Greg Barila

Journalist. Editor. Social Media specialist.

In the ghetto: slumming it in Adelaide’s eastern suburbs

A street in Hackney, Adelaide. Photo by Bianca De Marchi

“ON a cold and grey Chicago morn / A poor little baby child is born …. in Hackney”.
*Sound of needle ripping on vinyl.
That’s right. If The King hadn’t checked out on the throne way back in 1977, and wanted to update his 1969 hit In The Ghetto, the song wouldn’t be a lament about the squalid living conditions of The Windy City, but about the desperately underprivileged settlement of Hackney, in this very city.
As reported in the Eastern Courier Messenger, the wretched citizens of Hackney are living in fear that their already-God forsaken suburb is about to be turned into a “slum” and “ghetto” if a housing plan on the old Sanitarium Weet-Bix site, next to St Peter’s College, gets the go ahead.
TAKE HEED: A shanty town in Rio, Brazil. Or, Hackney in a couple of years.
Those are serious, emotive words but break down it down by definition and I think you’ll find the residents are on the money.
Ghetto n. quarter of city inhabited (historically) by Jews or by minority groups.
Slum n. dirty squalid overcrowded street, district.
The old Weet-Bix site. Photo by Bianca De Marchi
It’s almost as if Mr Oxford had Hackney in mind when he scribbled down those definitions.
The agent managing the sale of the land predicts the project will be at the “upper echelon” of Adelaide’s property market, while the council’s planning rules set out that developments in the area should be “compatible with the established character of the area”.
In other words, the development would be tasteful.
C’mon. You and I both know that’s code for “slum”.
And worse, a slum for dirty no good renters *shudder*.
As several pundits on rightly asked, why do we even need this new abomination? What’s wrong with the status quo?
“I’m sure an abandoned Weet-Bix factory looks so much nicer than modern housing”, reader Marty rightly observed.
And why settle for a boring old apartment complex, anyway?
What about something less ho hum, something more visionary, something befitting the former production centre of a company that sits on practically every Australian breakfast table.
“How about just putting a giant Weet-Bix on the site, modelled on the old Magic Mountain,” reader Sid demanded to know.
“That’d look nice”.
It surely would. It might even inject some much-needed tourism dollars into the area and save poor old Hackney from the certain penury it currently faces.