Last drinks

Sarah Burns from ESEM Projects / Sitelines Media spoke at the recent National Digital Forum (NDF) conference about the 'Last drinks: One More Round At The Australia Hotel' project, which she had worked on.

This video and sound installation project, was part of the City of Sydney’s 11th annual 'Art & About Festival', which ran from 21 September to 21 October 2012. A series of night time installations also took place and were intended to re-inscribe the hidden history of the precinct back onto the buildings and laneways, enabling memories of sophistication and style to collide with the present day. The website itself is a great resource with information about the Australia Hotel and Community Stories.

Ref: AWNS-19000223-11-1, Sir George Grey Special Collections
Hotels all around the world are important social hubs for communities both in the present day and in the past. The iconic Australia Hotel opened in 1891 and was demolished in 1971, to make way for the MLC Centre. The hotel was located in a key position at 45 Castlereagh St with additional frontages onto Martin Place and Rowe Street.

It was a celebrated part of Sydney society, home to luxury and vice, scandal and ceremony, style and stateliness. However,  since so much that mattered to Sydney happened at the hotel, its legend lives on: in photographs, in magazines, in film footage – and in memories. Numerous famous celebrities stayed at the hotel when on tour in Sydney – the Ballet Russe, Dame Nellie Melba, Alfred Hitchcock, Kathryn Hepburn, Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, Marlene Dietrich (who had a suite named after her), to name a few. Writers were also among its infamous guests, including Robert Louis Stevenson and Mark Twain.

Ref: AWNS-19011121-5-4, Sir George Grey Special Collections
Audiovisual material for the project was sourced from both private and cultural institutions, including National Film and Sound Archive, including the Film Australia Collection, the State Library of NSW, The Rowe Street Society.