Trendy small bars, artisan coffee shops and a general air of boho-chic may very well encapsulate Sydney’s famous Newtown strip today; however, only 20 years ago it was a different story, with gentrification having only just commenced in the area that was regarded as the alternative centre of the city.
Reliving the memories of goths, grunge and messy late-night kebabs on King Street and beyond, writer Vanessa Berry will lead a unique walking tour of the suburb on the afternoon of Saturday, October 19 to highlight the changes that Newtown has undergone in the past two decades. Over that time, the area has become one of the most popular suburbs for LGBTI people to reside in.
Having grown up in suburban Turramurra during the 1990s, Berry says that as a quiet teenager into philosophy, zines and alternative music, Newtown at the time was a cultural haven for her and others like her.
Author and illustrator of the recently well received memoir, Ninety9, Berry says the suburb and its inhabitants helped her find a fledgling sense of identity and self.
“Newtown was an important place for me as it felt like the centre of the world I so much wanted to be part of,” Berry said.
“Walking down King Street was an important ritual for me as a teenager, as much for people watching as for visiting the stores. I still regularly visit King Street and often try and remember what used to be in particular stores – almost all of them have changed since the 90s.
“I’m hoping the tour will be a fun journey back in time for people who knew Newtown in the 1990s, and interesting for those who were around at the time. I’ve found that people have fond memories of it, and I’m looking forward to hearing some of them.”
Lord Mayor Clover Moore says the tour, supported by the City of Sydney, is a perfect opportunity for both people interested in the history of Newtown and for locals simply wanting to reminisce about their experiences.
“The 1990s was a memorable time where music, arts, and grassroots youth culture flourished, and Newtown was the heart of the late-night scene,” Moore says.
“Newtown has gone through many changes over the years – buildings refurbished, old haunts turned into new attractions – and this tour will provide an excellent link between past and present Newtown.”
The Ninety9 and 1990s Walking Tour will start at Newtown Library before heading towards Newtown train station and then stopping at historic sites such as the former Burland Community Hall and famous late-night kebab haunt, King of Yeeros.
INFO: ‘Ninety9 and 1990s Walking Tour of Newtown’, 1pm–3pm, Saturday, October 19, leaving from Newtown Library. For ages 16 and up. Bookings are essential. Call 02 9265 9333 or visit here. coslibrary.eventbrite.com.au