The Trots and Dogs: Night Racing in Sydney

A great night out in Sydney is a visit to the trots and/or dogs. The buzz and frenetic action of these racetracks can pep you up no end. I remember many a time I dined at the Harold Park Raceway, in Glebe, with a beautiful woman on my arm and the exciting track lit up beneath us. Sipping Champagne and enjoying a sensational meal, with the added stimulation of a fistful of betting tickets on the table. As the horses pulling their chariots surge down the track, you could be transported back to the Circus Maximus in ancient Rome.

This sport was the one that captured the hearts of the citizens of the Roman Empire. There were factions, the Greens, Blues, Reds and Whites, akin to a mixture of owners/financial backers and football teams; in the tribal allegiance they inspired in the punters. It became highly political and fan passion for the chariot races almost brought down emperors on occasion. Harness racing has a rich tradition and connects us with the forebears of our western civilisation. As you hold your breath and watch your chosen runner head for the finishing line; you can feel the excitement in your blood. Harold Park has sadly gone the way of the Dodo; eaten up by the rapacious love of real estate in Sydney.

The Menangle Park Raceway in south-west Sydney, after many renovations, now hosts the premier harness racing events, including the Miracle Mile. This venue, also, offers a great night out and some great racing. Racing at night is doubly exciting because we all naturally feel more alive at night, the bright lights contrasting the night sky. Work is finished and now we are ready to play, a sexy woman beside you dressed to the nines, and a flutter in your pocket with the promise of riches. Do you feel lucky tonight punk? “He who bets has a better time”, I think Confucius might have said that.

The dogs race at Wentworth Park, again in Glebe (no surprise that Glebe used to be the home of Sydney’s great crime families back in the day), every Saturday and Wednesday nights. Greyhound racing is seriously quick, these animals flash by in their chase for the synthetic bunny. They charge out of their boxes, unmuzzled and hungry for the sweet taste of success. The races are over in more seconds than minutes, and it is high excitement borne of pure animal testosterone and hormones. These dogs love to run, they are born to run and boy do they run. A night at Wentworth Park will get you in the mood for mating and you might just win a few bucks too.

 

Home Invasions a Constant Threat

It is an unfortunate fact of modern urban life in big cities like Sydney and Melbourne that home invasions are a constant threat. Violent forcible entries by gangs of men into homes where there may be women and children present. Robbery is usually the prime motivation for these terrifying acts perpetuated upon innocent people; but physical assaults also regularly occur. Drugs are often a big part of the story, with the offenders either high or desperate to raise money to buy drugs. It is also a common thread that these acts of home invasion are targeted upon vulnerable victims.

These include the elderly, often frail and living alone, women and children when husbands are not present; these are cowardly acts committed by physically aggressive young men. The chosen victims have usually been observed by gang members, their houses being watched to find out the most opportune times for invading the victim’s home. These youths are often wearing clothing and jewellery associated with American gangs, as if they are attempting to emulate the things they have seen on TV. These violent behaviours are the underbelly of American urban culture and Australian gangs, usually made up of some particular ethnic group, are mimicking this behaviour.

The top five Home Invasion Sydney articles on Google include: a woman being forced from her home by a half naked man with a gun; a blind man being robbed and injured in a western Sydney home; four children experienced an invasion of their home; and a pregnant woman was injured in another home invasion. Drugs are nearly always a motivating force in the cowardly acts of these men; whether you can really call them men is debatable, boys, bullying boys picking on the weak and vulnerable is a better description of them.

In the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics Annual Recorded Crime Report for 2014 all crimes were down on previous years except stealing from a dwelling, which was up 3.2%. What can you do to protect yourself from a home invasion? Firstly, I would recommend engaging locksmith services to assess and install locks and security devices on all ports of entry into your home. Next, I would pay attention to anybody who may be watching your home, as they may be casing your joint in preparation for a home invasion. Talk to your neighbours and get them involved, perhaps the whole street. Do you have a neighbourhood watch program in your suburb? There is safety in numbers, and in community spirit and action.

Bars in Newtown

Bars In Newtown (and surrounds)

The most biased view of places to go drinking in Newtown you’ve probably ever seen. Read ’em and weep!

 

The Midnight Special

44 Enmore Road

www.themidnightspecial.com.au

The Midnight Special is one of the Inner Wests best small bars. It’s intimate with gloomy lighting and a large range of music being played, often times by local DJs on vinyl too, as I guess much of the area is. Awesome hotdogs alongside an intriguing mix of cocktails. Favourite memory? Drinking Martinis and listening to a ska version of the James Bond theme which inspired me to be classy and stumble out into the street looking to get tattooed. Good times.

 

Corridor

153a King St

www.corridorbar.com.au

An aptly named small bar which hides the fact that there’s rooftop space available, a nice mix of drinks and friendly staff, but exceptional cocktails. Get here in the early afternoon to grab a great space, because they get busy whether it’s warm or winter.

 

Blacksheep

256 King St

www.blacksheepbar.com.au

Large deer head on the wall, chandeliers from the ceiling, general classiness, it’s kind of a shock if you’re used to wasting time at the Townie. They have curly fries and sliders. Yes! What’s more they have an old Nintendo out back. Favourite memory? Smashing some burgers, having a cocktail and being a Nintendo champion.

 

The Hive Bar

93 Erskineville Road

Unsurprisingly this place is in Erskineville, being on Erskineville road, but well worth the short walk down. Bars upstairs and downstairs and perpetually busy but with a super laid back feel, the place to come during the day while you’ve got some time to waste. Favourite Memory? Pedro, the infamous northern soul dancer, trying to make me dance, no luck bud, I’m made for drinking and not much else.

 

Newtown Social Club

387 King St

I don’t go here. There’s nothing wrong with it. I just like playing in the dirt. Favourite memory? When it was the Sando. No offence.

 

Kelly’s on King

285 King St

This is the place where literally 50% of all adventures happen. I’ve partied here too many times to count and so has everyone! Kelly’s is open late, drinks are nicely priced and they have a large but simple range, and they’re willing to play. Not many places round these parts will sell you an Irish Car Bomb cocktail. Favourite Memories? Anything revolving around Irish car bombs, or being the one to hold yours down.

 

Miss Peaches

201 Missenden Road

www.misspeaches.com.au

Setup to be something like a deep American south experience, I’ve personally never been, I can’t really judge the place on authenticity. But the reason this place is worth a mention is because it is different, the food is different (spice coated shrimp and popcorn), and they make their own soda. There are dancing classes too. I don’t dance.

 

Mary’s

6 Mary Street

This place is a bit hit or miss depending upon what you’re looking for, like loud music and burgers, fried chicken etc. Cool. Like hearing what your friends are saying and reasonably priced food not of the Hungry Jacks variety? Then you might not be into it. I can go either way on any given night, mainly cos I enjoy the odd Jack Attack (trademark pending) and there isn’t one close enough to me. Favourite Memory? Closing my eyes and thinking of HJ’s. More of a general statement really.

Natural Night Highlights of Sydney

Naturally enough, Sydney is an attractive city precisely because of nature. The natural beauty of Sydney Harbour, while stunning by day, is even more evocative by night.

The greatest time of all to visit Sydney for its visual night delights is December-January when, apart from the explosive vision of the Sydney Harbour Bridge haemorrhaging fireworks, there’s firework displays seemingly every night due to the proliferation of Carols By Candlelight in every suburban park leading up until Christmas, followed by a great final summer firework show at Darling Harbour on the night of Australia Day.

However there is now a night event to rival December-January and this is the winter night event Vivid Sydney an outdoor festival of light which is utterly enchanting.