Any visit to Sydney would not be complete without checking out Balmain. A location near and dear to my heart, I spent several years in my early twenties living here.
Balmain has a certain charm about it. Especially when it comes to the gorgeous little terrace houses that line in the backstreets. It also has a rich history too. In the 1800s it was considered the industrial hub of Sydney, whilst in 1881 the Australian Labour Party was formed here. During the 1920s, it developed a reputation for being a rough and disorderly place. But now the local population are a much more congenial bunch.
As its only about 6km from the centre of Sydney, I highly recommend you come and visit Balmain. If you do, be sure to check out the following:
The ferry ride from Balmain to Circular Quay is something I could do every day! I’ll never tire of seeing the view of Sydney Harbour Bridge as you approach it from Balmain Wharf and I always get a few goosebumps every time I am transported underneath it.
It’s a much more pleasurable way to travel than taking the 441 bus over Anzac Bridge, and when the sky is clear, and the wind is blowing through your hair, it is such a great feeling.
No matter how many times you take the ferry there is always something interesting on the waterfront to catch your eye. So it’s always advisable to have your phones or cameras at the ready.
Balmain is not a place you will go hungry. Not through lack of choice at least. There are so many different cafes, restaurants and eateries in Balmain its difficult to keep track of which are the best!
I would recommend Contessa, which does great coffee and brunch, and Efendy, which is an award-winning restaurant that offers up delicious Turkish food.
Balmain is also where Adrian Zumbo first opened up his legendary patisserie just over a decade ago, so you really should make a pit stop there. And whilst I am on the subject of sweet stuff, Nutie makes superb gluten-free donuts that are real works of art.
If you love to swim then you simply must go for a dip at the Dawn Fraser Baths!
Although they were named in honour of our Aussie champion swimmer, the baths were actually first constructed in the 1880s, before being revamped in the 1920s.
I have swum in the pool, at the heritage-listed baths in Elkington Park, on many occasions, and funnily enough I always felt like I swam a little bit faster! Maybe I was channelling my inner Olympian? Or perhaps I was just inspired by its wonderful waterfront setting. Either way, a swim there is always a pleasurable experience.
I love a good market and Balmain has one of the best of them in the whole of Sydney.
Every Saturday, around the grounds of St Andrews Church you will find hundreds of stalls. Selling everything from handmade arts and crafts to exquisite jewellery, stunning giftware, and a wide selection of clothing, books and homewares you could easily spend a happy few hours here perusing the tables.
My house is full of items purchased from these markets, and it’s always fun trying to spot my next purchase whenever I go there. The vibe in the market is always good too, while I find the vendors are always on for a pleasant chat.
Ballast Point Park is one of my favourite parks. I used to bring the kids here often when they were younger, and when the grandkids come along I am sure I will do the same with them.
One of the best things about this park is that you get a fabulous view of Sydney Harbour Bridge, so it’s a great place to sit and have a picnic, read a book or just simply hang out.
During the New Year’s Eve fireworks this is a prime spot in which to watch them, and at every other time of the year the views of the waterfront are very relaxing.