You Are Here: The Hills Have Eyes (On the West)


Words || Iki Lotfi

Wikipedia explains the Hills District as the “general term for the north-western suburbs of Sydney…alternatively Sydney’s Bible Belt”. The term north-west is a highly contested concept and one of great importance to my heart, we’ll come back to this. 

Located in the cold and lifeless heart of the hills, Castle Hill has a very specific suburban vibe. Castle Hills makes you feel as though you are floating alone in space, you are completely weightless, spinning, trapped in the earth’s orbit, no amount of doggy paddling can save you or help you move. You simply must wait until you run out of oxygen, and die. 

When I first watched The Truman Show, I spent weeks of my 12 year old life convinced that I was living in a simulation. Castle Hill is a simulation, there is no other explanation; thorny vines of roses so red wrapping around kilometres of picket fences so white enclosing immaculate lawns so green, so vast you have to squint to see a house in the distance. You don’t see humans in Castle Hill, not in the wild, only in the guarding “Towers”. Here communication is free, you may ask others how they are, accuse them of shoplifting if they’re brown or convince yourself that they’ve pushed in line at Coles. But secretly you’re pleased, finally some riveting dinner conversation about the demanding migrants who are polluting the surrounding hills.

Castle Hill is one of the whitest suburbs of The Hills, with only 37.8% of people speaking a “non-English” language at home. Surrounding Hills such as Seven Hills are much more diverse, with 44.9% of the population speaking a “non English” language at home. 

Seven Hills also borders Toongabie and Blacktown making it closer in geographical location and cultural make-up to the actual Western suburbs of Sydney, pockets of people enjoy each other’s company on the street and you have the luxury of choosing from multiple Iranian sandwich shops for a feed. Castle Hill borders Glenhaven, where only 15.8% of the people speak a “non-English” language at home, the properties are so big you can break into a backyard without being seen and in 2018 firefighters were called to a private property after a “beautiful old horse” had become trapped in a swimming pool.

This contrast between Seven Hills, Castle Hill, and their surrounding suburbs is what makes the term North-West so important. In the last few years, we have seen a quasi-admiration and imitation of Western Sydney’s culture by those who are definitely not from the area itself.

Inner-west yuppies announcing they grew up in the western suburb of Burwood, so they get it, and art student yups wearing Nike TNs and “frothing halal snack packs”, when their family funded Mark Latham’s entire dump of a career. This imitation and appropriation of The West has put people from Castle Hill at yet again another unfair advantage. In circles where it’s currently “in” to be from The West, we say we are from The Western Suburbs. 

Triple J hosts now introduce people I went to school with as the kid from, “the suburbs of Western Sydney, a melting pot of creatives.”

But when talking to people from the North-Shore or the east, we conveniently say North-West. Clout and social currency aside, Castle Hill sits higher than average across all Australia on the GEO socio-economic and livability scale, weighing in at a score of 98 out of 100, the same score as Mosman*.

To this issue, I have only one solution: Eat the Rich. Use the flesh of Castle Hill to sustain The Revolution.

Yours sincerely,  

A Fat Cat from Castle Hill. 

After all, didn’t all your favourite revolutionaries have rich landowning daddies?

*Looking for the perfect sunset spot, a friend and I jumped the fence of an abandoned paddock, it turned out to be someone’s property. There was a mansion, in front of this mansion a lake, rolling into this lake a stream, crossing over this stream a bridge, crossing this bridge some ducks. There was a shed bigger than my entire house. We sat smoking a doob, watching the sun set, marvelled that two brown hooligans could be temporarily squatting this Lord Farquadesque dream and purely due to the immensity of it, Lord Farquad couldn’t even see us. His abundance betraying him, for the first and last time.