I have always wanted to visit Reverse Garbage but somehow never got there. It is located in the Addison Road Centre, which during my last discovery (of Marrickville), I realise is a blog post in its own right. Technically it is not a suburb and doesn’t fit within the brief I have set myself – to discover suburbs of Sydney. But I decide to be flexible and set off to find out more about this interesting place within the suburb of Marrickville.
On the way up Addison Road from Enmore Road, I pass Coffee Alchemy. You won’t miss out on your coffee or roasted bean in Marrickville. An interesting shopfront catches my eye. Blue tiles in a white background spells out that the shop once sold Billiards. It is not far to the Addison Road Centre. Opposite the entrance, a sign explains that the site was a Military Depot from 1913, housing soldiers and horses. In the early 1970s it became an immigration centre and in 1976, a community centre.
I cross the road. On either side of the entry gate is the recently inaugurated (October 2016) Honour Roll for peace. Names on small metal plaques are attached in rows to a rusty post. I recognise one name from earlier suburban discoveries. The plaque for Pemulwuy has a sprig of rosemary tucked behind it. There are more names that I recognise. Dr Helen Caldicott, Reza Barati and Gough Whitlam. I read later that people can purchase a plaque to honour “a person, group or organisation who has pursued peace”.
The Honour Roll is part of the Addison Road Community Centre’s Living Museum which has also created a self- guided Heritage Trail. I find the first marker and start to follow the trail. The Community Centre Organisation (ARCCO) is a non-government organisation which works hard to promote community. I discover a new theatre. The Depot Theatre is presenting Educating Rita soon. I think I’ll book tickets.
The corrugated iron huts around the precinct are typical of WWl architecture. They have been well preserved and are now used by NGOs and different community organisations. Turkish, Serbian, West Indian, Indonesian, Greek and Portuguese organisations all have premises here which are used for a range of activities. A large, but dead, Sydney Gum tree still stands, providing habitat for local flora and fauna. A freshwater creek that used to meander through the site was filled in to provide more room. Today, after heavy rain, water is unable to drain away fast enough and the area often floods.
Every Sunday there is a market on site. I have heard that it is worth visiting on market day. And if Street Food is your thing, a Street Food Market is held on the first and third Saturday of every month.
I wander behind some of the corrugated iron huts to the old drill hall and then through the ungated Addison Road community garden. It looks loved and well cared for. Nearby is the Marrickville Community Nursery, run by the Inner West Council. Native plants can be bought here. The Bower Reuse and Recycle Centre looks like a place to find any number of treasures. Their philosophy of repairing goods that would otherwise go to landfill and training people in handy skills (eg basic carpentry, furniture repair and basic upholstery) sits well with me.
Outside the Bower is a Street Library box. People are encouraged to take a book and/or leave a book. I have always wanted to install one of these outside my home. I really get down to it. At last, I come to Reverse Garbage, the reason for me being here. It is a large warehouse filled with all sorts of goods from end rolls of paper and plastic bottle caps to new pottery goblets. Goods spill out onto the forecourt. As they say, one man’s trash is another person’s treasure. I inspect a new looking child’s life jacket. Unfortunately, it is too big for my little grandson, or I would be taking it home with me. Living on a water access only property means life jackets for all on our tinny.
I leave Addison Road Centre feeling enthused that yet again I have made a great urban discovery. Local residents may be well aware of all that Addison Road Centre has to offer, but I had no idea. Walking back to the station along Illawarra Road, I pass yet another example of the Perfect Match program – a painting of a car on the wall of a car service station. A date at the top of the front wall indicates that the building was erected in 1884. There still are so many vestiges of history to be found in Sydney and her suburbs.
The Henson Pub is on my way, but it is too late for me to go in today. This neighbourhood pub is a gastropub. Apart from growing much of its own produce locally, it uses many local suppliers. On the awning of Banana Joe’s Foodworks, is another metal figure. A banana resting in a hammock. Seeing these figures in situ is definitely one reason among many that will bring me back to visit Marrickville and the Addison Road Centre.
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Sometimes you have to go. I use any or all of the following: pubs or hotels, train stations (not always open or clean) and I always use the facilities when I have lunch. This map may be of use.
Read more about the Addison Road Community Centre here.
The self-guided Heritage Trail can be taken any day of the week although, it may be best to avoid doing the trail on a Sunday when the market makes the site very busy.
And a map to assist you: (If you would like a pdf of the map, email me via the contact page, and I will send one to you).
(NOTE that the time indicated on the map does not allow for any stops. I take an average of 4-5 hours when I explore):