THE GOOD LIFE
For seven North Shore newcomers, the journey began with sharing their individual stories as they gathered through the Stanton Library Writer's Group.
They related some criticisms, but also the Joys of their new lives in the area.
The group's stories and perspectives have now been incorporated into an anthology titled Pieces of North Shore, where they transverse cultural niceties to give frank and intimate details about their lives and those of other residents living in the upmarket, harbourside suburbs of the North Shore.
For Pakistani-born Australian writer Annie Mirza, whose short story features in the collection of works, the progression to life in the area has largely been a positive one.
But there have been feelings of isolation and rejection along the way.
"I'm a sensitive person, so in some ways, it has been difficult to connect. It's important to smile and make contact and, in many ways, I find Australians can be quite reserved," Annie tells North Shore Living.
"We all have different perspectives based on our experiences and I have had racist comments directed at me on the North Shore and in other areas of the city. I've certainly observed people treating others badly," she reveals.
However, overall, she is happy about her life here, writing in her story entitled Humble Beginnings, "Life is good on the North Shore. People are polite and friendly and the cafés are bombarded until late mornings with coffee drinkers."
In Brazilian-born author Rosana Wayand's entry, she speculates on the impact the Sydney Harbour Bridge has on travel and accessibility to and from the area.
"When I first arrived, I lived south of Sydney and then moved north. Many people have not crossed the bridge - so the bridge that joins can also divide. It highlights the unknown and leaving the comfortable sometimes takes effort and courage out of your comfort zone," she concedes.
The fictional character in her book, North Shore real estate agent Sarah says, at one stage in the story, "The North Shore isn't just like any other place in Australia, darling - it's the 'promised land', home only to the 'chosen few'. The chosen few are those who can afford to enjoy higher standards of living!" Launching the anthology, former Ku-ring-gai mayor Cheryl Szatow describes the book as a "refreshingly candid selection of stories that depict the quest of new arrivals to locate within a culture that appears daunting and unattainable".
She says in the book, the North Shore is unpacked, piece by piece, to reveal the friendships, aspirations, loves and fears of its new inhabitants.
The anthology's editor, author Maria Atwell, says, "Diversity isn't what comes to mind when you think of the North Shore. In fact, homogeneity seems more apt."
But she says over the years, her misconceptions about "this place" have been shattered.
"I hope Pieces of North Shore will do the same for those who hold similar views," she says.