A venerable old bird

Here at the Dictionary of Sydney we like to give you insight into those seminal moments in the city’s history, the patterns and forces that shaped our city, influential people and events… or in the case of today a foul-mouthed pet cockatoo, Cocky Bennett. Listen to...

Sydney’s smallpox epidemic in 1881

As we stare down the barrel of an unknown pandemic, we remember that the city has seen quite a few epidemics in its time. Prior to the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1919,  an outbreak of smallpox took hold of the city and its imagination. Listen to Minna and Alex on 2SER...

An Old Swamp in the City

The new decade began in Australia with an apocalyptic vision of drought, fire and flood, but it’s always a bit of shock to Sydney when natural disasters sneak up on the inner city too. Last week as flood waters in Marrickville submerged cars, factories, studios,...

The Santas of Sydney’s Christmas Past

Some of us still have the photos taken of us crying, having a tantrum or terrified while perched on the knee of the strange Santa at the shopping mall, his nylon beard glistening under neon lights. But what about those other Santa-like figures of Sydney’s Christmas...

The Explorer’s stump

On the southern side of the Great Western Highway just west of Katoomba is a colonial relic known as the Explorers’ Tree. But you would be forgiven for not recognising it as a tree. Today all that remains is a concrete stump on a rubble stone podium. Listen to...