Sydney’s Predominantly Indigenous Housing Blocks Praised For Cultural Sensitivity

"Coonabarabran, Coonamble, Cootamundra, Dubbo, La Perouse... A whole lot of Australian areas are named after Aboriginal landmarks,"

Sydney’s Predominantly Indigenous Housing Blocks Praised For Cultural Sensitivity

22 September, 2015. 10:10

CLANCY OVERELL | Editor | Contact

One of Sydney’s most iconic strips of high-rise buildings has for many years been criticised for it’s unfortunate local nickname, Suicide Towers.

What a lot of people don’t know, is that the predominantly Indigenous housing commission, that stretches through several South Sydney suburbs, is actually divided by six different titles. Each of which represent a different element of the unique history of modern Australia.

While the housing blocks go by many nicknames – They have also received praise for their original titles, which were given to them by local council during a visit from the Queen Of England in 1952.


The six towers have been described by anthropologists and social commentators as unashamedly ‘Australian’ – in their representation of a diverse cross-section of the Australian population.

James Cook Tower, Waterloo NSW 

Named after the British explorer, navigator, cartographer, and captain in the Royal Navy: Captain James Cook. The first man to plant an official ‘flag’ on Australian soil after voyaging across the “Old World” to find Australia in 1770.

Up until the late 1960’s, Mr Cook was also considered the first human to ever walk on Australian soil. He was killed by Hawaiian savages in 1779, while trying to also plant flags.

An aerial view of the high density housing towers in the suburb of Redfern/Waterloo, Sydney, Saturday (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)
An aerial view of the high density housing towers in the suburb of Redfern/Waterloo, Sydney, Saturday (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

Marton Tower, Waterloo NSW

Named after the English town and birthplace of the aforementioned Captain James Cook. A place that many of the tower’s residents hold close to their hearts.

Turanga and Matavai Towers, Redfern NSW

Two identical towers that serve as tributes to Captain James Cook’s pacific adventures and are named after two of his favourite island communities in both Tahiti and Hawaii.

The latter of which saw his demise at the hands of rowdy spear-chucking natives.

Matavai and Turanga
Matavai and Turanga Towers

Joseph Banks Tower, Surry Hills NSW

Named after Sir Joseph Banks, 1st Baronet, a close friend of James Cook and a botanist that travelled aboard the Endeavour fleet (James Cook’s boat). Bankstown, Banksia and Banksmeadows are also named after Sir Joseph Banks and residents of each locality are extensively educated about this man’s relevance from an early age.

Banks Tower

Daniel Solander Tower, Surry Hills NSW

In 1768 a Swedish scientist, Daniel Solander accompanied close friend, Joseph Banks, on James Cook’s first voyage to the Pacific Ocean aboard the Endeavour. Due to his university education, Solander was the smartest man to walk on Australian soil prior to the Gold Rush. Due to his Swedish heritage, he was also the whitest member of the Endeavour to walk on Australian soil.

up towers

The towers hold thousands of “official” residents, of which many are welfare-dependent.

However, recurring talks of council refurbishments are not without criticisms.

Many people believe that a housing commission that houses mainly Aboriginal residents in one of the most well-known Indigenous suburbs in Australia, should be titled with less “colonial names”.

aboriginal towers

Speaking exclusively with The Betoota Advocate today, conservative media commentator Ray Hadley says it’s only fair that certain landmarks carry Anglo-Australian titles.

“Coonabarabran, Fitzroy, Coonamble, Cootamundra, Toowoomba, La Perouse… Majority of the Australian map is made up Aboriginal names,” said a confidently well-researched Mr Hadley.

“But we are a growing multicultural community, and it’s only fair that we represent our newest arrivals as well,”

Mr Hadley went on to say that even though the iconic housing towers were now occupied by predominantly Indigenous residents, they weren’t initially intended to be so.

“The housing complex was built and named with the intention of housing new Australians, like the Swedes and British. I don’t think they expected that is was going to be populated by Australian Aboriginals,”

“That’s why we built Blacktown, Isn’t it?”