I’ve been writing about Sydney since I started making zines in the mid 1990s. This blog is an album of encounters in and with places in the city and suburbs. It’s a mixture of observations, psychogeography and cartography, with a focus on overlooked, forgotten, secret or unusual places within the city and especially the suburbs. This blog is written from Gadigal land, with acknowledgement of the Aboriginal lands of which I write: the lands of the Dharug, Dharawal, Gundungurra and Guringai clans is the place now known as Sydney.

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.

* * * * * * *

Mirror Sydney has been featured in:

Mirror Sydney review: Vanessa Berry pictures another side of the city reviewed by Bradley Garrett, 2017.

Mirror Sydney: Artist finds beauty in city’s overlooked landmarks by Teresa Tan, ABC, 2017.

Mirror Sydney Maps at 55 Sydenham Road, 2017.

Tuesday Book Club on 2SER, reviewed by Andrew Pople.

Alternative Archaeologies, Canvas, Fbi Radio, 2017

St Peters: Post-Industrial Playground, St Peters Library, 2017

Sydney Lost and Found Tour, Sydney Living Museums, 2017

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, and the Paragon Cafe in 2017.

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.

41 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!

    • Vanessa Berry says:

      Thanks Ilaria – I’ve been eagerly following Mapping Edges on Instagram so am a fan of your projects too!

  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.

  17. Erica Murdoch says:

    Love these Vanessa- sad echoes of the past. I’ll have to check out the other blogs you mentioned.
    A friend put me on to this blog from New York

  18. Alice says:

    Hi Vanessa, I grabbed a book quickly from the library because I loved the cover. Lo! it was your very own book. I have enjoyed Mirror Sydney so so much. Now I get to dive into your blog. xx Ali xx (Pat’s sis)

    • Vanessa Berry says:

      Thanks Ali, I’m so glad you enjoyed it and the cover jumped out at you! It’s a lovely cover, I feel so happy with how the book looks. Enjoy looking around the blog!

  19. jim says:

    Hi Vanessa , enjoy your posts and pics very much. Left Oberon in 1977 to do my apprenticeship at Mascot and was fascinated with inner Sydney area having grown up in the country. Many a time passed Parramatta road with the multitude of shops and interesting facades to travel back home. After becoming a tradesman returned to the country in 1981. In 2007 , again moved to down and this time to Yagoona. The changes that occurred , were occurring and still are occurring seem to put to rest any memories and history of old Sydney . With the recent passing of my father , who also owned a combined milkbar / fish and chip takeaway shop, the story of the Olympia hit a raw nerve , as did the story in the media about a glassman who entered a derelict shop along Parramatta Road near Mosely Street and found the skeletal remains of a person who resided in the attached residence in the rear which was in a time warp reflecting when the person had died many years ago. Again since moving back to the country in 2016 , the
    rare trips I do make to Sydney now has only confirmed that constant change is always inevitable especially in the city and all the memories I have will also disappear. Thankyou again Vanessa for your posts , have brought back many memories.

    • Vanessa Berry says:

      Thank you for sharing some of your Sydney stories Jim, and I’m glad the blog brought back some memories. Many memories do disappear, but others are preserved in various forms, even if just on a personal level as we recall them.

      • jim says:

        Hi again Vanessa , thanks for posting and reply. Just of curiosity , how did you get involved in this area of interest ? From one google image eventually led me to your website which I believed was run by a guy/s ( just like myself ) with a sense of adventure checking out vacant buildings , trespassing on derelict sites , or getting into abandoned industrial sites. Suppose I being sexist but surprised , not that women would also have an interest , but that are physically involved in doing the same things. Please , no offence intended , just a comment from me. Thanks again for your blog and your great work. Cheers, jim

      • Vanessa Berry says:

        Hi Jim, I’ve always been interested in unusual or abandoned places, as long as I can remember. When I moved to the inner city/inner west in my late teens I did a lot of walking around and going into old or run down places. I like the sense of stillness in them and how they are like another world alongside the everyday one, and there were plenty more of such places then.

  20. Hi Vanessa, I really appreciate your work and find something of a resonance with mine: I make wearable sculptures that draw on wastelands or contested spaces – walls, fences, edges that lie between the built environment and ever present nature that threatens to reclaim it. I had you sign your book at the Ashfield Library a couple of weeks ago and promised to make contact through your blog. Most recently I made pieces based on the White Bay Power Station – great forms in large scale but also in the traces and fragments that tell its story. I’ll check out whether you have focussed on this place at all yourself. Thanks for the talk – it was great- and for your research. Helen Wyatt

    • Vanessa Berry says:

      Thanks Helen for your kind comments, I’ll have a look at your work, it sounds wonderful – White Bay is such a striking part of the urban landscape, and in its abandoned state, a rich place for the imagination.

  21. Anthony says:

    Hi Vanessa,

    I’m thrilled I’ve found your blog, as I’m halfway through Mirror Sydney and am absolutely enthralled. I love your understated writing style, and your feelings on Sydney’s urban relics, history and decay match mine to a tee.

    I actually found this blog while searching for a photo of the tunnels the Goulburn St car park covered as I’m reading your book. So glad I found the site while I’m still reading as it’s a great companion.

    Now back to the book!


    • Vanessa Berry says:

      Hi Anthony,
      Thanks so much for taking the time to write and I’m very happy you’re enjoying the book, and have found the blog. It’s great to hear it has struck such a chord, enjoy the second half!

  22. Hi Vanessa,
    I’m currently finishing a book about my Dj life (I was a Dj in Sydney nightclubs from 1982 until 2008). During research I happened to come across some information you wrote about one or some nightclubs in Sydney to which I refer in my book and I’d like to credit you, but I cannot find the blog you wrote.
    Would you, perchance happen to remember when it was and what it was called?
    I’d be very grateful if you could assist me.
    Kind regards,
    Georgina Reed (Sydney’s Soul Sister)

    As I no longer have a website I have added the radio station where I present a program.

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