It was late. Not midnight late, but late enough. The sun was no more and the neighbourhood silent. We arrived in MacDonaldtown station from the airport, after an 8-hour flight. The place is dead quiet. With us are four bags, a baby in the pouch and an address to ‘No.30, Golden Grove Street, corner of Abercrombie Street.’

The train roared on leaving a thunderous echo on the tracks. We exited the station and decided to let our instincts lead us. Thankfully, our instincts weren’t put to the test (I fear, we would’ve been walked for ages!). We stopped a cyclist that was zooming by and he accessed his google maps to give us directions. Bless him!

Sydney_Macdonaldtown

We arrive at No.30, a prominent stair canopy rising up from the street and a glass door at its entrance with a Kookaburra image etched on it. We led ourselves in and Lloyd Suttor, who had been waiting up all night for us greeted us with a warm smile. He briefly showed us around and excused himself so that we can retire for the night.

The apartment is beautiful, tastefully decorated. It was warm and cosy and instrumental music piped in the background. It felt like home. Famished and a little disoriented, going out for dinner was not an option. Thankfully, Lloyd had stocked the kitchen with bacon, eggs, bread, yoghurt, juice, cereal, fruits and cans of soup.

Dinner satisfied our hunger and it warmed our soul to know that Lloyd planned ahead and anticipated our need. It’s one of those moments that you will remember a place for – like how you remember home. There’s always food, anytime.

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The spacious self-contained studio apartment is a split level unit with the bedroom and lounge rising up from the kitchen. The stylish modern décor is splashed with green, grey and white hues and refreshing floral elements. On the walls are intriguing art pieces by Tony Twigg, an Australian who draws inspiration from Asian cultures in Singapore, the Philippines and Malaysia. The art pieces on display in the apartment are made up from recycled elements collected from these countries.

Golden Grove Tony Twigg

Golden Grove B&B was nothing close to stylish when Lloyd bought over the property in 2010. Previously, a dilapidated student accommodation providing shelter to nearby university students, the building was quite worn out. Lloyd took on this retirement project with gusto.

Hospitality was never on his portfolio, until now. Lloyd was more of a creative person, one with lots of ideas and ways to make magic happen. He was one of the brains and actors behind the well-known Flying Fruitfly Circus, the only Australian full-time circus academy for young people. His retirement project had one condition – it had to involve people. He enjoyed meeting new faces and sharing stories.

We sat around the breakfast table over morning tea as Lloyd told me more about how Golden Grove came to be. Right next to us beyond the glass shutters is a pretty roof top garden and a turbine spinning away. “Sustainability wasn’t quite on my list when I first started tearing this place down. It was Duncan Bond, my architect who introduced earth-friendly elements into the reconstruction,” said Lloyd.

Golden Grove

“I’m sure glad he did! Now the apartment is self-warming and cooling as a result of perfect ventilation. Hot water is powered by solar panels, the garden roof top provides cool to the apartment below and there is plenty of sunlight flowing in from the glass window.” Guests may even overlook these elements, but Lloyd made sure he made a mention in the apartment compendium as a way to educate guests.

Rooftop garden

Golden Grove has two studio units for short-term and long-term rental. “The units are often filled up with people working in Sydney for short stints, parents of students from the university and academics.” It is no surprise the B&B receives repeat guests, as it really feels somewhat, like home.

Located in lively Newtown, one of Sydney’s flourishing precincts, there is always something happening round the corner. Known for its shopping strip, vibrant coffee culture and creative spaces for contemplation and ideas, Newtown attracts both young and old, free-spirited artisans and young families. We had time to stop by Carriage Works, one of the many community galleries in Newtown. This former railway workshop was the hub for Australian-made carriages. Its external red bricked walls and clouded glass windows makes a for a perfect photo backdrop and its high ceiling interior is suitable for any kind of art installation.

We saw the installation by Christian Boltanski called “Chance”. A giant film reel filled with photos of babies whirling from one end to the other on a massive steel structure. Each photo represented a life. At the end of the steel structure was a giant LED board with numbers ticking by – in green are the number of births and red the number of deaths, at the current time. A reminder of the rhythms of life as it unfolds.

Carriage Works

A meaningful installation and a timely reminder to life live to its fullest. This was the chapter that kick started my one and a half months travel to Sydney and New Zealand. Thanks Lloyd for such a warm, welcoming stay.

More stories to follow…