There are a few places that are purely Sydney the Harbour Bridge, Bondi Beach and of course, Kings Cross. Over the years Kings Cross' image has had its ups and downs and Dermott Brereton thought he would see just what phase it is in at the moment.
During the day, the Cross is like many other inner-city suburbs, but when the sun goes down it comes to life.
The Nine Network series Underbelly: The Golden Mile has dredged up the seedier parts and the spotlight is squarely on that stretch of road running through the centre of Kings Cross.
The one-mile stretch has brothels, strip clubs, bars, gaudy neon lighting, spruikers and many heartbreaking stories.
If you are curious about what goes on there but don't fancy walking the streets alone, Rebecca Giglia from Bounce Walking Tours can show you the ins and outs.
Rebecca is a wealth of information and for starters, she tells people there is technically no such place as Kings Cross. Over the years people just didn't want to have a Kings Cross address which could devalue their property. Instead the area is broken up into Potts Point, East Sydney, Darlinghurst, Rushcutters Bay and Woolloomooloo.
Diarmid Heidenrich who plays crooked policeman Eddie "Parrot" Gould in the latest Underbelly went on the tour to add some inside goss. He said his character was someone arrogant and power hungry and stopped at nothing to get whatever he wanted.
The police station which was the site of rampant corruption over two decades still stands in the original spot and it is part of the tour. Rebecca has found that staff there is happy to have a chat and answer questions from people on the tour.
They went to the original Tunnel Nightclub, the place where John Ibrahim started his chain of nightclubs 20 years ago. He was just 19 and his empire has grown considerably since then.
Some of the original strip clubs and bars are still there, but the Cross isn't the no-go zone it once was. The site of the Pink Pussycat is now a Fitness First Centre and that may be a sign of how things are changing. Many of the old-timers would like to see it more gentrified.
The Sugarmill Hotel was the location for several scenes in Underbelly: The Golden Mile and it's a good place to end the tour and try a Golden Mile cocktail.
The Golden Mile of Kings Cross, Sydney.
Bounce Walking Tours cost $39 for half an hour. They run at 6pm every day and 2pm on weekends. They start under the huge Coca-Cola sign at the corner of William Street and Darlinghurst Road.
Mercure Sydney has rooms starting at $149 a night.
One-way fares to Sydney with Virgin Blue start from:
- Brisbane and Melbourne $89
- Adelaide $115
- Darwin $229
- Perth $239
There are limited seats which may not be available at peak times or on all flights. Fares quoted are one-way booked on the Internet. An extra $15 will be charged for phone bookings. A credit card surcharge of an additional $2 per person per one-way flight is applicable. Fares are subject to change.
Prices correct at May 6, 2010.
For further information
Ph: 136 789
Bounce Walking Tours
Ph: 1300 665 365 or (02) 9386 5498
Mercure Sydney Hotel
818-820 George Street
Ph: (02) 9217 6666