Nick David owns a convenience shop in Woolloomooloo. In this interview he talks about his Lebanese forebears in the area and further afield, business interests, and the local community during and after the demolitions and redevelopment of recent decades. In the excerpt below he describes the hippie community which occupied the empty houses in the interim and the vibrant street life they brought with them.
The railway had gone through before that, a great swathe through, and when that was going up all the hippies moved into the empty places, and then they were pulled down, and as places became vacant for [Sid] Londish development they’d just move into each place, and paint it all up in psychedelic [colours] and they’d paint the whole street. It was quite good, actually. There was no violence or anything like that. They were all, you know, “Make love, not war” and all that. Some of them were weekend hippies, some of them were full time hippies, it was all different kinds. There were the Woolloomooloo hippies and there was another lot down in Barkham Avenue [Rushcutters Bay] and they had an Olympic Games. It was really good. The street behind us, in Charles Street, they did the whole street up, and there was a group that, a lot of the buildings were warehouses and people were artists and one fellow would make big doughnuts and just keep making these huge doughnuts. I don’t know what he was going to do with them. Another fellow collected chairs from old theatres and stuff and these places were full of all this gear. So to put on the Olympic Games they put all the chairs up and down the street and they had a barber chair at each end for the umpires and they had all really good games; like they’d have a marathon where these blokes’d have to run ‘round and they’d have to go to different pubs and buy a bottle of beer, well then they’d have a party afterwards. That was their marathon, and when they ran from Barkham Avenue up to Woolloomooloo, the fellow’d run up, he had a broomstick with a jam tin on it with a candle in it, that was his Olympic torch.