Your Street History: Australia Street

May 22nd, 2019 - by Brad Gillespie

Australia Street is a prized location with an impressive history.

It spans from Newtown to Camperdown and is loaded with exquisite character housing while being footsteps away from every modern convenience: transport, food and nightlife.

The street has also been prominent in recent pop culture. It inspired a song – “Australia Street” by Sticky Fingers. The Courthouse Hotel on the corner of Lennox Street was the meeting place for Coldplay fans who wanted to be in the video clip for “A Sky Full of Stars.” And the residents of Australia Street were photographed one by one by Zahn Pithers for his exhibition, “Australia Street – Portraits from the Inner West,” which showcased the diversity of the community.


Australia Street was established as Newtown’s civic precinct, a function that it has maintained to the present day.

Here are just some of the street’s landmarks.

Camperdown Park

Camperdown Park has a firm place in Sydney’s colonial history. The park’s 11 acres were folded into a larger allotment reserved by Governor Phillip in 1789 and was granted to William Bligh as part of his estate. It eventually landed under the ownership of the Fowler Family, who ran Fowler’s Pottery.

The park was set aside for recreation purposes in the 1880s. Today it provides a leafy space among the urban surroundings. It’s adored by the community for its sporting and playground facilities.

The War Memorial, which was erected in 1921, is still in place as is the bandstand and the Moreton Bay and Port Jackson Figs, which were planted in the mid-19th Century.

Camperdown Memorial Rest Park
170 – 178 Australia Street

The Camperdown Cemetery was established in 1848, on land belonging to Governor William Bligh. It was the first Anglican cemetery in Sydney to be privately owned and run, and it was Sydney’s primary cemetery from 1849 to 1867. During this time an inquiry into various cemeteries in Sydney found that it was mismanaged and in 1868 it closed.

The cemetery fell into disrepair and diminished in size in the 1950s, which was when Camperdown Memorial Rest Park, which envelops the cemetery, was created.

Today, the park’s leafy grounds are regularly patronised by locals and their dogs. The park also hosts many events including the Newtown Festival.

Courthouse Hotel
202 Australia Street

The Courthouse Hotel was established in 1859 as the Kingston Lodge Hotel. The hotel was initially kept by James Conley who became the mayor of Newtown in 1867. It was renamed in 1884.

Today, “The Courty” as it’s affectionately called by locals, is loved by the community. Many of the period features remain – on the inside and outside – providing a unique atmosphere for its diners and drinkers.

Newtown Fire Station
214 Australia Street

The Newtown Volunteer Fire Company was conceived with just nine volunteers in the early 1870s. The firefighters had only a hand pump, a ladder and small reel of hose at their disposal. In 1892, Newtown’s first fire station was opened and the volunteers were replaced by paid staff.
In 1913, the Newtown No.5 Fire Station, which exists today was erected. Less than a decade later the horse-drawn fire engines were replaced with motor-driven ones.

Today the station is also known for its witty noticeboard, which has safety messages like: “YOU CAN LEAD A HORSE TO WATER BUT YOU CAN’T MAKE IT CHANGE YOUR SMOKE ALARM.”

Newtown Courthouse and Police Station
222 Australia Street

The Newtown Courthouse and Police Station is a monumental building that was completed in 1885. It’s decorated with elaborate Victorian Italianate period features. Despite its grand exterior, employees found the space cramped and were hesitant to move to the building. The architect, James Barnet, was later reprimanded for his choice of site and for going over budget.

The building remains in use today.

Australia Street Infants School
229 Australia Street

This school is well known for its good education and loved for its architecture. It was built in 1889, at the time the suburb was growing, using Flemish brickwork and a sandstone base.
The school performs remarkably well. In 2012, it outranked all but one of Sydney's most prestigious private high schools in the Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage.

Notable Buildings:

The Cranbrook Group
10-14 Australia Street

These Victorian Italianate residences are a small portion of what remains of the Fowler Estate, which at one point encompassed most of Camperdown. The Fowler family was pivotal to the pottery industry of NSW and produced pipes, tiles, chimney pots and other crucial items. Robert Fowler inherited this business from his father Enoch.

Fowler was a pillar of the Camperdown community and was the first mayor of Camperdown borough in 1870, among other important titles. In 1880 he was the mayor of Sydney.
In 1881, Fowler built Cranbrook, a grand villa, which stood across the street from his factory, his brother erected a smaller house next door.

The houses have retained much of their heritage charm and a permanent conservation order was made over the properties in 1985.

Australia Street Industrial Group
27, 29, 31, 33, 35 and 43 Australia Street.

By 1863, Enoch Fowler was well established in the pottery business and moved the site of Fowler Potteries to Australia Street, where he began to mass produce salt-glazed sewer pipes.

At the turn of the century, the company, whose name was changed to R Fowler under the management of Enoch’s son Robert, continued to expand. Their product range included drain and agricultural pipes, sanitary ware, WC pans, wicker jars, ginger beer bottles, acid jars, chemical ware, terracotta and salt glaze chimney pots, air bricks, louvres, flower pots and other terracotta items.

In 1920 the factory was moved. The site was sold to Garratt’s Limited and promptly demolished.
In 1924, a new factory was constructed using English bond brick. It has been occupied continuously by car manufacturers and dealerships – most recently Toyota.

158 Australia Street

This site was a former church built in the 1940s, it was dilapidated when it was sold to Tibetan-Buddhist group Rigpa in 2015. It has since been renovated and functions as a meditation centre.

198 -200 Australia Street

This building does not look like much from the outside, but inside this former bakery exemplifies the design potential of an industrial conversion. The bakery was built at the end of the 19th Century and transformed into a clothing factory in 1921. In the late eighties it was converted into a home and today it features six bedrooms, a four-car garage, swimming pool, gourmet kitchen and an open-plan design.

If you’re interested in buying or selling on Australia Street, Newtown, contact our team today.