This sun hat documents the working life and conditions of a newspaper seller in Sydney between 1971 and 1996. Its significance comes from its association with paper seller and local White Bay celebrity Beatrice Bush.
For 25 years until 1996 Beatrice Bush sold newspapers seven days a week from the traffic island at the intersection of Victoria Road and The Crescent, White Bay, Sydney. Her weather-beaten face, small stature and eccentric attire were known to the estimated 70,000 vehicles which passed daily. Her resilience and endurance to constant traffic, petrol fumes and extremes of weather endeared her to locals and passers-by. Beatrice's long association with the area and support for local rugby league team the Balmain Tigers, evidenced by her trademark Tigers football socks, contributed to her status as a local celebrity. For many locals she symbolised old-style, working-class Balmain where struggle and hardship were offset by village life, community and family. Beatrice's life inspired songwriters, filmmakers, sculptors and painters (see object file).
This acquisition documents the practices of a Sydney newspaper street vendor just prior to the demise of this tradition. Until the late 1990s the daily metropolitan newspapers relied on a combination of newsagents, sub-agents operating from milk bars, convenience stores and small shops, and street vendors to sell their papers. Many of the street vendors were older people who contributed to the vibrancy of the inner city and provided a personal service to their daily customers. The vendors often worked up to 15 hours a day and many of them had held the same spot for 20 or 30 years. Like Beatrice they were used to working hard and needed the extra money to survive.
Many older sellers lost their jobs as councils upgraded facilities for the Sydney 2000 Olympics. Permanent newspapers kiosks were installed at prime city locations to replace vendors' milk crates and trolleys. Today newspaper sellers lease kiosks from the local council and have contracts with the major newspapers. Council regulations were also introduced at this time to restrict the sale of goods at traffic lights, thereby preventing the sale of papers at Beatrice's old site. These changes have largely destroyed the practice of old-style street selling that was once common to Sydney's inner-city streets. A number of independent publications like "Green Left Weekly" and "The Big Issue" are still traded on the streets by authorised vendors.
This sun hat was worn by Beatrice on her paper run. It would have provided sun protection. Beatrice often wore a hat on the job. Glen and Phillip Bush donated it to the Museum.