Keep Newtown Weird

There’s a piece of street art I walk past. It’s a stencil of Big Bird saying ‘Keep Newtown weird.’

I didn’t think much of it until the story came to light about a young guy who was beaten up while walking home. He happened to be wearing a skirt, enraging his attackers.

Without going into how many cultures exist around the world where men don’t count trousers as part of their daily garb, our freedom of expression is part of what makes it glorious to be a human, and especially a human that gets to live in a free and democratic first-world country.

That freedom of choice is what breeds diversity. From a food industry standpoint, we see amazing venues open, and then months later, a handful of copycat venues. Usually, the laws of attrition weed them out, but imagine if every single restaurant, café and food store were almost exactly the same. How boring and bland life would be.

An audit of the Newtown/Enmore area’s current food culture is encouraging. While we’ve observed an influx of high-street chains, the eat streets of King Street, Enmore Road and surrounds remain largely independently owned, and offer up everything from raw vegan goodness at Sadhaña Kitchen, to fine cheeses, wine and charcuterie at The Stinking Bishops, excellent cocktails at The Gretz, old school Euro deli styles reimagined at The Continental, as well as corner shop charcoal chicken, Thai, Turkish, dive bar bistros (Mary’s), and of course plenty of family style pubs to spend a long, boozy Sunday in.

This isn’t to say all of it is good, but then again, ‘good’ is subjective.

Diversity is a great thing. It means that no matter how weird, funny, strange, or even boring we are as individuals, we will always find a place (and hopefully more than one), where we feel safe, comfortable and at home. These places make us feel special, and we should be thankful that a myriad of different places exist for people who aren’t us to also feel just as welcome.

Sydney’s Inner West has always been a place in the world where inclusivity meets diversity and open mindedness. Food trends may come and go in the same way as fashion, but let’s encourage that spirit of difference to remain the hallmark of what makes the Inner West great.

Words: Melissa Leong,