Named after Randwick in
Gloucestershire, England, Randwick, NSW, is just 6 kilometers southeast of
Sydney’s CBD. The area was heavily populated by Aboriginal people at the time
of the First Fleet’s arrival. An estimated 1,500 people who were part of the
Eora nation were believed to have lived in the area between Botany Bay and
Broken Bay. Starvation and smallpox wiped out many of the Indigenous people,
and the few who remained were largely driven out of their ancestral homes by
the newcomers. Many were placed on reserves.
European settlement in this new land was initially sparse. Swamps and poor soil
made farming difficult for the new arrivals. Simeon and James Pearce, who
migrated to the Randwick area in 1842, began to develop the area more
extensively. Simeon built a home, Blenheim, which still stands today. It was
not until 1859, however, that the municipality of Randwick was officially
established. The population gradually expanded until 1900, and by 1911, there
were 18,000 people living in Randwick. The population continued to boom over
the next decade.
The area has many buildings of historic interest, including Ventor House, which
is owned by Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Church and was designed by Edmund
Blacket, who also designed the University of Sydney, and is currently listed on
the Register of the National Estate. The nearby Randwick Town Hall was built in
1886. Also on the Register of the National Estate is the Prince of Wales
Hospital, which was once a children’s hospital. After a stint as a military
hospital, it later opened as a public medical facility. Randwick features
beautiful examples of Victorian Gothic architecture with elaborate details,
colourful stained glass and rich mahogany and cedar features inside. Many of
its homes have been restored and are listed on the National Registry.
The cultural heritage of Randwick is equally rich. Poet Henry Kendall and
impressionist painters Arthur Streeton, Charles Condor and Tom Roberts all
found inspiration here. In fact, the painters have been immortalized in “The
Impressionists’ Seat” sculpture created by Eileen Slarke in 2009. The arts
community continues to thrive today and includes sculptors, writers, painters,
musicians, performers, actors and film makers.
Today, visitors to Randwick can explore its beautiful beaches, ocean pools,
playground, bike trails and picturesque parks. Its Aquatic Centre features a
heated Olympic pool, training pool, competition pool, wading pool and toddler
pool as well as barbecue facilities, café, lawns and kiosk. The coastal walk
provides incredible views of Randwick’s coastline and provides access to some
of its most attractive beaches, including Clovelly Beach and Maroubra Beach,
and meanders past the lovely Gordon’s Bay, Grant Reserve and Trennery Reserve.
Apart from the sights, the Coastal Walk also features interpretive signs to
teach visitors about the historical and environmental significance of the area.
Botany Bay National Park is also located here. Botany Bay National Park
stretches across the coastline and includes magnificent bushwalks, beaches,
forts, monuments, historic buildings, beaches, picnic facilities, colourful
sandstone cliffs and conservation areas. Visitors can also learn about the
story of Comte de La Perouse, who first landed at Botany Bay just days after
the first fleet arrived, at the La Perouse Museum.