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Published On: Mon, Dec 4th, 2017

Locals insist this Brisbane suburb is about more than just bad headlines

IT’S a suburb well known for its public housing and cultural diversity, but it’s now gaining a reputation for a market which draws on four corners of the globe.

Woodridge, which sits about 22km south of the CBD, is easily maligned but rarely appreciated for successfully bringing dozens of nationalities together, says local councillor Russell Lutton, who was once the local station master.

Mr Lutton challenged those that look down their nose on the suburb, to visit the Sunday market at Woodridge railway station to witness multiculturalism in full flight.

Local councillor Russell Lutton praised Woodridge for its ability to draw cultures together.

Local councillor Russell Lutton praised Woodridge for its ability to draw cultures together.
“We’ve got cultural diversity that you would not see anywhere else,” Mr Lutton said.

“If you come down to the market you will see there a Global Village market where three or four thousand people visit every Sunday.

“We have a big refugee cohort and … the suburb doesn’t get enough credit for absorbing all the cultures.”

Bang in the middle of the market action is local newsagent Tony Tjin who has been in business in Woodridge for more than 25 years.

Mr Tjin once ran a supermarket but now spends his days meeting and greeting customers from all walks of life.

“There are just so many nationalities we have people from Africa, Vietnam, Myanmar, Samoans and so on,” Mr Tjin said.

“There’s a lot of assistance within the suburb with language classes and they take them for driving lessons to help them integrate into the community.

“I know the greetings and the pleasantries of most languages which is something I’ve picked up in the shop and it makes it more personal.”

Over the years, Mr Tjin has seen many a family start life in Woodridge only to move on, but that’s not such a given these days.

Two of the most telling examples of locals calling Woodridge home forever were local lottery winners, said Mr Tjin.

“We’ve had a couple of people win division one lotto and they could have moved out, but they stayed in the community,” he said.

Tony Tjin has operated a newsagency in Woodridge for almost three decades. Picture: Darren Cartwright

Tony Tjin has operated a newsagency in Woodridge for almost three decades. Picture: Darren Cartwright
Not only is Woodridge known for an eclectic mix of cultures, but also for being heavily family orientated.

According to the latest ABS Census, of the 12,579 residents, 24 per cent are 14-years-of-age or younger.

The average age of the local population is 32 which is five years below the state average and six years below the national average of 38.

The high number of families has both to do with the migrant intake but also the affordability of the suburb, says John Ahern Real Estate principal John Ahern.

“It’s good for community services which assist the refugees and migrants,” Mr Ahern said.

“You’ll find in any major city there are lower socio economic areas and Brisbane is no different and Woodridge is where you have a mixture of people because it’s a great starting point.

“First home buyers are quite noticeable in the area because not everyone wants a big mortgage and it offers great value for money.”

The median house price is tracking at $300,000 this year which is slightly down on 2016 ($303,300) but still well up on 2015 ($277,000).

The affordability factor certainly hasn’t been lost on interstate investors who are parking their money in Woodridge.

Of the some 550 properties Ahern Real Estate manages, some 30 of them have been owned by long term investors.

“One of our biggest buyers is investors,” he said.

“About 41 per cent of the properties are rented which is a reasonably high percentage compared to some of the other suburbs closer to the city because it’s both affordable for buyers and renters.

“I’ve been in business 37 years and we’ve had more than 30 people who had investment properties with us for more than twenty years.”

The low median house price means the suburb is not being picked-off by professional renovators looking to ‘flip’ a house for quick profit.

Mr Ahern said sales over $500,000 are “pretty rare” which means there’s little profit to be made in purely renovating houses for immediate resale although that won’t last forever.

“There’s a little bit of flipping (houses) where we get the builder handyman person who add some value and tidy it up then sell it, but not major renovations,” he said.

Trinder Park railway station is one of three stations to service the area. Picture: Darren Cartwright

Trinder Park railway station is one of three stations to service the area. Picture: Darren Cartwright
While there are plenty of social services for those in need, there are also plenty of schools to accommodate the young families with no fewer than five schools including the highly culturally diverse Woodridge State High, Woodridge State primary School, St Paul’s Catholic Primary School and Harris Fields State School in the region.

The suburb is also well served by two railway stations, Woodridge and Trinder Park, and an extensive bus service, including a regular service to Garden City.

A police beat has recently opened across from Woodridge Station and which was welcomed by the community, said Mr Tjin.

“I’ve live here for more than 25 years and I’ve seen it cleaned up a lot but I’d like to see more foot patrol with police,” he said.

“The police beat has moved in a few months ago which has helped a lot but there are still a few rat bags around but you are going to get that no matter where you go.”

Originally Published: www.couriermail.com.au

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