Sydney. Australia’s oldest city. Fetid, fun, messy, corrupt, uptight, gorgeous, vapid. I love this place, but probably I do not love it enough to pay the fee to stay here forever.
On a trajectory to boring
Sydney is too expensive and sclerotic to remain interesting for long. Leave Sydney.
Alex McKinnon ranted in 2016:
From police horses in pubs, to $400 fines for riding on the footpath to disgusting old houses with actual mouldy dead bodies in them that sell for $1.1 million at auction, Sydney is already streets ahead in 2016’s Shittest City in Australia award. The lockouts have torched the inner city’s once-vibrant nightlife, Westconnex is going to turn some of the city’s most liveable suburbs into one giant spaghetti junction, and the state government’s made it even easier for little old ladies to gamble away their retirement savings by approving Barangaroo, James Packer’s latest giant, dick-shaped monument to himself.
…The future of Sydney is gyms. In ten years, everything will be a gym. The Harbour Bridge will be a gym. The Domain will be a gym. Alan Jones will be a gym. Who needs a nightspot where one of history’s great bands might play a cheeky gig on a Saturday night when you can go do synchronised arm exercises with office managers while a would-be army instructor screams at you over a Pitbull EDM remix?
The terrible thing is, since COVID-19 closed my gym, this idea does not sound so bad any more.
Note, however, that in terms of domestic migration, Sydney has been losing people for 20 years (Dwyer 2023).
And it turns our people are leaving. See Elyse Dwyer’s note on Sydney out-migration.
To put that rant another way, Sydney is choked by real estate pollution.
Passive-aggressive psychogeography is a local specialty. Watch as the local topological contortions are ground into undifferentiated suburbia.
The ecological/trophic analysis:
There are lots of national parks and wilderness reserves. They are typically really good. The ones that are easiest to get to are listed in Sydney Hiking Trips (formerly Sydney Train Walks).
See also the list of local swimming holes at Sydney Wild Swimming Australia. C&C Karloo Pools and the hidden alternative swimming spots nearby.
Florists? Maybe try LVLY; they promise to source flowers locally.
Better future Sydney
Sydney we sometimes call Retirementland because it highly polluted by real estate, in the sense that things that do no maximise the investment value of living space are unlikely to happen here, which more or less corresponds to being a nice place for retirees but not anyone else. Sydney is famously hostile to parties:
I’d overheard some Spaniards calling Sydney ‘El Cementerio’ — ‘The Cemetery’ — and there was something sepulchral about the silent spaces. That look of desolation distinctive to the top of Oxford Street (the civic pockmark of empty storefronts and For Lease signs) was spreading all over the city. Taylor Square could have been hosting a memorial service, and in a way it was. Already the iconic Flinders Hotel, the Exchange Hotel — home to a number of venues — and Taxi Club had closed down, and the closest nightclub was to be replaced with a government-funded “family-friendly” cycle hub.
The political party organising around more interesting times was Keep Sydney Open.
Another great phrasing of this problem:
“Noël, noël is a great nostalgic Christmas carol that reminds me of a more simple time before coward punches, but it really needs to be enjoyed in moderation. It’s interrupting my small town BBC murder mysteries. I’m a caucasian post-war Australian. I’ve never had to make a compromise in my life, and I don’t plan on starting now.”
Frontyard projects (frontyard wiki, Frontyard slack) is a singular thing; an arts space in the Inner West of Sydney which collects assorted missing pieces of medium-density living; A usable writing space a collective library, a shared garden, rooms for thinking in etc.
Sydney Alliance is a miscellaneous actor.
The Sydney Alliance is a diverse coalition of community organisations, religious organisations, unions and schools that uses the tools of community organising to make the city a better place to live. The idea of building a Sydney Alliance was first raised in May 2007, and by November that same year was financially supported by 13 organisations. The Alliance launched with 45 partner organisations on 15 September 2011.The Alliance has three goals. We work with our partner organisations to:
- Increase and strengthen the leadership capacity of their members, their leaders, and staff.
- Deepen the relationships across civil society by strengthening the relationships between our partner organisations.
- Act for the ‘Common Good’.
The Tenant’s Union has many campaigns.
Over 2 million people rent their homes in NSW. That’s one in every three households. Many of these are families, as well as an increasing number of older people, and people sharing homes. […] But the reality is that rental laws in NSW aren’t fair. Renters don’t experience the same security and comfort in their homes as homeowners. Many are constantly worried about losing their home and feel they are powerless to assert their rights.
I am not a fan of this framing of the problem. Yes, renting a thing is not as certain as owning a thing, and that is probably definitional. The question is: does the system as it stands make it worse than it needs to be? Does it make, for example, renting especially unpleasant as a kind of dark subsidy to an overgrown property-speculation sector? I think it likely.
The gradualist Tenant’s Union does not exactly grab me with their campaigning strategy to change this. They do not have the muscular cashed-up prestige presence of the real-estate lobby, nor a scrappy underdog guerilla campaigning ethos, or a dynamic media presence. Perhaps Better Renting, schooled in a more modern, disruptive, social-media-savvy era, might be the goods.
This is one of the Sydney Alliance campaigns too:
Since 2013 The Sydney Alliance has called on the NSW Government to support action on affordable housing through a plan, with numerical targets, to increase the supply of social and affordable housing in NSW. Our campaign has helped persuade the NSW Government to introduce ‘Inclusionary Zoning’ for affordable housing — but this is just the start.
Honestly though, most of these campaigns do not have much money or power backing them; realistically, we should just go somewhere else and maybe come back later if the market collapses.
The high life
Currently that means: benefiting from our excellent produce and gourmet food options. See Sydney food suppliers.
Also, why not the Inner West Tool Library?.