Juanita Nielsen and her fateful fight against corruption and greed

 Juanita Nielsen | Image  WikiMedia Commons

Juanita Nielsen | Image WikiMedia Commons

Many of my clients choose a closer look around the eastern suburbs of Sydney for their tour. No trip around Kings Cross is complete without mentioning the late, great activist Juanita Nielsen. My guest writer today is Paddington resident Ronda McCallum who penned this marvellous piece about the Potts Point legend.

Juanita Joan Nielsen, (nee Smith) born April 22nd, 1937. Publisher, preservationist, activist and heiress to the Mark Foy retail empire fortune.

In the early 1970’s Juanita published the alternative Kings Cross newspaper NOW and was active in opposing the demolition of heritage homes to make way for high rise apartment buildings in Potts Point, Kings Cross and surrounds. In particular the Victoria Street plan of property developer Frank Theeman, who made his fortune in the lingerie industry with the Osti label. (Yes, that nasty bri-nylon stuff of the 60’s).

Victoria Street, an area the National Trust compared to Montmartre in Paris, built along the steep escarpment east of the city centre, was lined with rows of large 19th-century terrace houses with breathtaking city and harbour views. It was of national architectural significance and Theeman needed to tear them down to build his three towers. In his attempts to move people on he regularly sent his thugs to threaten and harass them. Juanita, with the support of the Builders Labourers Federation (BLF), had a green ban imposed on the site and used her newspaper to publicise what was going on. In doing so she made some very powerful enemies.

As it transpired, Frank Theeman was prepared to stop at nothing to proceed with the A$40 million project and Juanita’s actions were costing him $3000 a day in interest payments on the money he had borrowed.

On the 4th July 1975, Juanita was invited to the Carousel Club by Eddie Trigg, who was deep in debt to Theeman, to discuss placing advertising in her newspaper, she was suspicious because they had never been interested before but went anyway. She was never seen again.

The people responsible for her disappearance have never been identified and the only trace of her was the discovery of her handbag and a few personal items beside a road in western Sydney 8 days after she was last seen.

There is a list of suspects: Abe Saffron "The Boss of the Cross" or "Mr Sin". The owner of the Carousel Club, mate of Theeman, employer of Anderson and Trigg. Involved in everything illegal, immoral, unscrupulous and surrounded by people who would do his dirty work. Safron was accused of having organised a wide range of criminal activities including gambling, prostitution, drug dealing and sly grog sales, and to have coordinated a network of bribery and official corruption that reportedly included former New South Wales Premier Robert Askin and Police Commissioner Norman Allan. Crooked NSW cop Det. Sgt Fred Krahe, who was sacked from the force after allegations he murdered a prostitute whistle-blower and for his involvement in organising bank robberies. And the grubby little men who did their bidding. Amongst them, Eddie Trigg and James ‘Big Jim’ Anderson. Anderson was paid a considerable amount of money by Theeman just days before Juanita disappeared. That was never adequately explained. Seeing a pattern?

Juanita’s modest terrace house is still standing at 202 Victoria Street, Potts Point and popular opinion has it that she is buried in the foundations of one Theeman’s high rise apartment buildings that she fought so hard to stop, barely 250mtrs down the road from where she lived.

The Mark Foy department store building, with its ornate façade and exquisite tile work, still stands on the corner of Elizabeth and Liverpool St’s in the CBD and, ironically, is now a state court complex known as the Downing Centre.

Juanita’s story is one of the fight against corruption, violence, intimidation and greed. She was a brave woman who had the best 70’s updo you’ll ever see and knew who and what she was taking on. Ultimately, she paid with her life. A 1983 coronial inquest states that police corruption at the time may have crippled the investigation into her death.

There is a memorial to Juanita at South Head cemetery in Vaucluse.

A Tour Of Sydney to Remember

Perfect weather and a guided tour of the iconic sights of Sydney, including the Harbour Bridge, Blues Point, Opera House, Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, and views over the most famous beach in the world from Bondi Icebergs. That’s what awaited our visitors from all corners of the globe as we hit the road on the biggest sidecar entourage ever to hit the Harbour City.

 What a beautiful day to tour around Sydney - Una giornata bellissima

What a beautiful day to tour around Sydney - Una giornata bellissima

Marc and his crew from Shelby’s invited me to join his fleet of four Ural sidecars and drivers, so everyone of the 30-strong group could have the most unique experience in Sydney for visitors. Of course, I jumped at the chance.

My first riders were the father and son duo from Uzbekistan, via Bremen, Germany. Big football fans and the second time they had been to Sydney. I will find it very hard to forgive them for not being familiar with 1988 Olympic Pole Vault Silver Medallist Radion Gataullin, the most famous sportsman to come out of Tashkent (well according to my lofty athletics-biased standards).

 How can you be Uzbekistani and not know who Radion Gataullin is?! 

How can you be Uzbekistani and not know who Radion Gataullin is?! 

They were particularly impressed with the real estate prices and seemed to think the $71 million that Scott Farquhar, co-founder of Atlassian, paid for Elaine at Point Piper was reasonable. Yowsa!

Attila from Budapest and Doyle from “The Carolinas” were my midday crew. Attila was worn out from organising a trip with his mother in New Zealand, so was in Australia to kick back and relax. Doyle was itching to have a meal at the famous Watsons Bay restaurant, he shares his name with. I did say that the fish and chips option on the wharf is the better of the two though.

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The most fun I had all day was with Italians, Federica from Firenze and Fabrizio from Milano. Having spent nearly three years in Varese in northern Italy myself, we had lots to talk about and I got to practice la lingua italiana.

 

 Beautiful view of Sydney Harbour from Blues Point - Facciamo un giro con i miei amici!

Beautiful view of Sydney Harbour from Blues Point - Facciamo un giro con i miei amici!

These guys were very interested in the dichotomy of housing in Sydney where it is not uncommon to have government housing right across the road from multimillion dollar mansions and apartment. Think Sirius at The Rocks, the Finger Wharf at Woolloomooloo. Sydney has a proud tradition of fighting developers keen to erect another fabricated monstrosity in place of dwellings of cultural and community significance.

One of the very Australian phenomena (and normal by our standard) that I like to point out to Italians in particular, are our free beaches and that they won't see a banana lounge in sight. When you tell them that there’s no entrance fee, it’s all “mama mia” with some incredulous hand gestures.

Gotta love Australia!

For everyone in the riding crew, it was their longest tour ever on the sidecars. And what a great bunch of riders to spend the day with... multi-linguist Boris, Alex the cafe owner, Antony the Cuban Music Festival organiser, and of course Marc, the owner of Shelby's, who loves giving tourists a unique taste of Sydney.

 Boris and the Bremen Uzbekistani's

Boris and the Bremen Uzbekistani's

Litecoin accepted here

Sydney Sidecar now accepts Litecoin. With more and more travellers choosing cryptocurrency when they travel, I wanted to offer another convenient way of paying other than credit card. With one of the attractions of cryptocurrencies being borderless payments, it means travellers are able to avoid currency conversion fees. High transactions fees, are still a challenge for bitcoin, so here at Sydney Sidecar I prefer Litecoin.

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If you'd like to pay for your trip in Litecoin contact me to confirm a booking time and then send payment to my wallet. Easy!

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Stranger Things of Sydney Tour - Celebrate Season 2

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Stranger Things returns to Netflix on Friday October 27 with the second season of the breakout hit sci-fi series. To celebrate, Sydney Sidecar is offering a Stranger Things of Sydney Tour.

Hawkins, Indiana is not the only place in the world where strange things happen. Right here in Sydney, we have a sinister history of our own.

The special themed trips will be a huge 25% off my regular price and will be offered only on Friday 27 October. So for just $209 you'll get 2 hours to explore Sydney's stranger side in a retro (some say strange) looking Russian sidecar.

My Stranger Things of Sydney Tour will start in Kings Cross and explore Darlinghurst, out to Watsons Bay and more.

If you're a fan of the series or just want to experience some of the places in Sydney where strange things happen, book now using the discount code StrangerThings2.

 

The Everest - Arrive at Randwick in style on a retro sidecar

The Everest, is the world's richest turf race with prizemoney of $10 million and the big day is less than one week away.

The race will be run at Royal Randwick racecourse over 1200 metres.

That means time is running out for racegoers to plan their big day. Hopefully you've got your fashion sorted already but have you thought about arriving in style?

Arriving by retro sidecar will surely make heads turn for this raceday to end all racedays.

I dress in distinguished gentlemenly style to compliment the look you're after.

Contact me if you'd like to book a unique arrival by sidecar for this special occasion. Pickups anywhere in inner Sydney and transport to Randwick for $150.

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