Sunday, 15 April 2007

King Street, Newtown, is a counter-culture hub of busy Sydney. Located just beyond the leafy campus of Sydney University, it has changed over the past ten years or so, succumbing to the irrepressible surge of Australia's recent yuppification. But the anti-establishment edge it has always held up to the world has merely mellowed, and has not dissolved entirely under the influence of filthy lucre.

Single-lane on weekends, King Street demands attention from drivers, who must take care to avoid pedestrians who saunter across where there are no traffic lights.

Largely constructed in the late nineteenth century, the shopping strip, which is about half a kilometre long, now houses myriad eateries and trendy garment outlets.

A few minutes further west: this is what I came out today to capture. Parramatta Road is a teeming ribbon of constant traffic that leads from the city to the M4 at Strathfield. It is also one of the oldest thoroughfares in the country. The settlement at Parramatta was the breadbasket of the early colony with its rich soil, broad acres, and substantial river.

Nowadays the road thunders with the sound of a thousand automobiles. But turn off left or right and you find yourself on a leafy, quiet street flanked by free-standing or terrace houses.

Every available space can be used by those wanting to bring attention to themselves, either to sell something or to campaign for political office.

The built environment teems with signs and images.

Posters adhering to telegraph poles constitute a significant source of meaning in the city. You could do a study on them alone.

Quiet streets such as this flank Parramatta Road for the whole of its length.

In earlier days these inner-western suburbs had many factories and warehouses in them. With gentrification and infrastructure investment most have relocated further west where land is cheaper. Old structures near the city such as this are often converted into apartment blocks.

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