Surry Hills / 2010

(Interviewer: H. Renwick, Photos: V. Kravchenko)

Surry Hills, one of Sydney’s inner-city suburbs, engenders many misconceptions, or conceptions. Phaedra Wilson, who moved to Bourke Street just over three years ago, is loving life here.

‘It’s a ten minute walk to the city and to uni. There are really good markets on the weekend. And there are some really cool places to go, like, you’ve got lots of bars and cafés. People are really culturally aware of the space they spend time in: you don’t just have a snack in a café, you spend time there and you want it to be interesting, inspiring, innovative. But some places like The Shakespeare or Shady Pines are shitty but good. A lot of the places here are a bit crap but that’s what Surry Hills is all about – understanding that a dive can be a good dive.’

Phaedra agreed to meet me on a Sunday afternoon to answer some questions about Surry Hills. At the door, she apologised for looking ‘awful’:

‘I had some people come over after Clambake last night and they just stayed til the morning, you know … my friend Ruby just left half an hour ago,’ she explained.

In a trend characteristic of big cities, a lot of young professionals have moved into Surry Hills, once a cheap down-and-out suburb. Phaedra says the change since she first moved here from her parents’ house in Bellevue Hill has been too noticeable.

‘It’s just full of suits, so yuppie. It was better when people didn’t want to live here, like, it used to be just misfits like my housemates and me. And there were people in housing commission and students and a bit of crime, and that was good. But I guess this always happens, creative people make a crap suburb good and then rich people buy them out. I think it would be really sad if Surry lost its edginess and the little places got shut down for, like, Baker’s Delight. But it’s happening.’

The rest of the interview was conducted on foot. Phaedra had to meet a friend at a popular Surry Hills destination ‘The Cricketer’s Arms’ and after she had a quick shower, I accompanied her there.

On the way, Phaedra told me that she hears many people talk about Surry Hills as the place of ‘hipsters’.

‘I think people here are a bit trendy and different. Some probably don’t fit into the norm. But I would say they are just more open-minded. I don’t like labels like ‘hipster’ or ‘indie’. Sure, I buy clothes from op shops but that doesn’t necessarily make me a hipster – I don’t believe in labels,’ she told me.

I asked her if she thought Surry Hills has a welcoming community.

‘Well, you have to be the right sort of person. Like, you can’t just run around in Supré or Billabong and listen to Katy Perry. People are intelligent here. And you probably have to know what a good coffee is and either start smoking or be really good at Yoga or both. You have to make an effort, socially. No one is going to come running into the palm of your hand. But once you’re in, it’s great. People here have so much fun together, we don’t really need anyone else.’


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92 Responses to Surry Hills / 2010

  1. Nath says:

    That isn’t Bourke St in Surry Hills by the looks of the diagonal parking outside. Bourke St is all parallel parking from Oxford to Cleveland. So is this a review of Redfern or does the girl not actually live on Bourke st as claimed?

    Also: she’s been there a whole 3 years and talks like she’s been there 50 years of the good old days when there was a bit of crime (that was good apparently – I take it she hasn’t been mugged to make such an ignorant and ridiculous remark). I guess if she wants to talk in terms of months or weeks as being a long time..

    “It was better when people didn’t want to live here, like, it used to be just misfits like my housemates and me. “

    Unlike this girl I first moved to Surry Hills 10+ years ago and I can say it hasn’t drastically changed in the last 3 years like she’s making out, nor in the 10 years significantly – a gradual gentrification that everywhere is slowly going through. Back then her type was called Goths, then Emos and now Hipsters. Consistently they think they add a lot to the atmosphere of the suburb via their “creativity”, but that creativity and atmosphere is really just hanging out smoking at pubs during happy hour before the head home and pull cones on the balcony (you forgot to put away the chop up scissors for the picture) with their bum mates (more clouds of atmosphere at home I guess?).

    They eventually marry one or become one of the yuppy/suit types because they want to buy stuff that wasn’t left in a clothing bin and their talked up creative endeavours don’t actually pay the rent (or Mum and Dad eventually get sick of the sponging).

    Also: If she thinks the council flats have magically disappeared she needs to pull her head out of her arse a bit – they’re all still there and have been for decades.. But I guess they don’t hang out in the smoking section of the cricketers wearing an op shop hat – so an “open minded” type like her wouldn’t see them “run into the palm of your hand” I guess.

    And you probably have to know what a good coffee is and either start smoking or be really good at Yoga or both.

    Good luck with that cancer trying to fit in you vapid creature.
    Other people try having a personality or something real about them rather than stupidly taking up smoking to fit in as per the age old cliche of fitting in with the smoking crowd.

    • Mikey says:

      This article is either the best trolling I’ve ever seen, or a terrible excuse for a journalist interviewing a moron about an issue she has no bearing on.

      I’m trying to see in the photos if she is Chris Lilley or not… I’ll bet it is.

    • Cuntsy says:

      Bro, your shit is so real.

    • matt says:

      Touche Nath. I couldn’t have put it so eloquently myself.

    • Nikki says:

      Could not have said it better myself.
      This is the biggest piece of shit article I have ever read. And trust me, i have written some of my own piece of shit articles just to get a pass in Journo at uni, so I would know.

      Some probably don’t fit into the norm. But I would say they are just more open-minded.”
      “Well, you have to be the right sort of person. Like, you can’t just run around in Supré or Billabong and listen to Katy Perry.”

      Last time I checked, being “open minded” didnt involve pigeon holing people by what they wear or who they listen to. Especially in reference to fitting into a suburb.

      This chick is a joke. Its a shame such a lovely part of town (or the whole of sydney for that matter) is infested with people like her.

  2. Jaime says:

    I’ve been in Surry Hills for about 19 years now and I can tell you it has changed a hell of a lot in that time. Even the last ten years with the building of the community centre/library, refurb of the White Horse and Forresters and Dolphin Hotels and closing of the iconic Hopetoun.

    There used to be families here, little old ladies and men living quietly by themselves, whole blocks where not one single graphic designer lived… It was shitty but it was homely. Now people want inspiration from cafes. Spare me.

  3. Justin says:

    You make some really valid points there, Nath! I wish people like you were interviewed for stuff like this. That way at least the reader would not get a lopsided picture of what a suburb is actually like..

  4. Spork says:

    Boy does this article make me wanna punch someone in the face.

  5. Ian says:

    Jesus Christ. Kill it with fire.

    • fenjay says:

      We can make a molotov cocktail with one of the beers left over from her ultra cool party. She does not do labels so hopefully the supposedly 100% op-shop number she is wearing it 95% polyester and will burn quicker!

  6. Wang Poon says:

    This is a pisstake, right?

  7. Spork says:

    her. it’s her i want to punch in the face.

  8. hunter says:

    meh – the prententious wankers come and the prententious wankers, they go.

  9. Ramona says:

    You’re a phucking idiot Phaedra.

  10. Dylan says:

    X resident of 30 years !! phaedra aint seen shit! I was there when it was factories, junkies, rapists, and gangs of angry angry youths. when milk was delivered daily in glass bottles. When the clock hotel played host to Highway 61 motorcycle gang, when the Cricketers arms was strictly Lesbians only…yes it was! When all those quaint little cafe’s on crown st down near cleaveland st were milk bars and pinball pala’s.

    Nath is right, I had lived in surry hills from 1978-2008 and still kick around some of the old digs, there aint been no major changes in last 5 years, certainly not the last 3 and it was not the suits who did away with the art and culture, let me put to you this way…’Phaedra’ moved from her parents place 3 little years ago in…yes thats right…Bellevue Hill!!

    further more..
    “a bit of crime…?” Haha, I wish she was living on Bourke st, between Cleveland and Fitzroy st in 1985, oh wait that’s right she probably wasn’t alive then. tsss “a bit of crime”..haha
    next time your in your coffee shop sipping your chai, decaf, soy, latte, with chocolate sprinkles, smoking, slagging off Billabong whilst pretending to be a yogi and focusing really hard on fitting in, read the book ‘RAZOR’ learn some truths about SH.

    To the Author of this article.
    No offense but if your gonna interview someone on surry hills, pick one of the little old greek men or women you find sitting around the place on park benches, they’ve seen and could tell you a whole lot more than phaedra from Bellevue Hill.


    • Jim says:

      All points that only someone who has seen the many faces of this place over the last 30 years could make. If i see this chick around, I’m gonna snatch her bag just so she can feel like she’s in the gritty part of town and can relay the story to her folks up in Bellevue Hill.

    • kit says:

      i have lived in surry hills for over 10 years, the only difference i can really see is a new bike lane on bourke st, a bunch of fancy wanky bars open on crown street and most of the “cultured” youths from 8 years ago have gotten jobs or moved to london or NY where they continue to attempt to be cool, and have been replaced by even worse idiots like Phaedra thinking they are the forefront of some kind of creative movement or something stupid.

      really what a self righteous little twat!!! BONG ON!!!

    • Nikki says:

      This ‘journalist’ clearly just interviewed his friend because he was too shit scared or lazy to go and ask strangers questions and he had someone up his arse telling him he had to file something soon. Journo students – we’ve all done it. But fuck me, you coulda just handed it into your teacher rather than putting it on a Sydney forum where actual locals could beat you down. Ha what a moron. Fantastic entertainment though.

  11. Lipstitch says:

    I was born in 1990, i grew up in bondi right before the traffic of tourists made it hard to notice any of the locals who usually stood out. It was dirtier and generally more down and out like the rest of sydney.
    Thn i moved to a place in the mountains called Leura, which is now more of a highway than a mountain village. For about 5 years i lived in redfern while newtown was becoming the food road it is now, even back then redfern still had a very real and dangeous underbelly.
    Sure its allot nicer now and the extremely slow gentrification of the area is almost painfully funny while its history is still visible in the back alleys and uppe shop fronts.
    Now i live in newtown, a place people think has become gentrified and baught out by the profiteering sydney ‘suits’.
    Okay so yes, it has been noticable more now the stark contrast of sydney now and sydney back in the 1970′s but whats changed is not the place but the attitude of the people living there. People are just more satiated with the easyness and since most employers know how much work people are capable of doing to maintain our modern needs we come home from work looking to lay flat and fungify ourselves.
    We complain about how the world has changed witout including ourselves in that change.

    My point is not that thes

  12. Phaedra, please f*ck off back to Bellevue hill with Ash King –

    • Nianp says:

      I’m so glad you put up the link to that video. The moment I started reading this little dimwits opinions (Phaedra that is) I immediately thought of this article as the text form of the video. I suppose that there’s no reason H. Renwick couldn’t be a pseudonym of Ash King.

  13. BD says:

    To be fair though, she’s just a kid. She’s saying stupid, naive shit because that’s what kids say. She’ll probably read this in a few years and cringe as much as the rest of us.

    Either the author is taking the piss, which is a bit mean, or, as suggested by Dylan above, they need to learn a bit about who might actually be worth talking to in the first place.

  14. Jim says:

    I was born on bourke st, raised on bourke st, baptist st, bartley st, vine st, regent st. The area has changed. The area is now full of fuckwits like Phaedra who are snotty rich brats attempting to prove their street/art/wank cred. i couldn’t give a flying fuck if people rocked billabong shirts and listened to katy perry and lived around here, so long as they weren’t fucking posers who think they can gentrify an area, then complain about it. I like most of the people who grew up here, am a working class person and cannot afford to stay in my own fucking suburb.

    So, fuck you to all the trendy wannabes who are mostly uni age, who set the scene for the so called yuppies that they hate (you know, people with jobs) to come in and exploit Newtown 2.0

    get the fuck out of my suburb.

    go the fuckin rabbitohs.

  15. Benn says:

    Like, surely satire, just, like, really, really shitty satire.

    Did I use too many commas? Perhaps I could’ve use a semi-colon to be a little more edgy.

  16. Amy says:

    Phaedra, Phaedra, Phaedra! You poor lost sod.

    Good news though! A song’s been written for you

  17. Chris says:

    Is this an onion article? How self-important can you possibly get? Phaedra if you are as “intelligent” as you claim to need to be to survive on the mean streets of Surry Hills (lol), then why are you judging other’s worth by their penchants for Katy Perry or Supre?

    Is that intelligence now? Seems more like you trying to develop a shallow materialistic aesthetic to make up for the terribly, gnawing lack of authentic identity you feel hollowing out your insides.

  18. david says:

    this is a joke right? everyone has been so fucking trolled.

  19. missxiola says:

    Surry Hills and suburbs like it are built on and supported by arty wankers. Leave the girl alone you bunch of old farts.

  20. ebzor says:

    Someone kill her?? This must be a troll, after reading that article I threw up in my mouth and swallowed it multiple times. CRINGEEEEEEEEE

    • missxiola says:

      Ah yeah let’s kill her because she enjoys art and coffee. What a horrible person.

      • pat says:

        Hi. You can enjoy art and coffee and not be a dickhead with no perception of the real world. You can even do it and live in Surry Hills. It is other aspects of Phaedra that people find offensive. E.g. The fact she doesn’t ‘believe in labels’ and credits herself as intelligent but uses others’ taste in clothes as a barometer for worth?

        I am young, I drink coffee and work in the arts, I also think she is an idiot.

  21. Andrew A says:

    And I’m sure mummy and daddy pays her rent, never having to struggle unlike the original immigrants who moved to Surry Hills 50 or so years ago…

  22. angie says:

    oh god, that was nauseating. vomitous. does she realise there has been a bakers delight at the surry hills centre for at least 12 years? but really, i can only thank my lucky stars that no one interviewed me when i was 19 about something like this – don’t be too harsh on her, she’s just a kid!

  23. missxiola says:

    It’s also very obvious the interviewer set her up to sound like a douche.

    • Nikki says:

      No. its very obvious that the interviewer is some journalist student who interviewed his friend so he could hand something in or get published on time. And if that isn’t the case, well then this journalist is in the wrong industrie because his work sucks. Has absolutely no integrity. No main sources. No real facts. No useful information. This interviewer is a dick who needs to reassess his career path.

  24. alex says:

    yeah, this is a parody article. you all got trolled pretty hard!

  25. Bella says:

    My family immigrated to Sydney 80 Odd years ago & lived in Surry Hills for 30 years of that, before moving to Marrickville. My great grand-father bought liquor from Kate Lee, and my great-grandmother was friend’s with a lot of the local immigrants who were also settling in the area. My grandfather & grandmother grew up in the area, so did my mum & aunt. And I was born on Crown Street, and although I lived in the inner west most of my life, I’ve always had friends who’ve lived in the area, so have frequented it a lot.

    The only main change is that rather than cooler people who used to dominate the area back in the 90′s SH is full of self indulged hipster wankers like Phaedra, who’s blog probably reads that she is an artist/singer/photographer/actress/director when she probably works in one of the many cafe’s.

    Newsflash to Phaedra, and the other self absorbed youth living in SH these days – you’re not an individual, nobody can stand you and buying things from op shops doesn’t make you stand out, it makes you blend in.

    I’ve fucking had it with hipsters. They ruin everything.

  26. Rosemary says:

    Can we agree that the attitudes expressed in this article are ridiculous, offensively naive and privileged and leave it at that? Why the violence towards her, calling her a ‘bitch’, calling for her to be ‘killed’? It’s vile and has no bearing on whether or not you agree with what she says or the anger you feel at entitled perspectives like hers. Be angry at that, tell her to eff out of Surry but don’t make shitty threats. It’s appalling and no-one deserves that, even if they do think the way to “fit in” is to be really good at yoga.

  27. Jeffrey Lundy says:

    This stupid bitch makes me so mad. I hate these kind of people that think they own a suburb and think they can judge other people. She should get a job buy some clothes and stop being such an ignorant fuck wit

  28. Matty Graham says:

    This is cuntingly vapid, yet hugely LOL.

  29. Dan says:

    Phaedra has to be the biggest idiot on the face of this planet

  30. SEEWELGEE says:

    Thanks brown cardigan for bringing this to my attention.

  31. minutemaid says:

    The amount of sniffling, jealous losers who are tearing apart a young woman – even threatening murder and violence against her – because, in essence, she likes dressing in second hand clothes, sitting in cafes and indulging in creative pass times, says significantly more about how low mainstream society has sunk. In comparison, the so-called alternative culture to which this youngster ascribes seems so harmless, positive and useful. Go back to your cubicles dick heads, I for one would rather hang with Phaedra, pull a bong and paint some fucking birds on the wall.

    • david says:

      you’re an idiot. enjoy dying alone

    • burningman says:

      I’m all for self expression, freedom to wear second hand clothes, think of intelligent thoughts and be a misfit (as phaedra likes to call herself).
      However. People who are ACTUALLY intelligent, free-spirited, have a kind heart, do creative things and chill with friends and stroll cruisingly through surry hills– these people don’t TALK about it. They don’t brag about it, they don’t need to frame themselves in a specific way. They just ARE.
      Phaedra and Minutemaid, there is no hate here. The angry responses are due to the fact that Miss Phaedra, you are just a fake who wishes you had a point of difference and could be edgy and non-chalant and not care about what the world thinks of you. To paint such a distinctive picture about yourself and even brush off CRIME as a ‘cool’ thing in a suburb and area FILLED with violence, drugs and homeless people who get assaulted and taken advantage of, makes you a ‘FIRST WORLD BRAT’ with no idea about the world.
      Perhaps whoever thinks this girl is a ‘ROLE MODEL’ for misfits and hipsters, should improve their intelligence and read about the history of subcultures and punks that came out of London. It’ll be a good starting point.
      I was just in Surry Hills having brekkie today with the most diverse groups of people with smiles on their face- families, friends, kids, designers, the average joes…NOBODY felt the need to differentiate themselves. We were all there to share with the other stranger on the next table how beautiful this Sunday is.
      Good luck phaedra and minutemaid. Have fun being rock’n roll. Just do it in the comfort of your own private space and not rope other friends into your fake world of bongs and trends. Try and contribute to society when you get a chance to um, walk out of surry hills with more self-confidence and less insecurities.

      • minutemaid says:

        Perhaps all these ‘chill people’ you know never ‘talk about it’ because they were never quizzed this way by an interviewer. And perhaps on paper all your ‘chill’ friends may come off more pretentious than you think. And frankly when you do read about the history of the subcultures you are mentioning, there is a hell of a lot of bragging and grandstanding, and more than a few cringe-worthy statements made by the icons of my generation, Phaedra’s, and my mother’s, and I imagine beyond. I still do not see how anything this young woman says or does is hurting anything or anyone.

        • tom says:

          The point being made here is that, self-embellishing idiots notwithstanding, punk was a legitimate cultural movement whereas hipsterdom is a hollow, uninspired post-modern mess which borrows facetious elements from cultural periods and groups as diverse as the belle epoch, the bright young things, the mods, the beatniks, the new romantics and the early 90′s skate and hip hop scenes, without offering any intellectual or cultural ideology. The difference between it and other movements is that, as a movement, it is defined by its fakeness. It is built on the outward expression of the self, while in reality most hipsters are as culturally oblivious and inarticulate as this one. To call someone a hipster is to out them as belonging to this faux-intellectual, culturally worthless camp, hence the first rule of hipsterdom is to disdain the term itself and inflict it on others and hence (obviously) why whateverhernameis doesn’t like to be labelled as such.

      • Marko says:

        That’s the old Playa spirit of openness and acceptance. Thanks.

        • Big says:

          Nah, that’s the new 2012 Burningman spirit of “if you get lucky in the lottery, or pay up big to the scalpers, _then_ you’ll be ‘radically self included’”.

          Like someone else said, I’m glad the web wasn’t around when _I_ was a loudmouth idiot 19 year old who probably wold have sprouted similar idiotic and un-self-aware opinions. I hope “Phaedra” is a stage name, so this won’t come back and bite her on the arse in 20 years time when she’s running for office…

  32. Richie says:

    I also want to pay this girl in the face.

  33. Eugene says:

    As a New Yorker, I must say: I’m not even really familiar with any of this Surry Hills crap, but this is sickening try-hard bullshit.

  34. fannyanne says:

    this girl loves ‘the homecoming’ by the teenagers for sure.

  35. martyandjerry says:

    I think a lot of quote-unquote ‘normal’ people – and some ‘straighter’ indie types – tend to feel threatened by so called ‘hipsters.’ The rage of saying you want to kill or punch someone comes from anger, and often that anger tends to come from jealousy. And why not? Who wouldn’t be mad at someone who goes through life not having to work as hard as you do, who seems privileged, who has ‘adopted’ cool, something which many people mistakenly believe is not an affectation that can be mimicked, who negatively judges others who adhere to those ideas, tastes and products offered up by mainstream culture. Most people hate hipsters because they think the hipster, by definition, is saying, ‘I am better than you. I have better taste, I’m cooler, and my life is easier than yours’. Nobody wants to feel that they have been knocked down a rung socially. Hipsters are not the first subculture in history to behave pretentiously and to believe they are superior to mainstream society. However they are the first to transcend subculture and have a very distinct and powerful affect on the mainstream: for their fashion, to their creative and artistic pursuits, to their entertainment. Because hipsters are largely the most desirable age for most marketers in the world – 18-30, their grass roots interests have been appropriated and vastly marketed to the mainstream. Nothing like this has happened to a subculture in history. And that has left many a hipster with the impression that they are the authentic, untouchably cool source of what the rest of society only aspires to be, or could only dream of being. We hate what we fear, and what many fear is not being as socially powerful as that there little girl.

    • martyandjerry says:

      And before anybody else says it, of course hippy culture, punk and grunge were appropriated into the mainstream, certainly via fashion, but never has every last faction of a subculture been sold to the mainstream on such a massive scale. It’s like a good chunk of world is converting to hipster, and there is nothing more ironic than a boy standing there in skinny jeans and a vintage-style knock off shirt at a street art show saying, ‘I want to punch hipsters in the face’.

  36. Pendick Cecil says:

    so this is what ya wanna do to her then

  37. bec says:

    missxiola and minutemaid, are you actually phedra?
    sounds like the words of someone who looks like an idiot defending herself.

    there are enough try hards here on bourke st so how about you go back to bellevue hill

  38. Anthony says:

    Its interesting that she would comment on the gentrification of an area whilst lounging on an Ikea armchair next to an Ikea side table…

  39. Jinx says:

    Lets all just pretend this is a troll and move on with our lives. Deat god, please let us pretend! D:

  40. troll says:

    haha, this is the BEST trolling I have seen (if its not then it should be). got a good laugh out of the article and photos to match. Phaedra is just like everyone her age – she thinks she is the first to do something or be a certain way. If it makes her feel good then let it be.

  41. Spork says:

    She is not real! This is all for a laugh…

  42. Marko says:

    This is a troll. It is also truth. I love it when that happens.

  43. Jane says:

    This private school brat who speaks of shopping at op shops needs to check her outfits in these photos sweetheart pretty shore i have seem those floral shorts of yours in the minkpink range thats so hipster of you considering i would place that with the likes of supre which your dissing…
    you need to get a life and realise smoking doesnt make you cool nor does the disgusting state of your balcony and house is probably the same..your upperclass snobby parents im sure have never stepped foot into that apartment they pay for to see the state of it! your an embarrassment…GROW UP

  44. Evan says:

    This chick is the epitome of hipster douche …

  45. Chantal says:

    Come on, internet. We were all young and obnoxious once. Leave the girl alone.

  46. Mack says:

    I’ve never lived in Sydney and I’ve only ever walked through SH maybe a dozen times, yet even I seem to have better perspective of the modern Surry Hills lifestyle.

    Phaedra, where to start. I pity the people who tote an “alternative” lifestyle for the cool factor. It’s as unoriginal as branded clothing, coffee snobbery and yuppies (read: self sufficient individuals). You also have a clear cut MDMA problem – I can tell because your pupils are dilated to the point of soullessness. That, and you obviously live out of Mummy and Daddy’s fat eastern suburbs wallet. My advice? Get a job, kick the drugs, survive on your own. Sobriety, independence and a little perspective will teach you a lot about the machinations of the real world.

    Whoever wrote this article, you deserve to be illiterate.

  47. L says:

    You people make me sick threatening this young girl. Although she is clueless, a hypocrite and has no idea she is a human being and she is not harming anyone so I think its pretty pathetic threatening to harm and kill the poor girl leave her the fuck alone

    I can’t stand people like her either and would never be friends with her but she has a right to live how she wants aslong as she’s not hurting anyone.

    To the girl you say you don’t like to lable people yet you LOVE labeling other people like you are the reason I feel like an outcast from society thanks for that!

    I love addidas trackies and hoodies sorry I don’t comform to your hippy standards I aslo love billabong clothes

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