For the love of Balmain

One of the great things about our local area are the creatives and characters who reside here. In this Darling history edition, Cindy Kennedy of McGrath Balmain interviews significant locals on why they love the area and reminisce about yesteryears.

LynLyn Tranter
Australian Literary Agent

How long have you been living in Balmain/Birchgrove?
26 years

What was Balmain like when you moved here?
When I was young, which is a very long time ago, I used to come to Balmain as I knew a number of friends who lived here. It actually was a cheap place to live. We would meet at various pubs including The London Hotel and The Riverview. By the time we finally moved here many people had left because it had become a sought after area.

As an Australian Literary Agent, you have experienced Balmain’s art and social culture over the years. What was it like?
There always seemed to be something happening. We would go to a pub and someone would say there is a party over at someone’s house and we’d turn up, with a bottle, and talk the night away. It was very relaxed and fun.

Why have you stayed, what has kept you here?
I’m a dog tragic and Balmain has some of the best dog friendly parks in Sydney, especially Mort Bay. And the closeness to the city is a big plus. Also for a small suburb to have two excellent bookshops is simply terrific.

What is your favourite or funniest memory from your time in Balmain?
Many years ago when we would go to The London, there was often an elderly chap there who busked. He always sang “Hit me with your rhythm stick”, which I found hilarious. I now think this suburb must have some of the best kept nails in Sydney as at last count there were about four nail shops!

Ken sculpterKen Unsworth
Sculptor

How long have you been living in Balmain/Birchgrove?
30 odd years.

What was Balmain like when you moved here ?
Less traffic, smaller population. It seemed a more genuine small village atmosphere but we still have that now, with a variety of quality businesses.

As a renowned Australian sculptor, you have experienced Balmain’s art and social culture over the years.

What was it like?
The art world exists in many different spheres, my interactions are often with other leading artists, musicians, writers and filmmakers who live locally.

Why have you stayed, what has kept you here?
Balmain and Birchgrove is still an ‘Eden’ with easy access to the outside world. It is convivial, creative with the comfort of easy interactions with locals.

What is your favourite memory from your time in Balmain?
The pleasure of the company of friends or neighbours, the water and walkways and hidden waterside parks.

KathleenKathleen Plummer
Born and bred in Balmain

How long have you been living in Balmain/Rozelle?
I have lived in Balmain/ Rozelle for 68 years. I was born in Balmain hospital.

What was Balmain like when you moved here?
When I was growing up in Balmain it was a working class industrial area.

Kathleen, you worked at the local pubs, what was it like?
I started working in the hotels in Balmain when I was 21. I worked at the Dry Dock Hotel, The Exchange, Dick’s Hotel and The Cricketers Arms. Back then, the pubs were very rough but the local atmosphere and characters were always in abundance.

Why have you stayed, what has kept you here?
My friends and family have kept me living in Balmain, and I still have my friends from school around me today, that’s really special.

What is your favourite memory from your time in Balmain?
One of my favourite memories is going to see the Bee Gees and Johnny O’Keefe concerts at a hall near Darling Street.

Nigel_Roberts.jpg

Nigel Roberts
Poet

How long have you been living in Balmain?
Too long.

What was Balmain like when you moved here?
In 1968, it had a raffish unrenovated charm. I rented a waterfront house for $20 per week. As an Australian poet, you would have been part of Balmain’s art culture.

What was it like?
Poetry was a blood sport! However with the coming of the Whitlam Government a Balmain address was said to be essential in applying for an arts grant.

Why have you stayed, what has kept you here?
Life and a string of unfortunate coincidences.

What is your favourite or funniest memory from your time here?
The Nicholson Street ferry to and from home to work was definitely a positive. Graffiti on a Merton Street warehouse called “Bored with the USA “, a nod to Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA”.

Cindy Kennedy | McGrath Balmain
222 Darling Street, Balmain
www.mcgrath.com.au/agent/245-cindy-kennedy

 

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