Although a little bit out of the way, the areas of Balmain and Rozelle – with their out-of-town, village-y atmospheres – are worthy of the extra travel. One big crossroad links Darling Street and Victoria Road, where all the best spots in these suburbs are dotted. To the direct north lies Rozelle, a quaint area full to the brim with independently run shops; Balmain lies just a little further up Darling Street. You’ll need to cross the Parramatta River if you wish to visit nearby Drummoyne: herein lies Birkenhead Point – one of Sydney’s few outlet centres close to the city – just ten minutes away.
Bus 433 from the City to Balmain is your best bet – it terminates all the way to the top of Darling St: Gladstone Park. From here, you can explore the entirety of Balmain and Rozelle by foot.
Otherwise, you can catch the 501 to West Ryde. This journey will take you from the city to Victoria Rd via Ultimo in a jiffy!
Since there are no trains around these parts, the best alternative way to travel would be by ferry or water taxi.
Balmain Wharf Apartments in Balmain East are gorgeous living-like spaces offering absolutely spectacular views of the Harbour & City (no surprise, then, that it’s a popular spot for the New Year’s fireworks).
Nevertheless, while Balmain may be a really great place to live (houses being new, clean and comfortable), what’s left of the limited accommodation they yield is reportedly vile (yeah, no thanks!); best to stick to airbnb.
As previously stated, Balmain East offers some seriously sublime views of the city – encompassed by the ocean, Harbour Bridge and Opera House. Following the Balmain Peninsular north will lead you to Yurulbin Park, an AILA award winning idyllic refuge perfect for a picnic on a hot summer’s day (and, of course, those photo opportunities!). In fact, the whole suburb has an abundance of parks and greens; you should make the most of them while you’re out of the city.
For great shopping bargains, Darling Street – running through Rozelle to Balmain – is choc full of tiny boutiques and hideaways, Lotus Pod being one of the best for clothes, while I favour The Source Bulk Foods for all my grocery needs; their selection of wholesomeness is incredible. A flea market runs at the weekend.
The Cottage Balmain is hands-down the best for tapas-style meals with a drink and, with the best service I have experienced in Sydney (along with interiors so homely you can only wish yours was just as lovely), comes highly recommended. Vegetarians and vegans may opt for Ungaro Raw, an industrial-styled diner serving only the best of meat-free magic. Now, if you thought the bargains in these areas were just limited to the shops, you’d be highly mistaken! The Balmain Bar – providing amazing craft beers – is hipster utopia, and supplies hoards of Chinese dumplings every Thursday night for a single dollar. Not bad!
If you guys have been following my blog, you will know of my appreciation of a good coffee house; at the top of Darling Street lies the best in the area: Kafeine. To accompany their divine -ahem- Kafeine-ated beverages come beautiful pastries, not to mention their amazing breakfasts (anything eggs are their specialty, trust me!). If you’re not feeling like something too heavy, however, then head to Belle Fleur, whose intricately designed chocolates will have you awe-struck from the second you walk through the door.
A small outlet centre a mere fifteen minutes from the city, Birkenhead Point offers heavily discounted prices on many premium international labels, from Ralph Lauren to Tommy Hilfiger, as well as gorgeous Australian brands Country Road and Forever New. The one most definitely not to miss is Lee & Wrangler – here you can stock up on some of the most classic denim in the world for under $50 a piece!
Visitors of American outlets may be a touch disappointed, however; despite the heavy bargains, the selection here isn’t as gargantuan as in the US.
Perfect for an escape from The Big Smoke, the areas of Balmain/Rozelle have everything you need for a day trip. I think what I love about it the most is just how simple it all is; even at weekends it doesn’t get busy, voiding any need to book reservations and queue like you would in the CBD. Not dissimilar from a quaint seaside town, the attitudes of the residents are very different from those closer to the heart of Sydney, which can be a refreshing change!
Next week marks #2 of the Best of the Rest series: Kings Cross, Darlinghurst and Paddington. Come back on Saturday afternoons (AEST) for more SydneyXSuburb!
Thanks for reading ^_^