Kensington, New South Wales

Kensington, New South Wales

Infobox Australian Place | type = suburb
name = Kensington
city = Sydney
state = nsw

caption = Uniwalk at the University of NSW
lga = City of Randwick
postcode = 2033
pop =
area =
est =
propval =
stategov = Heffron, Coogee
fedgov = Kingsford-Smith
dist1 = 4
dir1 = south-east
location1= Sydney CBD
near-nw = Waterloo
near-n = Moore Park
near-ne = Centennial Park
near-w = Zetland
near-e = Randwick
near-sw = Rosebery
near-s = Eastlakes
near-se = Kingsford

Kensington is a suburb in south-eastern Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Kensington is located 6 kilometres south-east of the Sydney central business district, in the local government area of the City of Randwick, in the Eastern Suburbs region. Kensington is colloquially referred to as "Kenso".

Kensington lies to the immediate south of Moore Park and west of Randwick Racecourse. The principal landmarks of the suburb are the main campus of the University of New South Wales, National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) and the exclusive Australian Golf Club. Kensington is also a residential suburb with the advantage of being very close to the Sydney CBD. There is a mixture of high and medium density housing, and freestanding homes for its 11,000 residents.



The original inhabitants of the area were tribes of Aboriginal. The Cadigal people were part of the salt-water clans, in the Darug language group and their land. The Cadigal people were known for their fishing skills and often travelled in canoes. The 1828 census showed some 50-60 clans of Cadigal people living by the Lachlan swamps of Kensington and surrounding areas. Swamps provided fruit, nectar, roots and tubers. Very few Aboriginals live in Kensington today.

European settlement

The suburb now know as Kensington was once called the "Lachlan Mills Estate", "Stannumville" and then "Epsom". It became Kensington in the late 1880s, starting life as an industrial suburb. Samuel Terry, the convict who became Australia’s first millionaire, received a land grant in 1819. Daniel Cooper (1785-1853), also an ex-convict acquired land here in 1825 with his partner Solomon Levey, whom he later bought out. Cooper's nephew Daniel (1821-1902) planned to subdivide but in 1865 all developments was forbidden. Residential land was issued in the late 1880s and Kensington was to be the equivalent of London’s distinguished suburb, Kensington.

Kensington Racecourse opened in 1893 on the site of the current University of New South Wales. It did not compete with nearby Randwick Racecourse because it held midweek meetings, pony racing and related sports like polo. The course was also used to house troops and horses during the Boer War and World War I. The land was resumed in 1950 to construct Sydney's second university.

The W.D. & H.O. Wills tobacco factory opened in the northern part of the suburb in 1902. [Randwick City Council. [ Industry & Innovation in Randwick] . Accessed 5 February 2008.] The factory site also featured the Raleigh Park Social Club, an extensive sporting complex named after Sir Walter Raleigh who first introduced tobacco from North America to Europe. The factory closed in 1989 and was slowly converted into a high density residential neighbourhood. [ Lang, J. [ "Urban Design: A Typology of Procedures and Products"] .Accessed 5 february 2008.]

The hill that dominates West Kensington is occupied by the Sacred Heart Monastery, the Australian headquarters of the Catholic Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. The monastery was designed by Hennessy and Sheerin and built in 1895. It is a large stone building in the Gothic style and features an attic storey and a prominent central tower. It also includes a brick chapel in a Romanesque-Byzantine style which was designed by Mullane and built in 1939, and which is joined to the monastery by a matching brick cloister. Adjacent to the monastery is the Sacred Heart Convent, which was built in 1896. The monastery is a prominent landmark which can be seen from various parts of Kensington and is now listed on the Register of the National Estate. [The Heritage of Australia, Macmillan Company, 1981, p.2/58]

In the mid-twentieth century, the monastery was the home of the anti-Communist organiser Dr P.J. ('Paddy') Ryan and the popular Catholic controversialist [ Dr Leslie Rumble] .

Kensington’s streets are named after local people, places in London and local flora. Some examples are:
*Balfour Lane – Arthur James Balfour, the first earl of Balfour, a British statesman and Prime Minister (1902-1905)
*Doncaster Avenue – Named after the racecourse in England
*Boronia Street – A flowering shrub grown extensively in the area.

Early transport

The tram was first introduced in 1900. Prior to this, buses connected Kensington and the city and from 1898 cabs were available. The first tram was a double track steam operated line and went from Coogee to Moore Park. Tay Park (bounded by Tay Street, Anzac Parade and Alison Road) is the site of the old Toll Bar where local maintenance revenue was collected from 1854 to 1894. The toll was 10c for a four-wheeled wagon drawn by 2 horses.

Commercial area

Kensington is heavily influenced by the University of New South Wales and has a rich mixture of cafes, restaurants and shops. Kensington has a shopping strip that extends the length of Anzac Parade and further south into Kingsford. 'Peters of Kensington' is a well known retail store on Anzac Parade. Kensington is also close to Randwick Racecourse and Centennial Park.


Anzac Parade is the main road through Kensington. Numerous buses frequently service Kensington, linking it with the city and surrounding suburbs. There are no trains or light rail service, since the 1976 review of the Eastern Suburbs Railway abandoned the planned extensions to Kensington. Taxis are also available.


St Martins Anglican Church, Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church, St George Coptic Orthodox Church.


Kensington is served by Kensington Public School (around 400 students), Our Lady of the Rosary Primary School and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College (High School) [ [ OLSH Welcome ] ] . At the eastern boundary of Kensington is the University of New South Wales, one of the leading universities of Australia. The National Institute of Dramatic Art is located opposite, on Anzac Parade.



Kensington is located in the geographic zone known as the Botany Lowlands. The sands beneath Kensington act as a large water reservoir. Originally, Kensington was quite rugged, consisting of hills, deep gullies and 768 acres (3.1 km²) of swamps, crossed by the Lachlan Stream. Evidence of the swamps can be seen in the south-west corner of the Royal Randwick Racecourse and the ponds of Centennial Park. Today Kensington has been levelled with hills cut down and voids filled with the excess soil from the hills.


Kensington has a temperate climate, influencing lifestyle patterns and affecting vegetation and animal life. Mild conditions allow residents to spend time outdoors; gardening, swimming, socialising, playing sport and alfresco dining. In the 3 square kilometres that cover Kensington, there are 5 parks, which account for almost 1/4 of the total area. Banksias, Bottlebrushes, Waratah, Wattles and Eucalypts are some of the 400 odd native plants found in Kensington. Randwick City Council has recorded approximately 250 species of indigenous native vertebrates. 206 species of native birds have been found since 1788.

Water supply

Water for Kensington is piped from Warragamba Dam. Kensington does however have two natural water sources; the Lachlan Stream and an underground reservoir. Due to water restrictions and council initiatives, more and more residence are using bore water on their gardens. Others still are installing tanks and using 'grey' water.



The population of Kensington has steadily increased over recent years. Results from the Census of Population and Housing are shown below:

Kensington has a wide range of ethnic backgrounds. Only 56.4% of residents were born in Australia. The most common countries of origin for the remaining residents include the UK, Indonesia, New Zealand and China. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are in the minority with only 39 in Kensington. As in any multicultural society, a variety of religions are represented. There are Anglican, Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches in the area and other religions practiced include Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism and the Muslim faith.


Kensington is in the West Ward of Randwick City council. It is predominantly a Labor area and the west ward councillors are:
* Bradley Hughes (Greens)
* Scott Nash (Liberal)
* John Procopiadis (Labor).Kensington is in the electorate of Heffron for the State (represented by Kristina Keneally) and the Kingsford-Smith electorate (represented by Peter Garrett) for the Federal parliament.



*Board of Studies. (1998). Human Society and its Environment K-6 Syllabus. Sydney, N.S.W: Board of Studies.
*C. Read. (Personal communication, March 2005).
*Caruana, A. (2000). Monastery on the Hill – A History of the Sacred Heart Monastery – Kensington 1897-1997. Kensington, N.S.W: Nelen Yubu Missiological unit.
*Destitute Children’s Asylum Cemetery. South Eastern Sydney Health Service, 1996, p.2.
*Fitzgibbon, W. (2003, June, 3). Doncaster Plaza Development Approved. Southern Courier, p.6.
*Keenan, D. (1982). The South-Eastern lines of the Sydney tramway system. Sans Souci, N.S.W: Transit Press.
*Lawrence, J. (2001). Pictorial History, Randwick. Alexandria, N.S.W: Kingsclear Books.
*L. Grant. (personal communication, 1993).
*McMahon, J. F. (1986). Kensington – A Model Suburb. Randwick, N.S.W: Randwick and District Historical Society.
*"Origins of Street and Place names in Randwick". Anonymous.
*Quick, D. (1985). Randwick- A social History. Kensington, N.S.W: New South Wales University Press.
*Randwick City Council,
*Randwick City Plan, Randwick City Council, Date unknown.
*Randwick Historical Society (personal communication, March, 12, 2005).
*Randwick Historical Society. (1986). A Randwick Ramble Part 2 – Randwick and Kensington. Randwick, N.S.W: Randwick Historical Society.
*R. Read. (personal communication, March, 10, 2005).
*Turbet. P. (2001). The Aboriginies of the Sydney District before 1788. Roseville, N.S.W: Kangaroo Press.
*UBD -
*Waugh, J. W. (1997). Kensington – Land use, Development, Ownership and Control on the Lachlan Stream 1810-1890. Randwick, N.S.W: Randwick and District Historical Society Inc.
*Waugh, J. W. (1997). Kensington Racecourse – 1890 - 1942. Randwick, N.S.W: Randwick and District Historical Society Inc.
*The Heritage of Australia, Macmillan Company, 1981 ISBN 0 333 337506

External links

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