Friday, October 9, 2009
It's one of those strange things - I lived in Newtown for many years but never once strayed into
the neighbouring suburb of Eveleigh. In my defence, E. is a smallish suburb which back then was
made up mostly of railway and some big old buildings that looked sort of interesting but were
'Research' revealed that E. may be small but it has a super sized history.
The condensed version:
• Eveleigh used to include large chunks of Redfern (which possibly explains why Eveleigh Street
is actually in Redfern)
• Aboriginal members of the Gadigal clan lived in the area for up to 40,000 years until their
near annihilation in the 1790's following the arrival of the British
• In the 1880s, 60 acres of land bounded by Darlington, Redfern, Alexandria and Erskineville
were devoted to the railways, including a pair of buildings (those 'big old buildings') on either
side of the railway tracks, the Eveleigh Workshops
• Eveleigh Workshops built the first steam trains in Australia and continued making railway
carriages until they were closed in 1989
• In 1991 new life was breathed into the workshops on the Alexandria side of the tracks,
transforming them into the Australian Technology Park (housing businesses plus a TV studio
used for such things as MasterChef)
• In 2006, it was the turn of the workshops on the Darlington side to be reborn. Architectural
firm Tonkin Zulaikha Greer turned the site into CarriageWorks, a magical space for performance
of any sort, but especially for physical theatre that can make the most of the buildings’ enormous
• On weekends the area next to CarriageWorks is the scene of bustling activity with Eveleigh
Farmers and Artisans Markets
• The powers that be have big plans for continuing the suburb’s transformation, including new
apartments, cafes and shops.
Part 1: CarriageWorks
No wonder Tonkin Zulaikha Greer won a truckload of awards for CarriageWorks. As the jury at the
Australian Institute of Architects' NSW Architecture Awards said, "This landmark site has been given
new life without forsaking the old - its 1888 industrial heritage clearly evident through the retention
of nearly all the significant fabric and equipment extant at the time of adaptation. The carriages
have gone, but not the cranes, the rails and the ability to read its form and former function. Existing
elements retain their patina of age".
you're showing your patina
then and now
Part 2: CarriageWorks at its most magical - as host of the Childrens Festival
The ghosts of the old workshops must surely be enjoying this week's hullabaloo at CarriageWorks.
Kids on red cordial, bubbles reaching to the heavens of cathedral high spaces, high velocity circus
acts. New life indeed.
bubbling over with joy 1
bubbling over with joy 2
Skipping Girls 1
Skipping Girls 2
Skipping Girls 3
i have wings
flying through the air
Part 3: Eveleigh Markets
I had a bit of a retail moment when I found Born Again Books at the markets. They're old kids' books
'recycled' into journals. 'Adaptive reuse' in the publishing sense. Lovely.
'a novel idea'
my sentiments exactly
off the rails
old and new
I also liked these examples of 'recycling'.
Part 4: The other side of the tracks - the Australian Technology Park
Part 5: Trainspotting - oddly enjoyable
past and present
Part 6: The Block
The other main ‘theme’ of Eveleigh is the Aboriginal presence in the area, the epicenter being
8,000 square metres known as The Block. Technically The Block is in Redfern, but given that parts
of Redfern used to be Eveleigh, I thought I'd sneak it in.
So, hands up anyone who has ever felt like a Sunday stroll through The Block? I can only describe
my own walk through it as brisk. I ran into a couple of nice lads who were happy enough to have
their picture taken but that was about it. Rightly or wrongly I didn’t feel like dallying.
trees of life
40,000 years is a long time
in the 'hood
boys on the block
The stormy skies full of big fat cumulonimbus clouds provided a fitting backdrop to view Eveleigh
against this week. I found beauty in the massive buildings and railyards that hold so much history,
and still do, thanks to their careful reinvention. May the suburb continue to be reborn in a way
that's respectful to all its pasts.