Surry Hills & Valleys 

Telling the Stories of People in Our Community. 

I was born here in the early 60s on Bourke Street (just on the southside of Cleveland Street) and lived here until about 1969, I then moved to Kensington and returned here about 2012.

I remember as a youngster, at about four years of age, I used to sit on the doorstep and watch the neighbourhood. My family, my community, they were loving, they were caring, they laughed with you in joy.

Growing up, I discovered there was much beauty in the world, but there was also a darker side. Living close to the pubs, the locals would sometimes get a little bit violent. They used to come and fight and get drunk.

Living next to a delicatessen, they used to put the milk crates out with the bottles. I thought it was amazing we got milk delivered to us, and milk went out. But sometimes they used the bottles in fights. Generally it was not as safe as I feel it is now.

In some ways Surry Hills has changed, and in some ways it has not. Now definitely it is a more diverse community. There are still a few of the older generation (from my father’s era) that are around. They go to the local church, and they pop into the shop to visit. I was never really away from here at Surry Hills, because my father had an office, and I used to work there, and so everyone knows me.

Now that I have re-established my home here I feel very much on a new path. Me and my cat, my friends, family.

I think everyone’s temperament has changed because the world has changed. I really believe it takes an individual to have a life, a family to develop it, but a community to support it. I think that’s what we need in the world.

I know Surry Hills is just a pocket in a massive place (the earth) but every pocket matters and every person matters. I’m not a strong believer that we have to go through a difficult time to be a better person.

I have had some individual traumas and some health scares. I am, and have been on my own most of my life but my friends and family have been a great support. Especially my sister.

I also have one of my best friends who taught me that whilst things may be very hard, to reach out and that people do care.

I’m a solicitor by profession and I still practice, but my sister (who gave me the inspiration to open the toy shop) felt it would help alleviate some of the more ominous things in life.

Running a toy shop is excellent. I have eight nieces and nephews under five. The best thing about running a toy-shop is that the children and the adults understand that fun is important. People smile and have fun, that in turn gives me joy.



We are a group of local storytellers who want to showcase the stories of people in Surry Hills. We think stories have the power to transform and impact us, helping us to see our common humanity. We want this to be a space where people can share their real stories.

Keep up to date with their local stories here: