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Walking Tours Killing It With History

Murder Most Foul is a walking tour through infamous historical crime locations in Sydney. Established and led by historian and true crime aficionado Elliot Lindsay, the tours take patrons through the back alleys of Surry Hills and into the lurid, bloodied past. Neighbourhood Media spoke with Elliot about his murderous obsession.



Elliot Lindsay, Founder

Elliot grew up surrounded by crime; his mother was a criminal lawyer based in Redfern and young Elliot often attended court with her. Given this background, it seems obvious Elliot himself would have entered the profession.


“I did consider it, and I would have gone down the path of criminal defence,” says Elliot. “However, my true love has always been history. As a historian, you have an opportunity to study different faculties without having to commit to them fully. That suits me fine.”

So, Elliot attained qualifications in history and archeology, specialising in Australian history.

It was during the COVID-19 lockdowns in 2021, while he was doing research for an article, that the idea for a walking tour came to him.


Murder Most Foul Early Days

“In the old days, journos would publish the exact address of where a murder was committed along with detailed photos and illustrations of the crime scenes,” he explains. “Since Surry Hills has preserved much of its heritage buildings, it was possible to visit many of them and retrace the steps of the murderer and victim. I would share these articles with the Darlo Darlings Facebook page, and people seemed to enjoy reading them.”


Elliot then researched and mapped a murder trail through Surry Hills with the intention of launching a tour once lockdowns ended. The first tour took place in October 2021 with the Darlo Darlings. A Darlinghurst tour is in the offing and Elliot plans to add tours in Newtown soon with more suburbs possible after that.


“I have a Woolloomooloo and Kings Cross tour coming up in September in conjunction with the BAD Crime Writers Festival at the NSW State Library,” he adds.


As yet, no one has spotted any ghosts on the tours, but Elliot does warn participants of the “Surry Hills Surprise” — something unexpected, yet typical for the area, always seems to happen.


“For example, a few weeks ago, while I was taking a group up Terry Street, Surry Hills, we were suddenly surrounded by dozens of police cars, detectives, police officers, etc. They were running all over the place. We looked back down the road to the Commonwealth Bank at 300 Elizabeth Street and saw what appeared to have been an attempted armed robbery,”


Elliot explains. “Another time we were on Little Riley Street near Kippax street when a mini-bus pulled up by the group and out hopped nearly a dozen glamorous, tall drag queens. My group that day were all visiting tourists and were mesmerised by the glittering posse that towered over us. After that, they all wanted to see a drag show before they returned home, so I directed them to the popular venues on Oxford Street.”



Elliot finds a lot of information through newspaper archives, most of which are now online. He also finds old books a very good resource, especially memoirs and biographies that have long been out of print.


“These books will have little stories and anecdotes about local events, neighbourhoods and personalities, and sometimes they mention street names and pub names.”


Recently, he visited The Book Shop in Darlinghurst, which specialises in books catering to the LGBTQ community. The sales clerk made some great biography recommendations about local personalities.


“As mainstream historians ignored LGBTQ history for so long, a world of information has been overlooked and forgotten. Books like this reveal so much history about the area from a completely different perspective,” says Elliot.


Stories Passed Down

Local knowledge and personal memories are invaluable and Elliot likes to talk with people who have lived experience of an area’s past. Coroner’s reports can be goldmines, but also time-consuming since the archives are in Penrith and some records have been lost or destroyed.


“However, when you have a case, and the coroner's report exists, it can be a treasure trove of interviews, photos, maps, crime scene sketches, etcetera,” says Elliot.

One discovery that surprised Elliot and might surprise many people is that Surry Hills and Darlinghurst were uneventful middle to upper middle-class neighbourhoods with very little crime and almost no police presence prior to the 1890s depression.


“After that, these two suburbs become the vice and murder capitals of Australia. I go into some detail about this on the tour. The 1890 date is sort of a focal point on the tour,” he says.

As well as the tours, Elliot gives weekly live talks at The Royal Albert Hotel in Surry Hills.

He is also in the process of writing a book which will be a guide to Sydney’s historical subcultures and the underworld.


For more information, visit Elliot’s website: https://murdersmostfoul.com



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