Local knowledge: Fiona Wright on Eveleigh

Ahead of moving the 2018 Sydney Writers’ Festival hub from Walsh Bay to its temporary home at Carriageworks in Eveleigh, we have been catching up with writers and thinkers from the area in our Local Knowledge series. 

This week we spoke to Fiona Wright, who wrote her most recent book of essays, Small Acts of Disappearance, from two cafes in Erskineville, only a short distance from the Sydney Writers’ Festival hub at Carriageworks.

Can you tell us about your first impressions of Eveleigh?

I have a really strong memory of driving through the back streets of Eveleigh to the Seymour Centre as a teenager, and falling immediately for the romance of the rows of terrace houses with their tiny front yards and wrought-iron balconies, so unlike anything in my childhood suburb.

I still love walking through those streets, because they're so beautiful and so full of life, and it's strange to remember how extraordinary and remarkable they seemed to me back then, now that they're part of my everyday geography. 

Where's your favourite place to read or write?

I actually wrote a lot of my last book in two cafes close to Eveleigh – the gloriously-punny-named Fleetwood Macchiato and Shenkin in Erskineville. They are both friendly and cosy little places with truly excellent coffee and ridiculous cakes. Fleetwood's banana bread is studded with chunks of crystallised ginger, and Shenkin has a whole cabinet of gooey and chocolatey goodness. All very important brain food, obviously. 

Most recent memory of spending time in the area?

Eating cheese and drinking aviations at Moya's Juniper Lounge, a fairly new bar that's opened up near Redfern station. I snuck in here last week for an after-work drink with a friend and ended up spending hours curled up on the kooky, ratty furniture, under a gorgeous art deco lamp. It feels like being in a friend's sharehouse, except with excellent liquor and super-friendly staff. 

First place you would go if you were to spend some time in Chippendale? 

White Rabbit Gallery. White Rabbit is a gorgeous gallery, dedicated entirely to contemporary Chinese art. Every time I go there I'm fascinated and challenged. Then I'd duck across the road to Brickfields cafe to refuel on the coffee and the chewiest, tangiest sourdough I've ever found. 

Where's your favourite place to get a drink? And what's your usual order?

Knox Street Bar, tucked away off City Road. The bar is a great supporter of all things literary – they often host book launches and regular short fiction nights. They have a cocktail roulette wheel behind the bar that you can spin if you can't decide on a drink. (It's dangerously good fun). But I go straight for a drink called 'This is my jam', which is fruity, strong and sour (and so, indeed, my jam). 

To read Lewis Hobba's guide to Redfern, click here