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Explore the bustling streets of Balmain

Annie Gray

Want to explore more of Sydney's inner suburbs? How about a wander through the leafy streets of Balmain this weekend, browsing through boutiques and dining at delicious eateries. Located between Rozelle and Birchgrove, Balmain is an affluent inner suburb 3 kilometres west of Sydney's CBD. Many travel to Balmain, named after a surgeon on the first fleet, via the ferry which you can board at Circular Quay and disembark at Darling Street Wharf.

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The architecture of Balmain ranges from terrace homes of the Victorian era lining Darling Street, to restored sandstone worker's cottages, remaining from what was once a working-class area. It's not just the appearance of the homes that have vastly changed over the centuries, the colonial pubs that were once boisterous and rough are now beautifully revamped, offering a relaxed vibe. Try The Royal Oak Hotel (36 College Street, Balmain) for great pub fare that's a hot spot for both locals and tourists. Built in 1879, the pub retains it's old charm especially at the front bar which offers man boutique beers. Offering three bar areas, vibrant-coloured walls, fringed umbrellas and a flamingo room, The Balmain Hotel (74 Mullens Street, Balmain) is a place to go if you are up for pub grub. The gourmet food on offer is a fusion of America and Asian fare from burgers and chicken wings to choy bow and duck salads, there really is something for everyone!

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Feel like a dip? The Dawn Fraser Baths is the oldest pool in Australia which is why it is such a prime spot for a swim. It is designed as a tidal flow harbour pool which means the depth changes with the tide and is affected by rainfall, so it is best to plan going at a suitable time.

Alternatively, take a trip to the market! The Saturday Market better known as the Balmain Market is the third oldest market in Sydney and offers some of the best vintage collectables, arts and craft, unique jewellery, homewards and fashion that the city has to offer. Weather permitted, it is held every Saturday at the churchyard of St Andrew's Congregational Church on Darling Street (217-223 Darling Street, Balmain). At the far end of Darling Street, historic sights not to be missed include the Victorian Post office built in 1887, the prosperous Court House, the Balmain fire station built in 1894 and the court house, topped with a significant dome that was protected from the air raids of WWII.

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As you walk back along Darling Street back to the wharf, passing all the lavish boutiques, independent jewellers, hip cafes and restaurants, the village of Balmain is far from what was once an intimidating colonial, working-class town.

Want to explore more of Sydney's heritage? Book one of our Story of Sydney tours today!

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