Our Community Open Days on February 10 and 17 produced some incredible stories about the past and present in our local area. We'll be collecting more as our Home Project progresses, but we thought we'd include a few below to give you a taste. If you have a story about Redfern, Waterloo or the surrounding streets, please drop by and tell us, or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. "In Redfern Park one day I saw a tree that looked as if it were dying – the leaves were few and brown – and I thought it had been poisoned. NOT ONE GREEN LEAF WAS ON ANY BRANCH! Two weeks later I saw the tree again. I COULD NOT BELIEVE MY EYES!! THE TREE WAS FULL OF DEEP PINK BLOSSOMS – so very pretty, the tree had come to life. It looked as if it had put on a pink dress and was so proud to stand there and be photographed. I visited many times and took many photos.
Then one day most blooms had fallen down and lay around the tree trunk. It looked like a beautiful carpet so soft and pink…..but the branches were almost bare and new green buds were very slowly growing. Time passed and slowly the tree was covered in deep green leaves….my tree did not bloom again for 2 years. It is called the Illawarra Flame Tree." ANITA
"We live in a dodgy-ish black lane and all sorts of rubbish gets dumped there. Lots of old sofas and junk. But once an old piano appeared, and people walking by would stop to play it. One man in particular was an accomplished musician and made a beautiful tune, managing to dance over the broken keys. Eventually my old neighbour Tony decided it would need to be broken up as the garbos couldn’t lift it. So he took to it with an axe, in what looked like a gruesome and violent act. It was so dramatic, the keys droning in what would be their final brutal movements. And Tony is ordinarily a gentle fellow!" Kalita Corrigan
"It was the morning of the 16th of August 2011 myself and my partner Jessica (who is blind) woke up this morning and Jessica had gone into labour with our baby girl, by the time we were on the bus to Newton (RPA) her water had broken and it was a close call. The driver got us there in time all up it was 40 minutes from the time we woke and left home then we were greeted by a beautiful little girl named IONA." Philip Brereton
"The day that Mundara, our son, started to walk. He was mucking around out the front of home, then when we had to go inside for bath time he was that hypo that he started to climb up the stairs, the little bugger. The more I ran after him the faster and better he got, the sneaky little 19 month old. Plus, it didn’t help seeing that I am partly blind, that tricky little bugger." Jessica Glass
"I remember that when I was fixing up our house with my father and father in-law, one day there was a loud skid on the street, and a man jumped out of a yellow car, and ran and hid behind another car. The next minute about fiftenn police turned up, uniformed, plain clothed and customs – he ran for it down the lane and the cops chased. They lost him but searched the whole street – inside and out, our house as well, and they seemed to think we might be harbouring a criminal. Welcome to the neighbourhood." Toby
"There’s a small group of lovely elderly ladies and they get together every Monday in the Committee room, have games, afternoon and everything. I’ve been to that and that’s a NICE story." Martaure
"Coupla years ago, a women knocked on my door and asked for a drink of water. Unfortunately I unlocked my security door. Next thing she was in my kitchen uninvited. My wallet was on the table and when I turned back to get the water, the bitch stole my wallet, drank the water and ran out the door. Only when she’d gone did I realise what had happened!?" Billie
"At the corner of Phillip and Elizabeth Streets there is a PCYC that used to have Billy Maeli, a famous Indigenous boxing coach I used to train with. He inspired my best friend Zealand to have a professional fight, and he continued to compete another three times. Redfern is a hard place to gain motivation, so to have been able to see this progress was something special." Masha
"This week we had the opening of a local public housing art group – older people from Vietnam, Australia, Cambodia, Russia, all over, and these are people who some had never picked up a paint brush to some excellent fine artists – but most who didn’t think they were any good – and then they are there with canapés & the Governor & the head of Public Housing & their works are for sale for $300. It was a real old Redfern coming to gentrified Redfern. I was just so proud. That’s why I do community work. And they were bringing their grandchildren to see them in a gallery – really special!" Laura
"He picked me up around 7.30 from my place on the corner of Pitt and Phillip streets. He was wearing a cream shirt with small brown and orange checks (it was nicer than it sounds). It was Saturday 22nd May, eight days after we met. We were together from that day on. Until, many years later, we weren’t. A year of sadness followed, and then we got back together. We’re still working it out and I’m back living just off the map – a short stroll from the corner of Pitt and Phillip." Nic
"I don’t live in Redfern but I used to play for the Redfern All Blacks basketball team. I had some good experiences and made some good friends. When we won everyone got really excited and it felt great. I felt really sad to leave, but a lot of my teammates go to my school. Redfern is a great suburb." Tom, age 11
(as told to a volunteer) "Sonya remembers the night of the Redfern riots. Even though they were very close to where it happened, they were inside all day and had no idea what was going on. It was only at midnight, when they let their dog out, did they notice that everything was eerily quiet – the police had closed off the streets so there was no traffic. The next morning, her family rang from Queensland, worried. They’d seen Redfern on the news and wanted to know if Sonya and her family were safe." Sonya.