THE DIRTY HALF MILETrawling through the once alleyways of sleazy splendour, the history of Australian literature unfolds: from Patrick White to Kenneth...

Kings Bloody Cross: The Dirty Half Mile


The World Bar
2011 NSW

Kings Bloody Cross - The Dirty Half Mile


James Valentine

James Valentine

James has been presenting Afternoons on ABC Radio Sydney since the '90s and is also a musician with his own jazz quartet. He plays regularly around Sydney and at music festivals around the country and, in 2009, released the album Debut. James is also the narrator of Lifestyle Channel's Come Dine With Me Australia as well as the writer of a regular, humourous column for The Australian newspaper.

A familiar face on Australian television, James was the movie reviewer for many years on Showtime, a reporter and commentator on shows such as Sunrise, It Takes Two, Midday, Good Morning Australia and TVTV.

He began his media career hosting the cartoons for ABCTV in the mid-1980s on a program called The Afternoon Show. Previously, James was a full-time saxophonist recording and touring with Jo Camilleri, Kate Ceberano, Wendy Matthews and most notably The Models, a band that had two number one hits and toured the US and Europe. James is married, his wife is a clinical pyschologist and they have two children, Ruby and Roy.

Louis Nowra

Louis Nowra

Louis was born in Melbourne and writes for film, theatre and television.

He is the author of such plays as Inner VoicesVisions, Inside the Island, The Precious Woman, Sunrise, The Golden Age, Capricornia, Byzantine Flowers, The Watchtower, Summer of the Aliens, Cosi, Radiance, The Temple, Crow, The Incorruptible, The Junle, The Language of the Gods and The Boyce Trilogy

He has written six non-fiction works, Kings Cross: A BiographyThe Cheated, Warne's World, Walkabout, Chihuahuas, Women and Me, and Bad Dreaming; the novels The Misery of Beauty, Palu, Red Nights, Abaza, Ice; two novels for young adults, Into That Forest and The Prince of Afghanistan; and the memoirs The Twelfth of Never and Shooting the Moon.

Some of his radio plays include Albert Names Edward, The Song Room, Sydney, The Divine Hammer, Far North and Jez. He has translated plays and written libretti including the recent Midnight Son and written the telemovies Displaced PersonsHunger and The Lizard King. His screen credits include Map of the Human HeartCosi, Heaven's Burning, The Matchmaker, Radiance, K-19: The Widowmaker and Black and White. He was co-writer of the documentary series First Australians and created TV series The Last Resort and The Straits. Also an essayist, he lives in Sydney and is married to the writer Mandy Sayer.


Mandy Sayer

Mandy Sayer

As a child, Mandy Sayer lived in the basement of a Victoria Street house during the green ban era. She wrote her first short story there at the age of nine. Seventeen years later she won the Vogel Award for her first novel, MOOD INDIGO, and has since published five works of fiction, and five works of non-fiction, many of which are set in Kings Cross.


Event Details


Trawling through the once alleyways of sleazy splendour, the history of Australian literature unfolds: from Patrick White to Kenneth Slessor, Barry Humphries, Frank Moorhouse, Louis Nowra and Mandy Sayer. "Every important Australian writer at one time stayed here or wrote about it," Nowra says, citing Kings Cross as a source of inspiration for some of Australia’s most notorious scribblers. In 2003, Sayer and Nowra commented, "Kings Cross is both a real place and a state of mind”, likening the creative asylum to the bohemian enclaves of Soho and Greenwich Village. (Sydney Morning Herald, 2003)

Now, post lockout war and gentrification boom, the dirty half mile is fading.

Will we still write about it? 

Host: James Valentine
Guest: Louis Nowra and Mandy Sayer

For more details visit

This session is part of a curated season of raw and riveting 'in conversation' events featuring Kings Cross luminaries. Rub shoulders with artists, idealists and opportunists and hear fascinating stories about 'ungentrified' Sydney — the heady days of rock 'n' roll, free love, corruption, opportunity, sex and politics during the twentieth century. Presented over three weekends, Kings Bloody Cross will engage audiences with thrilling insight into the dirty half mile's people, bohemia and place. 

Curated by Olivia Ansell. 

Presented by Live Ideas and Working Management.

Image by Roz Sharp 

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