I first moved to West End as a student in 1995. My friends and I rented a six bedroom house for $300 a week, so $50 each - booya! We had so much fun being poor students, living on vegies and rice, scoffing leftovers our housemate brought back from Caravanserai and sitting on the roof to watch the fireworks.
What made me fall in love with West End instantly though was the way it reminded me of my home town, Mullumbimby, NSW, with its shops lining the main street, its eclectic mix of people and most of all its sense of community and independent newspaper.
Almost twenty years later and I'm no longer living in West End as, like many families, I've had to migrate to suburbia in order to live the great Australian dream. A suburb once known for its cheap accommodation and mix of ethnic minorities has become increasingly popular for its cafe culture and proximity to the CBD. With this of course has also brought wealthier home owners and shiny new businesses.
Despite West End's continued gentrification, it still remains true to its roots and the Kurilpa Derby is a perfect example of this. The role of the Derby is to close off half the main straight to vehicles and set it up as a race track for any non-motorised form of transport with wheels. Just to make sure you got that, I said ANY non-motorised form of transport with wheels, including but not limited to mattresses, wheelie bins, wheel barrows, bathtubs etc. As long as it has one or more wheels, it's allowed.
A high point of the event is the famous Squid Race. This is where teams of three have to run into George's Seafood, a West End institution and one of the few businesses that still exists and and which was born before my time, collect a whole calamari and relay it down and back up the street only using their mouths to hold on to it. And, true to West End form, the participants are wearing colourful and diverse attire, because it is, after all, West End.