As a suburb, Waterloo has a fascinating history.
What was once wetlands grew into an industrial hub before being slowly reborn into the thriving modern residential suburb it is today.
Waterloo has been through many changes over the years – and there will be more to come. Here are some of the things you may not know about our vibrant area.
Fact 1: Waterloo’s name has everything to do with Napoleon’s surrender
Before European settlement, the land where Waterloo Park now stands was a wetland with swamps, streams and undulating sandhills. The land belonged to the Gadigal people who were one of 29 clans that made up the Eora Nation.
In the early 1800s, 1,400 acres of land in the area were granted to convict-turned-businessman William Hutchison. New South Wales was British territory at the time and Britain was at war with France. So Hutchison named it The Waterloo Estate, after the Battle of Waterloo, where Napoleon was finally defeated in 1815.
As well as bestowing the suburb’s name, Hutchison was also instrumental in kickstarting the area’s industrial boom that lasted over 100 years, by establishing the Waterloo flour mill.
Fact 2: We are a very diverse community
In terms of area, Waterloo is one of Sydney’s smallest suburbs, covering just 1.1 square kilometres. Coincidentally, neighbouring Beaconsfield is the smallest at just 0.2 square kilometres.
But it is also one of the most densely populated, being home to 14,616 people according to the 2016 Census. There are slightly more men than women (52% compared to 47%) with an average age of 32. There are 3,014 families with an average of 1.4 children per household.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up 3.0% of Waterloo’s population and there is huge diversity in the backgrounds and countries of birth of our community. Over 41% of households speak a language other than English, with 12% of people speaking Mandarin, 3% speaking either Russian or Cantonese and 2% speaking either Spanish or Korean at home.
Fact 3: We have a range of great properties but far more units than houses
Waterloo is home to 8,056 dwellings according to the 2016 Census. But just 19 properties or 0.3% of properties are freestanding houses. Slightly more are semi- detached, terraces or townhouses (9.6%) but the vast majority or 89.7% are flats or apartments.
Thinking of selling?
More than 80% of properties have two or fewer bedrooms. This means that apartment living is the norm and very large properties are scarce. In fact, you’re likely to wait some time for one to come on the market in Waterloo.
Fact 4: A place of politics, protest and preservation
Waterloo has played a starring role in politics and protests over housing over many decades. There’s even a film about it, Waterloo, by documentary filmmaker Tom Zubrycki. Released in 1984, it follows the battle by Waterloo residents in the 1970s to save the area from slum clearance and redevelopment by public housing authorities.
In the 1970s, the Builders Labourers Federation placed “Green Bans” on several sites including some in Waterloo. The builders’ labourers refused to work on projects that they felt were either environmentally or socially undesirable, including where the high rise was to replace low rise housing.
Their actions preserved some of the historic homes that remain in Waterloo today. And a portion of these are now protected as the Waterloo Heritage Conservation Area.
Bounded by Phillip St, Morehead St, McEvoy St and Pitt St, the Conservation Area was originally part of the early residential subdivision of the Mount Lachlan Estate and provided housing for employees of the growing nearby industrial areas. It includes Waterloo Town Hall and the Elizabeth Street shops and offers a glimpse into the area’s Victorian past.
Fact 5: A place of change, transformation and reinvention
Waterloo has changed an enormous amount over the last twenty years. Whole new town centres, such as Green Square, have been built, changing the face of the suburb. And there’s, even more, change coming, with large redevelopment and transport projects coming to fruition.
Waterloo has transformed from a wetlands to an industrial centre, to a vibrant residential hub. It’s home to cafes, bars and restaurants, fabulous transport and amenities, and at just 4km from the CBD great proximity to everything Sydney inner-city life has to offer.
If you want to make Waterloo your home, call our team today.