Discover Balmain’s gorgeous waterfront and charming streets lined with Victorian-era terrace houses. Its location on the top of a peninsula in Sydney harbor makes Balmain a desirable neighborhood. Looking at its prized waterfront real estate now, it’s hard to imagine that Balmain was a working-class suburb for over a century.
Balmain grew rapidly after the construction of shipyards on its foreshore in the 1800s. In the 1970s, the industrial suburb with is affordable Sydney sandstone buildings started to attract bohemians, writers and politicians. They gave Balmain the artistic, cosmopolitan flair that still lingers today.
Shop in artisan and chic boutiques along winding Darling Street. This main thoroughfare also has a variety of bakeries, cafés and exotic restaurants such as Turkish restaurant Efendy. The sweet delights of celebrity chef Adriano Zumbo’s patisserie are equally hard to resist. Have a beer at one of the many historic pubs, such as the 3 Weeds, Cat and Fiddle and East Village.
If you love art, visit Balmain’s galleries of contemporary and Aboriginal works. On a Saturday, head to the grounds of the St. Andrew’s Church to browse books and collectables at the Balmain Markets, Sydney’s third-oldest markets. Taking a cruise or fishing trip from Balmain’s harbor is an excellent way to spend a sunny day.
There’s a wealth of green spaces in Balmain. Gladstone Park is a peaceful oasis in the busy center, while Elkington Park has impressive views of Cockatoo Island. Take a dip in the nearby Dawn Fraser Baths, Australia’s oldest pool complex. Illoura Reserve, near the Balmain East Wharf, offers views of the city skyline and Sydney Harbor Bridge.
The most scenic way to reach Balmain is taking a 10-minute harbor ferry from Circular Quay. You can also take a bus from the city center. Darling street has metered and free on-street parking for those arriving by car. While in the area, also explore Birchgrove, an Inner West suburb of similar charm.