Suburb Showcase: Redfern

May 7th, 2020 - by Brad Gillespie

Learn more about what makes Redfern one of the most unique, history-rich suburbs in the inner city of Sydney.

From its diverse roots to modern gentrification, there are many faces of Redfern.

Learn about the location

Redfern is just 3km from Sydney’s CBD, making it one of the coveted inner-city suburbs in Sydney. Its neighbours include Surry Hills to the north, Darlington to the west, Moore Park to the east and Waterloo to the south. There are also tiny localities like Strawberry Hills and Eveleigh on the fringes of Redfern.

A very short history of Redfern

The area we know as Redfern today was originally home to the Gadigal people.

Redfern’s name came from the colonial surgeon, William Redfern, who was granted 100 acres of land by Governor Lachlan Macquarie in 1817. He built a country house on the land. By the mid to late 1800s the area was home to market gardens.

Since then, the area has undergone several periods of transformation which have seen its population and demographics change dramatically over the years. Redfern was often the first home of recent immigrants arriving in Australia, from countries as diverse as China, Portugal, Lebanon, and England.

The suburb also had its fair share of industrial history, with the Eveleigh railway yards a local landmark and many railway workers living in Redfern. In 1945, Redfern had 158 factories, but by the 1980s these had started to close.

From the early 2000s, Redfern received renewed interest as government redevelopment and gentrification of the area steadily increased.

Despite the area's continuous transformation, Redfern has maintained a strong community spirit and sense of place that continues to welcome new waves of residents.

Property market update: Redfern real estate

Redfern, sitting on the doorstep of Surry Hills, has developed its own cafe culture and appreciation of the arts that attracts a vibrant population. This, along with its proximity to the CBD and excellent transport options, has seen demand increase over the past decade, leading to the steady growth of property prices.

In 2019, median property prices came in at $1,400,000 for houses and $950,000 for units. Investment in the area has proved a wise move, with the compound growth rate based on five years of sales as of 2019 being 5.9% for houses and 5.0% for units. Rental properties continue to dominate, with houses on average being rented for $800 per week with an annual rental yield of 3.0%, and units being rented for $630 per week with a rental yield of 3.4%.

The area offers a range of housing reflective of its history: from warehouses, to 19th century terraces and emerging apartment buildings, offering an array of properties for different lifestyles.

Some recent examples of properties sold in the area include 7/33 Wells Street, 42/1 Regent Place and 47 Pitt Street.

Five things you should know about Redfern

Redfern is rich in history

Redfern’s history is not only kept alive through the locals, but is reflected in the historic buildings that compose the area. Redfern train station, first established as the original Sydney Terminal in 1855, has undergone many transformations from its single wooden platform to the modern commuter hub of today.
Heritage listed buildings are a common site in Redfern, with these local icons including the Cathedral of the Annunciation of Our Lady, Redfern Aboriginal Children’s Services, Redfern Post Office and Fitzroy Terrace. In fact, the Australian Architecture Association runs regular walking tours of Redfern.

You can find sanctuary in green spaces

The natural landscape of Redfern, defined by sand hills and swamps, was valued by the Gadigal people of the Eora nation for its abundance of food.

These days, places of nature are a central part of the Redfern lifestyle, with Redfern Oval, the Rabbitoh’s home ground, a longstanding feature on the local sport and community scene.

Redfern Park dates back to the 1880s as a traditional Victorian “pleasure ground”. Today it blends the past with the present, with the Baptist Fountain and War Memorial and more modern facilities.

Pocket parks are scattered around the streets and laneways, while large green spaces like Moore Park, Prince Alfred Park and Victoria Park are just outside the border but well within walking distance.

Redfern Community Centre celebrates the diverse local culture

Redfern Community Centre has been strengthening social links and creating a sense of community since its opening in March 2004 by local Aboriginal elder Auntie Joyce Ingram and NSW Governor Marie Bashir. Art, music, culture, employment and training, and community events are just some of the activities offered at the centre, meaning there’s something for everyone. There’s even an accessible studio dedicated for music and sound production, with the user-friendly facilities making it possible for anyone to get creative.

The space is available for hire from Monday to Friday and regularly hosts ballroom dancing lessons, youth programs, preschool music groups and Shen Zhen meditation.

Redfern is rich in Aboriginal history

The development of the railway brought many Indigenous people from rural areas to Redfern during the 1920s and during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Years later, public housing was set up by the Aboriginal Housing Company (AHC) in response to discrimination against Indigenous people in the rental market. Aboriginal-run housing, known as The Block, became a Sydney landmark.

In the 1970s, Redfern was also home to Australia’s first Aboriginal-run health, legal and children’s services.

Redfern has always been a focal point for activism around civil and land rights for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

In 1992, Redfern Park was where Prime Minister Paul Keating made his now famous speech.

The Pemulwuy Project redevelopment is focused on transforming the land known as The Block into a mixed-use site that includes affordable housing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, a gymnasium, commercial and retail space, a gallery, student accommodation, and childcare centre.

Each year the Yabun Festival is celebrated in nearby Victoria Park.

And you can check out the Culture Walks App for a self-guided guided tour of the local area.

Carriageworks Farmers Market is a local institution

Every Saturday, the Carriageworks Farmers Market on the Eveleigh Railway site becomes a bustling haven for foodies and people in search of the freshest local produce. From 8am to 1pm the doors open to reveal local coffee, chocolates, cheeses, fruit and vegetables amongst other delights.

Carriageworks is not only host to culinary bites but also cultural displays and artistic shows. Whether you’re looking to see the latest fashion trends or artistic expressions, you’re sure to find entertainment at the Carriageworks.

If you’d like to make this inner city melting pot part of your backyard, contact us today.