James Wallis moved to Surry Hills twenty years ago. He was about fifteen and attending Newtown Performing Arts High School when one recess, a kid came along and did a kick flip. He was blown away and hasn’t put down his skateboard since.
Now 37, James recently opened World of Wheelcraft in Alexandria with business partner Jamie Knapp. It’s a specialty shop which caters to skateboard, scooter and roller blading enthusiasts, from beginner to pro level.
“I grew up skating around here, mates and I spent a lot of time skating around the city. There weren’t heaps of us back then, but now it’s a massive community,” says James.
“Over the years board shapes have changed, and skateboarding has evolved because of the skate stoppers. They put stoppers on ledges and rails because people don’t want you skating on their property. That wasn’t around as much when I was skating in the city. But now the skate parks are a lot better.”
“Also skaters fold their pants up now.”
Wheels of Warcraft has been open for ten months.
“We did all the interior ourselves and made it look like a halfpipe. It’s colourful, friendly, people come in and have a good time. If someone buys a scooter or rollerblades, we give them a free lesson, take them out there and teach them how to use it.”
Surry Hills is home to James, who lives on Baptist street. For James and his wife Paree, Crown Street is the go-to, especially the recent addition Pizza Fritta 180.
James and I are chatting in Ward Park. Just beyond us is a newly installed skate bowl. It’s small, but James assures me it’s a challenge to skate, even for him.
“I love the joy you get out of skating once you put those wheels on the ground. You forget about it all, it’s just you and your skateboard. When you land a trick you’ve tried repeatedly for hours, to finally get it, it’s just an amazing feeling.”
“It takes dedication and it’s a rewarding sport if you put in the effort. There’s no coach or first place. You make your own goals.”
World of Wheelcraft
1/38 Princes Highway, St Peters