Monday, May 5, 2008
A Photoless Visit to Dulwich Hill
The above photo, just to catch your attention, is from a corner in Newtown after my walk through Dulwich Hill. I don’t have photos from Dulwich Hill because I felt out of place with my camera. The neighborhood isn’t touristy at all, but my little digital camera is.
Why did I want to walk around the humble westerly neighborhood? The New York Times told me to. Well, it didn’t tell me to, but it convinced me to. (Newspapers are good at doing that.) I’d read an article called “In Dulwich Hill, Sydney, Finding the World in a Few Blocks,” and hey, if that’s where the world is, that’s where I’ll go.
Believe it or not, I think I found a good chunk of the world. I must have heard four or five different languages just as I walked down Marrickville Road. I got off the bus in what would probably still be considered Marrickville and made my way to Dulwich Hill. There’s nothing flashy about either part of town. It’s no Paddington or Balmoral. It’s a working class area with a diverse immigrant population. The streets are lined with discount stores, butcheries, Portuguese chicken shops, Greek cafés and Lebanese patisseries (with more unassuming pastries than Balmain). There’s even an Egyptian restaurant. Very few chains to be found.
A prime example of the authentic local feel came when I stopped in Eumundi Smokehouse (several Sydney food bloggers seem to be fans). A man was browsing the sausage selection when the woman behind the counter asked, “Were you here last week?” He said yes, and she said, “Yeah, you bought two of the hot Spanish pork sausage last week and left them on the counter. What do you want today? I owe you two sausages.” I thought that was great.
The houses along Marrickville Road were single-level Federation style with small front yards, compared to the Victorian row houses on the narrow streets of Darlington, Chippendale, Redfern and other areas near campus and around Sydney. The area reminded me of West LA where I lived with my parents in a tiny house when we first moved to California. Both have a lot of immigrants and working class people. The businesses meet needs without any additional flash.
I bought a scarf and sweater for $9 total at a second-hand shop, which if I was in the cooler Surry Hills neighborhood would be called vintage and double or triple the price. Same distinction between West LA and Melrose in Los Angeles.
I’m not going to romanticize Dulwich Hill like the New York Times, but the neighborhood had a good feel to it. Lots of life. Real life, at that. It's always refreshing to get out of the Uni bubble...to conveniently relate back to the main photo.