The letter from Australia is a weekly newsletter from our Australian office. This week’s issue is written by Natasha Frost, a Melbourne-based reporter.

In August 1972, a collective of writers, mainly in Melbourne, published the first issue of a fortnightly newspaper that would chronicle a certain corner of Australian countercultural life, beginning with a scathing article about the “young press baron” Rupert Murdoch.

Over the course of some 40 months, The Digger newspaper published fiery opinion columns, extensive reviews and cultural listings, as well as what it described as “gonzo accounts” of Australian life. She tackled topics such as sex education, Aboriginal rights, republicanism (“It’s time we threw the Queen of Oz and hers,” short for horse, “into the sea”) and the pleasure of riding a bicycle.

The article was associated with some of the biggest names in Australian literature of the time and played an important role in launching the writing career of Australian novelist Helen Garner. (The Digger closed in 1975 when, as founder Phillip Frazer wrote in 2018, “it ran out of money and lawyers.”)

Five decades later, another Australian publication is channeling some of that same irreverent spirit and commitment to, as its editors say, “reporting”.

The Paris End is a long-form Substack newsletter started about a year ago by writers Cameron Hurst, Sally Olds and Oscar Schwartz, who range in age from 25 to 35 (Mr. Schwartz has previously contributed to The New York Times ).

The newsletter is named after the local nickname for the eastern end of Collins Street in central Melbourne, which was once home to the city’s arts community and today is the site of luxury hotels and dazzling international fashion boutiques. (The newsletter does not exclusively, or even primarily, market stories from that part of town.)

The area is “a soulless pastiche of a posh part of any city,” Olds said over coffee in Melbourne. “It’s a very strange part of the city, with those ideas about itself. So it’s a really fun space to write.”

“It’s ridiculous to call it that,” Schwartz added. “If you have to call something the ‘Paris end’ of your city, then you’re not Paris.”

The Paris End is not intended to imitate any particular publication. But it does share some DNA with earlier versions of The New Yorker’s “Talk of the Town,” with a style inspired by Ms. Garner (herself a reader of The Paris End) and the Ukrainian-born Brazilian novelist and writer Clarice Lispector .

Its readers are kept secret, although they are on the order of “thousands,” Schwartz said. He describes it as the “Darwin”, Australia’s eighth largest city, “of bulletins”.

Anecdotally at least, its impact on Melburnians looms large. Earlier this year, I made a special pilgrimage to buy panettone at a small Italian bakery that The Paris End had recommended to me, only to be served the same panettone two nights later by a friend, who had made an identical trip after reading the same advice. .

Occasionally, when I forwarded a favorite article, I was almost always told that the recipient had already read it. These included articles about the “masculine lesbian” community, a 1966 UFO sighting in Melbourne’s southeastern suburbs and a recent academic conference on “antipodean modernism”.

“The Stars,” a monthly review column, rates a hodgepodge of things: cultural phenomena like local and international films; Best Legal and Illegal Nudist Swimming Spots; mackerel meatballs; where Melburnians should spend the winter (Bali) or play tennis on summer nights (Carlton). Sometimes it’s shamelessly niche, celebrating not just a scene, but a scene within a scene.

During the worst part of the pandemic, Melbourne spent more than 260 days in lockdown and the return to normality has been slow and painful.

“We really went through that,” Olds said. “For me, it’s kind of a project to promote the city; for me, wanting to re-enchant the city.”

Here are the stories of the week.



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By Sam