Get to know Newtown when you come to Sydney Uni. I’ve been living in and around Newtown for a few years now — here are some of the things which make it feel like home.
* The beer garden at the Courthouse Hotel [202 Australia St]. I haven’t found a better place in Newtown to while away a Sunday afternoon in the summertime. Adding to the general greatness of this pub is the bar staff: no fuss, no attitude and they don’t sneer at you if you order a shandy.
* Mamma Maria’s Italian restaurant [Upstairs, 239 King St (cnr Church St)]. The best way to describe this place is “the restaurant where your father proposed to your mother”. It’s just that old school. The perfect place for a birthday dinner with all your mates — get tipsy on red wine and spade the waiters. An added bonus is that it features fried brains on the menu...
* The old goth/punk guy who rides around on a motorised scooter-wheelchair, blaring death metal from tinny speakers. It just wouldn’t feel like Newtown if I didn’t have my day interrupted — nay, augmented — by his foulmouthed tirades and dirty stares.
* The Dendy movie theatre. Because sometimes you don’t want to lose your entire arm in a “regular” sized Hoyts popcorn bucket.
* Camperdown Park. At sunset it’s a dog’s paradise - all gently rolling slopes and lolloping canines. The park backs on to the cemetery, and apparently it is built on top of graves. There’s a wall separating the cemetery and the park, and if you look on the cemetery side, there’s supposed to be a large collection of tombstones lined up against the wall — all the tombstones which were removed so that the park could be built.
* Retro shopping down the southern (St Peters) end of King St. Furniture, giftware and clothing are merchandised to perfection in this part of town. It’s a bit pricey, which is to be expected given the creeping gentrification of Newtown, but it does mean that when you need something in particular, you can usually find it.
* Gelatomassi - my friend Kate likes it because she can practise her Italian while flirting with the gelato makers. I like it because the gelato is good, like “hello type 2 diabetes” good. And because of the flirting, yes.
* Quasi-celebrity spotting. I like how I see Tim Freedman from the Whitlams occasionally, Jason Whalley from Frenzal Rhomb regularly, and that guy from the Coke Zero ad ALL THE TIME. (He was on a bus with me today. But he was just sitting in the seat like regular folks do, not riding on top yelling about every day being a weekend or some junk. Pity.)
* A diverse collection of residents makes Newtown the perfect place to indulge in a bit of people-watching. If my home town was a dessert, it’d be a McDonalds softserve. Easily digestible, no surprises. Newtown is your grandmother’s jelly custard trifle, multilayered, soaked in rum and with a liberal smattering of nuts.
These are some of the things that have led me to keep living in Newtown (despite escalating rents making it borderline unaffordable). Even if you don’t live in the inner west, it’s worth taking the time to explore if you are starting at Sydney Uni this year.