The Hungry Mile

The Hungry Mile has been formally re-named as an official urban space in Sydney to ensure its link to history lasts forever.

The name became an official part of Sydney in a joint ceremony held today with Premier Nathan Rees, Lord Mayor Clover Moore, Lands Minister Tony Kelly and The Maritime Union of Australia Secretary Paddy Crumlin.

The Maritime Union approached the City of Sydney to apply the name “The Hungry Mile” to the precinct and have it recognised as an official place name within the suburb of Barangaroo at east Darling Harbour by the Geographical Names Board.

Premier Rees thanked the Council for making the application to officially rename the Sydney wharves precinct which will serve as a permanent reminder of the area’s unique heritage.

“The Hungry Mile takes its rightful place on the map today – for generations to come it will serve as a reminder of the contribution made by maritime workers,” Mr Rees said.

“I am particularly pleased to be joined by children from Fort Street Public School who are here to learn about the history of this area and gain some insight in to what life was like for the families that lived and worked here for many generations.”

The Lord Mayor said the Hungry Mile will become an urban place name for the area that includes the section of Hickson Road between the Munn Street overbridge and the Napoleon Street intersection located mainly in the suburbs of Barangaroo and Millers Point.

“The name ‘The Hungry Mile’ is a link between the area and the Great Depression, when workers went from wharf to wharf in search for work, if they found work it meant money for food and shelter for them and their families, but failure meant going home hungry,” said Lord Mayor Clover Moore MP.

“History is not always pretty, and too often its grittier bits are airbrushed from our contemporary consciousness. But each time that happens, we lose a little of the authentic spirit of place, and of the people who shaped our City. We lose a little of the true story of Sydney.

“The Hungry Mile was a place of real struggle – for livelihoods, but also for principles.  It was a tough place that bred tough and enduring people. In retaining its name and its memories, we are not romanticising an often degrading and inhuman system,” Ms Moore said.

“This is about working class culture and history,” said MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin.

“The Hungry Mile is not just any place but somewhere symbolic. A symbolic place for working people and their communities. A place where workers lived, worked, fought and died in the pursuit of decent living and working conditions, not only in this country, but internationally.”

It was also announced today that the NSW Government, City of Sydney and MUA would honour some of the heroes of the Hungry Mile along the well known sandstone cliff face.

“We will now have a place to celebrate the workers who struggled to find work and provide for their families,” Mr Rees said.

“All too often their struggle is forgotten and it is our duty to remember.”

The proposal does not change Barangaroo as the suburb at east Darling Harbour but officially recognises the name of The Hungry Mile as part of Barangaroo. 

Barangaroo is named after an important indigenous woman from Sydney’s early history who was a leading figure in the story of the first colonisation of Australia and the wife of Bennelong, after whom Bennelong Point - the site of the Sydney Opera House - is named.

Information on The Hungry Mile proposal can be obtained at the Geographical Names Board’s web site www.gnb.nsw.gov.au 

Premier Nathan Rees media contact Aaron Ross 0419 434 498
Lord Mayor Clover Moore media contact: Jeff Lewis 0401 994 008
Minister Tony Kelly media contact: Alex McGregor on 0404 015 556
MUA media contact: Zoe Reynolds on 0417 229873 or zoe.reynolds@mua.org.au

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