of the 47 nationalities that attend Dulwich

Hill Public School.

Lice, Mereani and Losalini from Fiji

she's brought up her family in Dulwich Hill (Kainga is 'family' in Tongan)

far from home yet right at home

Hajara and Hamja from Bangladesh

life is like a fairytale now

i hope it has a happy ending

Lini from Eritrea


Vietnam in Dulwich Hill

Part 3: The most recent arrivals

So much for sleepy Dully. Gleebooks have opened their doors, there's a cafe that sprawls out onto

the pavement with the best of them and now the light rail is going ahead. Whatever will happen

there's a Gleebooks in Dulwich Hill!

the fresh face of Dully

Sideways Cafe, epicentre of a baby boom

he's cute, sure, but you still love me right?

the light rail is finally coming

Part 4: Colourful Dully - Green

colour your world

eek, are you me?

green pins and celery sticks

art and religion

eats your greens and oranges


and loneliness

 Part 5: Colourful Dully - Blue and Yellow

i heard it was once a brothel

packs a punch

bright lights



weathered but still standing

Part 6: Colourful Dully - Black with accents of silver, red and orange

The Right Reverend Brian Iverach - "you can call me Bishop"


rock and roll baby

devils of Dully

red lipped lady


three toned

let there be light

The beauty in Dulwich Hill? The slow reveal, its lack of pretension and the fact that 47 different
nationalities can go to school together - and I'm told, all get along.

See you next week.