Watch the sun set on the most oppressively hot days, when the western plains trap pollution over the city and the sun pulses through a fierce chemical red. The textile district lingers in cheap clothing stores and tiny back lane shops that embroider patches or sharpen scissors. Greenfields warehouse, a four-storey paradise of fabric and haberdashery, has barely changed since opening over sixty years ago. From my bedsit on the edge of Paddington ($33 pw), I walked to the Trade Union Club on Foveaux Street, alto sax slung over my shoulder.
Neighbourhood Watch, Womerah Lane
I’ve lived in Darlinghurst for more than half of my sixty-three years, and, since 1990, in a long narrow terrace house on Womerah Lane. I have, throughout this time, been a painter and a writer. Most of my painting and drawing is done directly, en plein air as they say. Until ten years ago, to subsidise my art, I worked part-time as a housepainter and brush-hand, often refurbishing inner city houses.’
Lebs and Punchbowl Prison
‘In this essay, I will tell you about the ‘was once’ generation: my generation of young men at Punchbowl Boys High School who the teachers, politicians, community leaders, parents, and local law enforcement decided needed to be locked up, for the safety of our community and for our own safety. I will also tell you about the journalists and filmmakers who believed we needed to be put on the front pages of the newspapers and on prime-time television. Who were we? The scholars and academics will tell you we were working class and underclass Australian Muslim males from Arabic-speaking backgrounds, but on the streets of Western Sydney we went by another name – Lebs.’
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.
Stranger In The House
The Slasher case begun in early 1956, when a cluster of disparate reports of prowler activity, break and enters and assaults on sleeping women were registered in the Kingsgrove and Beverly Hills area. The attacks increased in number, then dropped off, then spiked again in late 1958, and continued until an arrest was made in April 1959. The Sydney papers, particularly the afternoon tabloids Sun and Daily Mirror went large on the ‘Kingsgrove Slasher’ case right from the beginning, and much to the annoyance of police, that term stuck. The perpetrator, one David Joseph Scanlon, was ultimately charged with eighteen counts of break and enter and assault. The trial was a media sensation, and Brian Doyle, arresting officer and leading prosecution witness, went from being an obscure suburban detective to a national media figure.
The Suspended Image
‘I stood with my face almost touching a wall of glass, a sheer window looking out into an immense depth, a profound, almost unfathomable dark green chasm girded by sandstone precipices and a halo of mist and cloud. It had been raining all afternoon. In the diminishing light the distant wet cliffs looked dark orange, blood red, gold. A motionless wing of pure white cloud floated over the valley floor like an apparition on a billow of air.’
The Place of Terrorism in Australia
‘I want to live my culture, my way of life within my country. Often this means a humble existence; a freedom that requires constant access to our traditional and natural world, always with an emphasis on family and cultural exchange.’