Our hearts are breaking with the news that Kings Cross icon, Aunty Rosie, has passed away. As a friend of Rosie’s said to us this week, “Sister Rose has gone back to the arms she was stolen from.”
Aunty Rosie was much-loved by the Kings Cross community and has been a regular face at Wayside for many years. She made us laugh, cry and think – sometimes all in the same day. Aunty Rosie was part of the Stolen Generation and had much to teach us, often giving us street-side lessons about life.
A memorial has been set up in Aunty Rosie’s honour in our chapel (accessed via the café) at Wayside Chapel, 29 Hughes St, Potts Point.
We invite you to leave your memories and stories of Aunty Rosie in the comment box below. These stories will be shared with the community.
I’ve bumped into Rosie many times over the last decade but the one that stands out the most in my mind is when she literally bumped into my bump! I was eight months pregnant with my first child when I came around a corner on Macleay Street and collided with Rosie. It was pretty hard to miss me with my big belly. Rosie went to shuffle past me but then noticed I was heavily pregnant. She took out her weathered hands and placed them on my belly. Time seemed to stop in what was a sacred moment where I felt an incredible energy passing between her and my soon-to-be-born daughter. She looked at me and said she reckon I’d do an OK job as a mum. Before I knew the moment had passed and she was shuffling off again. I’ll never forget that and I’ll always feel like my daughter has a little bit of Rosie’s spirit in her.
Walking to the train station last night from Wayside, something was missing when I got there. Aunty Rosie, you have always been such a beautiful lady to me. I am going to truly miss your warm, soft, gently hands holding mine, whilst we had a yarn and got to know each over the years. You shared many stories with me and I will treasure them in my heart. I feel blessed to have known you.
My favourite memory of Aunty Rose is when I was sitting on the deck reading my favourite books. She asked if she could have it and as I had a second copy at home, I gave it to her. A few days later she returned the book and said how boring it was and to find a new victim. It made me laugh.
I’m going to miss seeing her around.
I have many memories of Rose from when I lived in Hughes Street in 2010. One really beautiful moment was when I was wandering home one night, I could see someone sitting on a milk crate out the front of the bookshop on McLeay Street, facing inwards towards the glass window-front. When I got closer I could see that it was Rose. She was gazing in, spellbound at all the books illuminated by the shop’s lighting. I crossed to the other side of the road so I didn’t disturb her, and I stood and watched awhile. She was perfectly still, rapt in wonder at all those books, her black weathered face childlike. It was a moment of utter reverence.
Our community will never be quite the same without Rose 💔
Now you have your angel wings rest in peace
I shed quite a few tears when I heard the news. I wandered up to sign the condolence book at Wayside this morning. I feel it is important to mark the passing of one of our villagers. I didn’t know Rosie well, but she sure was a 2011 ‘character’, an ‘institution’ if you will. Whenever I greeted her, she would always respond with a “hello darl”. The thought of her not being part of the furniture around here makes me very sad indeed. I have no doubt she had a tough and complex life, but, then again, I suppose most of us do in our own different ways. I remember one day around two years ago when she came up to me while I was sitting in a café, looked me in the eye and said “Darl, I’ve just found out that my people owned France way back”. To this day I have no idea what she meant, but I thought it was just delightful, delightfully mysterious, totally out of the blue. Miss you Rosie, a lot. Requiescat in pace Rosie xxx
We lived in Darlinghurst for about a decade. Before I knew Rosie I’d see her around and I gave her the name Rose. We finally met her and low and behold, she was Rosie! Rosie was a constant in the time we lived in the area. She’d join us for the occasional lunch at a cafe on Victoria st. I remember talking to Rosie about her time living on the streets and asking her (somewhat naively) but also curiously “why is it that you choose the Cross to be your home?” She pointed to a terrace (just south of Una’s (towards St Vinnie’s Hospital) and explained that was where she’d grown up. This was her home. Rest in peace, Rosie.
Still in shock. Honestly cried my eyes out. I’ve known Rose for as long as I can remember having lived around the Inner City for most of my adult life (a LONG time). When I spoke to beloved friends in the Wharf where she spent lots of time, everyone said they weren’t surprised but I have been. Another lesson delivered on the preciousness of this life and remembering to cherish people because you never know when they will go.
Cheeky, soulful, wise. About 10 years ago, I know I asked her about her story but her answers are lost in the mists of my memory. She gave the best compliments and had the most beautiful smile.
I thought I had so many cheeky Rose stories but I can’t remember any single one. I love reading people’s memories of her sharp and witty tongue.
I would be grateful to learn more about her mob from her mob.
Rest in peace to our most beloved neighbour. Sending love to all those who are also feeling sad about this loss.
Your spirit is eternal may all who come to the Cross find gentleness, kindness and smiles. I wish I had not been always in such a hurry and spent more time getting to know you. I am though so thankful for the time we had.
Another memory …
‘What are you doing today?’ Rosie catches up with me along the lane and slaps a warm hand on my shoulder.
‘Racing to catch the train to work.’
‘You white sisters are always rushing somewhere. You wanna learn to slow down.’
I smile. She is probably right.
She pats my cheek. ‘You’re a good girl,’ she says.
Her touch and her earthy warmth are like very warm honey. I feel tears.
‘You’re a good girl too,’ I say.
She laughs raucously. ‘You don’t know me very well then.’
I have very fond memories of Aunty Rosie from around the ‘hood. We would often have conversations around what fabulous jacket/coat she was wearing on different days. It always ended up being a much larger conversation and I loved that part the most! She had such a wisdom and wealth of insight and I would say goodbye for the evening after our conversations feeling full and enlightened
What a journey….Sure am gonna miss you. Going to miss you telling me off for not being able to get you an advance Centrelink payment. No one knew how to play the system as well as you. Going to miss you asking me for a bottle of Coca Cola – “Don’t by me a can, I want a bottle!!!!” Going to miss that raspy voice saying “Hiya Darlin!!!” You taught me so much…. Loved you more than you knew. Fly high.
I don’t know a Potts Point without Rosie in it…
So many memories from our chats, one of the recent ones that struck a chord was when we were complaining about all the rain of late and she said ‘This isn’t God’s rain, it’s man-made’ to which I replied, ‘How do you know that?’ and she said ‘He’s not sending any lightening to tell us it’s coming!’
I am sure her light will continue to shine and I trust her to be looking out for us and the ‘hood from on high.
Deeply saddened to hear of Roses passing have known her since I was about 18 stomping around Oxford at always stopped and have a chat, it was about 6 years later Rose saw me upset whilst I was on a break at work I will never forget that she said “god will always watch over us your tears aren’t worth this horrible person darlin”. Last time we ran into each other was at King’s Cross station she looked fantastic in a beautiful breezy silk dress on a stinking hot afternoon we talked of myself finally moving to Tassie and if she has been behaving. This woman has touched so many hearts and will be truly missed.
So many Rose stories over the years – one of my favourites was only a few months ago when I was sitting with my partner and 7 yr old grandson at Sienna Marina and she stopped for a chat. My grandson was very interested in snakes that week and Rose told him a story about taipans and how they could smell breast-milk from miles away. She said she knew a woman who woke up with a taipan at her breast! I was a bit startled, thinking maybe this was a bit too shocking for a 7 yr old but he loved it! I told him today that Rose had died and he kept asking how it happened, where she was now, what had happened to various family members and whether she was in heaven. I said, if there was one, she would be the most important person there.
As a single mother + chef working in fine dining she would often see me rushing out of work (yellow) and heading to go and pick my little one or she would see me walk home late a night. My daughter Rori and I would always see her outside the woolies and would say HI AUNTY!! To which she would smile. I remember once I didn’t have enough money to pay my rego on time so Rori and I caught the bud some days up the hill instead of walking if she was tired. One day from across the road where the patrol station was I spotted the bus, we were never going to make it walking up to the lights and then across the road. Luckily in our frantic running Aunty Rosie had been at the Bus Stop and spotted us. She walked up to the bus, put on foot on and waited there frozen until we got there. I was puffed but so thankful i gave her a big hug and kept saying to her over and over again THANK YOU AUNTY ! She smiled and took her seat.
Thats just one moment out of the many interactions with her I had throughout the past 5 years. I cried when I found out. Aunty Rosie is someone I never thought we would lose. Sounds silly but I truly felt that way – to me anyway. I will miss not seeing her on her daily walks. Feels empty knowing I won’t be able to run into her soon. love you Aunty Rosie
Our Darling Rosie has left us.
We have known and loved Rosie for 20 years, the kids and I loved her, there was never a time at Tropicana we didn’t have a fabulous chat and solved the problems of the world, you will always be in my heart and missed Rosie 😢 fly high and R.I.P. my dear friend 💜xx
To my dear friend i will truly remember everything you taught me as a kid in the cross in the 90s yourself & a few other elders of the cross that have also got there wings . I have many fond memories my favorite would be at wayside chapel on Saturdays when they did breakfasts when we were all together . Or when you’d protect me so i could sleep our many circles in the park were fun. Always remembered never forgotten rest easy aunty roz
Aunt Rosie, it’s hard to express the right words or to articulate the emotion I’m feeling that your spirit has continued to the dreaming, you were the most insightful, caring, intelligent, cheeky and loving person, adored by a whole community. I’ll never forget all our yarns and the life lessons you instilled in my younger self.
Aunt Rosie you have had a profound and positive impact on my journey, internally greatful for the 12 year connection we shared, I’ll miss you. Rest in paradise now xx
So sad. Few times chat with her and I’m gonna miss that. Very kind woman & sucha golden heart. May her soul rests in peace. 😔🙏💐🌟
17 years ago ,just finished night shift 5 in the morning and my walk home was down lane Kelly when pieface was on the corner and wayside was a little corner shop . I lived above the German beer bar restaurant on Orwell st “the Springfield “ Rosie said I’ve seen you sis your new around here” while drinking a hot chocolate from pieface and eating a warm donut , I said yup been in sydney for nearly 2 months just finished work winding down, she asked if I had a smoke and I said yup gave her a ciggy , I said you want a hot chocky a donut “ she said yeah why not “ ya gotta remember there was a lot more not so friendly undesirables around then ) anywho Rosie and I chatted for a wee bit and she had said I walk you to your door you’ll be right sis ! She knew . She knew when I moved houses, she knew when I changed jobs , she met my sons ,friends , family workmates she even doggy sat while I’d run into woollies to do a bit of a shop , you could say we were friends of sorts she knew my life I didn’t know hers ,just in passing and on the street . Rip manci and I will miss you !
I have fond memories of running into Aunty Rosie around Taylor Square. She could spot you from a mile away and always gave me a big hug. We would sit and talk about her family up the bush and I asked her why she never returned to the country. She said “it was effing boring.” I would slip her money if she needed it. But she would never take money if I was short. One time she gave me the money back and told me to look after myself. I don’t think Sydney will ever be the same place without Aunty Rosie.
Bless your beautiful heart Auntie. Our world will be poorer in your absence. xx
Rosie had a grandmother’s heart and she held us all in it. Anytime I would stop to speak with her, she would continue to scan the street, noticing who was passing, saying hello to everyone that she knew. She was watching us all, protecting us all, willing to step in whenever we gave her the chance, rushing importantly through our busy lives. She showed me how to be a good human being and I am deeply grateful and honoured to have met her.
Lets keep her spirit alive by living from her example.
Give time to each other, talk to strangers, slow down enough to notice each other on our shared streets.
We are one community.
So sad to hear that Rosie will no longer be part of our lives on the street in person. I am sure we will still feel her presence as we go about the neighbourhood without her. Rosie came into my life probably 10 years when I was working at Berkelouw books in Paddington. Rosie used to come and spend some time in the evenings reading for a bit and moving on.She was always up for a bit of a chat. I recall one evening she and a customer from France struck up a conversation about some ‘obscure’ piece of french history from the middle ages that they both seemed so well informed about! That stayed in my mind whenever we met briefly there, at St Johns Darlo or as mentioned outside woollies, as I truly wondered where her soul/spirit had been!
I also remember that when she was seeking housing that it was miles away from her “Cross” and one was full of black mould – she clearly didn’t stay – I am glad the Cross and Darlo were her refuge. So lovely to see and hear that she has touched so many peoples lives over the years I just hope she got enough back from us.
I am writing this from the UK and something has kept me from sleeping, somehow I think it was to acknowledge Rosie’s passing – her just giving a little stir as she leaves us. Pace dear Rosie.
I met Rosie when I first came to Sydney from the UK in 2004. I was sat at a cafe on Oxford street with my partner having lunch.
This deep booming voice approached from behind and asked, ‘scuse me sirs, spare $5 for a milkshake’.
It was a hot March day, definitely a milkshake day, so we happily obliged.
It wasn’t until several years later when I read the book ‘Kings Cross’, that I realised I’d been done! For those of you who have not read the book, pick it up, you’ll understand…
I’ve said hello to Rosie and helped her out every time I saw her. Sometimes when drunk on my way home from some Kings Cross dive bar, I’d sit with Rosie and have a yarn about everything and nothing.
The streets are empty without her.
She was deeply kind, always polite, knowledgeable and a true legend of ‘Kings Cross’.
She’s on a different journey now, no doubt enlightening those that she meets in the next world and cadging a milkshake!
I’m luckily enough to have a portrait of her on my lounge, on my wall of legends, with Animal and Ayesha.
Always will stay with me……. the eye contact, of Rose.
Rose had the extraordinary gift of making everyone she spoke with feel special to her – she was our touchstone. It took me a while to understand that she was a master story-teller – that she spun her wonderful tales to entertain us and reward us for giving her cash or a litre of milk, or just because she felt like it. When my father died suddenly and unexpectedly she gave me the most empathetic, strengthening and caring hug I’ve ever experienced. I loved seeing her reading – so smart and witty. I loved watching her carefully walk over the cracks when she was out of it. I loved the way she’d ask to borrow a large sum of money, say she’d pay it back, and then do exactly that. She always surprised me and I’m missing her.
Rosie was one of the sweetest people. I met her one day walking through the cross but she also used to frequent Oxford street near my place because I think the ‘boys’ loved her and were generous to her. Her and I used to speak at length. I found her so intelligent and thoughtful. I often wondered why she was on the streets but I never pried I just took her for who she was. I would give her money, gifts or other things she needed. There was a time I saw her in a more of a dark time she wasn’t the same person. I could see a lot of anger and she sometimes seemed affected by alcohol or something. So before leaving sydney for good it was amazing to see her back to her old self. That beautiful smile, that warm heart, that wickedly smart tongue. May you rest in peace darling woman. You will never be forgotten.
I am speechless to hear this news. My boyfriend at the time lived in Kings Cross and he introduced me to Rose. He was a great friend to her, so she eyed me suspiciously and sized me up, making sure I was good for him. She took my hands in hers and stared deep into my eyes, trying to read my soul, eventually smiling and calling me sister. I had her blessing. Years later, when my boyfriend and I got married, she blessed us again and told him I was a good woman and would always look after him. She had my respect from our first meeting and I always stopped to talk to her when I saw her. Sometimes I was lucky enough to get one of her amazing hugs. Now I choke up every time I walk past KX station corner where she used to sit. I used to look out for her every time I passed. Rosie, Rob and I will miss you terribly.
I was saddened to hear of Rose’s death. She had certainly been a ‘survivor’. I am sharing here a piece I wrote about her in 2017 for Neighbourhood, https://neighbourhoodpaper.com/issues/its-not-all-give/
Peace and goodwill to all.
A most beautiful soul Rosie , who had time for us. Darlinghurst and Kings Cross’s true lore and beating heart. This will take time to accept. Your cuddles at the traffic lights were a true life changer Rosie which I was fortunate to have often, then we found out your love of coffee icecream. May your spirit keep wild in our lanes and pockets. To have her eyes set on you was to be under arrest, you would not dare look away. You would call us names, sis and we felt a melting of barriers. A gentleman whom we named Kinga we thought was your guardian of late. Thank you for accepting us, accepting me. We want you back, a most regal spirit to ever have the luck to meet. You are everywhere Rest in Peace x
I met Rosie when I moved first to Sydney and into the Potts Point area. It started with a brief “hello” and then chats about the books she was reading as she sat on her milk crate observing us all. I remember a time when I was going for one of my walks through the Cross, observing Rosie coming towards me in her dressing gown and St Vincent’s pajama’s connected to a drip with an IV pole. I said Rosie what are you doing? She said she could not stay a minute longer as she did not like the food, and she missed us! A Japanese Haiku poem comes to mind: “If they ask for me, just say, I had some business in another world.” And Rosie does.
I have met Rosie some 6 yrs ago, when she 1st introduced me to this wonderful organisation called Wayside Chapel. She was full of life. Sometimes last year I started to work @ Cafe Georgio, she would come every morning to get her free coffee. We just seat & chat. Bright lady and very knowledgeable about things in life. I will surely missed her. Rest high beautiful soul xxo 🔥❤️🙏🏽😘
I’ve lived in & around the Cross for 20 or so years. Whilst people I meet – on the street, at Wayside, in shops, or in my apartment block – invariably come and go, Rosie has been my one constant.
‘Hello sister’ she’d rasp, clutching her book & flashing a smile as I scurried out of the station or dashed into the supermarket. Often I’d be too ‘busy’ to stop for a chat. However, on those days that I did, I would always be rewarded with a laugh, a gentle touch, a story, an insight. ‘Come here sister’ she said as she steered me across the pavement to the tree outside Woolies. ‘There’s going to be lots of rain. This year, next year, maybe longer’ as she pointed out the peeling bark & the changing colour of the trunk. Long before any expert from BOM uttered those dreaded words ‘La Niña’, Rosie knew what we were in for!
The once bright, vibrant, dirty, dodgy, beloved Cross has been fraying at the edges for some time now. The sense of Community diminishing. But a Cross without Rosie? That is hard to imagine.
Rosie, thank you for looking out for me all those years. We’ll miss you. I’ll miss you…
I knew her as Ros, and I called her Grandma. This is because she resembled my now long deceased and most beloved Sri Lankan Burgher grandmother. Once I brought a photo of my grandmother to show Ros and she grabbed it and exclaimed “Who is that?!” I said it’s my Grandma and Ros replied “She DOES look like me!” I said “I told you so!” Then Ros acknowledged me as the fair skinned woman of colour that White Australia has never recognised in me – Ros validated me on a deep level as no one ever has. She would remind me “Cat, you are a black woman – yes you are.” To have my ethnicity recognised without the “oh you are too white to be Indian [???!!!]” will always be important to me. Thank you Grandma Ros. Thank you for your trust in me and your true affection. I was always happy to see you. Lots of love, Cat.
She had the best of qualities. Including the ‘human’ ones. Character by the bucket-loads. She showed us how.
Farewell. I will miss your wisdom and kindness.
So many stories of our beautiful Rosie. She was kind, cheeky, thoughtful, sassy and funny. Her eyes were wise but sad. I’ve known Rosie since I moved to Potts Point ten years ago. Like so many of us, I gave her money, food, cigarettes.. and she gave us wisdom and humour and great hugs. The last time I saw her, only a couple of weeks ago, she commented that my almost one year old daughter was starting to look more like me than my husband.. “about time, hey sis” she said, with a cheeky smile and a sparkle in her eyes.
I’d love just one more warm hug and a chat.
I’ll truly miss Rosie. She felt like a grandmother to so many of us.
Rest easy xx
I knew Rose for almost 20 years. Probably longer. A friend knew her by her name. I liked her name. And always said ‘Hello Rose’, “Lovely Rose” or just “Rose”. I liked her unconventionality, (whatever that means!) She was the essence of friendliness and of community. She called people brother.
I only have a few words. For some reason to me it seems fitting that 2 Queens passed away in the same year. Two Queens that some might say come from a different time. A different place, a different mindset. Yet both have something distinguished about them. Something relevant. Timeless. Anchoring. In a world gone completely mad. They were not like the rest of us!!
Wherever these 2 Queens are, dont give up on us! Look out for us! I’ll miss seeing her. Ill miss saying her name. Ill miss her to the end. We will meet again.
I still remember the first time meeting Aunty Rosie well over 20 years ago. She was sitting near the taxi rank in KX with a cup in her hand looking quite sad. I sat beside her and had a chat wanting to cheer her up. We talked about the most random things from my pet frog when I was a child to life on the streets. I would actively seek her out every time I came up the Cross from Woolloomooloo, wanting to make sure she was ok, give her some money and have a yarn. Everybody was drawn to her light, she was a special soul and you couldn’t help but love her. She was a women who had experienced unimaginable trauma throughout her life, but this life is only part of a longer journey. Her spirit has left the body, but its on a journey back to the dreamtime.
Kings Cross won’t be the same. Will miss you Aunty xo