Oh, Sydney

The rum corps in New South Boomerstan

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?

Mapping Sydney

Passive aggressive psychogeography is a specialty of this place where topological contortions are ground into undifferentiated suburbia.

Struthless Sydney map

The ecology/trophic analysis:

The official obsession of Sydney is of course real estate, so a useful map is microburbs, the loss leader for a real estate-oriented data consultancy.

Their pitch serves as an explanation of the content:

Our Data Microburbs has gathered together a formidable dataset:

  • 70,000 data points for every Microburb (55,000 of these, with an average 400 residents), far more than is publicly available on the site.

  • 10-300 data points on every address in Australia It covers features to a fine grained level:

  • Demographics

  • Geography

  • Amenities and businesses

  • Infrastructure

  • Voting patterns

  • Livability scores

Your Solutions This ideal for use cases such as:

  • Identifying real estate buying opportunities
  • Assessing the performance of real estate agents
  • Retail store placement and location analysis
  • Planning and development concerns

Data is Australia-wide, not just Sydney.

Past sydney

Mirror Sydney by Vanessa Berry. SMSA

Current Sydney


Get some sauna! The Australian Sweat Bathing association advocates for sauna culture in Australia.


There are lots of parks. they are really good. The ones that are easiest to get to are listed in Sydney Train Walks

Compost services

Earth bucket does your composting for you. Compost revolution is a composting (skill|resource) sharing community Not Sydney-specific, but Sharewaste.com is the social network I use to find places to compost my food scraps.

Better future Sydney

Solar power

Solar Citizens.

Less hostile

Retirementland Sydney is hostile to parties (not just the method of political organising, also the joyous celebration of the human spirit) and we’re doubling down on that.

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 this is Keep Sydney Open. But then politics levelled up:

“Noel, noel 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.”

Wowser Nation keeps the sarcasm going.

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 here.

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’.

Real estate

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.

This might be unfair, but the gradualist administratively responsible Tenant’s Union does not exactly grab me with their campaigning strategy. They present as the kind of social organising that my grandparents might do, and do not have the muscular cashed-up prestige presence of the real-estate lobby. Perhaps Better Renting, schooled in a more modern, disruptive, social-media-savvy era, might be the goods.

Sydney Alliance claims to be active here:

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.

Westconnex Action Group and Wendy Bacon’s reportage cover some of the construction pile-on that is Sydney at the moment.

The high life

Currently that means: benefiting from our excellent produce and gourmet food options. See Sydney food suppliers.

Credit: Wowser Nation

Berry, Vanessa. 2017. Mirror Sydney: An Atlas of Reflections.

Catanzaro, Michelle, and Elissa James. 2018. “Multiple Place/S: Exploring the Link Between Urban Politics and Rural Festival Environments.” Journal of Place Management and Development 11 (3): 315–34. https://doi.org/10.1108/JPMD-07-2017-0069.