An accident of logistics* sees me staying in an Air BnB apartment in the historic inner city Sydney suburb, Chippendale. (Sorry if you hit this blog post while googling ‘furniture’ or ‘hunky male strippers’.)
Finding a little time for blogging after an enforced break, I researched ‘Chippendale, NSW’, on the web. Apparently it’s famous for its murders.
In 1981 in Dangar Place, just around the corner from where I’m staying, notorious NSW detective Roger Rogerson shot dead drug dealer Warren Lanfranchi. While an enquiry found that the shooting took place in the line of duty, a jury refused to find that Rogerson shot Lanfranchi in self defence. Rogerson was later gaoled for perverting the course of justice in a separate matter, and has recently been charged in relation to the murder of another drug dealer.
That was by no means the first violent incident in Chippendale. Aboriginal resistance fighter Pemulwuy and his followers speared a convict at the brickfields site in 1795.
Then during the 19th and early 20th centuries, Chippendale was considered the rough end of town, a no-go zone for respectable Sydney residents. Industries and breweries grew up around polluted creeks leading to Blackwattle Swamp and the housing provided for workers was cramped, unhealthy and inadequate.
Times have changed. Chippendale is still small, but conveniently squashed in between Sydney University and the University of Technology. Smart cafes cater to students and staff. The creeks have been routed underground, the swamp drained, the breweries closed and the little workers’ cottages are getting trendy makeovers.
A long term Chippendale resident is my mate Michael Mobbs, an author and environmental consultant famous for his Sustainable House, a narrow terrace house which he and his family remarkably converted to be self-sufficient in water, electricity and sewage. It’s regularly open for tours, which I highly recommend to those interested in a sustainable future for the planet.
Other environmental projects Michael and others have initiated are easy to spot around the Chippendale streets.
Myrtle Street Chippendale is trialling an Urban Heat Island project. The theory is that lighter coloured road surfaces, which absorb and radiate less heat than traditional black roads, can keep cities cooler, leading to considerable savings in energy bills and carbon emissions.
The site of the old brewery first established in 1835 is undergoing a radical development – Central Park. It’s convenient for me to be able to ‘stroll to trendy cafes’, to use the real estate agents’ cliche.
I’m not competent to judge the true environmental credentials of the architecture, though the developers’ website is keen to tell me how responsible they’re being. I do like the plants growing up the side of the building, the solar panels and the indoor and outdoor landscaping.
I’m not quite as enamoured of the new building at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), designed by Denton Corker Marshall and recently opened on Broadway.
I’m yet to make use of all the Chippendale facilities. I need to find time to drop in to NG Art Gallery, and hope that the wonderful White Rabbit Gallery, currently installing a new exhibition of Chinese art, will open again soon.
Meanwhile, I’m enjoying being able to walk to work at the Seymour Centre, the theatre at Sydney University, shopping at Broadway, and buying some new running shoes in Central Park. There isn’t a lot of parkland or open space in Chippendale, but when the rain stops I’ll be out there pounding the pavement.
*I’m in town briefly for rehearsals of my new play, The 26-Storey Treehouse, opening in September. More about that soon.