In 1937, when the building known as Langs Corner was being built at the intersection of Crown and Kembla street a newspaper article lamented the loss of huge pines trees.
The trees, the article said, “have been landmarks for very many years [and] have been removed in order to make way for the march of progress”.
Now, 80 years on, it seems this march is striding forward again, as developers look to build a shiny, angular office tower in place of the old red-brick shopfront.
And whatever your views on the $45 million plans, it’s clear that – if the building is approved – it will mean the loss of another sort of Wollongong landmark.
In 2010, Yours and Owls began life as a funny little coffee shop/gallery/wine bar opening in the oddly shaped tenancy fronting Kembla Street.
Despite (or maybe because of) being tiny, scruffy, loud and impractical, the venue became a much-loved hub for live music.
In the years since they sold the venue in 2013, the founders have been instrumental in fostering and promoting local bands, as well as attracting national and international bands to town. You only have to look to the killer line-up and fast-selling tickets of this year’s Yours and Owls festival to see the landmark their music brand has become.
The venue, too, has continued to thrive as Rad Bar, and has become a place for not just music, but art, poetry and other cultural pursuits.
With all Wollongong has to offer, it’s clear that more and more shiny new buildings will rise up in the coming years. But as they do, let’s hope the rebellious and resourceful spirit that helped form Rad Bar and Yours and Owls is not stamped out completely.
On Thursday, artist Sion Gruffydd plans to paint the words STAY WILD in giant letters on the side of a building in lower Crown Street. As the city changes, it’s advice worth heeding. – Kate McIlwain