Suburb Spotlight: Redfern

Of all Sydney’s inner-city suburbs, Redfern has changed the most in recent years. We take a look at why Redfern is still a suburb to watch.

Sydney’s suburb of Redfern has undergone a complete transformation in recent years. Once seen as an industrial inner-city area, it’s now an urban paradise, coveted by owners, renters and investors.

In fact, Redfern now defines everything that’s good about Sydney’s inner eastern suburbs. With a rich indigenous cultural heritage, it’s also full of cafes and restaurants and has a great range of heritage terrace houses mixed with modern apartments. And its proximity to transport and the CBD is simply unbeatable.

We look at what’s changed in Redfern and why it’s become so popular.

The name

Redfern was named after William Redfern in 1817. He was a surgeon and convict, who had been granted 100 acres of land in the area by Governor Lachlan Macquarie in 1811.

Dr William Redfern
Dr William Redfern - Photo from Wikipedia

William Redfern had been transported to New South Wales in 1801 for his role in the Mutiny on the Nore. When he arrived in the colony, Redfern was given a partial pardon to work as a surgeon on Norfolk Island. Later, he moved back to Sydney and worked as assistant surgeon for the new Sydney Hospital, then as a private physician. He advocated for smallpox vaccines and was credited with improving conditions on ships to Australia.

A snapshot of Redfern’s history

From the mid-1800s, Redfern was home to market gardens, meatworks, industry and factories. By 1945, Redfern was home to 158 factories but it’s the railways that really defined the suburb. A plentiful supply of local work meant Redfern was home to recent immigrants from regional Australia and around the world.

Originally, Redfern was Gadigal land and part of the Eora nation, and the area has played a very significant role in Aboriginal history since colonisation. It’s always been home to many Indigenous Australians as well as landmarks such as The Block, which is currently being reshaped by the Pemulwuy Project.

Aboriginal mural at The Block
Aboriginal mural at The Block - Photo from Wikipedia

Redfern was the site of the first Aboriginal-run health, legal and children’s services. The suburb also played a big role in the reconciliation movement as evidenced by the many political and community murals still present on walls around the suburb, including the recently restored ‘40,000 years’ mural outside Redfern Station, originally painted in 1983.

In 1992 in nearby Redfern Park, Prime Minister Paul Keating made his now-famous ‘Redfern Speech’, which acknowledged the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia.

Population snapshot: Who lives here?

At the time of the 2016 Census, Redfern had 13,213 residents. Of these, 54% were male and 46% were female. The median age was 35.

Property market in focus:

Redfern’s increasing popularity with buyers is reflected in its steadily rising property prices. In 2011, you could buy a house in Redfern for a median price of $805,000 or a unit for a median price of $540,000. As of August 2020, the median house price in the suburb had almost doubled to $1.45 million and the median unit price had reached $925,000, according to realestate.com.au.

As of mid-2020, houses in Redfern rent out for $800 a week and units rent for $600 a week. The vacancy rate is 3.78% and around 60% of properties are rented, double the state or national average.

Five reasons the locals love Redfern

1. The location

If you’re after inner-city living, Redfern’s location is unbeatable. Just 3km south of the CBD it’s sandwiched between Surry Hills, Chippendale, Darlington, Waterloo and Moore Park. Its central location means you can walk many places. But if you need transport, Redfern Station is one stop from Central, and every single Sydney train passes through. Best of all, despite its central location, Redfern retains a village feel.

2. The housing

Redfern has a wide range of architecture: from gorgeous Victorian terraces that rival the best Paddington has to offer, through to amazing industrial warehouse conversions and modern designer apartments.

In previous decades buyers would take advantage of the lower property prices in Redfern compared to the rest of the Eastern Suburbs, often choosing to get a foot on the property ladder before moving on. This is no longer the case, as Redfern has become a hugely popular suburb in its own right, with prices to match.

In recent years, we’ve seen investors drawn to the area and owner-occupiers actively targeting high end property in Redfern. Locals love it here and are keen to stay long term.

3. The culture

Redfern attracts people from diverse cultural backgrounds. Every year in Victoria Park, the Yabun Festival celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures on 26 January.

Redfern’s creative and arts culture is also strong. The iconic Belvoir Street Theatre is just across the road and Carriageworks, in the old rail sheds at Eveleigh, is right next door. Redfern is also home to multiple art galleries, performance and dance spaces, and an innovative outreach writing program for students called Story Factory.

Redfern also has a fast-growing, funky food culture, with pubs, cafes, bakeries, restaurants and bars drawing diners from all over Sydney. Popular haunts include Kepos Street Kitchen, Breadfern, Henry Lee’s and Ron’s Upstairs.

4. The village vibe

Locals love Redfern for its village atmosphere. In fact, ‘Redfern Street’ is one of 10 village precincts in the City of Sydney’s ‘City of Villages’. City of Sydney Council actively wants to maintain the unique qualities of Redfern and the surrounding suburbs, while providing an appealing urban environment and great leisure, recreation and community facilities.

In the Council’s words, the Redfern Street village “is one of Sydney’s most culturally, ethnically and economically diverse communities, heavily influenced by creative and small businesses”. And, while urban renewal is changing the area, it’s still home to an eclectic group of residents including many students from the nearby University of Sydney, public housing tenants, a long-standing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population and an increasing number of city professionals.

5. A strong community

Redfern is known for its strong community spirit. Landmarks such as the heritage listed Redfern Town Hall, the Redfern Community Centre, the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence, the South Sydney PCYC and Redfern Park and Oval (home to the beloved South Sydney Rabbitohs) are focal points for the suburb and its community life.

Current listings

56 Great Buckingham Street

If Redfern is on your watch list, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team today.

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