Guide to Bankstown of the 50s and 60s

Guide to Bankstown of the 50s and 60s 2

I created this map for the Suburban Noir exhibition at the Museum of Sydney, which was curated by Peter Doyle and based on postwar crime scene photographs from the Sydney suburbs. The crime scene photos were a mixture of street scenes and domestic interiors, roads through raw, new suburbs, houses with floral carpet and wooden furniture and everyday objects elevated into the status of evidence: an aluminium kettle or a Diana Pottery (made in Marrickville) mixing bowl in a kitchen; a box of Federal (made in Alexandria) matches on a sideboard, television sets with their sturdy wooden cabinets on jaunty legs that often turn up in photos of stolen goods.

Sub Noir corner

The photos were from suburbs all over Sydney, but I chose Bankstown as a focus. In the postwar years Bankstown grew as a residential area and streets of fibro houses were constructed as well as attendant suburban amusements: Bankstown Square shopping centre, bowling clubs and orchid clubs, the drive-in cinema at Bass Hill. Bankstown’s previous incarnation as the site of Sydney’s World War 2 military operations was still apparent in the airport and the Bankstown bunker, both of which remain to this day. The map is of objects and places, traces that exist in the archives and still, here and there, in the Bankstown streets where the fibro houses still stand, in between their oversized brick replacements.

bankstown duo




2 Comments on “Guide to Bankstown of the 50s and 60s”

  1. John Tipper says:

    This is what drove me out of Bankstown in 2002 after half a century. The photo above could have been taken on any one of a hundred streets in the area. Despite this, it’s still an area I enjoy re-visiting from time to time.

    • Vanessa Berry says:

      Yes it’s a common sight in that area, the streets are a real hodgepodge these days. Thanks for your comment, when I was researching Bankstown I came across some of your photos on Flickr.

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