Bernie Goldie

Radical Sydney to feature at prestigious festival

The book, Radical Sydney, co-authored by University of Wollongong tutor and PhD student, Rowan Cahill, will be on show at the prestigious Sydney Writers’ Festival being held from 16-22 May.

Rowan and co-author, Terry Irving, will be joining 400 Australian and international writers.

Rowan works as a tutor at the School of History and Politics at Wollongong and also as a tutor (History and English) at UOW’s Moss Vale Education Centre.

Following its launch in June, the book was listed globally on many of the world’s bookselling catalogues. Rowan co-authored the book with radical educationist and historian, Dr Terry Irving, who is a Visiting Professorial Fellow in UOW’s School of History and Politics.

The cover of the book features author Kylie Tennant at a fancy dress party. During the 1930s she was a fiery advocate for the international Labor Defence organisation.

The book highlights how from the early nineteenth century through to the late twentieth century working class suburbs “were large and explosive places of marginalised ideas, bohemian neighbourhoods, dissident politics and contentious action”.

Through a series of snapshots of people, episodes, and places, Radical Sydney captures aspects of this ‘other’ Sydney, from the days of early settlement through to the late 1970s. It covers from Governor Arthur Phillip’s head-hunting expedition to freeing protestors in the anti-conscription movement during the Vietnam War – and in between with resident action movements in Kings Cross, anarchists in Glebe, Gay Rights activism on Oxford Street and Black Power in Redfern.

Rowan Cahill himself was prominent in the anti-war, student and New Left movements during the 1960s and 1970s. He was also one of the founders of the Free University.

He has worked as a teacher, freelance writer, agricultural labour, and for the trade union movement as a journalist, historian and rank and file activist.

His other books include The Seamen’s Union of Australia 1872-1972: A History (with Brian Fitzpatrick); Twentieth Century Australia: Conflict and Consensus (with David Stewart); A Turbulent Decade: Social Protest Movements and the Labour Movement, 1965-1975 (edited with Beverley Symons).

Radical Sydney: Places, Portraits and Events is published by UNSW Press.


  • Rowan Cahill . . . off to the Sydney Writers’ Festival