Music

John Lawrie & The Welcome Strangers rate Sydney’s best park benches

John Lawrie & The Welcome Strangers know how to write a stellar track but they know their seats even better. Fresh off the release of their latest album, we caught up with the frontman himself to break down his favourite park benches.

Spring has officially sprung. ‘Tis the season to soak in that summertime horizon and officially defrost from winter. The sun in luscious, the jasmine potent, and the breeze a perfect level of crisp. However, this time of year always stirs up the penultimate question, one that definitely keeps you awake at night: which park bench will I sit on today? Spring is short and you can’t waste any time sitting on a non-pristine pedestal. Don’t worry, John Lawrie & The Welcome Strangers have you covered.

The finest bench connoisseurs Sydney has to offer, the four rockers have shared a definitive list of their top spots. From iconic to intimate, this is a selection ready to take you into summer, t-shirt tan and packed lunch in tow. How fitting that the band released their latest single Park Bench just a few weeks ago.

john lawrie & the welcome strangers

#4 – That bench near the rose garden in the Botanical Gardens

Sydney’s Royal Botanical Gardens are a wonderful place to sit, look at nature, and think about the native species that were likely cleared to make way for these pretty European flowers. This park bench is actually the centre park bench of three, sat underneath the shade of a tree, and raised just above the rose garden where all those weddings take place. The bench can sometimes be a little sticky in transitional seasons when stuff falls from the tree above but the pleasant smell of flowers and sweating morning joggers more that makes up for it. I sat here with a coffee before class most mornings for my entire music degree, but particularly to practice solfege and sight-reading in first year. I nearly failed the class but this bench still gets a solid 3.5/5.

john lawrie & the welcome strangers park bench

#3 – Random park bench in Redfern Park

In 2017, I sat here waiting for two hours for a friend to finish work nearby. I spent the whole time staring at a hedge, thinking about a breakup I’d had the week before and feeling numb. Pleasant atmosphere for brooding and self-loathing, but otherwise mediocre spot with better park benches nearby to choose from. I rate it a 2/5.

john lawrie & the welcome strangers park bench

#2 – Bench on the edge of Turimetta Headland

This is the bench at the opening of our recent single Park Bench where I sing “I used to think this park bench was a tombstone, so I wasn’t alone looking out to sea.” As a child, I assumed that if a bench had a dedication written on it, the person was buried underneath and I found a morbid sense of solace in that. Of course, when this park bench began to slowly fall off the edge of the headland due to rock slides, I was proven wrong. This bench had an unparalleled view and a thrilling sense of danger when it became scarily close to the edge, but due to it being removed due to safety concerns and never replaced, I can only give it a 4/5.

john lawrie & the welcome strangers park bench

#1 – The Bench Outside My Old Work at a Nursing Home

I worked as a filing assistant at a nursing home for veterans for about a year during Uni. I was stuck out in the back of a dusty, dingy filing room without windows or phone reception, dealing with files of “the names of the dead and the dying.” But when I would leave for lunch or at the end of the day, the first thing I’d see walking out the front door was this bright blue bench. I ate there, laughed there, and cried there. I even wrote Park Bench for John Lawrie & The Welcome Strangers there. This is a 5/5.

john lawrie & the welcome strangers park bench

There you have it, a tried and tested list from the men themselves. Catch John Lawrie & The Welcome Strangers at The Vanguard on September 15th.

Check out the song that started it all below: