Camellia, in Sydney's west, is one of the most industrial and polluted suburbs in Australia. Picture: Google Maps.
Camellia, in Sydney's west, is one of the most industrial and polluted suburbs in Australia. Picture: Google Maps.

Suburb so grim it needs to be renamed

On the upper reaches of Sydney Harbour, there's a suburb with tree-fringed riverside views within walking distance of one of Australia's largest business and retail districts, while historic buildings are a stone's throw away.

Half an hour from Sydney's CBD and soon to have a fancy new tram rolling through it, Camellia might sound flowery but in the past it's smelled a different kind of pungent.

Planning big wigs are keen on it becoming a new home hotspot, but they fear the neighbourhood has such a grim and filthy past that the only way to persuade anyone to move in will be to to rename it.

"There's nothing nice about it," one said of its current state.

It's one of a series of demands from the Greater Sydney Commission, which launched its strategy for the so-called "central city" today, an area of 1.5 million people that surrounds Parramatta in western Sydney.

The independent NSW agency, which looks at land use in the city, also said $5 billion should be ploughed into a new Metro line from the CBD to Parramatta.
It also wants planning to begin on a north-south rail line and for broadcaster SBS to move its headquarters to the area.

Speaking to news.com.au, the Commission's chairman Christopher Brown said it was stating the "bleeding obvious" that SBS should up sticks from its current home in the ritzy north shore to one of the most multicultural parts of Sydney.

Mr Brown also said it was a "mistake" that the proposed Epping to Parramatta rail line had never made it off the drawing board.

 

Camellia, in Sydney's west, is ideally situated close to Parramatta and lots of transport. Picture: Google Maps.
Camellia, in Sydney's west, is ideally situated close to Parramatta and lots of transport. Picture: Google Maps.

 

Mr Brown said a "city deal" should be created for the Parramatta and Sydney Olympic Park precinct, similar to one already in place for the area around the new Western Sydney Airport.

Based on a similar concept in Britain, it brings a swath of government bodies and other stakeholders together.

"It would allow for the Federal Government to invest in the big Metro West train line that's needed and it could make Westmead one of the world's best biomedical hubs.

"A city deal overcomes the stupidity when different levels of government don't work together, and it can fast track jobs, investment and infrastructure," he said.

Come for the cheap prices, stay for the post industrial landscape. Picture: Wikimedia/Saberwyn.
Come for the cheap prices, stay for the post industrial landscape. Picture: Wikimedia/Saberwyn.

NOTHING NICE ABOUT CAMELLIA

The Commission has predicted the central city's population will grow to 2.1 million by 2036, and those extra 600,000 people - about the population of the Gold Coast - will have to go somewhere.

However, there are concerns few will want to live to Camellia, a suburb on the southern shore of the Parramatta River, unless something drastic changes.

That's despite it lying next to the iconic Rosehill Racecourse, just done the road from the historic Elizabeth and Experiment farms and boasting its own railway station. The future Parramatta light rail will swing through the suburb on its way between Westmead and Carlingford.

But Mr Brown said while it might be named after a flower, no one will move in due to it's distinctly stinky stigma of the suburb's heavy industrial and polluted past.

"There's the old Shell oil refinery, the old James Hardie's asbestos factory. There's nothing nice about it," he told news.com.au.

"But Camellia is also on the edge of the Parramatta CBD and is next to Rosehill Gardens Racecourse where people have been backing a winner for 100 years."

The Commission has suggested splitting Camellia in two. The eastern portion, where the pollution and stains from the Clyde Oil Refinery which closed in 2012 still linger, would remain industrial. Indeed, a major fuel terminal operates to this day as well as a waste transfer and recycling plant.

However, over time, it would transition into a "green tech" park.

"As fuel markets and waste management evolve over time, it would transform from the most degraded part of Sydney into a home for eco-fuel and sustainable energy research and production," the report said.

The western portion of Camellia would become "an ambitious mixed use riverfront precinct" with scores of housing. To sweeten the pill of moving to a former industrial area, this section would be renamed "Rosehill Gardens" after the racecourse.

Why not, said Mr Brown said? After all, it's happened before.

"Look what we've done in turning around Homebush, which includes Sydney Olympic Park. That was an abattoir and an armaments factory with an industrial riverbank that has now been remediated and populated.

"The same happened at Rhodes, Camellia is the last part."

 

Welcome to sunny Camellia, one of Sydney’s least loved suburbs. Picture: Google Maps.
Welcome to sunny Camellia, one of Sydney’s least loved suburbs. Picture: Google Maps.

As well as the multi-billion Metro West line, that is proposed to connect the city to Parramatta via Sydney Olympic Park, Mr Brown said planning should start on a north-south rail link that would connect Kogarah in the St George region with the Hills District via Parramatta.

"All of Sydney is beset by a lack of north south connections, we've had 200 years of everything being centred on Martin Place (in the Sydney CBD) and that can't go on."

An underground rail link between Parramatta and Epping, the route of which a new line would closely follow, has been planned for, announced, scrapped and re-announced many times up to around 2012.

"The Epping to Parramatta line should have happened and we need to fix that mistake now."

Once an abattoir, Sydney Olympic Park is now thriving.
Once an abattoir, Sydney Olympic Park is now thriving.

MOVE SBS

Mr Brown also called on SBS to move from its current home in Artarmon on Sydney's north shore to the central city area where 70 per cent of residents were either born overseas themselves or their parents were.

"You can't have the national multicultural broadcaster in one of the most monoculture suburbs in Australia.

"Moving SBS to the middle of multicultural Sydney is bleeding obvious. Artarmon doesn't need SBS - Bankstown does."

 

OK, it’s hardly Central station but Camellia station is a thing. Picture: AAP Image/Carmela Roche.
OK, it’s hardly Central station but Camellia station is a thing. Picture: AAP Image/Carmela Roche.
The plan is to name part of the suburbs after the iconic Rosehill Gardens Racecourse close by. Picture: AAP Image/Simon Bullard.
The plan is to name part of the suburbs after the iconic Rosehill Gardens Racecourse close by. Picture: AAP Image/Simon Bullard.

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