I have the fondest memories of growing up in Haberfield. I lived opposite Robson Park which led down to Iron Cove. Many wonderful days were spent in this park climbing trees, collecting cicada shells, playing French cricket and picking bindis out of our feet. We played netball on Saturday and rode cardboard sleds down the grassy slopes behind the rowing club, catching grasshoppers when we could. We would meet outside the local milkbar on the weekend and go to the pictures at the local cinema. Entrance was sixpence and jaffa-rolling down the aisles was not unknown.
The old rowing club has been modernised and offers splendid water views from its balcony and an outside Cafe for bay walkers. The cinema has long since been converted into a supermarket and the milkbar is now one of Haberfield’s many popular restaurants. Papa’s Pasticceria on the opposite corner has replaced the bank of years gone by. Enterprising companies conduct tours of the local shopping centre enticing people to sample the local delicacies.
Haberfield has changed over the years but remains a vibrant suburb which is very proud of its heritage background and the Italian influence on its culture. It was originally a planned garden suburb which was intended to be ‘slumless, laneless and publess’. The well-kept parks still attract children and adults alike and its streets remain wide and tree-lined. The Federation-era houses are protected by a “heritage order” but this has not dampened local property sales.
The Haberfield of old appears to be fraying around the edges. Against many residents’ wishes MacDonald’s has been allowed to open a store on the fringes of the suburb. The grassy slopes and netball courts opposite the bay are now extra lanes in the City West Link road and the West-Connex project has seen a whole corridor of heritage buildings destroyed. Only time will tell what the overall impact will be. I am confident that the vitality and pride of the inner suburb will survive.
Words and pictures were provided by Ann Hodgson, her pictures can be found on Instagram here @annlhodgson