Rouse Hill, NSW: a gem on the fringes of Sydney

Recently, I celebrated mi cumpleanos. I wanted to go somewhere different, but no ideas were jumping at me. I had heard about Rouse Hill before and decided to give it a try. Prior to my birthday, I’ve never visited the suburb. I once mentioned it to my ex-neighbour, but he told me that it was quite far. Indeed, the place is the second-last stop on the Northwest Metro, in the Hills District of Sydney. We will find out more about their Town Centre, a one-floor plaza that is unique from the other offerings in the Harbour City. When we ventured into Rouse Hill, this was the farthest we’ve been on the Northwest Metro. Before then, Castle Hill held that distinction.

Proximate

The first thing I noted about the Centre was the proximity to the metro stop. While not next-door like Castle Towers, the Centre is hardly a walk from the station. Reading Cinemas are one of the first things you’ll see. The plaza is just one storey high, making it unique. Moreover, it is laid out like a real town square, complete with roads and divided into quadrants. At last count, there are 245 services and stores in the vicinity. Total commercial space is 69,700 square metres. Ergo, Rouse Hill is roughly the size of Chatswood Chase, which clocks in at 63,619 square metres. However, whereas the latter is situated on four storeys, the plaza’s retail area(as pointed out) is concentrated only on one floor.

The town centre has five anchor tenants: Big W, Kmart (incoming), Woolworths, Coles, and the aforementioned theatres. Kmart will replace the departing Target. Apart from the five, the square also has a JB HiFi, a Reject Shop, and a Best & Less. The centre has been around since March of 2008. The architects had worked on the highly original design since 2003. The centre is much more than a mall, having been earmarked for both retail and entertainment use. There are office spaces, a community centre, a library, office spaces, communes, and housing.

Lunch spot

We started our day by wandering round for a lunch pick. We considered this café but inferred that it wouldn’t be any different from the usual fare at home. Thai and sushi were also regulars. It was then a toss-up between Cuban and Mexican cuisine. I chose the latter. We first went to Cotton On. Giant signs advertised discounts of up to fifty percent off. A quick browse revealed “much ado about nothing.” We then visited Just Jeans. They had a sale rack with three different linen shirts. I believe they were all in blue colourways. While the price wasn’t bad, I wasn’t a fan of their sizing.

Browsing

We visited The Reject Shop (TRS) and bought some food items. I remember overhearing an Asian couple who pronounced Ree-ject as “Reh-ject.” We then asked around for Specsavers, where I had a browse. I used my member benefits on two pairs of shades. I noted that there are at least three optometrists in the plaza. We were looking for Jeanswest. After a fair search, we realised that Jeanswest was in the same area as TRS. I tried on a shirt and tee, but they didn’t tickle my fancy. After this, we stopped by Best & Less. I got this light brown pullover. While it was pretty basic without any humongous logos or prints, the colour was eye catching. Perhaps others had the same idea, as there was only one left in my size.

We dropped by this shoe store but there was nothing to see there. We also went to a nearby men’s store. I got this navy Henley. I haven’t shopped with them in a while. We then had supper at the Food Terrace. My guest told me that the mall was very well-designed, and that the food court was unrivalled. They mentioned the general lack of escalators. Furthermore, the centre had high ceilings, which isn’t common in malls around Sydney. In addition, they reminded me that the town centre had no main entrance. Thus, the plaza had more of a village feel. Rouse Hill was also mostly open-air and is closer to the high street model. Detailed climactic studies were done in light of the design’s novelty. As a result, the centre’s carbon footprint is a one-fourth less than the standard New South Wales mall.

A cut above the rest

‘They want to be different,’ they told me. ‘I believe that they take stock of all the other malls in Sydney. Having observed their similarities, they worked on being one of a kind.’ I would later learn that the planners did their research. They walked on King Street, Newtown and Oxford Street in Paddington; took in the high street in the Blue Mountains. They even went jetted to Santorini, Greece for understanding and balance. As noted, a famous fast-food shop was closed so early. Afterward, we then went to Woolies and bought some stuff. We weren’t able to go to Big W; we also passed by Dymocks. We waited a little for the next service.

In general, I understood that the centre is more of an upmarket one. For instance, they have a Country Road but are missing a discount grocer. In general, patronage wasn’t heavy, and many shops were ignored. I will purport that business isn’t booming. There was also a mixed bag of shoppers; the clientele was ethnically diverse. As per above, the latter term is not a loose word on the project. Diversity may be a common signifier for the project, but the parties involved sought a designing canvass with environmental and spatial diversity. Three practices took on the task of creating the town centre and thus was an exercise of collaboration. Many contributors were involved, with over seventy-five designers from the three practices.  

Birthday pick

All in all, it was nice to do something different on my birthday. The centre offered a lot of open space, plants, and wide walkways. The fact that it’s a fair distance away from the city centre has enabled this. If you’re from the area, the square has most of what you need. From gastronomy to fashion, department stores to books, movies to shoes, Rouse Hill has something for everyone. Once in a while, you have to get out of your comfort zone. It’s not every day that you’ll have to make the extra effort, the added travel. Each year, you’ll only have one birthday to remember.

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