20 September 2016

Catching up on the news while taking a break from my PhD research, Sydney’s past and present seem to be colliding and intertwining today.

Protests have been taking place calling for the heritage listing of Sirius, a brutalist building used as public housing since its construction in the 1970s. Sirius is just one of many buildings in The Rocks and Millers Point area that have been threatened with sale or demolition, as the traditionally working class community that inhabited them are relocated.


Protest signs, mural and petition in Millers Point, 2016. Photo: Peta Longhurst.

This is far from the first time that similar issues of heritage, demolition and class have intersected at Millers Point and The Rocks. When bubonic plague struck the city in 1900, many buildings in The Rocks were declared slums and demolished as part of ‘cleansing operations’. Green Bans were put in place by the Builders and Labourers Federation in the 1970s to prevent further demolition of the area’s heritage and to protect public housing. Ironically, one of the outcomes of this action was the construction of the Sirius – the same building which is now threatened with demolition and which new Green Bans have been put in place to protect.

Demolition of Exeter Place.jpg

Exeter Place in the Rocks being demolished in 1900, as part of ‘cleansing operations’ of the quarantine area. Photo: State Library of NSW.

I often think of the progression of the seasons as being about change, but seeing the ways in which these historical issues re-emerge again and again in the present reminds me to also think of seasons as a form of continuity – not a one-way progression but rather a cyclical process.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s