Mardi Gras – After an unprecedented past year of challenge and hardship for Sydneysiders, it was time to RISE for Mardi Gras last month. Whilst this year was certainly different, Mardi Gras did an outstanding job creating such an incredible evening. Being part of the parade at the SCG was an absolute privilege and a special occasion so many people coming together to support our LGBTIQA+ community. It would not have been possible without the amazing work from Mardi Gras, the City of Sydney, all the participants, volunteers, the amazing audience and those working at the SCG. It was also night our local businesses could get involved, many hosting Mardi Gras viewing parties in their restaurants and bars. Following the parade, I attended Verde Restaurant on Stanley Street for a fabulous 3 course Mardi Gras event, where we watched the delayed telecast from our table. It was a Mardi Gras to remember, a celebration I feel we all deserved.

Head to Surry Hills – An initiate of the Surry Hills Business Partnership, Head to Surry Hills is an online platform celebrating all things happening in Postcode 2010 and surrounds. It is designed to bring together all local events, promotions and big ideas, under one iconic banner. It is the new go-to for ‘what’s happening’ for events, promotions and local knowledge. From live music shows, artistic performances, markets and gallery exhibitions, to local school events, business offers and shop local promotions, Head to Surry Hills is driven by the community, for the community, for all the details.

Victoria Street, Darlinghurst – High street revitalisation isn’t easy, but when we all work well together, great things can happen. Victoria Street has been impacted for some time and like with Oxford Street, has had many challenges with reduced foot-traffic from Kings Cross post Lockout Laws, construction work, the recent closure of the Green Park Hotel and many commercial factors that have made it challenging for businesses to operate. Where there’s a will there’s a way – We established a Victoria Street working group last year led by Deputy Lord Mayor, Jess Scully, which includes local residents, community organisations, town planners and landlords. Our working group continues to build momentum which will become a foundation for the future of the Street.

There is great news to share already… Bake Bar recently opened to rave reviews, Side Note Cafe has expanded with their new footpath dining extension, and newcomer, Italian vegan and pescatarian restaurant, Bella, are drawing hungry locals with their offering. Group Fitness Sydney opened up their new personal training centre, and Tropicana Caffe, and Lil Darlin launched their ‘Live Music Sunday’s’ supporting local artists such as Dom Cotton, who recently released his debut single, Get Me Outta Here. With more sites now under offer, and some exciting developments at larger vacant sites, Victoria Street’s star will continue to rise during 2021.

A huge thank you to the working group, and locals like Matt Norton who get on and ‘do the work’ to make our high streets the best they can be. Instilling a ‘shop local’ culture remains critical, especially for strips like Oxford Street. With Westfields at either end, the past lockout laws and traffic funnelling through, Oxford Street has had so many challenges. As the revitalisation and re-development starts, it’s up to all of us to support the wonderful businesses on Oxford Street today as they prepare for the future. One way we can all help is by simply by shopping local, and spreading the ‘good news’ and reasons why people should visit our neighbourhoods.

On your bike – the local cycling craze continues to grow and I for one am loving my daily commutes between Darlinghurst and Surry Hills, and to the CBD. It’s a great way to see our city in a different light, as well as of course being a sustainable way to commute. It’s also incredibly fun, not to mention the exercise you get. My trainer Dave from Fitness Playground has even reduced my ‘leg-day’ reps thanks to my cycling, so its a win-win there… Who really likes ‘leg-day’ at the gym anyway!

Keep shopping local, and have a fabulous Autumn. Mike.

Mike Galvin is the founder of Facebook group Darlo Darlings.