Local knowledge: Benjamin Law on the new precinct

This year, we are moving the Sydney Writers’ Festival from its long-term Walsh Bay residence, which is under redevelopment, to an exciting temporary home in Eveleigh. The vibrant multi-arts space Carriageworks, located in Eveleigh's heritage-listed railyard, will serve as the Festival hub, with programming extending to the Seymour Centre in Chippendale, just around the corner. 

But before the move, we decided to ask some local thinkers and writers about what they love most about the area. To kick off our local knowledge series, we asked journalist and screenwriter Benjamin Law to tell us about his favourite spots around the new Festival precinct. 

If you were to spend time in Eveleigh or Chippendale, where's the first place you would go?

Tough call. If it's a Saturday morning, definitely Eveleigh (aka Carriageworks Farmers) Market – it has the best fresh produce and Kylie Kwong’s always got her stall there. Otherwise, our favourite Japanese restaurant, Jap's Table, Freda's for end-of-week drinks, or Cellar Door on Kensington Street for quiet drinks with good company or a book. 

What's your first memory of the area?

When we moved to Chippendale five years ago, Central Park was a construction site and we were having last drinks at The Old Clare Hotel with friends before renovations – totally a moment in time. It's insane how much the area’s changed. 

Most recent memory?

Seeing The Shape of Water at Palace Central Sydney cinemas and having the curtains dramatically open at the end to reveal a view of the suburb. They’re impressive cinemas. 

Do you have a favourite place to read around the area?

Prince Alfred Park Pool. I'm there most weeks doing laps. 

Where's your favourite place to eat or drink?

Spice Alley, off Kensington Street. There’s a reason this little tap-and-go no-money-required eating lane has become an institution – it’s a perfect example of honouring heritage and repurposing it beautifully. The Kyoto ramen, the Hong Kong dumplings and Vietnamese banh mi are my picks, but I’ve never had a bad meal with any of the vendors.