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Camperdown Travel Guide

Camperdown: History, location and things to do

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Just 4 kilometres southwest of Sydney's CBD is the small inner-city suburb of Camperdown. Crisscrossed with dedicated cycle ways and pedestrian walkways, Camperdown is a quiet, studious suburb with a relaxed feel. Visitors to Camperdown today can stroll or bike through the suburb, explore indie clothing label stores, pop in to decorative art stores or check out the variety of thrift stores and secondhand clothing stores.

Camperdown was originally owned by Governor William Bligh, who had named his estate as a result of his participation in the Dutch Battle of Kamperduin a decade earlier. This was a definitive battle in the French Revolutionary Wars between the British and Napoleon's Dutch allies. During the battle, the British succeeded in capturing nearly a dozen Dutch ships without suffering any significant losses of their own.

Ordered by his superiors to clean up widespread corruption in the newly formed colony, Governor Bligh proceeded to make numerous changes in Sydney in order to improve Sydney and ensure the colony's success. He developed a model farm on the Hawkesbury to promote more efficient farming methods, and he provided flood relief for the farmers. He destroyed illicit stills, legislated the purchase of alcohol and severely restricted the practice of bartering for alcohol. This triggered Australia's only armed military takeover in history: the Rum Rebellion. Camperdown was put up for auction several months later.

Main Quadrangle in the University of Sydney.JPG
"Main Quadrangle in the University of Sydney" by Jason Tong - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The estate became a largely residential area and was primarily rural, but it developed over time. The University of Sydney and the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital were built in the 1800s. The Royal Prince Alfred Hospital was a small 146-bed hospital originally, but, like Camperdown, grew to meet the needs of the surrounding community. Today, it is one of the largest teaching facilities in the state and remains at the cutting edge of medical research. Sydney University is the home of such distinguished institutions as the Conservatorium of Music and the Sydney Faculty of the Arts.

Camperdown is a densely populated, richly multicultural suburb. It attracts medical staff and international students to its picturesque cottages and rehabilitated industrial-style housing blocks. The area is a brilliant study in contrasts with historic churches standing next to townhouses and architectural art nestled against sterile apartment blocks. The stained glass windows of the University of Sydney in particular attract numerous visitors today. These windows feature the various English kings and queens who have reigned since the Norman Conquest as well as the founders of Cambridge and Oxford.

Camperdown Royal Prince Alfred Hospital 2.JPG
"Camperdown Royal Prince Alfred Hospital 2" by J Bar - Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Nearby Victoria Park is a popular destination. Once pasture and farmlands for the early church and school officials of Camperdown, the park today is the site of the oldest post-war public swimming pool, which today features a playground and kiosk. Victoria Park hosts Sydney's annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Fair Day and has been the site of numerous theatrical performances and musical concerts. The Canadian Government gifted Victoria Park's Totem Pole in 1964 as a symbol of Canada's heritage.

Camperdown is home to a number of diverse restaurants. Whether you are in the mood for Chinese, Indian, Thai, sushi or barbecue, you can find it here.

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