Walking Tour: Wild Western Wander

  • Start Erskineville Station
  • End King St
  • Length 1.5km; one hour

Exiting Erskineville train station, turn left and cruise through Erskineville Village. On your left you’ll pass the lavishly tiled Rose of Australia pub, and on your right the defunct Erskineville Town Hall and the art-deco Erskineville Hotel.

Cinematic déjà vu? You may recognise the Imperial Hotel on the Union St corner as the spot from which the bus departed in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. In June 1931 this unassuming side street was the setting for the ‘Battle of Union St’, one of several Great Depression eviction clashes. Hundreds of people gathered and jeered as police brutally evicted residents who had barricaded themselves inside a house.

Another socialist landmark, Green Bans Park, just before the railway bridge on Erskineville Rd, owes its existence to the construction workers’ green bans of the 1980s and '90s. Ceramic tiles tell the story of the 1992 union ban that led to this land being retained as a community park. Similar green bans saved Woolloomooloo’s Finger Wharf and parts of the Rocks.

Cross the bridge and truck up to King St, Newtown. Across the road is a prominent Martin Luther King mural. Although it was painted without permission in 1991 by a group of artists calling themselves Unmitigated Audacity Productions, it's become a much-loved symbol of Newtown – so much so that the local council awarded it heritage protection in 2014.

Cut down Mary St to the narrowest slice of Camperdown Memorial Rest Park, Newtown's green meeting place. Turn right on Lennox St then left into Church St; the evocatively ramshackle Camperdown Cemetery is on your left. Grab a self-guided tour pamphlet from the box near the gate and go exploring.

Leaving the cemetery go straight ahead on Victoria St then turn right into Hordern St (check out the mix of grungy and restored terraces), before hanging left onto King Street, Newtown’s pulsing thoroughfare. Above shop level the largely original facades tie the streetscape to its past.