Friday, 17 May 2013

Let's do Balmain!

While exploring Balmain I prepared a walk for you, to enjoy it as much as I did!

In the early days Balmain was very industrial with a large working class, living in tiny cottages. Currently you still feel this down to earth workers vibe when you wander around this pretty suburb. It remains very local and still has the highest number of pubs in the innerwest. Very popular amongst the locals are The Royal Oak, The Monkey Bar and the London Hotel (The Don), but visitors mainly come to Balmain for their fashionable boutiques, some of city's best cafes, the galleries and the markets.

Start your walk by taking the ferry from Circular Quay to Balmain East.

Coming from the ferry you enter Darling street. Walk this beautiful leafy street upwards and you will notice the modest workers' cottages, which give you the immediate feel of the colorful working-class heritage atmosphere.

Don't forget to peek in the little side streets and notice the gorgeous water views.

Turn into Kileen Street and take a seat on the grass of Ewenton Park. You will be treated by a beautiful view of Darling Harbour and the CBD high-rise.

On nr 179 (across the street) you will find the Balmain Watch house. This former police lock up was built in 1854 by the well-known colonial architect Edmund Blackett. It is open for visits only on Saturday afternoons.
A few meters further you can take a break at Viva's. In the early 60s the place was called Johnny's and people came in for late night milkshakes and cakes till 4 in the morning. Since then it has been a diner (the booth diner seats are still there). On Friday and Saturday they serve seasonal menus. 189 Darling Street.

Across the street at nr. 212 you will find Ciao Thyme, a small corner cafe owned by chef Courtney Bracks (who also owns Viva). What's nice about Ciao Thyme is the comfy atmosphere. Just sit, relax, have a coffee while leisurely browsing the Sunday paper. They serve delicious breakfast, lunch and of course divine coffee.

On nr 240 you will find a nice Tea Merchant named Elmstock.
This family owned business from Perth sells different fine teas from Asia, Africa and Europe.

When you pass the roundabout you will find the fashion boutique Sofia Londero.
She opened her doors of her first boutique in Balmain, in 2007, with a love of fashion and an eye for quality and eclectic design.
Commited to providing the latest trends, she presents her customers with a vast collection of exclusive designers and European collections.
Brands: American Vintage, Nolita, Desigual, Maison Scotch, Odd Molly, NU, Rare and much more bohemian chique fashion brands.

Graving for a nice lunch or to grab a delicious ice cream? Go to Bertoni Casalinga (across the street at nr 281). This Sicilian daytime deli and cafe serves delicious fresh food, coffee and gelato!

The best patisserie of Australia is in Balmain! Adriano Zumbo.
His creations are unique in conception and execution, you won't find anything else quite like it in Australia.
Being a chef in Masterchef Australia, his shop is so popular that the waiting times can be tremendous!
A few doors further you see a beautiful World Heritage building where the Gourmet Grocer Balmain is located.
In 2011 they have been awarded 'Best Cheese' in the SMH Good Food Shopping Guide. This independent deli sources the best local and international food. They have an outstanding cheese collection as well as charcuterie, olives, antipasto, special oils and vinegars.

Fancy a nice lunch in a front rose garden? Or a private dinner in a rear terrace? The Cottage, on nr 342 is the place to be. There's a bar, a dining room, an upstairs lounge and a huge brick oven which makes delicious pizzas. The Cottage is housed in a traditional, double fronted cottage and has gorgeous mismatched furniture, cozy lounges and old fireplaces.

The boutique Johnston & Bell has the most vibrant storefront on Darling Street. This mid-priced fashion shop sells stunning tops, darling dresses and beautiful accessories.
The founder, Jenny Bell, relocated her design business from London more than 10 years ago and designs these fashion items, which are organic friendly as well.

Cross the street and turn right into Young Street which leads you to beautiful Elkington Park.
This park has a lovely playground and picnic area and gorgeous views overlooking Cockatoo Island.
Next to the park you will see a natural pool named Dawn Fraser Pool (after an Australian Olympic winner).
When you are ready to go back, walk through Lockhart Avenue to the Balmain West Wharf and take the ferry back to Circular Quay.

Hope you will love Balmain as much as I did!

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