Alexandria Town Hall

Discover the Inner City Sydney Suburb of Alexandria

Green Square station is located in the Inner Sydney suburb of Alexandria. Once an industrial area, Alexandria has cafés and restaurants and factory outlet stores. Let’s see what else there is to find.

Walking down Botany Road

On my right, behind a wire fence, rows of closely parked and brightly painted camper vans stand idle. Wicked campervans, with their distinctive crude messaging and graffiti style exterior operate from this site. They target young backpackers. Call me a prude, but I’d feel decidedly uncomfortable riding around in some of their vans.

Sculpture outside Green Square Station

Seating or Sculpture

Wicked Campervans

Wicked Campervans

Fast food wrappers blow in the breeze behind a metal and stone sculpture, in Green Square Station forecourt. While I photograph the piece, a passer-by comments “You can be sure it says something”. Or perhaps it provides seating. Whatever it is, no one gives it a passing glance.

Further along Botany Road, “Don’t ever trust cops” reads an A4 paste up. Another suggests “Abolish work” and continuing the “abolish” theme, a third reads “Migrants welcome, Abolish borders”. The people here have something to say.

Don't Trust Cops Paste up

Don’t Trust Cops

Industrial Heritage Alexandria

Industrial Heritage

The Coffee Roaster

The rich aroma of coffee wafts from the welcoming doors of The Coffee Roaster. At the Coffee Roaster, you can choose beans from around the world to “roast your own”, do a tour or even attend a course in coffee roasting. The sounds of coffee beans tumbling in the roaster behind me add authenticity to my simple “flat white”.

Factory Outlets in Alexandria

Alexandria is home to many factory outlet stores. Many years ago, a friend went on a shopping tour of the Alexandria Outlet stores. These tours remain popular with bargain hunters. I find clothing stores, a large fabric store and a fresh and frozen pasta place along Botany Road. Later I discover even more outlet stores on McEvoy Road.

Industrial Presence in Alexandria

Industrial Presence

The Coffee Roaster

The Coffee Roaster

Industrial Heritage in Alexandria

The William Street streetscape reflects the industrial heritage of the area and has local heritage significance. Evidence of the factories, foundries and workshops, built here in the 1930s to 1960s surrounds me. Today, there is plenty of building work going on, but while the buildings have been gutted, the facades remain.

William Street Alexandria

See through facades

Warehouse

How long til this is demolished?

The Australian Meat Emporium

At the nearby Australian Meat Emporium, heavy jackets hang in the vestibule between two sets of glass sliding doors. Customers wear the jackets to shop in comfort in the refrigerated store. Row upon row of different cuts of packaged meat make this a one stop meat shopping place.

The Australian Meat Emporium

The Australian Meat Emporium

Veranda of Alexandria

Veranda

Hillsong

Loveat Café at first appears to be another trendy local café. It may well be, but when I realise that it’s housed in the large warehouse conversion that is the Hillsong Alexandria Campus, I wonder if the two are connected.

The Mill, Alexandria

An old-fashioned orange petrol pump guards the driveway exit from The Mill, which is a group of twelve recently refurbished historic buildings. The building names including The Boiler Room, The Silo, The Soapworks and The Woolstore, reference the early industrial heritage of the area.

The Mill Alexandria

Old Petrol Pump

The Boiler Room and The Silo, The Mill

The Boiler Room and The Silo

The Grounds of Alexandria (café, restaurant bar and more), possibly the most recognised establishment in Alexandria, is located in The Mill complex. I wonder how many of the patrons to The Grounds have any idea of the historic significance of the area or have walked around the back to view the refurbished buildings.

Responding to a recent promotion of The Grounds Christmas display, groups of women and mothers with children  make their way to the site. Cars bank up and impatient drivers hoot their horn. A man stands at the car park entrance telling hopeful drivers that the park is full. The queue into the restaurant is off putting and I give it a miss.

Sydney Park

An unpleasant smell wafts from behind the temporarily fenced heritage listed Alexandra Canal. Construction of the WestConnex forces me to make a big detour to reach Sydney Park. When I get there, I discover the Alan Davidson Oval surrounded by a cream coloured picket fence. Nearby, school children participate in a road safety lesson at the Sydney Park Cycling Centre. They ride bikes along a network of specially laid out ‘streets’, learning about road signs.

Alan Davidson Oval , Sydney Park

Alan Davidson Oval

Sydney Park Cycling Centre

The Cycling Centre

Mitchell Road is a mix of old and new buildings.  While some of the single and double storey terraces are well maintained and renovated, others look sad and unloved. Original sandstone fence posts grace the footpath in places.

A woman leaving the Cliff Noble Community Centre wonders if I’m lost. I’m not, but ask her about the building work at the adjacent school. Apparently, the students have been moved to other sites during the renovation. Fortunately, the works don’t involve changing the original school building. She tells me that her colleague at the Community Centre attended the original school as did her father before her.

West Connex Detour

WestConnex Detour

Veranda of Alexandria

Another Veranda

St Lazarus Orthodox Church

St Lazarus Cathedral Church is covered in greenery with sweet smelling flowers on a vine entwining the fence posts. The Australian and the Serbian flags flutter in the wind side by side. This church, founded in 1955, serves the local Serbian community.

After taking a couple of wrong turns I find Allen Ave, un-signposted and more like a back lane than an avenue. Cheerful characters smile at me from a blue wall covered with graffiti, reinforcing the back lane feel.

Terrace in Mitchell Road

Terrace Balcony

Terraces in Mitchell Road

One needs attention

More Heritage in Alexandria

Amongst the terraces in Brandling Lane is Eveleigh Rest House, also known as the Engineman’s Rest House. This heritage mansion, built in the early 1900s, was used as barracks accommodation for railway staff. The Edwardian house, now a private residence, isn’t easy to see behind the shrubs and trees.

Merivale bought the Alexandria Hotel, another heritage listed building, in 2016. The hotel is closed, awaiting renovation. It looks like many pubs built at the time, with tiled walls and advertising posters at street level, a dark brick second storey and a red tiled roof.

Alexandria Town Hall

The former Alexandria Town Hall, built between 1881 and 1928, has served a number of purposes over the years. It was a public school, a temporary hospital and even a soup kitchen. Recently renovated, you can now hire its rooms and two halls from the City of Sydney.

The Alexandria Hotel

The Alexandria Hotel

Samantha Robinson

A surprise porcelain find

Victorian terraces are very much part of Sydney’s inner-city landscape and having seen so many on my walks, I often don’t give them more than a second glance. Nevertheless, Alexandria is full of them and you can find intact examples of both one and two storey terraces in Buckland Street before walking through one of the heritage gateposts into Alexandria Park.

Alexandria Park Heritage Gate

One of a few entances to Alexandria Park

Alexandria Post Box

Beneath the Post Box

Yiu Ming Temple

In the 1920s, the Yiu Ming Tong Chinese Association, which ran the Chinese Temple in Alexandria (near to where I am standing now), provided financial and other support to Chinese Market Gardeners. Today, three elderly Chinese women sit in the sun outside a white walled building. I guess they live in the building behind them. They greet me and point towards the entrance gate to the temple. Unfortunately, without a common language no further conversation is possible.

Yiu Ming Temple

Yiu Ming Temple

Yiu Ming Temple

Outside the Temple

One of only a small number of Chinese Temples that survive in Australia, the Yiu Ming Temple, which is over 130 years old, has both local and international significance. Very few village temples remain, even in China.

Ceramic figurines decorate the apex of the roof. A younger woman interrupts her lunch to explain that these represent ancestors from many years ago. The floor of the temple is decorated with tessellated Federation tiles, an interesting blend of Chinese and Australian features.

As I leave, the elderly women smile and put their palms together to bid me farewell.

Light Industry in Alexandria

Large coloured laundry bags overflow with white towels and sheets in a busy commercial laundry. In a nearby cement factory, I watch as a worker guides a hose to fill a cement truck, wondering how long light industry will survive so close to the city centre.

Art on Henderson Road

Fun Wall Mural

Cement Factory Alexandria

Cement Factory

Mitchell Road Antique and Design Centre

Last but not least, I stroll through the Mitchell Road Antique and Design centre. Filled with treasures from the 60s and other eras, it would be easy to get lost here, the artifacts prompting memories of my youth.

Mitchell Road Antique and Design Centre

Trash or Treasure?

Mitchell Road Antique and Design Centre

More Treasures

Final Thoughts on Alexandria

Alexandria certainly has more to offer than cafés and restaurants. This inner-city suburb of Sydney has interesting industrial heritage, factory outlet stores for bargain hunters and an historically significant Chinese Temple.

If you enjoyed discovering the variety of Alexandria, you will enjoy taking a walk through Newtown, Marrickville and perhaps Paddington too.
Next stop: Brooklyn

Useful information:

Alexandria in Sydney’s inner city is 4km south of the Sydney CBD

Plan your trip at transportnsw.info

Addresses:

You can download the notes I used for this walk here

And a map to assist your walk through Alexandria: (You can download it here)
(Note that this is a guide only and that the time indicated on the map does not allow for any stops. I take an average of 4-5 hours when I explore):

Comments

  1. I’m always impressed by the huge distances you cover on your walks. For many years I’ve watched my son’s football games at Alexandria Park. That is such a pretty area.

    1. Author

      Thank you Stephanie. Like you, as a soccer mum I travelled quite a distance each week to attend games.

  2. I love when industrial areas are repurposed for living/shopping. Keeping buildings like the boiler room & silo add much character while keeping the history of the area alive. Thanks for a great post.

    1. Author

      Thanks Bernadette. It’s fun exploring and learning about Sydney’s past.

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