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.
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.