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Template:Infobox Australian Place

File:King Street Newtown.jpg

Intersection of King Street, Newtown with Enmore Road, close to Newtown railway station

Newtown is a suburb in the Inner West of Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Newtown is located approximately 4 kilometres south-west of the Sydney central business district and lies across the local government areas of the City of Sydney and Marrickville Council.[1]

Since the 1840s, when the Newtown area began to change from a rural to a commercial and residential landscape, it has been home to a very diverse community, which is evidenced by the styles of domestic architecture. The few remaining houses of the 1830s and 1940s range from "Golden Grove" on Forbes Street[2] to tiny and austere "working-men's" cottages in Hordern Street. This trend of class diversity was to continue and expanded into cultural diversity in the mid 20th century with post-war migration bringing hundreds of European migrants to the area.[citation needed]

The late 20th century saw a rapid increase in house prices due to Newtown's close proximity to the Sydney CBD,[citation needed] and consequently a gentrification. This has been somewhat countered by the proximity to Sydney University and the large numbered of students in shared housing.


Aboriginal history

The Newtown area was part of the land of the Cadigal band of the Eora people, who ranged across the entire area from the southern shores of Sydney Harbour to Botany Bay in the south-east and Petersham in the west. It was through the land management methods of the aboriginal people that the extensive grasslands of predominantly Kangaroo Grass, commented upon by Watkin Tench were maintained as ideal breeding grounds for kangaroos.[3]

The first Aborigine to receive a Christian burial was Tommy, an eleven year old boy who died of bronchitis in the Sydney Infirmary. He was buried in Camperdown Cemetery, in a section now located outside the wall. The cemetery also contains a sandstone obelisk erected in 1944 by the Rangers League of NSW, in memory of Tommy and three other Aborigines buried there - Mogo, William Perry and Wandelina Cabrorigirel,[4] although their graves are no longer identifiable.[5]

19th century


King Street and Newtown Railway Station from a coloured postcard. c.1906


Newtown's reputation as a retail precinct was established early. Marcus Clark, one of Australias leading retailers was based there.

Newtown was established as a residential and farming area in the early 19th century.[6] The area took its name from a grocery store opened there by John and Eliza Webster in 1832, at a site close to where the Newtown railway station stands today. They placed a sign on top of their store that read "New Town Stores". The name New Town was adopted, at first unofficially, with the space disappearing to form the name Newtown.[7]

That part of Newtown lying south of King Street was portion of the two estates granted by Governor Arthur Phillip to the Superintendent of Convicts, Nicholas Devine, in 1794 and 1799. Erskineville and much of MacDonaldtown were also once part of Devine's grant. In 1827, at a time when Devine was aged about 90, this land was acquired from him by a convict, Bernard Rochford, who sold it to many of Sydney's wealthiest and most influential inhabitants including the Mayor. Devine's heir, John Devine, a coachbuilder of Birmingham, challenged the will which was blatantly fraudulent. The case (known as "The Newtown Ejectment Case") was eventually settled out of court by the payment to Devine of an unknown sum of money said to have been "considerable". The land was further divided into the housing that is now evidenced by the rows of terrace houses and commercial and industrial premises.[8]

Part of the area which now falls within the present boundaries of Newtown, north of King Street, was originally part of Camperdown. This area was named by Governor William Bligh who received it as a land grant in 1806 and who passed it to his daughter and son-in-law on his return to England in 1810. In 1848 part of this land was acquired by the Sydney Church of England Cemetery Company to create a general cemetery beyond the boundary of the City of Sydney.[9]

Camperdown Cemetery, just one block away from King Street, Newtown, was to become significant in the life of the suburb. Between its consecration in 1849 and its closure to further sales in 1868 it saw 15,000 burials of people from all over Sydney.[10] Of that number, approximately half were paupers buried in unmarked and often communal graves, sometimes as many as twelve in a day during a measles epidemic.[11] Camperdown Cemetery remains, though much reduced in size, as a rare example of mid 19th century cemetery landscaping. It retains the Cemetery Lodge and huge fig tree dating from 1848, as well as a number of oak trees of the same date. It survived to become the main "greenspace" of Newtown, its large stand of trees giving it something the character of an oasis. Among the significant people buried in the cemetery are the famous exlplorer-surveyor Sir Thomas Livingstone Mitchell, Major Edmund Lockyer and Mary, Lady Jamison (the widow of the renowned colonial pioneer landowner, physician, constitutional reformer and 'knight of the realm', Sir John Jamison). The cemetery also holds the remains of the victims of the wreck of the Dunbar in 1857.[12]

From 1845, when the first Anglican church was built on the site of the present Community Centre on Stephen Street, by Edmund Blacket, a number of churches were established, including St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church in the 1850s, the Methodist Church on King Street, now Newtown Mission, and the Baptist Church in Church Street. The present St Stephen's Anglican Church, a renowned example of Victorian Gothic architecture, was designed, like its predecessor, by Edmund Blacket, and constructed in the pre-existent cemetery from 1871 to 1880. With Camperdown Cemetery it is on the National Trust register of buildings of National Significance. Its Mears and Stainbank carillon is unique in Australia, while its Walker and Sons organ of 1874 is regarded as one of the finest in New South Wales.[13]

On December 12, 1862 the Municipality of Newtown was incorporated and divided into three wards: O'Connell, Kingston and Enmore, covering 480 acres (1.92 square kilometres). In 1893 a plan was discussed to rename the area 'South Sydney' (as two municipalities North of Sydney Harbour had merged to form North Sydney three years earlier), but nothing came of it.[14]


Although there are a few earlier buildings in Newtown the most rapid development occurred in the late 1800s[citation needed], with many former farms and other large properties being subdivided and developed as row-houses, known popularly as "terrace houses". With their predominance of Victorian-era houses with stuccoed facades, balconies of iron lace and moulded architectural ornaments, many Newtown streets are similar to those of other well-known inner city suburbs like Glebe, Paddington and Balmain.

From about 1870 onwards, Newtown had a large proportion of its residents living in terrace houses of the cheapest possible construction, much of which was "two-up two-down" with rear kitchen, some having adjoining walls only one brick thick and a continuous shared roofspace.[15] Hundreds of these terrace houses still remain, generally 4 metres (13 ft) wide. It was not uncommon for speculative builders to build a row of these small houses terminating in a house of 1 1/2 width at the corner of the street, this last being a commercial premises, or "Corner Store". During the Federation period, single storey row houses became increasing common.

This preponderance of small houses is indicative of the working-class employment of most of the Newtown residents, many of whom worked in the city or at local shops, factories, warehouses, brickyards and at the nearby Eveleigh Railway Workshops. Retail and service trades dominated the suburb increasingly throughout this period, with tradesmen and shopkeepers together accounting for 70-75% of the working population.[16] During the late 1800s and early 1900s Newtown prospered, so much so that in the Jubilee Souvenir of the Municipality of Newtown, published in 1912, it was described as "... one of the most wealthy suburbs around Sydney."[17]

A number of imposing Victorian mansions were also built on larger estates, as well as rows of larger and more stylish terrace houses in certain areas such as Brown Street in North Newtown, and Holmwood Street in South Newtown. As in many other historic areas of Sydney, some of the largest and most important houses, such as 'Erskine Villa' (formerly on Erskineville Road, and which gave its name to the suburb of Erskineville), were demolished and the estates subdivided. Another loss was the home of Mary Reibey in Station Street, which was acquired by the NSW Department of Housing in 1964, demolished in 1967, and replaced by a public housing apartment block. Only the cottage of Mary Reibey's dairyman survives, a little further down the street.[18]

One of the most impressive surviving sets of 19th Century housing in Newtown is the imposing terrace of five elegant five-storey mansions running along Warren Ball Avenue in North Newtown, facing onto Hollis Park.

From the late 1800s onwards, the Newtown area became a major commercial and industrial centre. King Street developed into a thriving retail precinct and the Newtown area was soon dotted with factories, workshops, warehouses and commercial and retail premises of all kinds and sizes. Several major industries were established in the greater Newtown area from the late 1800s, including the Eveleigh rail workshops, the IXL jam and preserves factory in north Newtown/Darlington, the St Peters brickworks and the Fowler Potteries in Camperdown.

Early 20th century

Although it prospered in the late 1800s, during the first half of the 20th century, and especially during The Depression, the area became increasingly run down[citation needed], with wealthy Sydneysiders preferring to settle in newer and more prestigious areas like Strathfield, Burwood, the North Shore and Eastern suburbs. Like many inner-city Sydney suburbs such as Glebe and Paddington.

In the post-war period, the low rents and house prices attracted newly arrived European migrants, and Newtown's population changed radically, becoming home to a sizeable migrant community comprising Greeks,[19] and other nationalities.

Mid 20th century

Although it was originally a relatively prosperous suburb Template:Vague (the legacy of which is the numerous lavish Victorian mansions still standing in the area), Newtown and its surrounds gradually became a working-class enclave, and for much of the 20th century, Newtown was a low-income blue-collar suburb, often denigrated as a slum. After World War II it became home to a large migrant population.[citation needed] In 1949, Newtown was incorporated into the City of Sydney. In 1968, a controversial redistribution of local government boundaries by the Askin State Liberal government saw part of Newtown placed under Marrickville Council.

From the 1970s, as the post-war population prospered, raised families and aged, many moved to outlying suburbs to build larger houses, a supply of picturesque and relatively cheap terrace houses and cottages entered the rental market.[citation needed] Because of its proximity to the expanding Sydney University and the Sydney CBD, the comparatively low rents, and the availability of a wide range of cafes, pubs and restaurants, Newtown began to attract university students in the 1960s and 1970s. The area became one of the major centres for student share-households in Sydney and was a mecca for many young people. As Newtown gained a reputation as a bohemian centre, the gay and lesbian population also increased.[citation needed]

File:Newtown Crago Flour Mill 1.JPG

Crago Flour Mill

File:Newtown Crago Flour Mill 2.JPG

Silo apartment complex

Late 20th century and early 21st century

The 1980s was the period that probably saw the greatest diversity in Newtown. At this time, cheap housing was still available.

During the 1990s many long-established businesses closed[citation needed], including Brennan's Department Store, a charming old-fashioned department store founded in the 1800s, and one of the last relics of the heyday of Victorian commerce in Newtown.

Many homes have been restored and represent an example of nineteenth century architecture in Sydney. The northern end of Newtown (closer to the University and the city) is considered the more prestigious, with house prices and rents in this part of town often higher than those for similar properties in south Newtown, Enmore or St Peters. Like other similar inner-Sydney suburbs (most notably Paddington and Glebe) the trend of gentrification has led to another significant shift in Newtown's demographics. From the 1970s onwards, many major industrial and commercial sites in the Newtown area were closed or vacated. Many of these former commercial sites have since been redeveloped as housing such as the Alpha House and Beta House apartment complexes on King Street, which were formerly both multi-storey warehouses.

One of the most significant and visible changes to the area has been the redevelopment of the Silo apartment complex, which occupies part of Crago Flour Mills and former grain silos, which had been built on the site of the original Newtown station, at the end of Station Street. Rather than demolishing the silos and building a new structure, the developers undertook a major reconstruction of the building and created a series of circular apartment spaces, augmented by the construction of more traditionally shaped apartments on the lower levels.


The main street of Newtown, King Street, follows the spine of a long ridge that rises up near Sydney University and extends to the coastal plains around Botany Bay. The street reputedly follows an ancient Aboriginal track that branched out from the main western track, now beneath Broadway and Parramatta Road, and which continued all the way to the shores of Botany Bay.[20] According to the colonial diarist Watkin Tench, when Europeans arrived in Sydney it was possible to walk easily all the way from Sydney Cove to Botany Bay in a few hours, through a grassy and lightly-wooded area that Tench described as being like English parkland.[21] The predominant grass of the area was Kangaroo Grass, of which a substantial remnant continues to exist with several other species of native flora within Camperdown Cemetery.

Commercial area

King Street is the main street of Newtown and centre of commercial and entertainment activity. Enmore Road branches off King Street towards the suburb of Enmore at Newtown Bridge, where the road passes over the railway line at Newtown Station. Enmore Road and King Street together comprise a 9.1 kilometre round-trip of some 600 shopfronts. The main shopping strip of Newtown is the longest and most complete commercial precinct of the late Victorian and Federation period in Australia.[22] King Street is often referred to as "Eat Street" in the media due to the large number of cafés, pubs and restaurants. Of these, a large number are Oriental, with the majority being Thai but including Balinese, Chinese and Japanese. Other cuisines represented are Indian, Italian, Greek, Mexican, Spanish, African, French, Turkish, Vietnamese, Sri Lankan, Lebanese and both traditional and modern Australian.[23] Cafe's, restaurants and galleries can also be found in the streets surrounding King Street - in particular Wilson Street and Australia Street. Erskineville Road's cafes and pubs are also a short walk from King Street.


File:Newtown Railway Station 1.JPG

Newtown Railway Station


Newtown railway station is located on the Inner West line of the CityRail network. The station opened in 1855, as one of the original four intermediate stations on the Sydney to Parramatta rail line (the others being Ashfield, Burwood, and Homebush), and it was soon serviced by ten steam trains per day. In 1878 the station was moved from its original location at the end of Station Street to its current location by the fork of King Street and Enmore Road.

Although well served by trains, the station's accessibility is far from ideal, since the present station was built into a deep, narrow cutting under King St, with the result that the platforms are several metres below street level and can only be accessed by a steep stairway. In its 2007 budget, the NSW state government committed to funding for a much-needed upgrade to the station[24] including the installation of lifts, new stairways and canopies, toilets and lighting.

Until the 1960s (when trams were phased out in many parts of Australia, including Sydney) Newtown was a major hub for train-tram transfers; a number of regular electric tram services were centred there and the old Newtown tram depot (long vacant and now largely derelict) still stands next to the station.


Sydney Buses operates buses to Newtown. The trams from the pre 1960s were replaced by regular bus services which inherited the old route numbers—422, 426, 428—and follow the old tram routes that run along King Street and Enmore Road, going inwards to the city and outwards to Tempe, Dulwich Hill and Canterbury respectively. Since then the 423 service from the city to Kingsgrove via Newtown has been added. There is also the 352 service that goes east through Surry Hills, to Bondi Junction and the 370 service running north to the University of Sydney and Leichhardt and south-east to the University of New South Wales and Coogee.


In the 1990s, Newtown High School was chosen by the NSW Department of Education and Training as the site for a new specialised performing arts high school, which would combine traditional academic subjects with music and theatrical performance education. The school was renamed Newtown High School of the Performing Arts.

Newtown Public School is located in Norfolk Street. North Newtown Public School is located in Carillon Avenue.



In part because of its industrial and commercial history, the Newtown area contains a significant number of pubs. These include a number of late Victorian period establishments and several in an Art Deco style from the mid-1900s. In July 2000, one of these, "The Marlborough", called by historian Chrys Meader "the Gateway to Newtown" because of its visually commanding appearance at a wide intersection of King Street and Missenden Road, was stripped of all its original Art Deco tiles and had its upper floor substantially damaged before protests to the council prevented it going further.

The Trocadero


The Trocadero, restored in 2007

One of the major architectural conservation projects in Newtown in recent years has been the restoration of the Trocadero dance hall in King Street North. This large entertainment venue opened in 1889 and is one of the last 19th century dance halls still standing in Sydney. Over the years it functioned variously as a dance hall, a skating rink, a cinema, a boxing and vaudeville venue, a bicycle factory and a motor body works.

From 1920 onwards it was owned by the Grace Brothers retail company, and several sections were leased out as shops or accommodation. For many years the shopfront on the northern side of the building housed Maurice's Lebanese Restaurant, commemorated in John Kennedy's "On King St, I'm A King". The building was purchased by Moore Theological College in 1974, and from 1981 to 1994 it housed the Con Dellis used furniture store, but all occupation ceased after that time. Fortunately, a comprehensive restoration program during 2005–2006 by Moore College has returned this outstanding 19th century building, including its elaborate Flemish-style facade, to its former glory.[25]

Burland Hall

One Newtown landmark which has undergone many changes during the 20th century is the site of the former Burland Community Hall,[26] on King St. In the early 1900s the site was occupied by the original Hub Theatre.[27][28] From the mid-1900s it was occupied by an Art Deco-style cinema operated the Hoyts cinema chain.[citation needed] In the mid-1960s the cinema was converted into a community hall and it was renamed Burland Community Hall in 1965.[29] For many years it was the venue for community events such as dances, concerts, film screenings, meetings, parties, wedding receptions and a community market. In 1986 the upper floor of the hall was taken over for the Newtown branch of the City of Sydney library network, following the decision by Marrickville Council to close their Newtown library branch due to budgetary constraints. In 1995 the library moved to new premises in the former Salvation Army Citadel in nearby Brown St, and Burland Hall was redeveloped into offices and retail premises.[30]

Hub Theatre

One of the most notable (and formerly infamous) local landmarks is the Hub Theatre, located opposite Newtown Station, next to the old Newtown Town Hall. The original Hub stood at 222 King St, on the site of the Burland Community Hall, but this site was taken over and rebuilt as a cinema by the Hoyts chain in the mid-1900s and the Hub moved to its present location, on the site of an earlier vaudeville theatre. It was converted to a cinema in the 1930s, but from the early 1970s onwards, with the relaxation of Australia's repressive censorship laws, it was used to screen pornographic films and for the staging of live "adult" sex shows, including the long-running "Little French Maid". The Hub closed as a 'porno' venue in the late 1980s and had been vacant for some time; the owners of the Dendy chain attempted to secure the venue for its Newtown cinema, but were unsuccessful. Recently, the Hub has been home to live comedy shows and other such performances, seeing a rejuvenation of the building.[31]


The following buildings are on the Register of the National Estate:[32]

  • St Stephen's Church and Camperdown Cemetery, Church Street
  • Court House and Former Police Station, Australia and Eliza Streets
  • ANZ Bank Building, 327 King Street
  • CBC Bank Building, 325 King Street


Newtown today is a vibrant Sydney suburb with over 600 stores, 70 restaurants, 40 cafes, pubs and entertainment venues along King Street and Enmore Road.[citation needed]

Live music

Newtown has been a hub for live entertainment since the late 1800s. During the 1980s the many pubs in the area housed a thriving live music scene, notably the The Sandringham in King Street.[citation needed] One of the best-known Australian bands to emerge from this scene was the Whitlams, who held down a formative residency at "The Sando" for several years. Musician John Kennedy wrote a tribute to the area in the mid-1980s. His single "On King St I'm A King" namechecked familiar Newtown landmarks and local figures of the time, including "The Wire Man" (a local eccentric who collected wire and wire coathangers), Maurice's Lebanese restaurant, and the Coles New World supermarket, which occupied the site of the current Dendy Cinema.[citation needed]

Throughout the 1990s it was particularly known as a centre for indie rock, with the suburb home to many musicians and several live venues. In the late nineties it boasted a handful of popular venues: Goldmans / Newtown RSL, The Globe, Feedback and The Sandringham, all of which had closed by the late 1990s. Afer its takeover by Petersham RSL Club, the former Newtown RSL reopened as a music venue under the name of @Newtown, although live concerts ceased in 2006.

In recent years, the suburb has enjoyed a renaissance with the return of live music to The Sandringham (dubbed by regulars as "The Sando") after the pub's upper floor was rebuilt as a performance room, and small ensembles and bands still perform in the front bar. Popular 'Sando' residencies have included the duo of Dave Tice (ex-Buffalo) and Mark Evans (ex AC/DC), and cult singer-songwriter-keyboardist Louis Tillett.[citation needed] Another recent addition to Newtown's live music scene is the small live venue The Vanguard at the north end of King Street, and the continuing popularity of the lyric-sized Enmore Theatre.


The New Theatre


Cafe at the Newtown Performing Arts School


The Newtown Festival in 2004


Newtown and its surrounding areas have the highest concentration of independent theatres and live performance spaces in Sydney.[citation needed] Theatres include:

  • New Theatre, formed in 1932 and is Australia's oldest continuously performing theatre.[33]
  • Newtown Theatre, on the corner of King and Bray Streets, Newtown South
  • Enmore Theatre on Enmore Road (actually in the suburb of Enmore)
  • the Newtown High School of the Performing Arts

In the 1970s and 1980s many theatres, cinemas and music venues in the Sydney CBD closed,[citation needed] and some of the best-known, including the Regent Theatre and Her Majesty's Theatre were demolished. Due to the lack of "lyric" sized venues, the Enmore Theatre in Enmore Road has become one of the busiest medium-sized concert venues in Sydney.


Newtown hosts a number of annual festivals.

The Newtown Festival is a community festival of free live music, events, workshops, and stalls which has been held annually since 1981. Held in Camperdown Memorial Park adjacent to St. Stephen's Church. The purpose of the Festival is to raise funds for the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre, an association which provides services to the aged, people with disabilities, people from non-English speaking backgrounds and people on low incomes. Controversially, in 2006 for the first time the festival was held within a fenced confine.[citation needed]

Feastability, Newtown's Food and Wine Festival, showcases the eclectic international cuisines of the Newtown Precinct along with Australian wine, local pubs and brewers, bakers and confectioners. The festival, which is held on the last Sunday of each September, started in the mid 1990s as 6 stalls outside the legendary Hub and has grown to become a major event of the inner west. It now takes place in the grounds of Newtown School of Performing Arts, has over 40 stalls and features all-day entertainment from musicians and artists as well as kids activities. The festival is organised by Marrickville Council.

Under the Blue Moon Festival is an alternative community festival held in September. The event has a variety of entertainment; live music, discussions, street performances, fashion shows and other subculture presentations, especially those of the Goth community. Local business and special interest groups provide a diverse variety of entertainment, including a local alternative hairdresser and even the local mortuary with a display of coffins.[34]


Main article: Newtown Jets

Newtown Rugby League Club—the "Newtown Jets"—is Australia's oldest existing rugby league club, formed in 1908.[35] They currently compete in the NSWRL Premier League competition, a tier below the NRL's national premiership, and enjoy strong support in the local area and good crowds at their home ground of Henson Park, Marrickville.

Film and television

In the late 1960s, ground-breaking Australian TV drama series You Can't See Round Corners, starred Rowena Wallace and Ken Shorter as a draft dodger hiding out in Newtown.[citation needed]

In the mid-1980s, the well-known service station on King Street (built in the Spanish Mission style) was used as a location for scenes in the Ray Lawrence film Bliss, which was based on the novel by Peter Carey. In the film, the service station was used as the childhood home of Harry Joy's wife Bettina, played by Lynette Curran.

Garage Days directed by Alex Proyas, depicts a fictional indie rock band based in Newtown, and Erskineville Kings, starring Hugh Jackman, features extensive use of locations in Newtown and Erskineville.

The ABC television drama, Love Is A Four Letter Word, starring musician-actor Peter Fenton and featuring live bands each episode, included extensive location shooting at the Courthouse Hotel in Australia Street.

St Stephen's Church and Camperdown Cemetery have regularly been used as sites for filming movies, TV and videos, notably in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

Graffiti and street art


The Dr. King Mural, King St, Newtown

Main article: Newtown area graffiti and street art

The Newtown area is also known for its creative graffiti and "street art". The most prominent of these works are the large murals created in the late 1980s and early 1990s, which were painted on the walls of houses and shops in the Newtown-Erskineville area. Graffiti of all kinds can be found throughout the area and spray-painted "tags" have proliferated all over the area in recent years, although more recently the style of tagging has become far more elaborate than the simple spray-can signatures that litter walls throughout the district.

Examples include a mural of American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. on King St (painted by Andrew Aiken (Seems)and Juilee Pryor) ., the "Great Wave" mural in Gowrie Street, the "Three Proud People" mural (a reproduction of the famous photo taken at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics), and the "map of Africa" mural in King St.

Gay and lesbian culture

Newtown (and Erskineville) are also home to the other half of Sydney’s large gay and lesbian population.[citation needed] The gay and lesbian community also extends into neighbouring Glebe, Leichhardt, Annandale, Marrickville, Enmore and Dulwich Hill. Newtown is home to one of Sydney’s well-established gay and lesbian pubs the Newtown Hotel (which closed its doors in 2007). Also located nearby is the gay and lesbian Imperial Hotel at Erskineville, the famous drag show pub featured in the movie Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. (The Imperial is currently closed for renovation and due to re-open in November 2008). Located in Newtown is the Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service which provides free telephone counselling for gays and lesbians living in NSW, well as Twenty 10 a support organisation for young gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, same-sex attracted and gender-questioning people who are under 26 and having problems at home or have recently become homeless

Churches in the 1980s and 1990s

During the 1980s and 90s the churches of Newtown played an increasingly large role in the life of the community. This renewal of activity is particularly the case with the Anglican Church of St Stephen's. In the 1970s the congregation was so reduced that the church building was little used, the small group preferring the warmth and dryness of the rectory.[36] Because of the magnificence of the building itself, there was even a proposal that it should be demolished and re-erected in Canberra as the national cathedral. This idea, fortunately, never eventuated, and two successive priests of the parish succeeded in a drawing a new congregation to the church. The demographic of this congregation was unusual. A survey conducted within the church in about 1990 indicated that of the 80 adult members, the majority were professionals, and that they were drawn from all over Sydney, coming from as far away as Scotland Island on Pittwater. The reasons were in part that the majority of the congregation at that time championed the cause of Women's Ordination and was not biased against either divorcees or homosexuals within the church community.[37]

During the last two decades of the 20th century, the United Church on King Street, conveniently placed at the centre of the commercial district, and, as Newtown Mission, established a successful soup kitchen and, demolishing the decaying front fence, served tea and coffee at street-side tables on Saturday mornings.

St. Josephs Roman Catholic Church became the centre of the Ecumenical Movement, establishing close links with the Anglican and Newtown Mission churches, and joining with them for Pascal Luncheons of roast lamb on the spit followed by Simnel Cake in Camperdown Cemetery. The combined churches Carol Services were widlely advertised and attended by hundreds of local families.[38]

St Stephens Anglican Church was to play a special role in the community, taking an active involvement in events such as the Newtown Festival, where it hosted concerts.[39] Its setting in the secluded wooded space of Camperdown Cemetery created a unique inner-city environment, due to the fact that the community felt a strong ownership of the space itself, and using it for meditation, dog-walking, study, picnics and romantic interludes. From 1980, when it underwent repairs, the carillon became the voice of Newtown, celebrating events such as the America's Cup victory and Cathy Freeman's Olympic Gold Medal with peels and the anthem, and tolling the Nine Taylors in mourning of the passing of well-known Australians.

Among the major events held at St Stephens during that period were the Margret Roadknight concert c.1980, the spectacular Kite Festival to raise funds for the organ c. 1980, the Musica Viva series with Christopher Hogwood conducting the Brandeburg Concerti in 1983, the Service to Celebrate the Ordination of the first women in Australia, 1993, and the almost legendary funeral of Alison Gooch, a popular local restaurant owner in the '90s.[40]



In the 2001 Australian Bureau of Statistics Census of Population and Housing, the population of the Newtown postcode area was 15,027 people, in an area of 1.9 square kilometres. The population was 49% females, 51% males. 33% of the population was born overseas. The eight strongest religious affiliations in the area were in descending order: No religion, Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox Christian, Buddhism, Uniting Church, Presbyterian and Reformed, and other Christian. The 3 most common forms of dwelling were in decreasing order: a semi-detached, row or terrace house, or townhouse; a flat, unit or apartment; a separate house.


Notable residents

  • Mary Reibey (1777-1855), pioneering entrepreneur who graces the $20 note
  • Thomas Browne (1826-1915), author of seventeen novels including the classic Robbery Under Arms, under the pseudonym Rolf Boldrewood
  • John Villiers Farrow (1904-1963), Academy Award winning Australian film director and father of actresses Mia Farrow and Prudence Farrow
  • Murray Cook, member of Australian children's group The Wiggles
  • Ignatius Jones, entertainer and former lead singer of 80s rock band Jimmy And The Boys
  • Paul Mac, DJ and music producer
  • Enda Markey, popular singer/actor/cabaret star
  • Dale Mills, human rights activist and journalist
  • Dawn O'Donnell
  • Adam Spencer, mathematician, science broadcaster and radio and TV personality
  • Frenzal Rhomb, band originating in Newtown
  • The Whitlams, pop band
  • Youth Group, pop rock band mostly known for their hit remake of "Forever Young"
File:Newtown King Street shops.JPG

King Street shops - the Palmer Buildings on King St north, featuring the recently restored verandah

File:Newtown King Street.jpg

King Street - Wilson Street intersection


Like most of central and inner-city Sydney, Newtown is one of the traditional 'heartlands' of support for the Australian Labor Party. As a result, while Newtown and other areas were within the City Council boundary, the ALP was able to control Council for several decades.[citation needed]


Newtown is in both the Marrickville Council and City of Sydney local government areas.

The Liberal Party state government of Robert Askin, which came to power in 1966, was keen to see Labor's control eliminated, so in 1967 Askin abolished Sydney City Council, installed a tribunal of administrators, and undertook a controversial redistribution of the city's boundaries, which saw much of the former ward of Newtown re-allocated to the neighbouring municipalies of South Sydney and Marrickville—thus moving a significant portion of the Labor-voting population out of the Sydney City Council electoral area.[citation needed]


Newtown is predominantly in the State Electoral District of Marrickville, which was represented by the then Deputy Premier Andrew Refshauge until his resignation on August 10, 2005. The resulting by-election, held on September 17, 2005 was won by Carmel Tebbutt.


For Federal elections, Newtown lies partly in the electorate of Grayndler, currently represented by Anthony Albanese of the ALP, and partly in the electorate of Sydney, currently represented by Tanya Plibersek, also of the ALP.

Both of these electorates saw strong Green votes in the 2001 election, and it was expected that the Green candidates, rather than the Liberal Party, would provide the main opposition to the ALP in the 2004 election, although the Liberals ultimately did narrowly retain their lead over the Greens in these electorates.

See also

  • Trams in Sydney (historical)



  1. Gregory's Sydney Street Directory, Gregory's Publishing Company, 2007
  2. This much-altered building, extended into a convent and now a Healing Centre for the Anglican Church has retained several comparatively rare (in Australia) features of the early 19th century.
  3. Australia St Archive
  4. When the names were transcribed from the records onto the monument, there was an error in deciphering the flowing hand in which many of the original burial dockets were written. It is now known that the fourth name was not Wandelina Cabrorigirel, but Mandelina (Aboriginal).ref. Camperdown Cemetery Burial Dockets, Anglican Archives.
  5. City of Sydney: Aboriginal People & Place
  6. Time-line of the Newtown Municipal Area
  7. Paul Bourke, William and Martha Bucknell, Sydney Archives
  8. Matt Murphy, The Newtown Ejectment Case, Sydney Archives [1].
  9. Chrys Meader Beyond the Boundary Stone, Marrickville Council Library Service, 1997
  10. Camperdown Cemetery Burial Dockets, Anglican Archives
  11. CCT Burial Dockets
  12. Chrys Meader
  13. Tamsyn Taylor, "St. Stephen's Newtown", in Heritage - Journal of the Marrickville Historical Society
  14. The Book of Sydney Suburbs, Compiled by Frances Pollen, Angus & Robertson Publishers, 1990, Published in Australia ISBN 0-207-14495-8
  15. One such a row is in Hordern St. between Victoria and Prospect Sts.
  16. Pelosi, Janet: The Municipality Of Newtown 1892-1922: A Social Sketch, Chapter 1
  17. Pelosi, op.cit., Introduction
  18. School
  19. page 10
  20. City of Sydney: Aboriginal People & Place
  21. Watkin Tench; A Narrative of the Expedition to Botany Bay
  22. Marrickville Council Development and Control Plan 34
  23. Ninemsn,Your Restaurants lists 81 restaurants. August 2007
  24. NSW State Budget, Infrastructure Statement 2007-08
  25. The Newtown Project Home Page
  26. NLA Redirect Service
  27. Janette Beard, 1983; The Municipality of Newtown 1892-1922: A Social Sketch (Honours thesis) Sydney Archives
  28. Austrakia St Archgive - Hub Theatre
  29. City of Sydney Archives
  30. City of Sydney Library History
  31. Archive - Camperdown
  32. The Heritage of Australia, Macmillan Company, 1981
  33. History of the New Theatre
  34. Under The Blue Moon Festival website
  35. Newtown Jets
  36. Service Register, St. Stephen's Newtown, 1970s
  37. Colin Fong, "Demographic Survey of Congegation of St. Stephen's Church, Newtown".
  38. Service Register of St. Stephen's Anglican Church Newtown.
  39. See minutes of St. Stephen's Parish Council for relevant years.
  40. Service Register of St. Stephen's Anglican Church, Newtown.

External links

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