Redfern, an inner-city suburb of Sydney, is located 3 kilometres south of the Sydney central business district. Redfern has many fine examples of Victorian terraced housing similar to other inner suburbs, such as Surry Hills and Paddington. The main shopping strip is located on Redfern Street, east of Redfern railway station. There are also commercial developments nearby, along Regent Street and surrounding streets. The Redfern skyline is dominated by two office towers located between Regent Street and Gibbons Street, beside Redfern railway station.

Over the years, Redfern has been characterised by migrant populations that have lived in the area. In the late 19th century many of the businessmen in the area were from Syria such as George Dan 1890, Stanton and Aziz Melick in 1888 and Shafiqah Shasha and Anthony and Simon Coorey in the 1890s. As waves of immigrants arrived in Australia, many made Redfern their first home. The population of the suburb today spans a broad spectrum of the socioeconomic scale. Eastern Redfern has become increasingly gentrified, with many medium and high density developments replacing low density and industrial developments, whilst other areas still project an image of mean streets , with some public housing. The suburb is presently subject to extensive redevelopment plans by the state government, to increase the population and reduce the concentration of poverty in the suburb and neighbouring Waterloo.

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Eveleigh Artisans Market
Australian Technology Park, 243 Wilson St, Darlington
Trading: 1st Sunday of the Month  10am  3pm
Type: Artisans
Phone: (02) 9209 4735

Eveleigh Farmers Market
Australian Technology Park, 243 Wilson St, Darlington
Trading: Every Saturday  8am  1pm
Type: Farmers,
Produce Phone: (02) 9209 4735

Redwater Markets
Redfern Park, cnr Chalmers and Redfern St, Redfern
Trading: 3rd Saturday of the month  8am  4pm
Type: Variety, Handmade, Recycle
Phone: (02) 9698 9569 Mobile: 0434 197 527

Regent Street Mortuary Station

When entering Central Station from the south, trains pass a small, quaint Gothic-style railway station on the station s western perimeter. This is the Redfern Mortuary Terminal, Regent Street, Redfern, from which trains left the city on their journey to Rookwood Cemetery. St Paul s Anglican Church (which is today The Greek Orthodox Church), 242 Cleveland Street, Redfern, was the church where Anglican funeral services were held prior to the departure of funeral trains from the nearby Mortuary Station, which carried the coffin along with mourners to the similar looking station at the cemetery. The station was opened in 1869 and closed simultaneously with No 1 Mortuary Station at Rookwood Cemetery. The No 1 Mortuary Station building was dismantled stone by stone and reassembled as the All-Saints Anglican Church in Ainslie, a suburb of Canberra, in 1959.

Australian Technology Park

Australian Technology Park now occupies the site of the former Eveleigh railway yards. It is the home of a growing community of researchers, entrepreneurs, incubator businesses, start-ups, mature technology companies and education organisations. Another section of the old workshops, which faces onto Wilson Street, has been converted into a large theatre space. Numerous advertisements and television programs including MasterChef Australia, So You Think You Can Dance and the auditions of Australian Idol, have been filmed there.

Eveleigh Railway Workshops

The Eveleigh Railway Yards are some of the finest historic railway engineering workshops in the world. The main purpose of the workshops was to provide the maintenance and repair of locomotives and railway stock and the manufacture of rolling stock such as wagons and passenger carriages. The workshops were set up on both the north and the south sides of the main western and southern railway lines. The Engine Running Shed, now demolished, was the first building completed, in 1884. The first steam locomotives made in Australia was manufactured here. The yards continued to grow and expand, and functions were continually changing. The Eveleigh site was used to manufacture munitions in both World War I and World War II. Air Raid Shelters from this era are scattered along the rail corridor, generally located along embankments or cuttings.

Re-organisation and attempts at modernisation in the 1970s came too late. Too much of the machinery was suited only to the steam locomotive era. The yards declined gradually until their closure in 1988, at which time the main rail workshops were moved to Enfield.

Eveleigh today contains one of the most complete late 19th century and early 20th century forge installations, collection of cranes and power systems, in particular the hydraulic system, much of which is now preserved in an industrial museum in Bays 1 and 2 of the old Locomotive Workshop.

In 1914 Eveleigh Railyards was the site of the first heist in Australia to use a getaway car. Thieves Samuel 'Jewey' Freeman and Ernest 'Shiner' Ryan were responsible. Six decades later, 'Jockey' Smith was pinched casing the same payroll.

1884-1917 - Eveleigh Railway Workshops, Cornwallis, Burren, Eveleigh, Garden and Wilson Streets, Redfern


Much of the suburb of Redfern was known as Eveleigh in the early days. In fact, Redfern railway station was originally known as Eveleigh railway station. Eveleigh was named after the estate of Lieutenant J. R. Holden, so called after his birthplace in England. The Eveleigh railway yards were located immediately south-west of the station. Construction began in the early 1880s on a new workshops complex, occupying an area of over 60 acres, bounded by North Newtown, Erskineville, Redfern, Alexandria and Chippendale.

Originally the workshops serviced and repaired the growing NSW rail fleet, but in 1908 Eveleigh began manufacturing steam locomotives. By this time more than 3000 people were employed at the site. Many workers lived in the area, but many lived in other suburbs and until the 1980s commuting workers alighted at the purpose-built Macdonaldtown Station, located in the middle of the complex. Included in the complex was a running shed, opened in 1884, for steam locomotives used in the daily duties of train haulage.


Darlington is a small, neighbouring inner-city suburb, located about 3 kilometres south of the Sydney central business district. Darlington is on the other side of the railway line on Redfern s northern perimeter. Although Darlington is small in area it can be split into a number of subdivisions including the Golden Grove locality. Much of the western half of the suburb has become part of the campus of the University of Sydney while the south-west and the east has continued as private housing. In 1835 William Shepherd, a botanist, held about 28 acres (110,000 m2) in the area where he cultivated a nursery garden. He named it Darling Nursery, in honour of Governor Ralph Darling. The suburb became known as Darlingtown, which gradually was corrupted to Darlington. Street names such as Ivy, Vine, Rose, Pine and Myrtle recall the nursery origins. On the Darlington side of the railway line near Redfern Station is The Block, a housing area around Eveleigh Street, owned by the Aboriginal community.

The former railway carriage workshops, on the Darlington side of the railway corridor, is now CarriageWorks, a centre for the nurturing, development and presentation of contemporary arts. It is located off Wilson Street and is part of the adjacent suburb of Eveleigh. CarriageWorks contains theatre, rehearsal and workshop spaces, a gallery and other facilities. The former blacksmiths' sheds alongside Carriageworks is used for the Eveleigh Markets, held every Saturday.

Black Wattle Swamp Creek

During the 19th century, a bridge took Broadway (then Parramatta Street) over Black Wattle Swamp Creek which had its source in the vicinity of Erskineville Railway Station. The railway corridor south was in fact built alongside the creek. The northern boundary of the Eveleigh Railway Workshops followed the creek. Wilson Lane, Edwards Lane, Smithers Street and Blackwattle Lane follow the line of the creek. It entered Black Wattle Bay in a large swamp where the Sydney City Council Depot in William Henry Street now stands.

City of Sydney Archives

Black Wattle Swamp Creek flowed behind the Kent Brewery on Broadway. It rose where Prince Alfred Park is today and followed the line of Blackfriars Street, entering Black Wattle Swamp Creek via Cooper's Dam. A branch of the creek began in the swamps at Grose Farm (now Lake Northam in Victoria Park, Darlington). It flowed into the main creek near the corner of Blackwattle Lane and Kelly Street. The path of another branch can be traced on modern maps. Vine and Hudson Streets, as well as Stirling and Short Streets, Redfern, were built on opposite banks of the creek that began as a spring in the vicinity of Pitt Street, Redfern. Today the creek and its branches flow into Blackwattle Bay via a complex system of underground drains.

Ex-convict Robert Cooper was the first to take advantage of Black Wattle Creek. In 1825 he built the Brisbane Distillery. The distillery fronted Parramatta Road, extending from what is now St Benedict's Church to the City Road corner. It developed quickly into a major enterprise, costing over 20,000 pounds (today being equal to $3 million or so) and including 2 steam engines (cutting edge for the day), malting houses, warehouses and a flour mill. Cooper built a dam across the Creek to supply the water for the operation, which later became a popular fishing spot for locals.

As well as being a distiller, Cooper was a crafty businessman. Many times during his life he twisted and turned to avoid creditors and ruin. From the 1830s he began using the distillery as collateral to fund other ventures. By 1843 he was heavily in debt and used the distillery to finance house construction in Chippendale, to house working class families and to encourage them to vote for him in the first Legislative Council elections (he lost badly). The houses were later some of the worst slums in the area-small, poorly built and badly sited. His venture nearly sank him and he went into voluntary bankruptcy to avoid his creditors.

In 1850 Cooper s estate was taken over by a solicitor to pay his debts. Cooper however managed to regain control by using hidden funds to buy it back. But the end was nigh, and in 1852, Cooper and his partners, sold the distillery complex to the Australasian Sugar Company, later to be renamed the Colonial Sugar Refinery (CSR) for use as their main Sydney sugar refinery.

Across Abercrombie Street from Cooper was another alcohol related industry, the Kent Brewery. Unlike Cooper, John Tooth who started the brewery, and his family who continued it, were level headed and astute businessmen. As a result the brewery operated and expanded on the site from its establishment in 1834 until final closure in 2005.
Prince Alfred Park

Situated on the boundary between the city and Redfern, Prince Alfred Park is much quieter than The Domain and Hyde Park up the hill in the centre of Sydney, and is an excellent alternative. The Park boasts views of the city skyline, including Sydney Tower, lots of open space, shaded seating, basketball courts, workout stations and a free outdoor swimming pool. The park occupies part of Cleveland Paddocks, the estate of Captain Cleveland, an officer of the 73rd regiment, and neighbour of surgeon William Redfern. The pair were granted 100 acres of land in 1817 by Lachlan Macquarie. Sydney s original railway terminus was built om Cleveland Paddocks and was later extended from Cleveland Street to Devonshire Street and west to Chippendale. The remains of Cleveland Paddocks became Prince Alfred Park. Prince Alfred Park once featured an elaborate exhibition building. Unlike the harbourside Garden Palace, this exhibition building endured long into the 20th century, to finally be demolished in 1954.

Redfern's Unfinished Railway Platforms

Above: intermediate level above Redfern station's platforms 24 and 25, built as a lobby area for two unfinished platforms

Construction of new platforms at Redfern Station for the Eastern Suburbs Railway Line on the eastern side of the existing railway lines commenced in 1947. The surface level "down" platform (away from Central) was designed to be on the same level as platform 10 and the "up" line platform below it on the same level as platform 11. These are visible through a small gap in the wall opposite Platform 11, as well as by a boarded up entry portal under the Lawson Street Bridge (which was to be the down track).

A now filled-in dive tunnel under the Wells Street Sectioning Hut on the Central side of Lawson Street was to have carried the up track. The area in which the platforms were to be situated is also visible from the station concourse at the entrance to Platform 10.

Construction work continued on and off until 1952 when funds ran out and the project was shelved. At that time, the stations were excavated by open cut methods and the steel frame structures of the ground level stations were erected. When work ceased in 1952, the steel was left exposed; by 1967 when work was set to re-commence, these steel structures had corroded badly. Major remedial work was required but these platforms were never completed.

In 1976 new work for the line was commissioned that required the integration of the Eastern Suburbs Line with the existing Illawarra Line, construction of a second track from Central to Erskineville, underground platforms at Redfern Station and a turnback tunnel (for trains coming from the Illawarra Line) at Martin Place.

As with Central station, it was proposed that four new platforms would be built at Redfern, two for the Eastern Suburbs Line and two for the future Southern Suburbs Railway to Maroubra. Two below-ground platforms were completed and are now Platforms 11 and 12. The two platforms for the Southern Suburbs line above Platforms 11 and 12 were only partly constructed

Above: Partially built platforms at Redfern station for the low-level "up" (toward Central) Southern Suburbs line to Mascot that was never built. Immediately to the left is the (surface level) stub tunnel for the "down" Southern Suburbs track. This short tunnel exits on the northern side of Lawson Street road bridge. There are at least nine railway tunnels under the suburb of Redfern: some in use, some never used.

About Redfern

Redfern was part of the area first occupied by the Cadigal band of the Dharug people. The Cadigal people were decimated in the smallpox epidemic of 1789 and it is said only three Cadigal people were left by 1791. It is suggested that some Cadigal people may have escaped to the Concord area.

Colonial surgeon William Redfern was granted 100 acres of land in this area in 1817 by Lachlan Macquarie. He built a country house on his property surrounded by flower and kitchen gardens. His neighbours were Captain Cleveland, an officer of the 73rd regiment, who built Cleveland House and John Baptist, who ran a nursery and seed business. Sydney's original railway terminus was built in Cleveland Paddocks and extended from Cleveland Street to Devonshire Street and west to Chippendale.

At that time, the present Redfern station was known as Eveleigh. When Central station was built further north on the site of the Devonshire Street cemetery, Eveleigh station became Redfern and Eveleigh was retained for the name of the railway workshops, to the south of the station. The remains of Cleveland Paddocks became Prince Alfred Park.

Aboriginal people from rural areas migrated to Redfern in greater numbers during the 1920s, lured by work opportunities at the Eveleigh railyards. As the community grew, activists lobbied the Whitlam government in the 1970s to transfer ownership of The Block to the Aboriginal Housing Company. The Block is an area in the immediate vicinity of Redfern station bounded by Eveleigh, Caroline, Louis and Vine Streets which is important to the Aboriginal community. In 1972, The Block became a unique project in Aboriginal-run housing and the focal point for the reconciliation movement. Redfern has many fine examples of Victorian terraced housing similar to other inner suburbs, such as Surry Hills and Paddington.

On 17 January 1908 at Redfern Town Hall the South Sydney club was formed to compete in the first season of the New South Wales Rugby Football League Premiership.

The notorious Redfern Mail Exchange was built in 1965, after 300 people were evicted from their homes on the 2.15 hectare site. It became the scene of many industrial disputes when the automatic mail-sorting machinery which was supposed to sort efficiently, actually destroyed many letters. It became known as the Redfern Mangler.

The 2004 Redfern riots began on 14 February 2004, at the end of Eveleigh Street outside Redfern station, sparked by the death of Thomas 'TJ' Hickey. The teenager, riding on his bicycle, was allegedly being chased by a police vehicle, which led to his impalement on a fence. Members of his family were then reported to have started grieving for TJ around Eveleigh Street with a crowd gathering commiserating with the family. Fliers were distributed blaming police for TJ's death. The police closed the Eveleigh Street entrance to the railway station, but youths in the crowd became violent, throwing bricks and bottles; this escalated into a riot. A subsequent inquest found that although the police were following Hickey, they had not caused the accident, a verdict that caused controversy in Redfern's Aboriginal community. The riots sparked fresh debate into the welfare of Aboriginal Australians and the response of the police to those living in the Redfern area.

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  • How to get there:
    Redfern railway station, located on the western edge of the suburb is a major station on the Sydney Trains network. Redfern is the first station south from Central station.

    The Name
    The suburb is named after surgeon William Redfern, who was granted 100 acres (0.40 km2) of land in this area in 1817 by Lachlan Macquarie. He built a country house on his property surrounded by flower and kitchen gardens. His neighbours were Captain Cleveland, an officer of the 73rd regiment, who built Cleveland House, and John Baptist, who ran a nursery and seed business. Sydney's original railway terminus was built in Redferen at Cleveland Paddocks.

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