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Become a Sydney local in a day

Two men sit casually sharing a conversation, enjoying a clear summer night. A lighting display burns the word “Redfern” on the balcony above. A stranger driving past pulls over and sees it as a perfect Kodak moment to document “Redfern inhabitants”. She takes the photo and continues on. If she’d returned the next night she might have found the same men in the same place – with one difference. If she had spent the time to learn about the people, who they were and what Redfern was about, she may have taken a slightly different photo reports Libby Hogan in the April 2012 edition of The South Sydney Herald.

To spend time in a place, to get to know the locals and learn the local history, was the idea that drove Richard Graham to build his business. He has been running his My Sydney Detours for three years, offering alternatives to the main Sydney attractions, through the eyes of a local person. “It’s not a walking tour, vintage vehicle tour ... it’s a detour into the suburbs to learn about Indigenous history, local art and music, and catering a tour to the individual’s interests.”

The idea for his detours was sparked during a 13-month trip to Latin America in 2008. A tip-off from locals, to visit a sanctuary which they termed a “poor man’s Galapagos”, led to a group of strangers piling into an old Cadillac and venturing down a narrow dirt road to the coast. This unplanned route was the basis for Graham’s business. “I wanted to recreate this one-off moment, being shown a rare sight that I wouldn’t have seen if it wasn’t through conversation with locals.”

Sitting in the plush seat of his 1964 Holden, Graham takes travellers to visit studios of local street and contemporary artists, through The Block to learn about Indigenous and colonial history, and stops off at local cafes.

At his 1876 Victorian terrace home Graham also has a treasure chest of local artworks. One can learn the history through hearing Graham’s own stories and through a series of photographs documenting how one street in Redfern can change from housing street fruit vendors and hipsters to a terrace selling for over one million dollars.

Graham also runs detours to the Hawkesbury, from the airport, and Lookout Detours around Sydney Harbour. He is constantly designing new tours for different tourists and areas. “I aim to keep the tours fresh, building around each individual’s interests and new developments or events in the area.” -

To fully appreciate this article you need to view the paper or the pdf. The photo referred to above is the photo that won that Jaqui Pix took to win the Roll Up Redfern competition in SSH on page5. The second photo by Richard Graham Two friends (revisited) is the same scene, with the same people but some differences on page 11!

Source: The South Sydney Herald April 2012 –