Members Spotlight: Urban Village Magazine

Urban Village Editor Lochlan Colquhoun reveals what in store for the Autumn edition of this hyper-local magazine.


The current autumn edition of Urban Village is on the streets and in letterboxes throughout Surry Hills, Redfern and Darlinghurst, featuring Shakespeare Hotel licensee Kelly Hargreaves on the cover.

The story outlines the history of the Hargreaves family in Surry Hills, from the time in 1975 when Kelly’s mother Margaret bought the pub and the family lived upstairs.

Now, of course, the family are embedded in the neighbourhood with Margaret also the licencee at the Strawberry Hills, and on any given day there might be three generations of the family working across the pubs.

This is the fourth edition of Urban Village and the magazine is moving to a quarterly format this year, with plans to compliment the print edition with an enhanced online offering.

One of the great things which has struck me from editing and writing for Urban Village since we launched the magazine last September is how just about everyone I meet has an interesting story to tell.

 We do a lot of business profiles because that is part of what we do: a big part of our mission is to promote local businesses to the community.

Some people might think they are pretty run of the mill stories, but I haven’t found that to be the case, and it certainly wasn’t the case when I went to the new veterinary clinic and hospital on Crown Street.

I don’t know what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t Dr Nima Rahmani. He was passionate about his job and obviously extremely professional, which is what I had expected, but I hadn’t expected to hear his amazing and poignant story.

He was a young man, not yet 40, who had left his native Iran in his 20s and come to Australia to pursue his dream of living in a free and democratic country and pursuing his veterinary career.

The Australian system didn’t recognise his Iranian qualifications, so he worked in catering at Sydney Airport while he not only studied to pass his Australian exams but also to pay for them.

And on top of that, if he hadn’t passed first time his ability to stay in Australia would have been compromised so he was in a “must do” situation, and had to pass an examination where only 11 per cent of people pass first time.

Happily, he did pass, which is an amazing testament to him, and then began an odyssey around regional Australia as he gained experience as a vet and worked his way back to Sydney.

I found it an inspiring personal story and an example of how if you just scratch beneath the surface of a neighbourhood like Surry Hills, great stories are everywhere.

Another story we have in the current edition came to us in response to something we’d done earlier.

As a younger person I’d played a lot of cricket in Moore Park, and wrote a nostalgic piece on the great days of the Moore Park Cricket Competition, one of the oldest park competitions in Australia which was graced by legends like Victor Trumper and Bill O’Reilly.

From that, we had a call from Virginia Hall who has lived on Cleveland Street for 40 years and who was interested in my story.

Virginia told us that a workshop at the rear of her house was used as a cricket bat workshop from 1895 to the 1950s as a family run business operated by the Dye family.

Donald Bradman, she said, had used Dye bats when he arrived in Sydney in the 1920s, and she still had some old patterns used in bat making.

I did some digging and discovered that not only had Bradman used the bats, but so had other iconic players including Trumper and the famous Gregory brothers.

It didn’t stop there, though. As a cricket fan and a history buff I have often been fascinated by a famous photograph of ANZAC troops playing cricket at Gallipoli in a break from the fighting in World War One.

In researching the Dye bat making enterprise I was fascinated to learn that the “Comfort Fund,” a charity which collected money from the public to buy extras for Australian troops, had purchased Dye bats which were sent overseas in WW1.

So it is quite possible that bats made in Virginia’s house on Cleveland Street were sent to Turkey in 1915 and were used in that famous ANZAC photograph.

All of these amazing stories are emanating from Surry Hills.

We look forward to uncovering more as Urban Village gains even more momentum in 2018.