Posts Tagged ‘Sydney’
When I told several Sydney-based friends I would be living in Newtown when I arrived in the New South Wales capital, they gave verbatim responses about how I would find it.
“Newtown’s pretty out there,” one told me as I packed up my life in south-west Queensland.
“It’s different but I think you’re gonna fit right in.”
I wasn’t sure how to take the comment at the time, but ever since my maiden stroll down King Street almost three weeks ago, it now makes sense: Newtown is a place you really can come as you are.
In 1992, I was an angst-ridden, overachieving 11-year-old. Like thousands of others, I honestly believed a subdued Kurt Cobain was singing about my life when he slurred the lyrics of “Come as You Are”. At the time, I thought it was my personalised theme song. I was wrong. The song is a musical tribute to the inner-west suburb in which I currently reside.
At a cursory glance, Newtown strikes you as a place where downtrodden creative types come to escape the judging stare of the real world. In the past week alone, I’ve spoken to two unemployed journalists, a musician preparing to busk her way to dinner and a dishevelled, 50-something writer who has been working on a manuscript since 2002. Everyone here has a story, from the well-dressed corporate type frantically hailing a bus, to the barefoot bohemian couple who seem to be celebrating a 46-year Summer of Love as they walk their Labrador.
It doesn’t matter what you look like, how you dress or how oddly you behave here – the grand Lady Newtown has seen it all before on her bustling main thoroughfares and narrow, terrace-lined backstreets. She won’t judge you and, because of her unique allure, neither will the people who call her ample, culture-filled bosom home. If you don’t believe me, just ask the bearded, tutu-wearing guy who was sobbing hysterically on King Street last Saturday.
Even the non-human aspect of Newtown is a multifarious mix of calm and chaos. As I write this from the relative silence of my courtyard, it’s hard to believe the lights, sounds and manic pace of Enmore Road are only 200 metres from here. Only the constant, near-deafening whine of descending planes overhead reminds me I’m sharing a city with almost five million people.
To me, it’s Newtown’s ability to offer both solitude and a strange sense of community and belonging that makes it so appealing. You can walk along the street wearing flippers and a tin-foil hat if you want to, safe in the knowledge you’ll retain relative anonymity.
Despite offering an eclectic range of cafes, restaurants and stores, as well as a vibrant lifestyle that is probably unmatched anywhere else in Sydney, the real lure of this historic suburb is that it provides a venue for people from every corner of the globe to listen to Cobain sing their personal theme song.
Within the invisible, council-determined boundaries of Newtown, you can be anyone you want to be, even if you aren’t sure who that is.
Just don’t try to be anyone you know you aren’t. If you do, the eccentric, welcoming old dame will eat you alive.
With the opening State of Origin clash only 12 days away, I thought it was time to inject a blue and maroon theme into this column.
Should rugby league’s most revered contest be played in Melbourne, or is that tantamount to sporting sacrilege?
Most diehard Queensland and New South Wales supporters will tell you that Melbourne can “get stuffed” and keep its own football code when the subject of which cities should host the three matches is broached.
In fact, three Mount Isa rugby league fans gave almost verbatim responses this week when I posed the question about State of Origin in Melbourne.
Fan one: “You’re f—— kidding, aren’t you? They [Melbourne] already have aerial ping-pong down there; why should they get our game, too?”
Fan two: “It’s rubbish. The games are between us and New South Wales.”
Fan three: “It’s Queensland versus New South Wales. The games should be kept in those states.”
Unfortunately for the fans, the decision to play a State of Origin game in Melbourne isn’t one based on state pride.
As with all things in professional sport, the decision was based on economics.
That, and the ongoing exposure and development of rugby league outside of the game’s spiritual home and holiday house in Brisbane and Sydney.
A huge – and very profitable – rugby league market is emerging in Melbourne, and the powers that be are planning taking advantage of that.
It’s incredibly unlikely the people making the decisions will be swayed by the heartfelt pleas and sky blue and maroon-tinged anti-Melbourne arguments of fans who remember the first game in 1980.
When players run onto Etihad Stadium on May 23, they will do so in front of more than 60,000 screaming fans keen to witness rugby league’s greatest spectacle.
That’s good for the sport, and good for the coffers of everyone involved.
Besides, why shouldn’t Melbourne host a game?
We can’t restrict a competition that spruiks itself as the National Rugby League to just two states, even if we are talking about a contest played between just them.
The lone Victorian-based NRL team, the Melbourne Storm, has been one of the dominant teams in the competition in the past few seasons.
They are undefeated after nine rounds in 2012.
The team’s three biggest stars – Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk – will all pull on the Maroon jersey 12 days from now, and are referred to as “our boys” by most Queenslanders.
With that in mind, isn’t it a little hypocritical to suggest Melbourne isn’t entitled to one State of Origin game each year?
Former Brisbane Bronco and Queensland player Ben Ikin is a firm believer in the fact Melbourne – and eventually, the rest of Australia – needs more exposure to the game.
In his column in the Brisbane Times this week he said, “As much as we’d like to, we can’t keep State of Origin all to ourselves.”
Ikin suggests that the first and second game in each series should be played in Brisbane and Sydney, with the third going to Melbourne, but he ventures further by saying other Australian cities should eventually host matches.
“When we determine the Melbourne rugby league market has reached its target maturation, we look for our next area of growth and send State of Origin there for however long we need to,” he said.
Ikin makes a strong point: if the game is going to continue to go from strength to strength in Australia against fierce competition from the AFL, soccer and rugby union, it can’t just be seen as the game of cockroaches and cane toads.
State of Origin is all about where the game has come from, but for it to prosper, we need to take a moment to look at where it’s heading.