How well do you know your neighbourhood? I have been living in the inner-city for only 6 years now but very involved in the community. So I thought I knew a lot about my neighbourhood. However on a recent tour, I realised yet again that there is still so much to learn about the place where I live.
(Laneway of Surry Hills near Sophia St considered one of the most dangerous streets in Australia at one time)
This was a tour of Surry Hills and we were led by Elliot Lindsay who is a historian that runs Murders most foul , “true crime” tours of Surry Hills. We walked through various streets and places in my community. We stopped at houses where there had been dodgy activities, crimes, sly-grog dealing and brothels from the 1920s and 40s. We walked past a house where a woman’s body had been found only eight years after she had died. This is the famous Natalie Wood or “the woman that Sydney forgot“. So I learnt more about the history, the past of where I live and this actually connected me to the present even more. It made me think about how important it is to connect with our place whether it is through the history, land, community activities or public spaces.
(Classic Surry Hills- a “dunny lane”)
Is there a tour of your neighbourhood that helps people understand the history of that place? It would be essential to have our first nations people speak into this experience so we know about the land, the native flora and fauna. Perhaps we could even learn how to engage in some foraging. Each tour of various neighbourhoods would be different. For instance, Surry Hills has a history of being a suburb that has gone though many changes and also a place that had a lot of criminal activity. Other places might focus more on the natural surrounds or the built environment.
(Tour guide Elliot Lindsay)
Whatever the context is, it’s rewarding to ground ourselves in the place where we live. This gives us a better sense of our connection as people who live in and move to different places from time to time. We begin to appreciate our short- term and long-term impact. It also helps us to be better care-takers of our neighbourhoods.
Have you ever though about running a “tour” of your neighbourhood? What a great way to connect locals and get to know where you live in a deeper way.