Newbie in Newtown
Sitting outside the Newtown train station, I waited patiently for the Austrian. I scanned the influx of people coming my way and I searched intently for “blonde hair, green shoes, pants that used to be white and a skateboard”. I had never met the Austrian but had recently connected with him on couchsurfing.org where we arranged to meet in Newtown for a drink so we could be lonely solo travellers together. He wasn’t here yet. Disappointed, I continued to sit and people watch in one of the more interesting suburbs of Sydney.
As I sat in observation, a man approached me who I could tell was homeless. What gave him away was his dishevelled appearance, scraggly beard; dirt smudged overalls and his signature scent, eau de la urine. He approached me with a friendly “hello” and sat down next to me. I didn’t want to be rude so I reciprocated the “hello” whilst at the same time looking desperately behind me hoping that the Austrian had arrived. Looking at my jandal- clad feet he boldly stated, “ Those are some mighty big feet you have there, bet you cant find any shoes to fit them flippers”. Why thank you homeless man for pointing that out to me. I wanted to retaliate by pointing out to him that he smelt of urine but thought better of it as I was sure he didn’t mean to be so rude. So instead I explained that indeed my feet are larger than the average woman’s but I happen to think that they are proportionate to my body and that MOST people do not point them out so publicly. To that he divulged that I shouldn’t be offended as he only noticed them because he has an extreme foot fetish and that he is in fact a master of reflexology.
“I can have a look at your feet if you like, I’m really good at it”, he offered a little too eagerly for my liking. I politely declined with a sigh of relief as the “blonde hair, green shoes, pants that used to be white and a skateboard” came in to my view. It was just my luck really to be seated next to a homeless man with a foot fetish, as I am far too polite to just get up and walk away. Who knows how far it would have gotten if the Austrian hadn’t come to my rescue! I quickly ushered him away from my new “friend” and on to the vibrant streets on Newtown. This was not my first experience of the Newtown locals, but definitely the most interesting. I had arrived here a few days earlier to a sea of people sporting pink and blue hair, piercings of all kinds and tattoos on all areas of bare skin. There is a retro second hand store on every corner, a flamboyantly gay hairdresser in every salon and a whole range of eateries offering the latest in food trends. Newtown is basically a town where anything goes and not a single day goes by without you changing your perception of “normal”. And that is why I love Newtown.
As a nice change from the city, you can spend the day here wandering the quirky shops such as Holy Kitsch on Enmore street,which is an entire shop dedicated to the Mexican Day of the Dead holiday, they get most of their product directly from Mexico and specialise in anything sporting the Mexican sugar skull. Sydney Park is also within 15 minutes walking distance and hosts a huge area for sports, walking, running and also a kids learn to ride park, a nice place to just spend an hour or two on a sunny day. And there are of course countless cafes serving ethnic foods (mainly Thai, Vietnamese and Greek), health foods and great coffee. Two of my favourites are Shenkin Kitchen and The Grounds of Alexandria. Both of which have served me insanely good coffee. Newtown is only 15-20 minutes out of the city by train so it is fairly central but offers such a different atmosphere to the hype in the city, a very low key and diverse vibe surrounds you here and it’s hard not to relish the difference it has to offer. I have genuinely enjoyed being a temporary Newtown resident with the freedom to explore and indulge in the city lifestyle but come back to this atypical and laid back little town, it is definitely worth a stop in on a Sydney holiday. ¡viva the Newtown locals!