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Exploring Sydney’s Inner West

Street Art, NewtownCREDIT: Destination NSW

Street art on Phillip Street, off Enmore Road, Newtown.

#ilovesydney

Exploring Sydney’s
Inner West

Street Art, Newtown CREDIT: Destination NSW

Street art on Phillip Street, off Enmore Road, Newtown.

#ilovesydney

Hashtags #ilovesydney

Once a grungy area known for its high student population, Sydney’s Inner West is now the go-to destination for foodies, art-lovers and hipsters. This network of villages, all within approximately 20 minutes’ drive of the city centre, includes hubs such as Newtown, Leichhardt, Glebe and Balmain. These former working-class areas have been reborn with distinctive personalities. Trendy eat streets are lined with interesting restaurants and there’s a new small bar for every night of the week. Catch huge international acts at the legendary Enmore Theatre, just down the road from Newtown, or see up-and-comers playing live in local bars.  

Highlights: 

  • Feast on the multicultural restaurant strip running through Enmore and Newtown 
  • Take a tasting tour of Marrickville’s many craft breweries  
  • Browse the stalls for pre-loved fashion at Glebe Markets 

Eat 

There are scores of restaurants lining Newtown’s King Street and Enmore Road, which connects with King Street in front of Newtown’s train station, and your hardest choice will be deciding where to eat. On Enmore Road, Stanbuli serves authentic Turkish cuisine behind a heritage-listed pastel pink façade; Colombo Social offers spicy Sri Lankan food with a social mission; Cairo Takeaway does great Egyptian street food (and you can dine in, despite the name); and The Stinking Bishops is a haven for cheese lovers.  

Newtown’s King Street is lined with restaurants — try Bella Brutta for amazing pizzas — and so are the side streets of this thoroughfare. Mary’s hamburgers on Mary Street are legendary, while Continental Deli on Australia Street serves up perfectly crafted cocktails, tasty snacking plates and hearty meals.  

For fine dining in the Inner West, book a table at Sixpenny in neighbouring Stanmore, the first restaurant in the area to be awarded three hats, the highest ranking in Good Food Guide, run by Good Food. Sixpenny’s degustation menu focuses on sustainably and ethically sourced ingredients.  

While away the afternoon in the sun at Camperdown Commons, a hybrid café/restaurant/urban farm that’s great for families. It’s a 10-minute walk from King Street. Then try the house-made pickles at Cornersmith in Marrickville — you can even take a course and learn to make them yourself. 

The Tramsheds in Forest Lodge, near Glebe, is an all-in-one dining destination with nearly a dozen restaurants to choose from, including the Spanish-infused Bodega 1904 and sustainable seafood restaurant Fish & Co.  

Spice Alley in Chippendale, on the fringe of the city centre, is another great option if you can’t decide — this Asian hawker-style market serves up Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese and more from hole-in-the-wall outlets. 

Leichhardt is known as Sydney’s Little Italy, so it’s the place to go for handmade pasta, woodfired pizza and strong espresso. Try local favourite Bar Italia or Capriccio Osteria, run by Nicole Bampton, one of Australia’s leading chefs. 

Drink 

The Inner West is the birthplace of Sydney’s craft beer movement, with around a dozen boutique breweries to be found around the area, most within walking distance of each other. There’s a lager, pale ale, IPA or stout for every beer drinker at Batch, with breweries in Marrickville and Petersham, SaucePhilterStockadeThe Grifter and Wildflower in Marrickville, Young Henrys in Newtown, Wayward in Camperdown and Willie the Boatman in St Peters. 

Take the whole family (including the dog) to The Henson in Marrickville. There’s a large beer garden with a kids’ play area and a menu of pub classics with an unusual twist. For a classic Aussie pub with a thoroughly modern makeover, try The Balmain in Balmain. It has a South Pacific feel, with turquoise walls, wicker lounges, palm-frond murals and a sunny beer garden. 

Sydney’s small bar scene is booming and in the Inner West you’ll find tiny drinking holes hidden down laneways or behind unmarked doors. Gin Lane is part of the Kensington Street precinct in Chippendale and has some 80 varieties of the spirit available. In Newtown, the New Orleans-style Earl’s Juke Joint is hidden behind the façade of an old butcher, and specialises in cocktails and loud music. 

Spice Alley, Chippendale CREDIT: Destination NSW

Spice Alley filled with evening diners, Chippendale.

#ilovesydney

Spice Alley, Chippendale CREDIT: Destination NSW

Spice Alley filled with evening diners, Chippendale.

#ilovesydney

Young Henrys, Newtown CREDIT: Destination NSW

Young Henrys bar and brewery in Newtown.

#ilovesydney

Young Henrys, Newtown CREDIT: Destination NSW

Young Henrys bar and brewery in Newtown.

#ilovesydney

Shop 

It’s an Inner West tradition to spend your Saturday morning browsing through the markets (usually set up in the grounds of a school). Glebe Markets on Glebe’s main road and Rozelle Collectors Markets in Rozelle, next to Balmain, are two of the best, bursting with clothes, books, gifts, fresh produce and food. 

Newtown’s King Street is known for its eclectic collection of second-hand shops, ranging from charity shops like Vinnies and Red Cross, and SWOP for one-off high-end pieces. And there’s more than just clothes — pick up vintage LPs at Repressed Records or something new to read at Elizabeth’s Bookshop. 

In Balmain, Darling Street is lined with stylish fashion boutiques and designer homewares stores. One of the city’s best bookstores is found in Glebe — Gleebooks is a treasure trove of fiction, academic, second hand and cook books. They also host regular events with renowned authors. 

Play 

You might not know that a lot of the Inner West actually sits on Sydney Harbour. Follow the Glebe Foreshore Walk from Bicentennial Park to the Sydney Fish Market for great views of the Anzac Bridge (and plenty of dogs at play). In Balmain, you’ll get million dollar views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge from Illoura Reserve. Cool off with a dip in Sydney’s oldest pool, the Dawn Fraser Baths, just around the corner. Opened in 1880, the baths are a tidal saltwater pool built into the harbour and surrounded by Victorian-era wooden pavilions. 

Catch a gig at the longest-running live music venue in New South Wales, the 1908 Enmore Theatre. Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Coldplay and Oasis have all stepped on stage here and there’s usually a packed performance schedule.  

Or discover one of the world’s most significant collections of contemporary Chinese art at the White Rabbit Gallery in Chippendale. The gallery’s Tea House is a destination in itself for the handmade dumplings and fine Chinese and Taiwanese tea. 

For something completely different, try your hand at axe throwing at Maniax in St Peters. Get a group together and compete to see who can hit the most bullseyes. 

Stay 

A heritage pub and the original Carlton United Brewery in Chippendale have been transformed into one of Sydney’s best boutique hotels. The Old Clare Hotel has 62 rooms filled with quirky original features, super-soft king-sized beds and huge windows. The rooftop pool is reason enough to book a night. 

Perfect for longer stays, The Urban Newtown has 79 studios, all with full kitchens, and laundry facilities on-site. Rooms are sleek and modern, and you’re just steps away from the buzz of King Street. And the Best Western Haven Glebe offers comfortable rooms with a touch of quirkiness in a central location on Glebe Point Road in Glebe.  

Repressed Records, Newtown CREDIT: Destination NSW

Browsing records at Repressed Records, Newtown.

#ilovesydney

Repressed Records, Newtown CREDIT: Destination NSW

Browsing records at Repressed Records, Newtown.

#ilovesydney

White Rabbit Gallery, Chippendale CREDIT: Destination NSW

Exhibition at the White Rabbit Gallery, Chippendale.

#ilovesydney

White Rabbit Gallery, Chippendale CREDIT: Destination NSW

Exhibition at the White Rabbit Gallery, Chippendale.

#ilovesydney

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