Granville Multicultural Centre

Granville: More than the site of Australia’s Worst Rail Disaster

Granville, the site of the worst railway disaster in Australian history is my destination today. Feeling nervous, because not too long ago, bodies were found in the nearby Duck River, I step off the train at Clyde Station. And, I am not sure how locals will take to a woman with a camera.

Sydney Trains Clyde Precinct

The area around Clyde is known for light industry. There is also an historic bridge and large fruit bat colony. A walking/cycle path between high black cyclone fencing leads to the bridge. Workers use this path to reach their workplace at the Sydney Trains Clyde Precinct. An employee wearing the orange lanyard of Sydney Trains looks as I take a photo and asks “are you alright”. Not really satisfied with my reply, he keeps staring back at me as he walks to work.

Walkway to Sydney Trains Clyde Precinct

Walkway to Sydney Trains Clyde Precinct

Granville Multicultural Centre

Granville Multicultural Centre

A green sign indicates a ‘Help Point’. Perhaps my concerns are not unfounded.

Fruit Bat Colony

I hear them before I see them. The colony of fruit bats are mostly fast asleep, hanging upside down from branches, their dark wings tucked around their rusty coloured bodies. Occasionally one takes flight.

Factories line Factory Street. There’s also Australian Border Force and the Sydney Gateway Facility (including Australia Post) where goods from overseas are processed. On my right is the Granville Multicultural Centre and a line of simple houses. Apparently homes in Granville are mostly freestanding fibro and weatherboard. So far this seems to be the case.

Fibro home in Granville

Fibro Home

Weatherboard Home in Granville

Weatherboard Home

A souped up ‘P-plated’ white Mazda with low suspension and thick black tyres revs up loudly next to me. The driver is a youth with a sleeve of tats and an orange vest.

The Duck River Walk

Where the factories end, the Duck River Walk starts. I wasn’t going to do this walk (having read about the bodies) but decide to give it a go. Doves coo in the trees. Fast food wrappers and rubbish are strewn around. This paved path between the backs of houses and the river is actually a dual pedestrian/cycle path to Regents Park.

The river is so overgrown with weeds that the water is scarcely visible. Apart from a few Ibis, there is little sign of bird life. Certainly not the blue wren that is supposed to frequent these parts.

Duck River Walk Start

Start of the Duck River Walk

Rubbish on the Duck River Walk

Rubbish on the Duck River Walk

A woman comes towards the main road that I have just crossed. She has emerged out of the bushes where the Duck River Walk continues. I ask if it’s safe to continue on the walk (such is my paranoia), she smiles and says “no problem”, probably thinking I’m crazy.

Dolly’s Boot Camp

No longer paved, the path leads to a large oval on the other side of which, a group of black clad women work out. All shapes and sizes, several skip, others do push ups. Some have hoodies and head coverings. Interested, I cross the oval to investigate.

A large sign hangs on a wire-mesh fence. Dolly’s Boot Camp is in full swing. The women are dressed in black track pants or leggings and black long-sleeved tops. Most, not all, wear head coverings. They are exercising hard. Behind the chain-link fence are a number of containers. Looking into one, I am surprised to see a row of about 8 exercise bikes all being pedalled vigorously.

Dolly's Bootcamp

Dolly’s Bootcamp

Dolly's Boot Camp

The Dolly of Dolly’s Bootcamp

Dolly’s office is in another container. She is a 28-year-old entrepreneur who started her business in a gym and now runs her Boot Camp out doors. She encourages fellow Muslim women to get fit, lose weight and break the stereotype of stay at home Muslim women. Dolly is an inspiration and I am the richer for meeting her.

After continuing along the Duck River Walk to stepping stones across the river to Auburn, I leave the river to walk along local streets of South Granville.  It becomes obvious that the old fibro and weatherboard houses are being demolished and replaced by large modern homes.

Home in Granville

Modern Design

Home in Granville

Another new home

Suburban Granville

A man driving past asks “Are you a local photographer?” and then warns me to be careful as “the next street is full of junkies and [pointing] that’s a halfway house”.

A jet ski stands in a driveway next to a Merc. I lose count of the motor boats parked in driveways and side streets. There is certainly money around.

Masjid Al Noor

The Masjid Al Noor (Mosque), is only recognisable from photos. There is no signage. Men and boys in knee length white garments are out the back, playing ball. I hesitate to go in, walk to the front door and turn back. The black glass is uninviting. I chide myself for being silly and return to the door. It seems I have to ring a bell. That is a step too far.

Grand Royale Wedding Venue Granville

Wedding Venue

Beitrut Bakery on South Street Granville

Beitrut Bakery on South Street

Friendly Locals

Retracing my steps now towards Granville Centre, an Arabic sign hangs from the eves of a corner home. A woman enters the premises and a chorus of the Arabic greeting “As-salamu alaykum” reaches my ears.

Three young women wearing colourful hijabs and long (not drab) dress leave and smile in greeting. They don’t know anything about the Masjid Al Noor. Instead they tell me that they come here “to the Institute for Islamic studies” and that there is a mosque here “at the back”. I know where I would feel more welcome.

Grand Home in Granville

One of the Few Grand Homes Remaining

Grand Home in Granville

Another

A local shopping strip, Dellwood, still survives. A group of men chat in a circle outside the bakery. A young man leaves the bottle shop with a slab of beer. A woman sitting on a bench describes the awning as “probably art deco”. The pressed metal detail certainly is interesting. We chat for a while about Granville and “Frances from Granville” tells me to look out for the terrace houses in The Avenue.

Heritage Building

The Crest, a State Heritage listed building, was built in the 1940s as the Hoyts Cinema. The signage, which used to read H-O-Y-T-S and then B-I-N-G-O, now reads B-L-O-U-Z-A. It’s hired out for functions these days.

The Crest Graville

Crest or B-L-O-U-Z-A?

Recycling Plastic Bottles

The Recycling Station

Recycling Plastic Bottles

In the supermarket car park, people with trolley loads of bottles line up at the bottle recycling place. A man depositing bottles one by one asks the man next to him (who is recycling plastic water bottles) “haven’t you heard of a tap? Tap water is $2:80 for 1000ltr”. The recycling scheme works well here.

St Aphanasius

Approaching Granville centre, the green copper onion domes of St Aphanasius stand out against the skyline. The Ukranian Orthodox Church dates back to 1956.

Ukranian Orthodox Church Granville

Copper Domes of St Aphanasius

Christianity in Granville

The Sign Says it all

Multicultural Granville

Nearby is Awafi Chicken with its shisha (hookah) smoking room (a room where people may smoke vaporised flavoured tobacco). A black Rolls Royce stands outside. For lunch, I order the fattoush salad (rather too salty for my liking) and baba ganoush with fresh Lebanese bread.

The multicultural nature of Granville is obvious when walking up South Street. There’s Thai, Indian and Lebanese cuisine. An Islander Supermarket (with a Lebanese man behind the counter) sells cassava and taro as well as prepared meals including taro leaf curry. There’s an Asian grocery store and the Beirut Bakery as well as a few Lebanese eateries.

El Sweetie

El Sweetie

Shisha Pipes for Hire

Shisha Pipes for Hire

El Sweetie specialises in Lebanese treats. The selection of baklawa and biscuits is the biggest I’ve seen. The “Ladies fingers” (Znoud El-Sit) are irresistible, with their creamy filling encased in a crisp golden pastry. Mine is delicious with coffee. A woman nearby has chosen a pistachio and semolina slice topped with merengue. The piece she gives me to try is yummy. El Sweetie also has a shisha room.

Teaching English

While resting on an outdoor bench, a Chinese man approaches me, asking for assistance. Ting teaches himself English. He has underlined some words in his English language newspaper and asks me to explain their meaning. The term “put down” in relation to a dangerous dog and “crook” to describe a thief are easy, but I struggle to explain what “traumatic” means. Sometimes we take our language skills for granted.

More Heritage

The Town Hall (1888) stands proudly at the end of Russell Street, corresponding with the architecture of the nearby Royal Hotel.

Granville Town Hall

Granville Town Hall

The Royal Hotel in Granville

The Royal Hotel

Granville Rail Disaster Memorial

Opposite Ablas Pastry is the garden memorial to the Granville Rail Disaster of 1977. It remembers the eighty-three people who died when the Bold Street Bridge collapsed onto a derailed train.

Memorial Garden for the Granville Rail Disaster

Memorial Garden for the Granville Rail Disaster

A wander through The Avenue and other back streets turns up a few renovate terraces, but it is late and I am tired. I make my way to Granville Station. Granville has turned up more than a few surprises. The main surprise is the friendliness of the people. I will return soon with friends.

Blacktown, Sydney is another fascinating suburb. Read about Blacktown here
Street Art in Granville

The only Street Art or Graffiti I saw

Upgraded footpath near Granville Town Hall

Upgraded Footpath near Granville Town Hall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next Stop:Taren Point

Useful information:

Plan your trip at transportnsw.info

Crest Theatre – Corner of Blaxcell and Redfern Streets

Ablas Pastry – 45-52 Railway Parade

St. Marks Anglican Church dates back to 1882, 39 Jamieson St

St. Athanasius Church- 53 William Street

Granville Town Hall – 10 Carlton Street

The Royal Hotel – 24 South Street

Hawa Charcoal chicken – 43-45 South Street

El Sweetie73/75 South Street

Awafi Charcoal Chicken – 107 South St

And a map to assist you:You can download the map here  (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):

 

Granville Walk Map

 

Comments

  1. This area seems very diverse from a religious, cultural and social point of view. I love “Dolly’s Boot Camp” it has so much more to offer than a boring fancy gym.

  2. Thanks Jo, another fascinating excursion into urban Sydney delivered in a very personal style.

  3. Hi Jo

    Granville will be on our agenda – we love exploring other parts of Sydney. Pity about Duck River! Thanks, Di and Humphrey

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