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Authors: T.C. Doust

Tags: #crime, #addiction, #prostitution, #australia, #sydney, #organized crime, #kings cross

Darlinghurst Road

BOOK: Darlinghurst Road
3.28Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
Darlinghurst Road


T.C. Doust


Author Edition


Cover photo: Flickr: gematrium


Author Edition, License

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Copyright 2012 by T.C. Doust

A Word From The

This book will not appeal to everyone and the
more prudish reader should probably look away now. It's a journey
through the streets of a red light district after dark complete
with sex, drugs, criminals & violence. On these pages, you will
find some funny stories, some real strange ones and some that are
so tragic that they will break your heart but they deserve to be

When it comes to those stories of sadness, it
is my hope that when they are read, their names will be seen, not
just as a roll call of those who suffered but as real people.
Because of the life they led, a number of people mentioned in this
book are now dead but their ghosts remain in the memories of people
like me and now, I give them to you.


From The Cradle To The

I was born to parents who seemed a little
unsure if they wanted children. My mother was thirty nine when she
became pregnant with her first and only child and many years later,
in a moment of alcohol soaked honesty, my father confessed that my
conception had not been part of their longer term plans. An
accident I may have been but they welcomed me into their life and
my early memories are fond ones.

It was Australia in the nineteen sixties and
the world back then was a very different place to what it is today.
Children enjoyed a freedom of movement that would make a modern
parent cringe. It was normal to see kids playing in the street or
coming back alone from a trip to the store and for most Australian
kids, their neighborhood was a safe place.

Dad was a heavy drinker and not all that big
on stable employment so we moved around a lot when I was a kid.
There were some lean times that I remember but in spite of his
restless nature, there was always food on the table and a roof over
our head.

My mother was a warm, kind-hearted woman who
had known great hardship. She was born in 1928 and due to
circumstances beyond her control, grew up in the cold surroundings
of a church run orphanage. It was a harsh world for orphans back
then and like many other kids, she suffered immensely at the hands
of people who had no business being around children. My mother’s
parents were small-time farmers, dirt poor and struggling to make
ends meet in the shattered economy of the Great Depression. When
things got really bad, somebody called the Welfare Department and
my mother and her siblings were taken from their home by the
authorities. She never saw her parents again.

I was around nine or so when my mother
started getting sick. She had developed a serious heart condition
and back in the seventies, doctors didn't have a lot in the way of
answers for her. Around this time, my grandmother passed away and
when we went to live with my grandfather, probably the most
stressful two years of my mother's life began. My father’s version
of events was that he had been blackmailed with the words: “A son
who doesn't look after his father in his old age probably shouldn't
expect anything in his will.”

Whatever was actually said, it doesn't really
matter because the result was the same. We moved in with my
grandfather and my Mother became the domestic servant that he had
lost when my grandmother died. The resentment was obvious and my
father had developed such an open hatred of the man he called “the
miserable old bastard” that the two men fought constantly.
Sometimes it escalated to the point of them getting physical... yet
still we stayed.

Over a period of time, my mother deteriorated
to the point of regular hospitalizations. It was during her final
trip to hospital that I had my last moments with her. I clearly
remember the day she died. I was holding her hand, talking about
how she would be out of hospital in a few days. During that
conversation, a sudden stroke took her life. I remember walking
back to her hospital room with dad to collect her things after he
met with the doctor. She was gone, the room had been cleaned, the
bed had been carefully made. On the bed sat a hospital issue brown
paper bag with her name on it. Less than an hour after my mother
died in their hospital, it was as though she never existed.

I was eleven when I lost my mother and it was
a pivotal moment in my life because Dad had absolutely no idea what
to do with me. Without my mother's stabilizing influence, what was
left of the family fell apart. By the time I reached the age of
thirteen, I'd had enough and I needed to escape.

My grandfather had recently passed away and
that brought a lot of changes. Dad had sold the old man's house to
the first buyer that he could find, quit his job and was living
large on the cash.

School was a joke for me and I became a
regular truant. When he was drunk or with a girlfriend and didn't
want me around, dad would give me money to go to the movies.

Instead of the cinema, I used the time and
the money to discover the wider world of the inner city streets of
Sydney. One of my adventures took me to a place called Kings Cross
and the attraction was immediate.

The name Kings Cross may sound regal and I
guess for some, it was like a kind of private royal kingdom: a
magical place where their money could buy soft bodies, hard drugs
and every kind of excess known to the hedonistic. It was like a
strange sort of parallel universe and the seedy red-light district
had an atmosphere all its own. The neon signs, the characters that
walked the streets and of course, the hookers. Kings Cross grabbed
me and held on tight.


The Streets Of

Sydney is one of those cities that has always
managed to walk that fine line between old and new. The skyline is
dominated by modern buildings but in some of the inner city back
streets, you can still find buildings that go back centuries. Kings
Cross has always been known as a bad area and when organized crime
started to take root in Australia, The Cross was where it all
began. Police corruption was rife, illegal gambling and
prostitution flourished. In spite of its reputation or maybe
because of it, night owls flocked to the notorious Kings Cross with
its strip clubs and seedy bars that were open twenty-four hours a
day to receive them.

The best way to see Kings Cross is on foot.
It's not too far from the central business district of downtown
Sydney so if you're feeling fit, find William Street and then head
up the hill. As you walk, you'll see that things start to thin out
for a few blocks and then start to get busy again but with a
different pace. Look straight ahead, that huge neon billboard up
ahead is the famous Coca Cola advertising sign that has marked the
entrance to The Cross for as long as I can remember.

If the sun has already gone down when you
arrive, you might start to notice the girls. The section of William
Street that you are walking past is a popular beat for street
walkers, female prostitutes on the right side of the road and if
you look closely, on the left in the shadows near the Bus Stop, is
a favorite haunt for transsexual prostitutes. At the Coke sign,
William Street ends in a tee-junction and you have the option of
either turning left or right onto Darlinghurst Road. A turn to your
left will take you along the Darlinghurst Road strip, long
considered the main entertainment area of Kings Cross with its
strip clubs, bars and hookers galore. At the end is the El Alamein
Fountain with its small park where you will often find casual
prostitutes and drug dealers.

From the Coke sign, a right turn instead will
find you walking along the other, more sedate end of Darlinghurst

If you continue down that way, past the old
Fire Station and the needle vending machine, you'll start to see an
old brick wall on your right. The wall was built in 1840 and is
part of the original Darlinghurst Jail. The prison is no longer in
use but the wall still is. This section of Darlinghurst Road is the
beat for male prostitutes, the so called Wall Boys. Take a few more
steps and you'll find yourself in Oxford Street, the heart of
Sydney's gay district. There are many other side streets but
combined with these main thoroughfares, they make up the general
area of Kings Cross. Over the last two hundred years, very little
has changed. Kings Cross is still a bad area and unless you're
looking for sex, drugs or trouble, then I would strongly recommend
giving it a wide berth after dark.

For me as a kid though, I saw none of these
dangers. As evening shadows descended on the outside world and the
city workers headed home, Kings Cross leisurely came to life. One
by one the girls would appear at their spot as though the day just
gone was pure imagination and the world really consisted of one,
long, endless night. It was like nothing that I had ever known and
it drew me like a magnet.


The Point Of No

I was only thirteen but I considered myself a
man of the world. Times had changed at home, dad had a new
girlfriend and I'd had enough. There was no big argument or
cataclysmic event that I can recall. Psychologically, I had
progressed to the point where I could no longer live this dual life
of child by day and adult by night. On the days that I bothered to
turn up for class, it was evident that I had no interest in school
and school had no interest in me. I packed a few things one night
and walked until I found the highway where I stuck out my

For just over a year, I hitched my way around
the east coast of Australia and then wandered inland. I had no
destination so I just drifted for a while, living on my wits and
living each day like there was no tomorrow. My thumb eventually
took me back to Sydney where I looked up the old man. To my
surprise, he seemed happy to see me so, having nowhere else to go,
I moved in with dad and his girlfriend Maureen.

I was only fourteen so dad decided to put me
back in school and I was not impressed. At fifteen, I could leave
school if I had a job and that became my goal. I left school on my
birthday and started work a few days later.

It didn’t last long because even though I was
working in a warehouse during the day, a considerable amount of my
night hours were spent hanging around The Cross. I started to form
relationships with those around me and I was quickly becoming one
of the many characters that blended to make the cocktail of The
Cross. One day, tired of lifting boxes for a living and after very
little thought, I quit the job and moved permanently to the place
where I belonged.


The Life

In her fifties when I knew her, Mandy managed
a local brothel and put me to work doing odd jobs around the place
at night. Mandy took a liking to me and I seemed to fit in well so
it wasn't long before it became full-time. From cleaning the rooms
to fixing a leaking tap, whatever needed doing, I did it. I saw a
few things that I probably shouldn't have from time to time but she
trusted me to keep quiet and I always did.

As it was with many illegal operations around
The Cross at the time, Mandy had no stake in the business that she
operated. Mandy was the face of the business to the customers, the
girls and the outside world but the reality was that she was simply
an employee who kept up the illusion by running the place as though
it were her own. The real owner was a man named Harold, patriarch
of an old organized crime family and a man who liked to remain in
the background wherever possible.

Harold was an old dinosaur still living in
the fifties and his standard approach to business was that every
man is bribable. In the glory days of Sydney organized crime,
Harold had been a pretty big player but now in his seventies, the
march of time was catching up fast. Although Harold still had a lot
of business interests around The Cross, his influence was fading.
To add to his problems, Harold's son Marc had recently returned
from England and the two of them were starting to do battle behind
the scenes.

For the most part, I had nothing to do with
the money side of the business but from what little I did see, the
amount of money that passed through the place was amazing. It was
literally moved from A to B in paper bags by men just walking
through the inner city streets from one business to the next. Known
around The Cross as Bagmen, these men would do the rounds,
collecting the daily takings and carrying around thousands of
dollars as though it were nothing. A legitimate business takes
their profits to the bank, criminals shove it under the proverbial
mattress. As would happen sometimes, one day the Bagman didn’t turn
up so I was handed a paper bag full of cash and dispatched with a
great nervousness on Mandy’s part. It was delivered and that became
an occasional part of the job from then on.

BOOK: Darlinghurst Road
3.28Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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