Today I’d like to welcome L.J. LaBarthe as my first guest blogger from the Under the Southern Cross anthology. Take it away, L.J.!
One of the great things about writing a historical—at least, for me—is seeing how a place has changed over the years… or how it hasn’t. In researching for “The Body on the Beach,” I learned a lot about the buildings on Hindley Street, Adelaide, and what they were originally used for. Places that I know to be seedy, awful dives, never used to be; once upon a time, they were considered formal establishments. Other places, which I know as, for example, a McDonalds restaurants, used to be a seedy dive of a pub. It’s so interesting to see how things have changed, where a new coat of paint can liven up an exterior.
Hindley Street has always had a bad reputation for as long as I can remember. While efforts have been made in the last ten to fifteen years to clean it up a little, introducing things such as uni student housing, more restaurants and a strong police presence at night, there’s still the lingering remnants of what was considered the underbelly of Adelaide. In the 1980s, Hindley Street was home to late night cafes and falafel houses—those still exist and still make the best damn falafel rolls I’ve ever had—and there were dingy, dirty, smelly pubs with carpet that was so sodden with spilled booze and who knows what else it was like walking on a sponge. Those pubs are gone now, changed hands and cleaned up, to become pokie pubs or uni student pubs or blues lounges.