Every weekday morning, thousands of students catch the train to Redfern Station and walk the well-worn track to Sydney University. A constant stream of students runs all the way from the station to Cadigal Green, with a variety of walking speeds ranging from dawdlers, to power-walkers, to texters (the most erratic of all).
The first leg of the journey runs down Lawson St, lined with cute terrace houses and, from time to time, pieces of street art. Periodic trees and the occasional bin along Lawson impede those running late for class, sometimes even forcing students onto the road in their quest to overtake a dawdler.
Next comes Abercrombie St, a veritable hive of activity, with fine hipster specimens often found lurking in the three cafés on the south side of the street. Oz Turk Junior and the Chippendale Takeaway face off across the Lawson and Abercrombie junction, with signs that are an identical shade of red.
Abercrombie St presents us with the biggest dilemma of the walk: where to cross the road? It’s a question that’s been asked time and time again, but only ever resulted in ambiguous answers. Perhaps the biggest faux pas one can commit on Abercrombie is to step out onto the road intending to sneak across, but misjudge the flow of traffic and have to retreat to the gutter, or worse, rejoin the stream of students, having wasted several seconds.
On the other hand, sticking it out until the Shepherd St crossing is also a risky business. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that crossing at the final lights marks a failure of character, but it certainly marks a failure of strategy. The humiliation is completed by having to stand across the street from the boardwalk— so close, and yet so far— and watch students flood into the university while you wait, despondent and depressed, for the lights to change.
The Redfern walk draws to a dramatic finish as you pass under the canopy at the end of the boardwalk and emerge onto the picturesque Cadigal Green, complete with curved chairs and tall skinny trees that are reminiscent of the Truffula Trees in Dr Seuss’s The Lorax.
The Redfern walk is a true Sydney University classic. It loses points for being too short to legitimately complain about, yet still long enough to leave you sweaty on a summer’s day if you’re rushing to class. That aside, it’s a largely pleasant stroll if you’re not in a hurry and a quintessential Sydney University experience. Seven out of ten; would walk again.