Kings Cross A Biography 

Reviewed By  Janet Mawdesley       December 11, 2013


Author  Louis Nowra

Distributor:       Booktopia/Amazon 
ISBN:                 9781742 233260
Publisher:         New South Books
Release Date:    


The face of Kings Cross is changing: gone is the character that once made The Cross what it was, gone is the infamous Pink Pussy Cat Club, with many of the once famous eateries and pubs changed almost beyond recognition, or being replaced with small cafés, bars and restaurants.

It would seem Nowra has written this biography just in time, as the notoriety that once was Kings Cross is being tamed into political self-respect, although a hint of seediness remains, the headlines that come out of the Cross if any these days, are far from the outrage that was for decades the flagship of the most controversial, decadent place in Australia.

It has delivered the lowest of the low and the highest of the high in all elements of society, it is a place where people from all walks for life live, rub shoulders with one another, judge no one and have created a place that is unique in that, it is in so many cases, considered a place where anything can happen and often does, but abides by and within its own code of ethics.

When the layout of Sydney was being planned, Kings Cross was destined to be controversial. By a quirk of fate, deviousness was employed to ensure one gentleman of influence got his way in-so-far as the road system was concerned, leaving the area known as Kings Cross at the junction of five major roads, which was guaranteed to cause issue from the outset.

This somehow or other gave the one square mile of land something no other area has, character, people and confusion. And so The Cross was born.

Nowra, a long-time resident of this colourful area takes a fast track look at a history that has seen it all, from murder to mayhem, sex, drugs and corruption, all peopled with a cast of characters any fiction writer would have trouble creating.

Life is lived, or should one perhaps say was lived on the edge; death was a daily or nightly occurrence and vice was the word everyone lived by. Acceptance of all forms of human activity was the norm.

Some would say it was the cess pit of Australia and others would say every country has to have one so why not Kings Cross, but one thing is certain, it has always been colourful in its excess. It has morphed many times to fit in with the changing face of society but has also given birth to a new social consciousness, had some amazing events born there such as the Sydney Mardi Gras and been the inspiration for many a writer, poet and musician.

Today it is morphing once more and almost, but not quite, developing a veneer of respectability as the old brigade make way for the Upwardly Mobile who feel it is “cool” to live somewhere with the reputation of the Cross.

But underneath the brave new, respectable face, there can sometimes still be found the beat, the plus of life, the underbelly, which makes up the vibrant kaleidoscope that is Kings Cross.