One day soon, all of this will be apartments

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I first stumbled into the Eveleigh railyards with some friends one night a couple of years ago, walking home from a party in Newtown. The barbed-wire-topped corrugated iron fence most of the way up Wilson Street had always made me curious, and that night we were drunk enough to climb it and check out the post-industrial wasteland.

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It’s a vast site that was Sydney’s main rail workshop and carriage manufactory for several decades, and in operation for a hundred years. The 1917 general strike began there. It was, for the most part, abandoned in the mid-1980s, but still used for warehousing and such things until quite recently. Its latest claim to fame is as a location in the Matrix movies.

We were even drunk enough to open a locked door with an EFTPOS card and wander through an office building, abandoned like the Mary Celeste, a decade-old fax still in the machine, and (fortunately for us) the plumbing still working.

Now the site is open to the public, until it becomes a giant construction site, and it’s well worth checking out. (I took the colour photos today, the old ones are from here.) One building has been turned into the Carriageworks theatre – very tastefully, it must be said – and so the rest of the place is no longer locked up. Walk up Wilson Street towards Newtown from Redfern station, and take the steps down from the Carriageworks sign.

Now it’s a dump, but a beautiful dump. Some of the buildings are open; others have been nailgunned shut. The recent rains have left a lake in the middle in which rubbish floats around. Weird old machines are still anchored in the ground, but wrapped in black plastic. Some of the buildings have 21st century motion sensors and security systems, but all they seem to do is blink and beep.

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Published in: on 17 June, 2007 at 7:26 pm  Comments (7)  

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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Great stuff!

  2. The most worrying thing about this development is the lack of transport infrastructure to deal with it. True, OTOH, it’s right by Redfern railway station, but the trains there are already crammed to overflowing at peak times, and true, OTOH, it’s right next to a hardly-used road, viz. Wilson St., but Wilson St. is currently the main East-West arterial cycleway, and the extra traffic will fuck that right up.

  3. Yeah… I haven’t looked into it recently but I understand the long term plan is for Redfern station to eventually be the new Central, and for the CBD to extend south all the way down there. Redfern station is going to get a serious makeover in the next few years, that’s why they’ve put off making it wheelchair accessible for so long. There has even been talk of putting a Westfield on top to spark things off. Of course the whole plan requires Redfern to lose its reputation, therefore the pressure on the Block.

  4. I used to work in the Auckland Railway Workshops and it looks as though the man in the centre is working a steam hammer – for example – we used to take the buffers off the wagons – they would then be taken by crane to thebalcksmiths – I think he is one – and heated then hammered straight and eventually put back on as long as there wasn’t too much structural damage I assume.

    Even when the Railway w/shops were going they were fascinating places with interesting structures and machines etc and I sued to take photos of the inside but I think they have been destroyed – I am not sure.

  5. I actually learnt a lot about Marxism – or at least I beacme interested in the subject while at the Workshops – but I must admit that one reason I took a camera is that I also have an interest in art and photography etc and the desolation and the atmosphere of the place intrigued me – almost from as “spititual” point of view – and it still does. That was about 1969 – I was writing poetry etc then and still write.

    But the desolation, the seeming and actual rusting decay and jumble is very beautiful – such desolate and now lonely places are of course almost clichaic as scenes or places to make films…for good reasons.

    Also as in NZ they reflect the Governments’ neglect of public railways (in favour of automobiles etc) – that was very true here (Australai I belive has quite a good rail/public transport sytem – but NZ’s is terrible) – the railways were run down on purpose in my opinion so the Govt. could then say (especially the Langes, the Prebbles; and the Douglas economists and opportunists): “Look how bad they are, how inefficient!?” (we will have to privatise it as they did in Thatcher’s England etc)) etc. An old but effective trick. Now htey are almost in panic mode trying to getthe railyways to work well…20 or so years after Auckland’s Mayor of the time, Dove Myer Robinson (who began his young adult life as Communist BTW); pushed for a rapid rail system and better public transport…that was neglected at enormous cost to NZrs and Aucklanders in particular.

  6. Well, Redfern station has unused capacity at present – most trains in Sydney stop there, but the only thing of any significance it serves is Sydney Uni. The problem is that the trains don’t have unused capacity, although of course this is a general problem in Sydney anyway, which has to be sorted out regardless.

  7. […] search phrase that sends people here is ‘post-industrial wasteland sydney’, thanks to the throwaway piece I did on the Eveleigh Railyards. There’s a lot more where that came from. Published […]


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