Warning! Following are my own personal experiences with the people and places of Sydney! I have not allowed for any differences of opinion and am merely stating how I feel so I apologise up front if you live in one of the areas that I don’t like 😉
Sydney is a remarkable city to live in. Within just 30 minutes of the city center in four different directions you will find vastly different lifestyles and ‘types’ of people. No type is better or worse than the next, they are all just different, and you need to find the ones which suit you best. I have spent significant amounts of time in the northern, southern, western and eastern suburbs of Sydney, but I find myself often realising that I am definitely a “North Shore” type person.
Today I had the opportunity to venture into Sydney’s Kings Cross to visit a ‘celebrity’ hair stylist for the price of visiting a ‘normal’ one. I took that opportunity, and my hair does look fantastic. However, the experience of spending time in the salon was not as magical and welcoming as I would have thought. While both the stylists were friendly and lovely, they also both exuded what I call “inner city hostility”. I don’t think people mean to do it, and to be honest, it is probably more an extension of how uncomfortable I feel rather than anything they are doing or saying.
Now I spent rather a lot of time in my teenage years around Paddington and Glebe and in and around Sydney City in general. I am not unfamiliar with it at all. I am certainly able to drive myself around it confidently and find parking (which in itself is a feat of ingenuity!), so why don’t I feel like I ‘fit’ there? To me, the people are all very funky and trendy (which I am not. I am more classic). A little ‘too cool for school’ if you know what I mean. The mothers were pushing their prams down William street in their black leggings with ballet flats and floppy trendy tops with beads and trendy necklaces. They all looked gorgeous, but not quite right for me. When I want to do some ‘serious’ shopping I would never think of anywhere but ‘The City’. When I want to test out great night spots and restaurants, museums or art galleries? Definitely straight into the city. Short periods of time definitely suit me better when it comes to the city.
I also don’t feel comfortable in the Eastern suburbs and neither does my husband, which is really strange since he spent most of his life living in the boarding house of one of Sydney’s most prestigious boys schools! The school has a multi million dollar view of the harbour and is situated as far east as you can go in Sydney…pretty much. I had many friends from the Eastern suburbs and my step-uncle was VERY much an Eastern suburbs man, so I have also spent a lot of time around that area. We are happy to sample the fab beach side cafes and parks there. We are happy to go for walks and admire the beautiful houses, but we never feel quite comfortable. They just aren’t our people. Why? Not really sure on this one actually, because there are a lot of similarities between the eastern and northern suburbs, but somehow there is a slightly different turn of mind, or way of dressing and it just doesn’t fit us.
Most of our extended family live in the Western suburbs of Sydney. They are all people whom we love and respect. They certainly don’t fit the stereotype of many “Westies”, but yet, this is probably one of the areas we feel the least comfortable in. I am at risk in suggesting that it may be something to do with the socio economic spread and how it differs between the north, and west, but I’m not entirely convinced that income or education have everything to do with it. I lived in the western suburbs with my mother and step father for quite a number of months at one point. We spent a lot of time there visiting relatives when I was younger, so again, it is not completely unfamiliar to me and yet… I just don’t fit! The people have a different style of dress, their mannerisms and the way they use language is different and we only ever venture out there when we visit with our relatives.
Next we have the Southern suburbs of Sydney. Where I was born, and spent most of my childhood years. I always knew I didn’t really fit in there either, but I didn’t know back then that other areas existed; so I couldn’t really know it was to do with finding the right people I could fit with rather than trying to fit myself in with these people! Again, my husband and I never have cause to go into the southern suburbs of Sydney as we just don’t know anyone who lives there. There aren’t any shops or beaches or national parks there that we can’t get around our area, so Cronulla (you may recall the ‘race riots’?) etc are only places we pass through on the way to somewhere else.
Now we come to the northern suburbs. By this I mean pretty much anywhere from Chatswood to Freshwater or Manly Beach. We live just outside the northern suburbs border, closer to Sydney city. This is mainly because it costs an awful lot to live in the northern suburbs of Sydney! Our area is super central and easy to get to both north and city within about 20 minutes drive so it’s great for us. We also get a good mix of different types of people in our area being so central to everything. Both my husband and I have spent most of our working life in and around North Sydney and the northern suburbs. We have a lot of friends in the area as well as acquaintances, and we just feel ‘right’ when we are there. We can relax when we jump in the car and head to a park or cafe or beach in this area because we know that we will not be judged on what we are wearing or how we speak as we pretty much ‘match’ everyone else we’ll meet in this area!
Undoubtedly there will be people from other areas of Sydney who would be thinking of ‘North Shore Snobs’ or “Mosman Mums” ( I think in the USA this is equivalent to ‘soccer Mums’ or just think of those women with their pearls and polo shirts, kitten heels and a big 4WD that never actually goes off road). I am not ashamed to say that “I have ALWAYS wanted to be a mosman mum!” Maybe one day I will be, but for now, I’m content to sit and watch and hang out with them and their lot because when I walk past, they smile at me. They often say hello. They seem to accept me as one of theirs. Living in Sydney’s North Shore would probably be the stuff of nightmare for the chaps I met at the salon today. I’m pretty sure I was super boring to them. It made me laugh when I looked at the hair style they had given me though. Blonde, shoulder length, blow dried high at the back and tucked under at the sides. The style sat beautifully over the upturned collar of my polo shirt, and showed off my 1.5 ct diamond earrings (no they aren’t actually ‘diamonds’… I wish!). They had checked me out, sized me up and sent me off looking like….. a Mosman Mum 🙂