At 17 I associated Sydney with things I didn’t want to do and places I didn’t want to be. I worked for a telephone company in Sydney’s CBD and I got to know the subterranean spaces as I travelled from site to site, basement to basement. I could virtually travel from one end of the CBD to the other without coming above ground. I got to know all the secret passageways and short cuts, which all kind of looked the same but the smell defined each place. I guess I started to build up a map of Sydney based on scent. Staying underground meant not having to deal with people and noise.

When I arrived in Sydney I wasn’t interested in the place at all, but my memory of this time was bound up with sight and sound. Thinking about smell in terms of the this memory tonight, I don’t feel any of the negative connotations and each component feels novel and nostalgic.


Bogon moths, stale urine, fresh urine, train brakes (acrid), kitchen, cooking, damp earthy cave smell, plastic.