Reminiscing about Strathfield: tell us your interesting stories from the past.

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User offline. Last seen 5 years 35 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 31/05/2010

It's been 125 years in the making, and Strathfield has seen a lot of water under the bridge in that time.  (See our article: The sweet smell of success)

We want to hear your stories about Strathfield's history, as far back as you can go. Do you have funny memories of the Arnotts factory? Perhaps your parents had a mansion, 10 kids and a servants quarters? What were some of the critical moments in Strathfield's development as the diverse, multicultural centre it now is?

User offline. Last seen 5 years 37 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 26/06/2010

I was born in Ashfield and came here to Strathfield when I was 13 years old. It was very different back then. When I first moved here I started doing domestic work and then I started making shoes and boots. I remember the migrants from Poland and France moving to Strathfield after the war, but we didn’t call them migrants back then – we called them new Australians. I remember feeling so sorry for them. They went through so much during the war, but we would tell them to try and think of happy memories. The sad memories were too much to bear. I would teach them how to make the shoes and they were very good people … I remember one day this young man was being chased through the streets of Strathfield by the police. He thought he was in trouble, so he ran. When they eventually caught him, it turned out they were trying to reunite him with his family. He has been separated from his family, but couldn’t speak English so he didn’t understand why they were chasing him. Strathfield is not the same as it used to be but it’s still my favourite suburb. I still like it.

User offline. Last seen 5 years 37 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 26/06/2010

Strathfield has changed dramatically from the 1940s when I first came to live here – in those days, we spoke of ‘going down to the village’ to do our shopping. I remember well Dash’s Pharmacy, Dunlop’s Haberdashery and the wonderful aroma of walking past The Treasure Island Chocolate Shop in The Boulevard where the chocolates were made on the premises. However, I find Strathfield today an exciting place to be with it’s multicultural flavour and I also think that while some of the houses are too big for the land, the development has completely revitalised the area.

"Lost in a foreign land (not verified)

For as long as I can remember, Strathfield has always had different cultures present. They all co-existed and complemented each other, which made this a wonderful place to live.

But now, (and I in no way am a racist), I feel sad when I walk through the streets and shops of Strathfield. I feel that I am in a foreign land, with shop signs in Asian languages, cafes, boutiques, etc all Asian. The hairdressers's which I knew for years are long gone, replaced by Asian hairdressers. The sound of voices in the air are not as they used to be, they are a buzz of a foreign language.
Where are at least some of the people I used to know and just recognise as being either an Aussie or other European. I am not attacking the Asian people, I have had some good friends, who are Asian. That is not the problem. The problem is, that unlike other cultures, they don't seem to assimilate, but stay within their own culture and groups. There are so many of them here now, that those of us who lived here for many many years and are not Asian, are totally lost, as small dots, hard to spot in a sea of Asian faces.

I ask of the Council, - don't you think that the signs above shops, etc, should at least be in English first, then in the Asian language. Not as it is now, most times only in the Asian language?

We used to enjoy the "multicultural society" we had and welcomed it. But now, the society is no longer multicultural, it is just of one culture, Asian.

jpro's picture
User offline. Last seen 4 years 18 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 02/11/2011

 We lived on the mid North Shore close to the railway line. Back in the  50,s we saw and heard many steam trains go past. The electric trains were the old red rattlers.

They made so much noise, compared to these new high tech trains we have now to ride on. At a very early age I fell in love with the steam trains and I was always bugging people to take me out to Strathfield for hours and hours to watch them up close. Now and then I got lucky enough to get a lift up into the engine. I will never forget the thrill. Strathfield then as it still is now, is the major hub for changing trains to almost everywhere except the south coast. It is a hive of activety with so many nationalities happily using the good public transport system now. Smiles everywhere.

A short bus trip from South Strathfield where I live, to the station, and again I am in a train going somewhere. I never thought I would move into this area. Now I am here, I feel like it is truly home. I am much older now. 

The friendship with so many from all over the world is a huge plus.

Sure, there are problems that do need fixing, but I am sure that together as a team, we will win in the end.

Lets make Strathfield and the whole region a show-piece for the whole planet in difficult times?


It is a pleasure to be back home.



John (not verified)

*** HOMEBUSH TALKS - participants wanted ***

Contact: John Byrnes,

Please attend - please in advance suggest topics.

Topics to date are listed below:

12:00 noon, 18 August 2012

An afternoon of talks to be held at Homebush.

The first "Homebush Talks" is being designed to attract speakers on any topic whatsoever connected with Homebush.

LIST OF TALKS ( Liz's is confirmed, others still subject to amendment)

* "Homebush from an Underwood Perspective" - by Liz Parkinson

* "Liberty Plains and the first Free Settlers" - by David Patrick and John Byrnes.

* "The Powell family" [tentative title only] - by Barry Hishion.

* Ways of researching/finding local history -

* Ways to encourage awareness and preservation of local history and heritage -

* Aboriginal history - John Byrnes

* Coming of the railway line -

* How the railway line dragged the name "Homebush" southwards (and other similar cases) - by John Byrnes

* "The so-called 'Convict Causeway' of Homebush Bay - by David Patrick

* "The hotels and inns of Homebush" - by David Patrick

* "Geology ... and search for dykes, etc." - John Byrnes

* "The Homebush Racecourse" - by David Patrick

* "The Powell deaths at the Half Way House" - by David Patrick and John Byrnes.

* "The search for Powell's grave" - by David Patrick and John Byrnes.

* "Hawkesbury-Homebush connections" - by John Byrnes

* "Where was Black Caesar shot, and where was he buried (near Rose's hut)? - by John Byrnes

About the Speakers

(Yet to be added ... )

Talk summaries

(Only one is available yet but by time of the Talks it is hoped that all will have summaries.)

"The Homebush Racecourse"

The Homebush Racecourse was (in modern place terms) actually opposite Flemington and extending down to the Bicentennial Park.

It was not as far east as Ismay Avenue as some have thought (which was never Wentworth land).

The course wasn’t actually at Flemington, yet it WAS over the road from it - backing up onto where the Wentworth Hotel later was (even the Wentworth Hotel did not exist at that time. Homebush Racecourse was a mile and a quarter round. The first layout between Saleyards Creek and Boundary Creek was on an undulating hillside. In 1866 the track moved, overlapping the first, with Boundary Creek right through the centre of the course. What resulted can only be described as the most daring engineering feat of any racecourse ever in Australia - massive earthwork viaducts were constructed (considered engineering marvels) to race over the top of swampy ground. The truth is astounding. It's the most unusual racecourse Australia has ever seen.

Racing in Colonial days was different to now. Nowdays racecourses are tended to by permanent greenkeeping staff to ensure the tracks are in pristine condition for regular races. Back in the days of Homebush, Races were periodical. perhaps twice a year (mainly Easter) however those events lasted 3 days at each event. Such set the scene for race events to be looked forward to and a 3 day carnival. I guess likened a bit now to the huge crowds that attend the Easter Show.

The inaugural race at Homebush in 1841 saw crowds of 8,000. That was huge considering the population of the day. In the mid 1860’s the revised Homebush Course saw crowds in excess of 12000 when Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh (son of Queen Victoria), attended all three days. One account of races at Homebush (after the rail opened in 1855) puts 4,000 train tickets sold, and that was not counting those who made their way to the course in the traditional way by coaches, horses and dandy phaetons along Parramatta Road. Shops in Sydney would close. Everyone attended the Races at Homebush. Such was the spell, that Sydney would STOP for these three day events. Try to buy a loaf of bread when the Homebush Races were on and you’d run into difficulty. Such was the magic of the Homebush Races as everyone shut shop to attend.

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