When World War II came to Surry Hills

A Walking Tour

A Gentle Two-Hour Walking Tour


The Yanks are coming to Surry Hills!

During World War II, approximately 1.5 million US servicemen travelled through Australia. Many of these men brought with them a thirst for booze, women and vice. The slums of Surry Hills became one of the most popular destinations for the US servicemen. Sly grog, brothels, drugs and a market to sell stolen weapons and cigarettes. This sparked a renaissance in the underworld of Surry Hills; everyone wanted a piece of the action. The gangs made money hand over fist but spilled a lot of blood in the process. It ultimately ended in one of the most bloodthirsty gang wars in Sydney’s history.

Meanwhile, the US Military Police were enforcing strict Jim Crow-era segregation on the African American servicemen in Sydney. Making them stay within a ‘coloured-only zone’ found in Surry Hills and East Sydney. Those who tried to escape it were severely punished.


About the tour

As part of the National Trust’s Australian Heritage Festival.

Join historian Elliot Lindsay on a walking tour of WWII-era Surry Hills and discover where it all happened. Finish at the historic Shakespeare Hotel.

Learn about the gangs that battled for control of the US Servicemen’s vice markets.

Visit the pubs, gambling dens, pleasure palaces and jazz halls where the ‘Yanks’ spent their cash.

See the street made infamous for the ‘coloured only’ government sanctioned brothels.

See where the ‘Booker T Washington Club for Coloured Soldiers’ was. The hippest joint in town and where bebop jazz came to Sydney.

Learn about the Jim Crow-era racial segregation “coloured zone” enforced by the US Military and their brutal provosts.

See house where the crime lord Donald “The Duck” Day was wacked with the help of his own wife.

Hear about the great gang war of 1945/46 that resulted in many gangsters meeting their maker. See where the bodies dropped.

See the house of crime queen, Kate Leigh.

The tour finishes in the Shakespeare Hotel on Devonshire Street, a favourite with the African American Servicemen of WWII.


    About the Tour

    Adult$40.00
    Concession$35.00
    Child$30.00
    National Trust Members$30.00

    The tours starts at the Royal Exhibition Hall Hotel on Devonshire and Chalmers Street in Surry Hills. It runs approximately 2 hours.

    To book a tour refer to the calendar below and choose a date and time that suits you.

    If you are interested in booking a private tour email elliot@murdersmostfoul.com or call 0431922619.



    Jo Ward
    Jo Ward
    2023-09-17
    Awesome tour! Myself and a group of friends met with Elliot for the Crime Scenes and Secret Laneways of Surry Hills. Amazing ! Due to the fact that Elliot has so much knowledge about the area and you can tell he loves his job . All questions were answered and honestly we could have sat there all afternoon listening to the history of the area. Thanks Elliot I will definitely be booking one of your other tours.
    Peter
    Peter
    2023-09-10
    An interesting and enjoyable day with friends. Elliott's knowledge and enthusiasm is infections. The walk is easily doable and the tour is recommended to see and learn about parts of Sydney not normally considered by the tourist or Sydneysiders.
    Bonnie Sykes
    Bonnie Sykes
    2023-09-03
    One of the best, most thorough tours I've done in Sydney. Eliot was so knowledgeable and approachable, the walk was well paced (I've done some that are too fast) and the crime stories plus general knowledge he has are excellent. Old photos are so fascinating to see too. I would highly recommend his tour and would love to do one of his other ones in the future.
    Joanne Campbell
    Joanne Campbell
    2023-09-03
    We loved this tour. As usual Eliott was fantastic. We learnt so much and had so much fun. I really recommend this to anyone who wants to know more about our city and is interested in crime. Thanks Jo
    Carol Hyde
    Carol Hyde
    2023-09-01
    Learnt so much from Elliot and you get caught up in his enthusiasm. Such an interesting tour and a great way to finish with lunch at the Dove & Olive Hotel for lunch. Go ahead and book and you will not be disappointed.
    Deborah Dean
    Deborah Dean
    2023-08-17
    An informative tour. Thanks Elliot for being a great tour guide. Myself and the ladies in my group had a really enjoyable time.
    Rebecca Hall
    Rebecca Hall
    2023-08-15
    Tour guide Elliot has a real passion for the history and architecture of Sydney, which was projected on this tour. It was very interesting, informative and relaxed, would definitely reccomended and plan do another of his tours in future.
    Natalie Bentley
    Natalie Bentley
    2023-08-15
    Enjoyed our Circular Quay/ Botanical Gardens walk thanks Elliot for the great morning.
    Chris Harrison
    Chris Harrison
    2023-08-14
    A very interesting and informative day. Elliott really knew his history and made the tour very enjoyable. Would recommend to friends. Thank you.

    Sydney True Crime Monthly

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