Nothing short of Albomania gripped Marrickville each time the new Prime Minister made an appearance in the days and weeks after his May 21 election victory. He's ours, and we're so proud, was the vibe in the streets, pubs, town halls and homes. The whole nation can surely recite his backstory in their sleep by now, and it begins and continues in the inner west, where he has lived his entire life - at least until moving to the Lodge.
Mr Albanese understood the unique value to its community of a local print newspaper and, when he was Opposition Leader, was one of the first to sit down for an interview with Inner West Review. He spoke of many things, including growing up in the inner west, the car accident that changed him, his driving desire to become PM, his son and greatest pride Nathan, and the woman who inspires him to this day, his late mum Maryanne Ellery.
Dulwich Hill local and Kamilaroi woman Cheree Toka says she's the kind of person that "doesn't take no for an answer when it comes to anything unjust". It's this drive to make change - whatever it takes - which led Toka in 2017 to initiate the campaign for the Aboriginal flag to fly permanently on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. An online petition she created for the campaign has amassed more than 177,000 signatures - enough to get it tabled and debated in NSW Parliament. The momentum of her campaign led Toka - who is managing director of maintenance services company O.S Group Indigenous - to be named joint 2022 Inner West Citizen of the Year and 2021 Summer Hill Woman of the Year. The success was followed up with more success, when NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet announced the Aboriginal flag would permanently replace the NSW flag on the Harbour Bridge - Toka was "ecstatic and over the moon" about the announcement. "It's such a proud moment for all First Nations people today and a day of celebration," she said. "What I am most proud about is that our people can feel a sense of belonging and power."
Over her seven years as CEO for the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre, Liz Yeo (pictured on our cover)says one of the initiatives she's most proud of was the Newtown Vibe Roundtable which brought together police, publicans and community representatives in 2015 to keep Newtown "fun, quirky. inclusive, and vibrant" in response to increasing violence since lockout laws were introduced in the CBD. But it was her tireless advocacy for boarding house residents after the Newtown boarding house fire which claimed three lives in March that saw her named joint 2022 Inner West Citizen of the Year. "I'm honoured but I'm also so proud of the team that we have - there was already a fantastic team when I got there, some who've been there for 30 years," she said. "Their work on a day-to-day basis, on the front line, can be extremely difficult."
The last mayor of Leichhardt and the inaugural mayor of the merged Inner West Council, Labor man Darcy Byrne - a former staffer of Anthony Albanese - is a passionate, hardworking and high-profile advocate for the inner west and its constituents. "I think [it's] a special place and I want us to be ambitious about what our community can achieve and represent into the future," he told us. The son of Balmain is unafraid of making enemies for the cause and is no stranger to controversy, but he's a survivor, too. After being ousted from the mayoralty last September by fellow councillors, his comeback after December's local government election was assured by a new Labor majority.
We wrote about this giant of Australian art's huge heart and big life in one of our early issues - the Archibald Prize winner paints prolifically in her enormous St Peters studio and beyond (Paris is her second home), and she continually gives back, whether it's raising money through sale of her artworks for asylum seekers and domestic violence survivors, or exploring the power of art therapy to help people dealing with mental health issues.
As vaping among children reaches crisis levels and schools resort to drastic measures including locking their toilets outside break times, Stanmore's Simon Chapman is finding retirement not as laid-back as he may have once planned. The Emeritus Professor in Public Health spent his celebrated career spearheading Australia's world-leading anti-tobacco measures, and has now taken up the fight against vaping. "It is anything but a benign little crazy like yoyos or hula hoops," he told us.
With wild, wet weather being a miserable hallmark of 2022 so far, the unit commander of the Marrickville SES and his fellow volunteers have been busy clearing up debris, handing out sandbags and door knocking in flood-prone areas. Speaking of their crucial work, Walker said: "If I'm being honest, around 50 per cent of what we do is 'EQ', reassurance we're here to help and they are okay."
This national treasure hardly needs introducing. He is revered for helping people at their lowest, providing meals, health care, job training and more for the homeless and disadvantaged through his Foundation at the Ashfield Uniting Church. He is also brutally honest about himself and his own darkest moments. Everyone, he reckons, should have a good shrink.
The Sri Lankan-born novelist and Dulwich Hill resident has won Australia's premier literary award, the Miles Franklin, twice, and was among the five short-listed finalists once again this year. Her latest contender, Scary Monsters: A Novel in Two Parts, is described as "a profoundly original exploration of racism, misogyny, and ageism - three monsters that plague the world."
He's the man who, as principal of Sydney Secondary College, is ultimate custodian of the education of more than 2500 local kids across the college's three campuses, and a fierce advocate of public education. One of his many ambitions is to increase the number of families who choose to send their kids to the college. "My passion is that local students go to their local school," Bowsher said. And this: "I have the crazy goal of making it the best college in NSW."
One of a crop of 10 fresh-faced new Inner West councillors after December's local government election, Kobi Shetty put her hand up to run as Greens candidate for mayor against Darcy Byrne. Against a Labor majority, Shetty was never going to win, but it marked the arrival of a local leader to watch. The Lilyfield mum of two is also emblematic of all the new councillors, Greens and Labor, who have stepped forward to serve their communities because they want to make a difference. Respect.
Known better as Aunty Phemie, the 86-year-old Bundjalung-Munajali woman is a founding member and current chair of Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Co-operative. The Leichhardt-based organisation shines a spotlight on emerging Indigenous artists. Aunty Phemie started her art career at age 50 and her works are now held in the National Gallery of Australia, Powerhouse Museum and the National Museum of Australia.
At age 93, the Ashfield local of 60 years is licensee and president at the Pratten Park Community Sports and Bowling Club - and those who know and work with her say they can only hope to have her energy and stamina when they reach their 90s. Barnes puts it down to being sporty and active throughout her life, and she is dedicated, together with her committee, to building up the historic club with weekend events, good food and live music. "I feel that our club is very popular - we are a very friendly club," she said.
Greens voter or not, there's no denying Balmain state member Jamie Parker's commitment to his community - supporting the campaign against WestConnex, pushing for shore power at White Bay Power station, fighting to protect Callan Park. He served on the former Leichhardt council from 1999 to 2012 and, when he was elected to the NSW parliament over incumbent Labor member Verity Firth in 2011, he became the first Greens member to sit in the lower house.
Unapologetically political and a proud Dhungatti man, Douglas took out this year's Archibald Prize with his portrait of Wiradjuri woman Karla Dickens standing knee-deep in murky flood water in Lismore. Speaking to Inner West Review about his win the Marrickville-based artist said: "It's been a long journey to get to where I am because not only am I speaking against the exploiters, but I'm fundamentally speaking against the establishment."
The first Member for Summer Hill and the shadow minister for transport, Haylen was elected to parliament in 2015. Before stepping into state politics she worked in the offices of two prime ministers - Julia Gillard and Anthony Albanese (then deputy) - and served on the former Marrickville council where, in 2013, while still in her early 30s, she became the youngest ever female Mayor of Marrickville.
The Leichhardt pharmacist has gone above and beyond in unsettling times to ensure anyone seeking COVID-19 vaccination won't be turned away, if she can help it, from her Elswick Street chemist. Back in January, as COVID raged and vaccine confusion (and supply issues) reigned, she hit the headlines when she drove to Newcastle in search of spare doses. Kelly was on the road again this month as COVID cases spiked and new vaccine advice led to a corresponding surge in people seeking booster shots before pharmacists like Kelly had a chance to stock up. "We went through a whole week of stock, in one day," she said. "Everyone was completely blindsided."
These former advertising executives are behind the inner west's coolest opening of the year so far, the Bob Hawke Beer and Leisure Centre in Marrickville, a love letter and cheeky paean to 1980s Australiana and the leader who defined the decade, former Labor PM Bob Hawke, who co-founded Hawke's Brewing Company with the boys in 2017. We love the Lucky Prawn Chinese restaurant, all the Hawkie memorabilia, and the retro cricket commentary that plays on a loop in the loos.
As federal Greens candidate, the university lecturer in creative education came runner-up to the Prime Minister in the seat of Grayndler - a historic achievement, but there is more to this daughter of Indian immigrants than her considerable resume in political activism. Jacobs is a dancer and choreographer who runs a Bollywood Dance School in Leichhardt, an aerial arts instructor, an artist and a refugee advocate. With a PhD in creativity assessment, you can also call her Doctor.
From the spooky to the sporty, the theatrical to the industrial, historian and fifth-generation local Chrys Meader is a passionate keeper - and teller - of the inner west's best stories. She is a tour guide, author, librarian, educator and speaker, and was also 2021 Inner West Citizen of the Year. "It is the quirky little stories that I really like, that really bring history alive," she told us.
When it comes to changing policy, community interest groups can have major success and Friends of Callan Park is proof of that - after decades of neglect, the group pushed the NSW Government to inject funding into Callan Park and protect it from privatisation. The group is helmed by co-convenor of the NSW Greens and life-long political activist Hall Greenland, who participated in the Freedom Rides in 1965.
If Independent councillor John Stamolis had his way, there would be no party politics in local government - and the former government statistician hasn't required the weight of a party behind him to win election to his local council four times. If it comes to pass that the Inner West Council is demerged, it will have a direct line to the successful motion co-tabled by Stamolis last year that called for a plebiscite to ask the people what they wanted. A demerger, they said. Loudly.
When Lockie found out in 2014 that her newly bought home in St Peters was to be forcibly acquired for the WestConnex project, she became a founding member of the WestConnex Action Group and tireless campaigner against the controversial motorway, standing alongside other locals in the David vs Goliath battle. Her anti-WestConnex campaigning led her to run for council where she's served as a progressive Independent since 2017.
The Lewisham dad and filmmaker who grew up in Launceston, Tasmania, made his Hollywood debut this year with the release in February of No Exit, a suspense thriller which he directed for 20th Century Studios. We can't wait to see what he does next.
Whip smart, razor sharp, and a good artist to boot ... they are just some of the tools of trade of a political cartoonist, and Petersham's Fiona Katauskas has been shining a light on hypocrisy on all sides of politics since the 1990s, this year's federal election being her ninth. She's one of only three working female cartoonists in the country, her satire driven by her hyper-engagement with a screwed-up world: "I am a cheery person, but inside I have a boiling rage."
We love what live music impresario Alison Avron has done at the former Alexander the Great Greek Macedonian Club in Marrickville. Throwing the dice in 2020 as COVID-19 sowed its havoc, she turned the 1950s-era building into a nightclub now known as The Great Club, staying true to its heritage while also injecting her signature - and very inner west - aesthetic: lots and lots of vintage furniture, ornaments, posters and paintings. The Great joins a heavy-hitting list of live-music venues in Marrickville - places such as Camelot Lounge, The Gasoline Pony, Lazy Bones Lounge and the Marrickville Bowlo.
Barbero describes her role as CEO of Australia's largest community centre - the Addison Road Community centre - as the "captain who has to try and steer the ship". She's been with the Marrickville organisation which runs a wide variety of human rights, arts and sustainability programs since 2011 and has been working in community development for nearly 30 years.
One of two high school students named 2022 Inner West Young Citizen of the Year for her climate activism, this 18-year-old Ashfield local has been a key contributor in the School Strike 4 Climate Movement. The young environmentalist was also awarded the 2021 Young Conservationist of the Year, is a Youth Leader for the Taronga Zoo Conservation Society and a UN Youth delegate - among other achievements.
The other Young Citizen of the Year for her leadership of School Strike 4 Climate, Sydney, the savvy Year 11 student has also been a key force in the 'It Only Takes One Minute' campaign - reaching out to the federal government to act on plastic waste - and a successful push for a more gender-inclusive uniform at her inner west school.
Aka the Sausage Queen, the former non-drinking vegetarian now makes and serves beer and snags for a living on New Canterbury Road in Dulwich Hill. She also knits sausages that she hangs in her Sausage Factory restaurant, and teaches other people how to make them (the real versions) at regular classes. The beer side of the business has just been rebranded as Queens of Chaos, making brews, boozy and unboozy, for "unapologetic and uninhibited chaotic queens". We'll drink to that.
The financial services professional met Anthony Albanese at a business dinner in Melbourne, and the two inner westies had their first date at Young Henrys in Newtown. By his side on the campaign trail, the 43-year-old has now travelled as "first lady" to Dubai, Madrid and Paris, taking to the international spotlight - and mingling with world leaders - with ease.
Vibrant and fabulous are two words which could describe the Malaysian-born musician and performance artist who is the founder of Worship Queer Collective, a group which brings together queer Asian performers. Tai has been recognised by the Inner West Council for his activism for the LGBTQIA+ community and was a finalist in Diversity Arts Australia's I am not a virus campaign - which sought to combat anti-Asian racism during the pandemic.
In a surprise victory, the mother of two took out a second spot for Labor in the Marrickville ward at the last council election. Tsardoulias, who works for the Department of Education, was inspired to run for council by her late husband, Emanuel Tsardoulias - for whom the Dulwich Hill Library is named. He served as a Marrickville councillor before his death from cancer aged just 38. "Through his work, I was able to witness first-hand the difference he made in people's lives," she said.
Local Aboriginal Elder and activist Aunty Jenny Thomsen is often seen leading 'Welcome To Country' ceremonies at significant events in the inner west and has served on a number of Indigenous advisory boards. The Ngiyampaa descendant, who was born on Gadigal land, features as part of Wendy Sharpe's eye-catching Women's Empowerment mural in Newtown.
With famous local rugby league team Newtown Jets moving into top position on the NSW Cup ladder with six rounds to go, Greg Matterson is moving closer to taking his boys to a third title since he became head coach in 2008 - the historic club's centenary year. "Everyone loves a winner. The beer tastes a lot better after a game for one thing," he says.
Rozelle-raised actor Morgan Davies, 20, has been in South Africa shooting live action manga series One Piece, off the back of a stint in New Zealand filming the latest instalment in the Evil Dead horror franchise. Morgan, who starred as Morgana Davies in movies such as Storm Boy and The Hunter, came out publicly as transgender in 2020, and is blazing a trail for trans actors to come.
This Ugandan-born musician's hip-hop career has taken her around the world and, in her home suburb of Marrickville, she has been a regular volunteer at the Addison Road Community Centre where she drove the #RacismNotWelcome campaign. "The way I see things, for any kind of positive change you have to rebel in some form and go against the grain and challenge the status quo," she told Inner West Review.
Colombo Social doesn't just serve up the inner west's best Sri Lankan food, it has also provided on-the-job training for the 16 asylum seekers and refugees who've worked there. Christie-David founded the Enmore restaurant alongside high-school best friend Peter Jones-Best. Before Colombo Social, Christie-David set up the Aboriginal Health Television Network - a channel dedicated to improving the health literacy of First Nations people.
The licensee of the Royal Leichhardt turned the historic corner pub into the pumping heart of Norton Street, not least during COVID-19 lockdowns when he supported fellow businesses by creating a mini pop-up outside his bottle shop to help sell their wares. The font of ideas and energy is also president of the Leichhardt Annandale Business Chamber (we've heard him being called 'Mr Leichhardt'), and was a member of the council's COVID-19 economic recovery taskforce.
Like many inner westies, this eccentric Leichhardt local, an acrobat and aerialist, found himself with less work and more time during the lockdown. He used that free time to start a number of "kindness projects" including a community pantry and free coffee window in Leichhardt and, most recently, a "take a coat leave a coat" initiative in Newtown to help rough sleepers keep warm through winter.
Some know him as a former Socceroo, some as a three-time Logie-winning sports broadcaster, and some as the Order of Australia-winning refugee rights activist who led a successful campaign to free a young refugee footballer who had been imprisoned in Thailand. But the inner west knows Foster best for his work as an ambassador for the Addison Road Community Organisation - driving the #RacismNotWelcome campaign and volunteering at the organisation's food pantry.
Last year's Inner West Senior Citizen of the Year has been a strong voice for the local LGBTQIA+ community, women and the ageing. The longtime-Leichhardt resident established the council's LGBTIQ Action Group and has worked with the Layne Beachley Foundation, Skilled Migrant Mentoring Program and ACON's "This is OZ" anti-violence program.
Founded in 1984, this dynamic society's sharp-eyed members - led by president Richard Blair - ensure no piece of heritage in the deeply historic suburbs of the former Marrickville municipality will be easily lost. They track Development Applications and advocate on behalf of precious buildings and sites, listing among their successful campaigns the old Marrickville Town Hall on Illawarra Road, and saving St Clement's steeple.
The life-long Leichhardt and Lilyfield resident was hit for a six when he was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson's Disease in 2013, but after several tough years and with the urging of close friends, the Dean Team came into being in 2019 - and Laws had a complete life turn-around, becoming the leading independent fundraiser for Parkinsons NSW, raising $86,000 in 18 months and, through hard exercise, reducing his symptoms from eight to two. One fundraiser involved Laws running a 42 kilometre marathon. Hats off.
Stand-up comedian and heavy metal drummer Nat shot to mainstream success in 2020 when he started creating healthy cooking videos on his YouTube channel during COVID-19 lockdowns - amassing more than 400,000 followers. The tattoo-covered Marrickville local has used his platform for good - raising awareness about depression and anxiety, donating $10,000 of proceeds from his two books to Beyond Blue and running successful fundraising campaigns for Oz Harvest and the Cancer Council.
Not one to give up, the breast cancer survivor in 2017 took on an ailing legend of a hotel - St Peters' historic Town and Country, made famous by Slim Dusty's hit song Duncan - and has turned it around in the face of myriad obstacles, from having to trade without a licence to being blockaded by WestConnex construction to pandemic lockdowns. What has kept the Tempe High alumna going strong? "Just the fact I don't want to see this beautiful pub close down."
The son of Greek immigrants, Angelicas has been photographing the people of Marrickville since his Dad gave him a plastic camera at age seven. His work over the next 50 years has been collected and exhibited worldwide. A mid-1980s photographic series, of the Marrickville rag-trade sweat shops where his widowed mother worked, is housed in the State Library. The father of two continues to call Marrickville home: "I still am inspired here."
From his time capsule of a workshop on Parramatta Road, the Annandale-born Headmaster of the Leichhardt School of Footwear exemplifies not just the creative, artisan spirit of the inner west, but how it brings people together and creates micro-communities all over the place. He's also helping to ensure the art of shoemaking is not lost to Australia forever, while still working in his Stanmore hairdressing salon one day a week.
The Lilyfield resident from hard-scrabble roots in western Sydney began riding the Sydney real estate wave in the early 1990s, buying, renovating and selling dozens of properties - many of them in the inner west - as the market ticked ever upwards. She's known today as the renovation queen, a celebrity budget renovator who's a staple on our television screens and has passed on her knowledge to thousands through her Balmain-based business Renovating for Profit.
The most famous dog in Australia is thoroughly adored - "I am besotted; it's pathetic," her owner the PM told Inner West Review - and the little white cavoodle was by the PM's side on election day and afterwards. A paparazzi favourite, Toto has her own unofficial Twitter fan account and has been cuddled by the NZ PM Jacinda Ardern and who knows who else by now. We hope Toto is adjusting to her celebrity status as the First Dog, and not missing her globetrotting 'Dad' too much.
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