Annandale is great. It sports Sydney's widest street, "Johnston Street". (A friend Marky told me this about 8 years ago and I wondered as I did many other times with Marky "when am I ever going to use this piece of information?") It's a little haven about 4 kms out of the city centre to which you can travel via bus or light rail. It conveniently neighbours Leichhardt, Newtown and Glebe, but it's just far enough away from it all so that it's not at your doorstep.
What is at your doorstep is a fine mixture of music ranging from jazz
at the funky Side on Café to Blues
at the Empire to an array of Sydney talent (or lack of) at the Annandale. You'll find many talented musicians here- if you know where to look and if you're lucky you may be invited to a local lounge-room for a jam. The most famous of which has been Joey's at 284A where people would drop in at any hour hoping to find a party, a feed, a drug of some description and even a cow – and usually they weren't disappointed. That's where I met Train who went out with his dealer one night to "bash a poofter
" and weeks later he let another suck him off. And Ren, who thought it normal to wake up in the same pile of vomit for 15 years and to pass Herpes on to his girlfriend. But then there's Haley, who's researching for a PHD in how to make living on the Mekong Delta
more sustainable and economically viable for Vietnamese communities
and Rick my current housemate who's done more meditation
than anyone I know and will often slip a fifty into a hand of supplication.
The houses here are set in one of the greenest backdrops in the inner west. And although one would be forgiven for thinking it is rather bourgeois
, hit the beat of its spacious and calm streets and you might meet such characters as "old Czech
man" whose family has abandoned him to Rose Street Hostel where they take all his money and feed him spaghetti 4 times a week or Aggie who's about 100 and still up for a boyfriend. There is also the Pink Greek Witch
, once opera
singer, who says never to mix human energy
with that of animals and warns you to take care because she can see spirits
and they could harm you.
After 8 years of living here –on and off- I still find clandestine nooks that have previously gone unnoticed, like tunnels in canals, stairwells connecting streets and occasionally another park. For the early risers, don't be surprised to see horses on morning canters and Tibetan Buddhist monks gliding through Booth Street shops, which are friendly and convenient but if you want to go shopping, take it to Newtown or Glebe. That is of course, unless you're after a GUITAR. You'll find them all here and if you have a spare thirty grand you may even pick yourself up a vintage Les Paul.
One thing you can't pick up here is a really good feed. Although the gourmet deli and the two Lebanese owned grocery stores are quite lavishly stocked, nobody really comes to Annandale to eat, they eat here if they happen to be here and they're hungry. For coffee or dining, I suggest Leichhardt.
But if you're up for an atypical taste of incongruity or even just a place to stay in Sydney, my lounge-room, which I share with fellow yogi, musician and clown, welcomes you.