Carlton Station

Carlton: Discovering Federation Architecture

A Self-Guided Walk in Carlton, Sydney

Download the Walking Map and Notes

I have always known that there’s a Carlton in Melbourne, but only recently discovered that Sydney also has a suburb named Carlton. That’s a good enough reason to explore the Sydney Carlton today.

Carlton: North of the Railway Line

Adjacent to the Railway Line, Stell Reserve is a narrow, neatly kept strip of grass. This little park is named after the writer and founder of the Miles Franklin Award, Stella (Miles) Franklin who lived the last 20 or so years of her life in the family home at 26 Grey Street, Carlton. You can find a statue of Miles Franklin in nearby Hurstville.

Burnham Carlton

Art Deco Burnham

Ogee Roof in Carlton

Ogee Roof of Carlton School of Arts

Three rows of used lawn mowers stand stationery on the sidewalk outside Carlton Mowers, a shop in Carlton Parade. The business is for sale. So is Burnham, the Art Deco building over the road. I take time to examine the details and craftsmanship in some of the older buildings around here.

“Ogee” Roofs

Two interestingly shaped roofs of a building in Short Street attract my attention. The roofs are the ogee pavilion roofs of the Carlton School of Arts (1900). “Ogee” (what a lovely word), describes an ‘S’ shaped line or moulding.

Once a private dance hall, the Carlton School of Arts was later used as a cinema, billiard saloon and meeting place. Today you can learn Russian Martial arts there or hire the hall for functions.

Old Coke a Cola Sign


Mann Filter

Caused me to chuckle

With fewer people sewing their own clothes, the Sewing Machine Service Centre is closed, the premises for lease. Apart from the two reasonably well patronised coffee shops, things look a bit sad with quite a few shops vacant.

Carlton Brake and Clutch Workshop

In the Carlton Clutch and Brake Workshop, a faded window advertisement for a “Mann Filter” makes me chuckle. Remove one ‘n’ and there’d be a queue of women lining up for one of these. A man, noticing my camera, invites me into the workshop.

Shopfront Contemporary Youth Arts Centre


Carlton Clutch and Brake

Inside the workshop

He’s worked here for 31 years, and the previous owner for 40 years before that. Apart from old motor oil and tyre advertisements, there’s also a mismatched collection of bits and pieces on every available surface. When I notice a dirty white bust of Bob Hawke, he says “we have everything here”. In keeping with the political theme, I joke “Even Barnaby Joyce’s Akubra” pointing to the hat on the bonnet of a rusted cab.

Shopfront Contemporary Arts Centre

Formed in 1976, the Shopfront Contemporary Arts Centre is a youth led Arts Cooperative, providing a venue for young people and emerging artists to “find their voice”. A fundraising thermometer outside indicates that they are about halfway with their ambitious fundraising goal of $185K.

Carlton House

Carlton House

House in Carlton NSW

Old and New

Heritage listed Carlton House stands out from its neighbours. Pretty glass panes and decorative wood panels enclose the veranda on one side while a metal balcony railing decorates the other veranda.

Two men chat outside a house in what sounds like an Eastern European accent. Branches from a tall olive tree hang over the footpath. Neat houses line this side of the street, facing a row of unit blocks.

There are no clouds in the sky, it’s not too hot and there’s a pleasant breeze. A lovely day to be exploring Carlton. Tinsdale Reserve provides a pleasant green space for people living in the surrounding unit blocks. The spicy aroma of curry cooking emanates from one of the units as I pass by.

Semi in Carlton

Pressed Metal Gable

Carlton Hardware

An old Corner Store

Interesting Architectural Features

On noticing a row of semi-detached houses with original pressed metalwork in their gables, I divert from my route. The walls of some are plastered, while others still display their original brickwork and there’s a simple sandstone cottage further up the hill worth looking at.

Carlton Hardware, with its faded sign, would be one of the few independent hardware stores left in Sydney. A man wearing a pale blue tailored shirt and dark pants paces up and down outside the store, talking on the phone. When passing him, I do a double take when I realise that he’s wearing a gun.

Carlton Hardware

Door and window

Federation Architecture Carlton

Fine example of Federation Architecture

After a short walk up Hill Street to number 56 where I’m rewarded with a fine example of Federation architecture, I return to cross the railway line at the station.

Carlton: South of the Railway Line

Like many Australian pubs, The Royal Hotel dominates a corner position. The Art Deco detail above the brickwork takes the form of uncurling fern fronds.

The shopping strip on this side looks slightly more prosperous than that on the other side of the tracks. The ghost sign once advertising “Fish and Chips” has given way to Wok and Roast. Two fire engines race past, sirens blaring. I peer into the Tattoo Parlour where a man lies face down, arm extended.

Saint George

Saint George

Saint George Russian Orthodox Church

Saint George Russian Orthodox Church

Stepping on St George (depicted in a series of large square pavement tiles) reminds me that the local footy team is of course, St George Illawarra. One of the fire engines returns, sirens silent now. The emergency must be over.

St George Russian Orthodox Church

The St George Russian Orthodox Church in Garfield Street is understated. The small gold onion dome supports a simple cross above a simple brick building. About 200 of the ethnic Russians from China and others of mixed Russian/Chinese descent who moved to Sydney to avoid the Cultural Revolution, joined this newly formed parish in the mid-1960s.

An impressive gnome collection stares out at me from a second-floor balcony. I’ve seen a number of garden gnome collections around Sydney, but none as large as this one.

Garden Gnome Collection

Gnomes on Balcony

Home in Carlton NSW

Different to say the least

Two little boys play in Augusta park while their mum chats on the phone. They show me the leaves and petals they are collecting to feed a bird which they plan to catch. I explain to them that the bird is a Magpie. One replies “no, it’s a bird.”

Varied Architectural Styles

The house and garden at 5 Planthurst Rd, which is described in the State Heritage Registry as a “substantially intact, single storey weatherboard cottage with simple late Victorian stylistic influence”, is undergoing significant renovation. I doubt it will be of heritage significance once the renovation is finished.

House in Arthur Street Carlton

Federation Beauty

House in Carlton NSW

Contrasting Style

In Arthur Street, the houses are a real mixture of architectural styles, but number 43 is another Federation beauty. The mint green trim of number 45 spoils the otherwise authentic Federation style.

Walking along Princes Highway I smile at the shop named “The Department of the Car Interior”. Not quite in Carlton but worth the walk, I find the Harold Fraser Oval Gates. Over the road from where I stand, they feature illustrations representing athletics, hockey, cricket and tennis.

Harold Fraser Oval Gates

Harold Fraser Oval Gates

Stone and Metal Fence

Stone and Metal Fence

White Castle

On my way to Kogarah Park, I pass the white arches beneath the painted breeze brickwork of White Castle. This unique building must be a landmark on the Princes Highway. The store, which used to be a Keith Lord furniture showroom, now sells catering equipment and kitchenware.

Bates Bikes moves premises

Penny Farthing Surprise

Office works Carlton

Entrance to Office Works

Jubilee Stadium

Jubilee Stadium (in Kogarah Park) is the part time home to the St George Illawarra Dragons. I walk the “Walk of Fame” reading about the featured players as well as the plaques recognising the people and businesses who supported the project. One reads that “Dan Simpson only got his name here for turning 50”.

White Castle

White Castle

St George Illawarra Walk of Fame

St George Walk of Fame

En route to Anglo Square, I pass a pawpaw tree with small green fruit attached to the trunk. Next door two unripe mangos hang from a small tree.

Anglo Square, a green space surrounded by houses, is home to another property of local heritage significance. Lohengrin, built C1915 has been lovingly restored. There is plenty of Federation Architecture in Carlton if you know where to look.

Anglo Square Playground

Anglo Square Playground

Federation Architecture

More Federation Architecture

Why Walk through Carlton?

Carlton in Sydney, quite different from Melbourne’s Carlton, has a charm of its own. If you are into Federation Heritage, you will find fine examples here and perhaps like me, find a few little things to chuckle about.

Want to discover more Architecture in Sydney? Take a walk through Annandale or for Art Deco, go to Randwick.  The suburb designed by Walter Burley Griffin, Castlecrag, is well worth a visit too.
Next Stop: Maroubra

Useful information:

Carlton is 15 km South of the Sydney CBD.

It is easy to get to Carlton by train. Plan your trip at

Useful addresses:

  • The Shopfront is at 88 Carlton Parade
  • Carlton House can be found at 92 Carlton Parade Carlton House
  • 56 Hill Street, Federation Style House
  • St George Russian Orthodox Church 15 Garfield Street
  • 43 Arthur Street Beautiful Federation Home
  • 24 Anglo Square “Lohengrin” Federation home.

Walking Map and Notes

Follow this map to discover Carlton: You can download it here. Use these Day Notes together with the maps to assist you.
(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):


  1. I am really impressed with your view of Calton NSW. I live just off the map and love your interpretation. You have missed the Centre on Durham St with its halal meat and Eastern olives, dry goods and vegs. Also the lovely Liz Lunches in Carlton. Carlton is a very relaxed easy suburb to walk through after work.

    1. Author

      Well, that’s an oversight. Thanks for letting me know. Unfortunately, my pre walk research didn’t reveal the obviously must see places you’ve mentioned. Next time.

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