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5 Ways Sydney Was Cooler In The 1800s

It's downhill from here.

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1. Canberra didn't exist

Before Canberra was created, Sydney-siders and Melbourne-ites had more to argue about than just who had the better hipsters. They were arguing over where the Capitol should be. How great would it be, a movie about two brothers one who lives in Sydney and one in Melbourne, who both try and find each other as the two cities go to war. Okay, maybe I'm stealing from 'Birth of a Nation' but hell, this would certainly give the chroniclers something more to write in our history textbooks.

Instead we got this roundabout obsessed wonder of a capitol right in between them.

2. Cannabis was legal

Coming in with the First Fleet, Hemp quickly branched out from its more obvious commercial enterprises. In 1868 Marcus Clarke, a literati of the bohemian Yorrick Club published the story 'Cannabis Indica' and stores all over Australia sold 'Cigares De Joy' or 'Indian Cigarettes'.

(This is from The Sydney Morning Herald on Tuesday the 10th of November 1868)

3. The North Shore Bubble was even thicker

Some like to think that people from the North Shore are somehow disconnected from the realities of life beyond their suburban paradise home, just over the bridge. I think it's silly, I mean, we're all the same. Whether North, West, or wherever in Sydney, we've all chundered off a gooney alike. But without the bridge, I'd have to agree with you, those people must've been hicks. I feel this post in The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser on Sunday 15 May 1803 sums up the true horror, drama, tensions, feelings, boredom and silence that infested the North back then. I just think this would be cool, because it would be funny to look out across the Rocks and then just see these people on the other side, worriedly searching the ground for their lost watches.

4. Our priorities were clearer.

In 1808 there was a power play going on between John Macarthur and Govenor William Bligh. Tensions between these two were focused on Macarthur's trade of Rum, which Bligh was trying to bring an end to. Macarthur was arrested in 1808 but then with the swiftness of a movie hero was freed by Bligh's own Major Johnston on the same day. Together they then formed a petition to have Bligh himself arrested. According to the newspapers Bligh was found hiding under his bed. This is known as the Rum Rebellion and is the only successful take-over of Government in Australian History.

5. Our gangs would make 50cent scared

These days everyone's a gangster. Just put on a hat and recite some Jay-Z and there you go. However in the 1890s gangs were intensely real. They were violent and prevalent, especially the well known Rocks Push ('Push' is what a gang was called back then). Not only that, but they actually were reported to use the kind of whistles and calls that you thought only existed in Oliver Twist. When one man named Thomas Pert went to the Police Station in 1893 to give names as a witness, it was a simple case of doing one of those cutesy whistles and then the entire gang came down upon him right in the centre of Miller's Point in Sydney, in front of many onlookers.

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