This book, Marrickville Backyards, was necessary preparatory reading for our field work in Marrickville.

Published in 2001 by Marrickville Community History Group, with only a small print run, this book is not easy to get your hands on. We found it through Sydney’s much-loved Gould’s Book Arcade. Our second hand copy comes with a note on the first page ‘To Sylvia & Rosie, thank you for having me in your Marrickville backyard, frontyard & indoors!’ which is quite lovely.

This kind of personalisation is really the tone for the entire book. The three sections of the book are put together from 18 conversations with Marrickville residents about their backyards and gardens. The resulting text includes gardening tips, recipes, and upcycling practices that remind us that Marrickville has been rich with acts of resilience and resistance long before we started researching them.

Roslyn Sharp, the photographer, provides beautiful black and white portraits of humans in their backyard habitats.

We have come across some of the residents featured in this book in our own research, and they are still keeping beautiful gardens. We look forward to interviewing them and mapping the edges they have been making for decades. As the authors write in the introduction ‘… the backyard can be a place where are a vigorous, shady grapevine peeps over the fence and boasts its owner’s skill in the garden’ (p.6).