Surely travelling over two hundred kilometers just to have a meal is somewhat eccentric, n’est ce pas? Yet, we did this last Thursday. It was to celebrate both our son’s and Helvi’s birthday with a dinner in Newtown’s King Street. Leaving in the afternoon and against the outgoing traffic it’s not all that bad and, apart from meeting up with daughter and partner, son and grandson Thomas, we just love the buzz of southern side of King Street, Newtown. It is, in our opinion, a stretch of road unique in Australia.
The architecture is a jumble and mix of nothing particularly outstanding. I mean it is not Avenue des Champs-Elysees, but is unique in the sense that it is totally alive. The amount of traffic is such that it is perpetually at a standstill giving ample opportunity for pedestrians to cross and even walk along the cars without much risk or any danger. The battle between the cars and pedestrians will surely finally have to resolve itself by simply banning all cars. At the moment there is still a balance and somehow symbiotic. Cars can still park after 6pm, unload those to go shopping or seek sustenance in a café or restaurant of which there seem to be plenty. We were certainly driven by hunger by the time we arrived.
It is a forever changing scene in Sydney. We turned off after having gone through the notorious smelly tunnel, into The Princess Highway. “Princess Highway” surely a misnomer? Where is the Princess? It brought back shades of my introduction in 1956 to the often rather optimistic naming of places that after inspection did not live up to their promise. “Palm Beach” but it did not have palms. “Blue Mountains”, yes, but where are the mountains? Tourist brochures still today names Goulburn “Lilac City”, where is the lilac?
Princess Highway has only ugly ones, probably hiding in the plethora of car yards that litter as nowhere else in the world. We drove past what we thought was a new airport, but, which turned out to be a huge IKEA shop. It is so big, that you need a fold-up bike with GPS to take you around and plenty of water.
It was with great relief we drove into King Street and found a parking within 50 metres of the restaurant that our son had booked for 6pm. It’s a hugely popular Thai restaurant with the added lure (we were told) of she-males as waitresses. We did not see any; it must be one of those rumours spread by clever marketers to make the restaurant popular. They were all slim and terrifically attractive girls, good and quick with forever scanning the customers for any possible requests or orders. The name of the place starts with a D, something Duang & Doh and is always chockers for lunch and dinner. It’s next door to a dress designer shop called Magdalena Duma.
It is run by the daughter of a Polish-Jewish refugee and some time ago I wrote a piece about that shop as well.
That’s what Newtown does to you. It is not dull. I suppose that stretch of old Sydney is what Balmain used to be like before the million dollar lawyers brigade took over.
If I ever became Lord Mayer I would till my dying days, banish all car yards away from our main roads to industrial specially designated areas. Can you imagine Rome’s, Paris or Amsterdam’s roads cluttered by car yards? Next, an obligatory course to be undertaken by all business owners in aesthetic looking and modest advertising signage. I just loathe the instantly world-wide recognizable typical Australia to be so terrifyingly ugly while hiding so much that is so mouthwateringly beautiful.
Our Thai meal was a glorious mixture of shared sea-food with lychees, vegetables with beef, chicken with vegetables, all with snappy and bright green snow peas, whole basil leaves, ginger and mint with chili and boiled rice. No wine, in fact, most of the patrons just seemed happy with bottled water. Afterwards we drove home in the rain with a stretch of very narrow lanes because of M5 highway work. Great big double bogey trucks muscling into my space. Geez, I hate that night driving with the rain shimmering on the road reflecting images that limit vision and at the same time those huge road trains thundering by within inches.
It was a great birthday dinner, well worth the 200 plus Kms.