I’ve been writing my version of Sydney since I started making zines in the mid 1990s. This blog is an album of encounters in and with my favourite places in the city and suburbs. It’s a mixture of observations, psychogeography, cartography, with a focus on overlooked, forgotten, secret or unusual places within the city and especially the suburbs. This blog is written from Cadigal land, with acknowledgement of the Aboriginal lands of which I write.

For more about me visit Vanessa Berry World.

My previous Sydney project, exploring Sydney suburban libraries, was Biblioburbia.

My patron saint is Alan Waddell of Walk Sydney’s Streets.

All writing and photography is by me unless otherwise specified. Please ask if you’d like to reproduce anything from this blog.

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Work from Mirror Sydney has been featured in:

New Writing on Place, Radio National, November 2016.

New Geographies Symposium, Bankstown Arts Centre, November 2016.

Excavating St Peters, Sydney Review of Books, September 2016.

Weird Sydney at the NSW Writers’ Centre, November 2015 and July 2016.

Creative Dialogues, the nonfiction of place at Wollongong Writers’ Festival, November 2015.

Groundwork by the New Landscapes Institute, October 2015, including Sydney Mystery Structures, and Annandale Aqueducts tours.

Second Circulation at Verge Gallery, curated by Dexter Fletcher April 2015.

Art Month Artist’s Tour of Surry Hills, March 2015.

Writing Sydney at the SMSA, in conversation with Walter Mason, February 2015.

Creative Revisions at the Macquarie University Art Gallery from 10 September – 24th October 2014.

Mud Maps at the Penrith Regional Gallery from March 1st – May 25th 2014.

Suburban Noir at the Museum of Sydney, curated by Peter Doyle, 30 November 2013 – 6 April 2014.

“Secret Sydney”, Art and About Sydney, festival program, 2013.

“Magic Kingdom” in The Lifted Brow #20, 2013.

We Blog the City” panel at the Vivid Festival, 2013.

Radio interviews for the 1990s Newtown Walking Tour, and Hidden Spaces on Mirror Sydney.

28 Comments on “About”

  1. Lucas says:

    hurrah Vanessa! Looking forward to following with you here.

  2. john PETER says:

    in your blog about the closure of magic kingdom and other fun parks you failed to mention the closure of wonderland which was not because of dwindling patrons but because the owners were offered big money for the land to develop an industrial site which is close to 2 major transport hubs the M4 and the F7

  3. Mercy says:

    Why haven’t you written about the Olympia Milk Bar yet?

    • Vanessa Berry says:

      My story about the Olympia was published in my book Strawberry Hills Forever in 2007 – but I don’t think I’d republish it online, there’s plenty online about the Olympia already.

  4. Fascinating blog! I love observing quirky bits of Sydney too. At the moment I am checking out Darlinghurst as I have a temporary job in Oxford St. I normally work in Parramatta which has given me an opportunity to explore fantastic little neighbourhoods like Harris Park. I am from Melbourne originally and love sites like Past2present and Melbourne street art.

  5. Robb says:

    Awesome! Just read your visit to the former Magic Kingdom I remember as a child. Am very much looking forward to exploring many other haunts, like the African Lion Safari, with you soon. Your writing style is exceptional and I really felt as though I was there exploring the site with you, except, I was remembering what it was like with the sounds of the crowd, children laughing and screaming with joyful fear, lining up with a hessian sack, slowly, step by step, making my way to the top for my turn on that GIANT slide, which undoubtedly looks a lot smaller than I recall. That shoe though, that image haunted me so much, I have no idea why, I remember it most vividly, the excitement of running onto that island (of sorts) and trying to make Mother Hubbard’s place my own as I climbed inside.

    I look forward to visiting African Lion Safari. I have really fond memories of that place, and Bullen’s Animal World (especially the drive-through monkey enclosure and taking our PNG friend, Kivioki inside – oh boy, was she terrified, the monkeys response caused havok!).
    Best wishes and many thanks, Robb.

  6. I thought you might like to know that I’m opening up Marie-Louise Salon this weekend for people to see and pick amongst the shop fittings for memorabilia they might like to buy. It is absolutely gorgeous inside, as though time has stood still. I hope you get this message in time because it’s just this weekend before renovations start.

  7. Hi Vanessa, I love reading your posts so I’ve nominated you for The Liebster Award for bloggers. You can check my nomination and how to participate in this award here: http://brendonthesmilingchef.wordpress.com/2013/12/10/nomination-for-the-liebster-award/

    • Hi there we have a shared love of Sydney and Maps of the same. I collect old gregories and have a copy of the hector robinsons in your article, pretty sure it is the same edition as well.
      My Geregoies arefrom edition one through to about 1998, with about % year gaps between them (eg 1957, 1962, 1967 ect) so I can map the changes to this town. If you would ever like to use a particular map I will happily scan it for you and send as a jpeg. Just let me know

  8. Hi, saw your piece about the long-lost Camperdown cycle track and so loaded up some scans of the track when it was new – niow on a flickr account (TAimages) for anyone to share. Thanks for the story – it brought back some old memories…

  9. Sahibzada Faheem Noor says:

    I was introduced to your site after I had left Sydney having stayed for almost eight months.I did explore Sydney by walking around whenever I could but seeing places as you have been doing is more fascinating,exciting and enjoyable.Well if I find my way back to Sydney again, I’ll most certainly like to team up with you and do bit of exploring.Till then my best wishes for you in your pursuits.

  10. dawesleigh says:

    After reading your excellent post on Millers Point, I posted a link to one story on the website I manage — http://millerspointcommunity.com.au/saving-the-workers-flats/ — The website is recording the people and places of Millers Point as a way of supporting the fight to Save Millers Point (which is the name of our Facebook page) and promoting a series of online petitions — the first petition was for Mary Vo, and there is a link to this petition in you article; next week there is likely to be another couple of petitions at least. Thanks for your support through this article and perhaps an opportunity will arise to promote the millerspointcommunity.com.au website and upcoming petitions as they are posted.

    • Vanessa Berry says:

      Thanks, I’m happy to support the fight for Millers Point – as I post on this blog only once a month or so I’ve put information in the sidebar, I’ll update it when the new petitions arise.

  11. Jamie Parker says:

    I just love this. I especially like the discussion about the tree in Glebe. I often visit it at lunch time and think of what has happened over the years in that place.

    Jamie Parker MP

    • Vanessa Berry says:

      Thanks Jamie – happy to hear you’re enjoying the blog. Yes that tree in Glebe is very special and a good spot for contemplation!

  12. Carole noman says:

    Dear Vanessa, I really love your blog. Your passion for Sydney & its past really shines through. I look forward to your stories very much.

    • Vanessa Berry says:

      Thanks Carole, I’m happy to hear it – it’s such a pleasure to share some of Sydney’s past and stories.

  13. Hugh Miller says:

    Hi Vanessa,
    I stumbled across your work recently through a Facebook link and have been captivated by your blog for days now, working my way methodically back through the months. I am of the same vintage as you, and followed a similar path from bland northern suburban childhood, to infatuation with inner city locations through my adolescence, to relocation to the inner west at the earliest possible opportunity after finishing school, and an ongoing fascination with the ever-evolving nuances of the city’s fabric as I have aged, left, then returned, married and started a family.
    Many of the locations you have posted are familiar to me, some surprisingly so (I recalled buying birthday gifts for my sister and mother at Waitara’s curiosity shop in primary school, having completely forgotten it; whereas I was admiring the wild roses at Lewisham overpass and mourning the demise of Manly Water works just last week); and others have illuminated features that I had never noticed or been aware of. I look forward to completing my survey of your past work and to future posts!
    I am also keen to obtain a copy of your book, Ninety9, the review of which I read and as I mentioned seems to mirror my own experience of that decade. Do you sell copies by mail order, or can you direct me to an outlet?
    Warm regards and thanks for the wonderful work,
    Hugh Miller

    • Vanessa Berry says:

      Thanks for your lovely message Hugh, and I’m glad Mirror Sydney has been such a happy discovery – it does indeed sound like our paths have intersected! Ninety9: was a limited release so I’m not sure if any are still in shops, it is available from the publisher’s website: http://giramondopublishing.com/product/ninety9/ Happy reading!

      • Hugh Miller says:

        Hi Vanessa,
        I greatly enjoyed Ninety 9, which I ended up locating at Ashfield Library, and your Mirror Sydney archive. Your writing is very evocative, insightful and laugh out loud funny at times.
        I also took particular pleasure in your descriptions of derelict leisure grounds, and their eerie, dreamlike quality. I was reminded of an experience a few years ago, riding my bike from Tempe to Botany Bay, and detouring past St George Stadium, in Banksia. Its derelict grandstand looms gloomily in the distance from the bike path, the approach roads choked with weeds, the location flanked by the incongruous environments of airport runways, houseboat canals and market gardens.
        Despite its bleak, abandoned grandstand, however, the ground itself is still functional – I encountered a soccer club official tending to the grounds, who explained that lower grade teams still use the pitch and that people still come to watch, sitting on temporary seating stacked along the boundary. Your eloquent descriptions of ghosts, traces of past glory existing in alternate realities, brought that experience back to me.

  14. Ilariacaterina says:

    Dear Vanessa, I love everything about this blog, it’s a treasure trove: thank you so much for writing, walking and photographing!

  15. Joanne Karcz says:

    Hello Vanessa
    I too came across your blog by accident. I am currently discovering Sydney one suburb at a time, posting every fortnight. When researching and writing up my blog on Darlinghurst, I came across something you wrote a couple of years ago about the bubblers in Sydney and hence found my way to this blog. You can find me on http://www.travelwithjoanne.com/ . I do the blog for fun and to practice my photography. Perhaps you would be so kind as to add it to your list of Sydney Links. Unfortunately, at present I am unable to reciprocate….but I will follow you.

  16. Mark Sequeira says:

    Not sure if this is of interest. Atlantic Recording Studio in Earlwood I noticed the fading name driving by Recently. Further investigation ( wiki the Atlantics aust surf group )

    • Vanessa Berry says:

      Hi Mark – thanks for mentioning the Atlantic – I have seen this when driving through Earlwood, I will see what I can find out about it.

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