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Balmain is a peninsula suburb in Sydney inner west. Once a working class suburb filled with dock workers and tiny Victorian cottages and terraces, it is now a buzzy lively and entertaining suburb, where many famous and bohemian Australians live. Take the ferry from Circular Quay to Balmain Wharf and walk up the hill along Darling Street into Balmain village. The best day to do this is Saturday.
The Balmain Markets are held each Saturday in the St Andrews Church grounds (opposite Gladstone Park). Here you can buy almost anything from bric-a brac to clothes and antiques. Spend the morning strolling through the market and then walk a little further up Darling Street to have lunch at one of the many restaurants and cafes. Balmain is also known for its awesome historical hotels.
In the evening listen to some jazz at the Unity Town Hall Hotel, or more upbeat music at The Cat and Fiddle, The Commerical, Sir William Wallace and the London Hotels. You will have a delightful and entertaining day exploring this very lively trendy bohemian village with its endless cafes, restaurants and pubs.
The Rozelle Markets are located further along Darling Street towards Victoria Road.
Ballast Point Park - Sydney's newest harbourside parkland located in Birchgrove/Balmain. Offers visitors walking paths, cycling ways and picnic spots (barbeques and toilets too) with incredible views of Sydney Harbour Bridge, Cockatoo Island, Goat Island and Balls Head. As well as wonderful art design, the island features brilliant architecture with former industrial, maritime and Aboriginal history merging. Lovers should also bring along a small lock to preserve their everlasting love on Sydney Harbour. About a hundred locks already adorn the steel stuctures located here.
Buses: 433-434,442,445 Ferries: From Circular Quay alight at Darling Street Balmain Wharf.
View of Colgate Building in Balmain, taken close to Ballast Point Park
Inner West: Leichhardt
Leichhardt can be reached easily from the city via buses 438, 470 and others. Get off at the restaurant strip of Norton St. Start at Parramatta Rd. So many cafés! Come on a sunny Sunday and enjoy lunch or a coffee.
On your right [east-side of Norton St] you will see the Italian Forum with its collection of fashionable shops, Municipal Library and Dante fountain. Continue north up the gentle hill, past Norton Plaza more shops and the Universale Hotel. Palace Norton St cinemas and Shearer's Bookshop are next on the same side. At the top of the hill see Leichhardt Town Hall - a brilliant example of colonial architecture, and the disfigured church [sorry] on the opposite corner. You may catch a glimpse of the City in the distant east. [Or walk down thru Leichhardt to Annandale before catching the bus back]. There are more shops and cafés in this section including a japanese restaurant and home furnishing shops. Finish your trip along Norton St at Bar Italia at 169 Norton Street.
Inner City : Kings Cross
Once the bohemian center of Sydney, situated 1.5km east of the city, it is easily reached by public transport, buses and trains from the city and Circular Quay. Although it’s a crime related area mostly it is safe to visit at night. It’s a matter of shifting through the sleaze and ignoring the ruffians and homeless people to discover the bright lights and entertainment on offer.
Kings Cross is now home to the new “dance club scene” with over forty small sophisticated bars offering seductive cocktails and upbeat music. Basic rules apply to this suburb as in any red-light district of the world. Don’t walk down lonely dark alleys or lanes alone, ignore those whom pester and persist, watch your drink at all times as spiking can occur in this area.
The “Cross” which is locally known refers to the major intersection formed by William Street and Darlinghurst Street which also displays Sydney’s famous icon the flashing Coke- a– Cola neon sign. You will also find a large supply of backpacker’s hostels and budget accommodation mostly in this area. It attracts a fascinating diversity of people from budget travelers, colourful characters, tourists, bohemians, businessmen, artists,writers, sailors, and trendy locals. Kings Cross is a fun place if you ignore the sleazy underworld and really is a must do to see, even if it’s for a quick nightcap at one of Sydney’s best nightclubs.
Paddington is well-known for its residential area of leafy tree lined streets, with large three storey Victorian terraces overhanging the tiny narrow lanes, it is an impressive, stylish and fashionable and cosmopolitan suburb, intermingled with artistic elegance and individuality. Offering an abundance of art galleries, cafes, pubs, restaurants, boutique funky shops and motivating cinemas, it’s a suburb that will keep any visitor contented and amused for many hours.
The best time to see Paddington is on Saturday as Paddington's main attraction is the markets held in the heritage listed sandstone United Church grounds and building in Oxford Street. Buses leave Circular Quay (380, 378, and 389). Alight at Victoria Barracks and stroll up Oxford Street and visit the shops before hitting the markets. The Bazaar is filled with 250 colourful stalls, displaying works of Sydney artists, and mixtures of stalls selling jewellery, clothes and antiques.
If time permits have lunch at the many innovative stylish cafes and then take a walk up to Centennial Park, a glorious enormous 220hectare park and watch how Aussies spend their weekends. It is filled with beautiful exotic trees, ponds and a large lake, you will see people rolling-blading, cycling, kite flying, jogging and even horse riding. The Park entrance is on the corner of Oxford and Queen Street and admission is free. If you come in summer (November – December) you can attend the outdoor moonlight cinema operating in the Centennial Park Amphitheatre. There is a restaurant serving breakfast and lunch daily situated close to the entrance.
Paddington also houses some of Sydney best restaurants and hotels.
Northern Suburbs: Manly
Manly is everything Australian, it is part of the culture. A lively Sydney beach resort with excellent accommodation, restaurants, cafes and pubs. Its alive with screeching seagulls, long sandy beaches, small coves, inlets, swaying Norfolk Pines, bikinis, cold icy beer, surfboards, festivals, music, flip flops, pink zinc, fish and chips, yachts, boats, divers, fishermen, lifeguards, and an National Trust Oceanfront Promenade which was listed for the introduction of daylight swimming, surf lifesaving and board riding into Australian culture. Manly is easily accessible by ferry or jetcat operating from Circular Quay(city) to Manly Wharf, the short walk up the Corso leads to the ocean beach. (see Sydney Attractions for more detail.)
Lower North Shore: Mosman/ Balmoral Beach
Mosman is one of Sydney’s most exclusive suburbs; with historical aboriginal sites,Taronga Park Zoo, breathtaking views, stunning architecture, gorgeous beaches mixed with boutique shops and first class restaurants. Mosman is really a must do. The Borogegal Aboriginal tribe inhabited the area before the area was settled in 1830 as a whaling station; it now houses Sydney’s most expensive and prestigious real estate. Mosman is home to some of Sydney’s loveliest harbour beaches such as Clifton Gardens, Chinamans, Balmoral, and Obelisk beach. It has some magnificent architecture, where you can find huge federation mansion to small Victorian cottages.
Sydney most famous walks can also be found in Mosman, leading you along the foreshores of Sydney Harbour. Balmoral Beach is well-known for its “Shakespeare-by-the sea” plays in summer at the famous landmark the Rotunda, next door to another landmark Bathers Pavilion. Walk along the promenade and explore the “island” that separates Hunter Beach and Edward beach by a stone foot bridge but don’t forget to get your fish and chips to eat, whilst watching the yachts cruise pass the heads.
In summer there is a free shuttle bus operating from Spit Junction (Sat and Sun only) to Balmoral Beach, ferries go to Mosman Wharf and a bus connects to Mosman Village. Walk down Raglan Street to Balmoral Beach, it’s a long winding road down a very steep hill and catch the bus back to the city. Another alternative is to catch the ferry to Cremorne Wharf and do the walk to Mosman Bay connecting to the bus to Mosman Village. Or catch the ferry to Taronga Park Zoo and do the "Taronga's Wild Australian Experience Tour" for a few hours and catch the bus up to Mosman Village.
Check out www.sydneyferries.info for timetables and information on walks.Buses leave Wynyard Station (stop 247).
Another adventurous way to see this area is to hire a kayak at The Spit Bridge and paddle over to Clontarf Beach/Chinaman's and Balmoral Beach. Check out www.Sydneyharbourkayaks.com.au . Costs per person - $15.00 per hour. You can also take a Half Day Tour with an experienced crew and see the awesome sights of Middle Harbour, visiting Aboriginal sites in the area and the Garrigal National Park. Cost $99.00 per person. Duration 4hrs operating only on Saturday and Sunday. Buses run from Wynyard Station at Stand 3 to the Spit Bridge. Hop off at the reserve and cross the road at the lights, and proceed to walk north along the promenade.You will see their office perched on the waterfront. For timetables on buses - www.sta.nsw.gov/au/timetable/ .There are plenty of top restaurants based at The Spit, where one can indulge themselves with excellent food and stunning views. From take-a-away fish and chips to exclusive waterfront fine dining.
If time permits you can also hire a houseboat and cruise up Middle Harbour and explore the small inlet coves and beaches that are hidden amongst some of Sydney's most exclusive suburbs. Located at Sandy Bay Road Clontarf Marina. www.Middleharbourhouseboats.com for a truely rare experience.
Northern Beaches: Palm Beach / Hawkesbury River
Palm Beach is situated approximately 40km from the Sydney CBD and is Sydney’s most northerly beach positioned on the Pacific Ocean foreshores. It has the magnificent waterways of Pittwater nestled behind, which is an inlet of Broken Bay. Barrenjoey Headland and lighthouse strongly dominate the end of the Northern Peninsula with its stunning views of West Head and Ku ring Gai Chase National Parks. Palm Beach is famous for numerous things, mainly being the location for the popular TV series “Home and Away”.
Palm Beach houses some of Sydney’s most exclusive and prestigious real estate owned by well-known movie stars, writers and prominent Australian identities.
The beach is 3km long with a superb surfing beach; it also has a delightful 50 metre ocean swimming pool where you will find many recognised locals having their morning swim. Palm Beach is an exclusive suburb saturated in an abundance of natural beauty; it is well worth a day trip to experience this tranquil peaceful and casual beachside village, or a better option is to have a weekend away.
Palm Beach is uncomplicated to get to by Public Transport, just hop on the L90 from Wynyard Station; you could also get off and discover some other interesting suburbs such as Newport and Avalon Beach whilst waiting for the next bus. It takes approx 60 – 80 minutes depending on traffic as various parts of the road turns and winds around some rather spectacular scenery. Another alternative is to catch a Seaplane from Rose Bay it takes about 12 – 15 minutes, but this can be expensive.
Take a walk up to Barrenjoey Lighthouse – a steep walk but well worth the effort to see the views. Tours are Adults $3.00 and $2.00 for children every Sunday www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au Barrenjoey Boating Services: Hire a boat and discover the beauty of Pittwater www.barrenjoeyboathire.com Atlantis Divers: Try a little scuba diving. Palm Beach Ferries: Operate from Palm Beach Wharf. Catch a ferry to Patonga or Ettalong. www.sydneyferries.info Palm Beach Surf School: Ocean Road Pittwater Twilight Tour: Departs from Palm Beach Wharf at 5.30pm returning 7.30pm
Beach Road Restaurant – 1 Beach Road Palm Beach www.beachroad.net.au Barrenjoey Boat Hire – a little café overlooking Pittwater. Jonahs – For the views and fine dining experience. www.jonahs.com.au
See Off the Beaten Track inside pages for information on the Hawkesbury River.
Southern Sydney : Bundeena
Discover the gorgeous village of Bundeena, situated in Port Hacking opposite the suburb of Cronulla. It is surrounded by National Parks and is on the outskirts of Sydney. Bundeena is easy to get to by jumping into a car hire take the road through The Royal National Park and keep driving until you see the sign for Bundeena.
Or take a 20-minute scenic ferry ride across the Hacking River from Cronulla aboard the "Curranulla"; a beaut little ferry. The ferry leaves Cronulla on the half hour starting at 8.30am and returns from Bundeena on the hour with the last departure at 6.00pm.
Bundeena original inhabitants were the Dharawal Aborginals, and engravings can still be seen here. The village name has two Aborginal meanings 'daughter from the hills' or 'noise like thunder' .
There are numerous activities and things to do and see in this village. For instance, you may try a little kayaking with bundeenakayaks, or do some wonderful walks to see some Aborginal cravings at Jibbon Beach.
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