It’s two years today since the singer David Bowie died and while tributes will pour in at the famous mural in London’s Brixton, but there’s also a David Bowie mural here in Sydney.
It’s on the wall of The Blender Gallery, in Elizabeth Street in Paddington, a shopping and residential district most famous for its weekend markets (and also Differentville’s home base). Paddington isn’t exactly rockstar central, so, when I stumbled across a house-high image of Ziggy Stardust in all his glory on one of my lunchtime walks I was a bit shocked, to say the least.
The reason it’s there is that the Blender Gallery specialises in rock photography and when Bowie died, owner Tali Udovich commissioned artist Sofia Fitzpatrick to commemorate him on the gallery’s wall. It definitely brightens things up.
If you want to find Sydney’s David Bowie mural, it’s at 16 Elizabeth Street, Paddington. The easiest way to get there is to jump on a 380 or 440 bus going towards Bondi Junction. Get off at the stop just past William Street and the Paddington Inn, Elizabeth Street is the next left turn. The gallery is a little way down the road, but you’ll see the mural before you see the gallery itself.
Other Stops for Sydney Bowie Fans
The mural at the Blender Gallery isn’t the only place linked to David Bowie in Sydney though. Here are a few more places you could visit while you’re here.
93 Elizabeth Bay Road: Bowie had an apartment here until 1992. Although as it’s one of the most exclusive developments in Sydney, don’t expect to see much except the front gate. If you do fancy a wander in the area though, the Bowiedownunder site suggests a few other (non-Bowie related) things to see in the area – plus lists any upcoming events of a Bowie-like nature in Australia or New Zealand.
The Evening Star Hotel: I thought I’d been to every pub in Sydney but I have never been to the pub Bowie drank in while recording here!
The Tin Machine II album was recorded in Sydney and apparently, after a days work, Bowie and sound engineer Guy Gray would head to the Evening Star Hotel at 360 Elizabeth Street in Surry Hills (no, not the same road the mural is in, there are a few Elizabeth Streets here and this one is closer to Central station) for a drink.
Dixon Street, Chinatown: The China Girl video was also shot in Sydney in Dixon Street in Sydney’s Chinatown.
The scene where Bowie throws the bowl of rice up in the air is shot just along from the Nine Dragons restaurant and the sign you can see in the scene is still there although it’s changed colour slightly! There’s also now a huge tree that would have been growing out of Bowie’s head if they shot there today.
Tempting as it was to try and recreate it the scene exactly, I’m figuring the fact that I’m not a famous rockstar might mean I can’t get away with chucking carbs around a major pedestrian precinct.
The Carinda Hotel: If you’ve got a car (and a spare weekend) you might also want to check out The Carinda Hotel in Carinda, New South Wales about 600km and an eight-hour drive from Sydney. The outback pub was used in the Let’s Dance video in 1983. The town only has around 150 people and a few locals appeared as extras in the shot.
The pub is pretty proud of its starring moment and the wall that co-starred with Bowie in the video was renovated shortly before his death so it looks exactly the same as it did then. People come weekly to have their photo taken there.The town also runs the Let’s Dance Carinda music festival in late Sept/early October.
The outside shots with the huge rocks were filmed in the Warrumbungle Range about 450km from Sydney.
If all of those are a bit far, some other scenes from Let’s Dance were filmed in Sydney itself.
The Strand Arcade. This is the shopping arcade in which the young Aboriginal couple spot the red shoes. You’ll find it at 412-414 George Street. The florist, watch seller and shoe store that you can clearly see in the video are sadly long gone.
Broadway: The scenes in which the Aboriginal guy pulls the machine along the road – and the girl is filmed scrubbing it, were shot on Broadway – around the junction at Mountain Street. And it was done during normal traffic!!! Not sure I’d try that now!
The one thing I can’t find is where the infamous beach scene was shot in China Girl. If you know let me know in the comments!
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