The low­down on Syd­ney’s Chip­pen­dale

Australian Traveller - - Contents -

THE TRAIN PULLS IN to Syd­ney’s Cen­tral Sta­tion sur­rounded by a frame­work of steel and metal; the tracks below, the beams above and the web of ca­bles stretch­ing this way and that. It’s a sight that barely reg­is­ters with the av­er­age com­muter; it sim­ply blends in to the daily grind. But on this day, with my back fac­ing my des­ti­na­tion for once, the in­dus­trial sur­rounds fade into the back­ground as a calm­ing wall of green­ery pushes to the fore. De­fined by the largest en masse ver­ti­cal gar­dens in the world, which cover 1100 square me­tres and beau­ti­fully dress the build­ing’s ex­te­rior, Cen­tral Park is the mul­ti­pur­pose high-rise that stands proud in Syd­ney’s re­vived Chip­pen­dale precinct. The restora­tive sight is a fair metaphor for the re­gen­er­a­tion of Chip­pen­dale it­self; a re­vival that has trans­formed the small in­ner-city lo­cale from seedy waste­land to cre­ative epi­cen­tre. The Cen­tral Park de­vel­op­ment can take a bow for its role in the re­vival. So too can Nicky Gins­berg, who saw Chip­pen­dale’s po­ten­tial when she opened NG Art Gallery in 2006. “Back then Chip­pen­dale was a cul­tural desert,” Nicky re­calls. “You could hear a pin drop. Ev­ery­body thought I was mad choos­ing a lo­ca­tion like Chip­pen­dale.” Nicky is now pres­i­dent of the Chip­pen­dale Cre­ative Precinct, as well as cre­ative di­rec­tor of Kens­ing­ton Street, the sub­urb’s hall­mark strip. ‘Cre­ative precinct’ is a far cry from the sub­urb William Chip­pen­dale knew. Chip­pen­dale was a land holder in the area in the early 19th cen­tury. The sub­urb takes its name from the farmer who – side note – one night took to two petty crim­i­nals he found tres­pass­ing on his prop­erty with a dou­ble-bar­rel shot­gun, killing one. Colour­ful char­ac­ters are a trade­mark of the area’s shady past. Today’s char­ac­ters are colour­ful too, al­though less shabby and more chic. But to pi­geon­hole the crowd would be an er­ror; the di­ver­sity is part of the ap­peal. “Lo­cals, vis­i­tors, stu­dents, com­muters, busi­ness peo­ple and tourists all brush against each other here and the re­al­ness and open na­ture of the place in­stils a level of har­mony,” says Timo Bures, gen­eral man­ager of The Old Clare Ho­tel. That har­mony is em­pha­sised when you’re spoilt for choice. Here are a few tips on where to start.

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