Thousands flocked to the Rozelle Fair on Sunday.

Thousands flocked to the Rozelle Fair on Sunday. Photo: James Alcock                                


Thousands of people flocked to Rozelle on Sunday for a street fair held to recoup the estimated $3 million in losses to local businesses after the tragic September fire.

The tight-knit Rozelle community is still mourning the three lives lost in September's devastating shop explosion but now it is trying to recoup a $3 million economic loss as well.

Many businesses were forced to cease trading for at least 10 days after the explosion at a Darling Street convenience store which claimed the lives of Chris Noble, 27, Bianka O'Brien, 31, and her 11-month-old son, Jude.

The suburb's main thoroughfare was closed to traffic from September 11 to September 27. Some 17 shops were affected by the closure.

Businesses like Corner Bar and Lin & Barrett Lingerie in Darling Street were closed for 10 to 15 days but owners said trading was affected for much longer.

"It's only now things are getting back on track," said Ryan Singer, 34, owner of Corner Bar.

Owners of Hairdorama, a hair salon demolished as a result of the fire, lost everything.

Maria Calvi, 49, owner of Calvi Hair & Beauty on Darling Street, offered to merge businesses in the meantime while Hairdorama regained its feet.

"They had nowhere to go, so I allowed them to run their business from here," Ms Calvi said. "It's going to take 1-2 years to get their building built, so they will stay with me until then."

"I'm happy to help because I would hope someone would do the same for me. In sad times like this the community has to come together."

More than 70 Rozelle businesses traded outside their shops for the day creating a marketplace atmosphere.

A Tree of Hope was positioned in the middle of the street for fair-goers to contribute messages of hope and remembrance for the victims.

Balmain MP Jamie Parker said he had represented the Balmain community for 15 years and he had "never seen anything like this".

"It's wonderful to see such resilience and passion in the community," he said.

Event Producer Roselle Gowan organised the fair and said they are hoping to raise approximately $50,000 from the day, not including money made by businesses.

"There's a lot of Sydney community support here," Roselle said. "The feeling I had was that Sydney will show up, and I think Sydney has shown up. I would say we are tipping into the 50,000 (attendance) mark."

"A lot of the musicians and MCs have donated their time today, and Orange Grove Public School offered the parking," she said.

"Everyone has been giving in great abundance."

In a statement, Leichhardt Council said businesses lost approximately $3 million, with more than 400 jobs were affected. 

The council is also offering business owners assistance measures including rates deferrals, fast tracking the approval process for the redevelopment of the three demolished shops and residences and waiving the next quarter's footpath licensing fees for Darling Street businesses between Victoria Road and Wise Street.

Read the SMH article online