Shirley Fitzgerald


Chippendale is an unpretentious little section of the city, wedged between Central Railway Station and the University of Sydney, extending south from Broadway to Cleveland Street. Much of it is covered with nineteenth-century workers’ terraces and old industrial buildings.

Street names such as Wattle, Rose, Pine and Myrtle hint at a different Chippendale. The area was once densely covered in vegetation, with rich alluvial soil and several creeks that discharged into Blackwattle swamp. Fresh water and ready food supplies made this an attractive area for the Gadigal people, and also for the Europeans. Early government gardens were established on the northern edge of Chippendale, and the botanical street names are a reminder that in the 1820s, Thomas Shepherd established a successful commercial nursery here. He experimented with viticulture and prospered by landscaping gardens – though not the gardens of Chippendale. Its inhabitants never had such pretensions.

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