Western Sydney

Down the Hume by Peter Polites

Nursing Grievances: Neoliberal Noir in Peter Polites’ Down the Hume

This ambitious re-situating of the noir in the ethnically diverse Australian city, with its complicated stratifications of class and ethnicity, raises the question of what the genre can do for these new contexts. Noir has long offered a space for airing working-class grievances, and for smuggling in queer and feminist subtexts. What, then, does noir do for contemporary Western Sydney, and what can it do for the children of migrants and working-class queers in Australia? Can the genre be re-inhabited in ways that self-consciously expose the grim machinations and effects of new types of economic, psychic and social exclusion while delivering, concurrently, the reading pleasures of mystery and melodrama? It is certainly a lot to pull off.

Sheila Pham

In The Estuary: Felicity Castagna’s No More Boats

'In Felicity Castagna’s No More Boats, we are repeatedly reminded that the novel’s locale, Parramatta, marks the shifting aqueous site in Sydney’s Western suburban landscape where ‘saltwater meets fresh’. Historically, this is the place where Australia’s early colonial explorers, travelling up the Parramatta River from Sydney Cove in 1788, could take their boats no further. It is also one of numerous sites of resistance to European invasion by the Aboriginal warrior, Pemulwuy. In Castagna’s hands, this rich and multi-layered history of place is embodied in the topography of the Parramatta River and its intricate estuarine environment, creating a wonderfully nuanced metaphor.'

Felicity Castagna
Lachlan Brown
Winnie Dunn

Lebs and Punchbowl Prison

‘There were 1200 students at Punchbowl Boys High School in 1985. That year a brick was hurled at Mr Stratton’s head and a gradual process of expulsions began so that by the time I arrived at the school in 1998, there were only 299 students left.’

Dial-a-gun Daily Telegraph clipping

A Northern Rivers Romance

'I began to imagine the landscape of Byron Bay, so as to rehearse in advance the pitfalls awaiting. For a setting: the vague image of a beach somewhere: a bright sun and a long curving beach populated by tourists in shorts and thongs, the air stinking of seaweed and sunscreen, a hot burning sensation spread across my cheeks and sand between my toes. High to the right, I saw a limestone lighthouse on a hill, and seagulls rising to a background of clouds. This seemed a suitable conception of a beachside paradiso, one likely to fit some part of the bay’s picture. A memory intervened in this idyll: I remembered what it should not be possible to forget: for a while, at least, I was a married man, and had honeymooned deep in the forests of the riverlands of northern New South Wales, stopping and staying in Byron on the way there.'

Luke Carman portrait


We are here and we are significant

Long before those postcards of Bondi Beach and Sydney Harbour co-opted our image of Sydney, Parramatta was its watery centre.

Bad Writer

The universality of bad writing

Michael Mohammed Ahmad boxing pose