Phil Brown -  journalist . writer . poet

Phil Brown

journalist . writer . poet

articles . books . poems

Phil Brown - Travel Stories

Culture club

Creativity revives a once jaded Sydney locale

Brisbane News edition 26 Oct to Nov 2

Phil Brown reports

I was supposed to be having dinner at the Sydney Opera House but got waylaid by a nasi goreng.

I was staying at the Old Clare Hotel in Kensington St, Chippendale, for a night and had discovered Spice Alley, with Asian hawker food, next door.

They served nasi goreng and teh tarik, the wonderful "pulled tea" I developed a taste for on a visit to Malaysia some years ago. So I supped at Spice Alley before going to the Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour. My stay at the Old Clare, in heritage buildings on the edge of an exciting precinct, was only fleeting. So a few months later when I was back in Sydney I headed for Chippendale again where my guide for an afternoon stroll was Nicky Ginsberg, president of Chippendale Creative Precinct.

Nicky ran a gallery and restaurant in the area for some years but now spends her time singing its praises. She has a lot to sing about because Chippendale has become a cultural hub, with art galleries, production houses, graphic and fashion design studios, plus Sydney's most exciting new restaurants and bars.

It's a fun, funky, bite-sized chunk of Sydney with many cultural delights.

"You can easily spend a day here," Nicky says.

Take a themed walking tour (art, history, food) or guide yourself with the Destination Chippendale brochure.

On our express tour we visited philanthropist Judith Neilson's White Rabbit Gallery, showing Chinese contemporary art. An added bonus is a tea house serving dumplings downstairs.

White Rabbit Gallery has an international profile now and has helped put Chippendale on the map.

Other galleries worth a look include Kensington Contemporary, Galerie Pompom, The Japan Foundation Gallery and aMBUSH Gallery.

Chippendale wasn't always so cultural. Once a working-class suburb with a colourful past, it was regarded for much of the 20th century as a no-go zone where prostitution, hard drinking and crime were rife. The first many heard of it was when the notorious rogue cop Roger Rogerson gunned down heroin dealer Warren Lanfranchi in a Chippendale street.

That made headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Now development has turned it into a buzzing precinct. In the midst of it all is Central Park, an urban village with a mall, the Chippendale Green (a cross between a town square and a park where students tend to gather) and One Central Park, two amazing residential towers joined by high-rise aerial gardens. This project was a collaboration between French architect Jean Nouvel and artist and botanist Patrick Blanc.

Close by is Spice Alley and eateries including Lower Mekong, Bar Chinois, Bistrot Gavroche and Koi Dessert Bar run by Reynold Poernomo who was on MasterChef Australia in 2015.

If you're in Sydney, set aside a day and treat yourself to a nasi goreng and teh tarik at Spice Alley. It worked for me.


PHIL BROWN was a guest of Destination NSW. For more, see or 


Arts Editor - The Courier-Mail

Spice Alley - Sydney


Spice Alley


Phil Brown - Arts Editor - weekly columnist - writer

Book with Speakers Ink

Sydney - Chippendell

White Rabbit Gallery’s Judith Neilson

White Rabbit Gallery’s
Judith Neilson


Nasi Goreng

Copyright © Phil Brown