Local Knowledge: Lewis Hobba on Redfern

Ahead of moving the 2018 Sydney Writers’ Festival hub from Walsh Bay to its temporary home at Carriageworks in Eveleigh, we have been catching up with writers and thinkers from the area in our Local Knowledge series. 

The suburbs Eveleigh, Chippendale, Darlington and Redfern can all be explored within a short walking distance of one another, so we spoke to Triple J presenter and comedian Lewis Hobba who shared some of his personal highlights spanning life in Redfern and its surrounds.

If you were to spend some time in Eveleigh or Chippendale, where’s the first place you would go?

When I moved to Sydney in 2009, my first job was in Chippendale, and the first place that blew my country Victorian mind was the nearby White Rabbit Gallery. It's a huge (free!) collection of modern Chinese art that surprises and impresses everyone who drops in. It’s also on the same street as Brickfields cafe, whose bacon sandwich can pull you back from the brink of death.

What’s your first memory of the area?

Redfern was the first place I lived in Sydney and I loved it so much I never left. It felt like a small country town, right next to the city, and within six months I knew the names of nearly everyone in my street. Each year we throw a huge Christmas party that brings everyone in the neighbourhood together for a feast and a Mariah Carey sing-a-long. Last year our Santa got drunk, so kids are advised to leave early. It was not good. 

Most recent memory? 

At the start of the AFLW season, the Tudor Hotel’s resident football enthusiast, Bruce, hosts a ‘Scarfing the Deer’ ceremony. Every team in the AFL has a scarf lovingly hung around the bar by a supporter, with the final scarf (the 'Sydney Swans') lovingly draped around the Tudor's giant deer head by Bruce himself. 

Bruce has been a resident of Redfern for four decades (the story goes he asked a real estate agent in the 70s for 'Sydney's cheapest house') and has spent most of that time campaigning for the Tudor to screen AFL, despite being in sight of the Rabbitoh's training ground. Locals called his dream foolish, but the newly created Scarfing the Deer ceremony has proved them wrong. Bravo, Bruce.

What's your favourite place to read or write around the area?

My tiny courtyard is great. But it would be weird if you went there. So, if the sun’s out, I’d say you can’t beat Prince Alfred Park. If it’s miserable then go for the front window of Arcadia Liquors.

What’s your favourite place to eat or drink?

Bart Jr is dangerously tasty. Once you’ve eaten there, it’s extremely difficult not to go back again and again to double down on the food, drink and delightful people. Then if you feel like kicking on, head to Freda’s for some of the most fun, unique music you’ll find played in Sydney – from Italo-disco DJ sets to live shows from 80’s cult one-hit wonders.

To read Benjamin Law's guide to Chippendale, click here