Sydney- westies versus hipsters.

15 Dec

Sydney is a distant colonial city that prefers to source its stories from elsewhere.


Above- Sydney in 1888. Just the Victorian core exists (pre-car). Many areas would be recognizable today.
However, unknown to many, Sydney has a rich history and social fabric of its own.
There is a rich post-colonial, post-industrial identity mainly based on waves of immigration and class.
As with all of the east coast cities, the rich live in the cooler coastal east and the poorer “out west”.


Above- demographic map of Sydney. Very telling.


In common with all western cities built in the Victorian age, the prosperous middle classes initially inhabited a ring of hosing around the urban core and abandoned this with the invention of the motor car and commuter trains.
Inner-city Sydney declined, with some now desireable areas (eg, Paddington in the inner east) being described in the ‘thirties as “the worst white slum in the British Empire”.
Since the ‘seventies the inner city has been heavily gentrified and the working classes have been relegated to the outer western suburbs. A quick breakdown would be-

1 City
-workers, dead on the weekend. Chinatown, some fancy Victorian areas on urban fringe (Glebe, etc).

2 Canterbury-Bankstown
-very cosmopolitan (like SW London). African blacks, Muslims, some Chinese, some rather rough looking Anglos.

3 Eastern Suburbs
-posh, nouveax riche, Jews, European immigrants (“I have to be near the beach…”).
4 The Forest
-the green areas of the Upper North Shore. Exclusively rich and white.
5 Hills District
-as above, not as up-market. Suburbia.
6 Inner West
-hipsters, families, recently gentrified Victorian ring. Mostly small houses.
7 Macarthur
South-west of Sydney that includes the city of Campbelltown, as well as the town of Camden and Wollondilly Shire. Working class, Anglo and some Middle-Eastern immigrants. Suburbia.
8 Northern Beaches
Nice. White, quite laid back, not too pretentious. A bit far from Sydney (on the way to the idyllic Tradie’s Central Coast).
9 Lower North Shore
Urban, architecturally similar to the Inner-West, but quite boring. No hipsters.
10 Upper North Shore
Established rich. Grand, free standing Federation houses. Some blocks of flats being built along the highway, and has some large Chinese areas (eg- Chatswood).
11 Northern Suburbs
As above.
12 South-eastern Sydney
Includes Botany (the birth place of Australia), Kensington and the airport zone. Industrial, working class.
13 South-western Sydney
City of Canterbury, City of Bankstown, City of Liverpool, City of Fairfield, City of Campbelltown and Camden Council. Solidly working class. Lots of fibro houses, etc. Big post-war boom areas. Quite a few Lebanese, etc.
14 Southern Sydney
Kogarah, Sutherland Shire. Mostly very nice lower middle class Anglo areas. Some large Chinese areas (Kogarah, etc).
15 St George
As above.

16 Western Sydney
Here be the Westies. Stretches out to Katoomba. As with South-western Sydney above.



17. Upper Blue Mountains
-drug addicts, mountain folk.
18. Lower Blue Mountains
-Tradies, intellectual middle class priced out of Sydney. Bushfires.











Above- map from the 1840’s. Pretty much only the city and a part of Pyrmont exist.

Tintin Sydney comics by Glenn Smith


One Response to “Sydney- westies versus hipsters.”

  1. Better Built Homes June 10, 2014 at 5:01 am #

    Ouch! We’re from out west, but we do have a sense of humour. Haven’t seen the Tintin covers before – that Penrith Red Rooster looks familiar though 🙂

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