Having some fun in the Shire... It all began with a train voyage that transported us into the place that is "The Shire". No it's not a place inhabited by Hobits and thought up by Tolkien but a real place in the Suburbs of Sydney.
The Shire became to us a place with good food, good friends and incredible memories. We met some incredible people through our lovely Laura: Renee, Mario, Becks, Bones and Mel. What a wonderful cast of characters that showed us a fun time and what Shire life was all about.
It seems that no matter where you travel, there's always something different. So it was that I found myself in Leichhardt, one of Sydney's less visited suburbs. My partner is into quilting and we went to visit a shop that has a wide range of fabric.
It transpired that the building we went to was once a hat factory; the old boiler still remains embedded in the wall. Apparently Leichhardt has some good cafes; I should know, I had a hot chocolate at The Bakehouse Cafe and, if it's symptomatic of the rest, then the suburb is a good place to eat.
It was a tidy suburb, with a mixture of old and new architecture.
I go to Auburn from time to time because the magazine I write for is in an adjacent suburb. Then I have to walk the streets of Auburn.
It must be the most cosmopolitan of all Sydney's suburbs. I remember looking at a bank sign that said, "Polish, Arabic and English spoken here", and all this right next to the headquarters of the local Turkish newspaper.
Of course, then there's the Asian influence, Chinese and others everywhere as well.
So, last time I was there I took my camera just to give you an idea of what it's like.
It's also great if you want to try some different food, what a place to visit and what choices you will have.
The Auburn Gallipoli Mosque in Sydney was officially opened in 1999.
The Turkish influence is paramount and it wouldn't look out of place on the hills of Istanbul and in suburban Auburn, it certainly is a standout for the industrial traffic flowing through Silverwater not that they take a lot of notice!
Much of the design uses traditional Ottoman features and the marble and stone utilized in the external walls and courtyard were imported from Turkey. The carpets were manufactured in Istanbul and are specially designed for mosque use.
It took thirteen years to construct.
Parramatta is a lovely suburb of Sydney. My husband and I ventured to Parramatta on a River Cat from Circular Quay(buses and trains are an alternative mode of transport). I love travelling by ferry and this was a calm, relaxing ride. We arrived at the Parramatta ferry wharf on Charles Street and began our explorations.
Parramatta is a busy business and commercial area with many business, shops, restaurants and government offices. There is so much to see and do in the area: Parramatta Park, Lennox Bridge, The Parramatta River, St. Johns Cathedral, Elizabeth Farm as well as the shops and the Westfield Mall.
There are several nice restuarants and cafes in Parramatta; our favorite being Liana's (excellent italian food).
To me Parramatta is not the typical "suburb" but a city within a city and worth exploring.
For seven years I was lucky enough to be Assistant Principal of Rozelle Public School in the suburb of Rozelle, just 2 kilometres from the very heart of the city.
These two suburbs have a fabulous array of eateries with great food and coffee in quality abundance. Lots of interesting shopping for clothes, homethings, books & lots more.
They also have a great range of real aussie pubs with some good entertainment options. Check out the website below.
I will put some of these places that I know well into my Sydney page as Shopping or Restaurant tips.
To get here from the city it is only about 5-10 minutes over the Anzac Bridge using any of the 500 buses or a 440, 433 or 445 bus which take you on a more circuitous route through the inner west.
To just confine yourself to the city and the usual touristy places of Bondi and/or Manly is to really do yourself a disservice. Bondi and Manly are worth a look, I'm not meaning to put them down. I lived in Manly quite some years ago & still really like it. It still has an interesting diversity to it, especially if you scratch below the surface. However Balmain & Rozelle are even more interesting in a genuine way.
Cronulla is a nice beach suburb of Sydney. There are beautiful beach areas perfect for sunbathing, swimming or surfing. There is a nice corso for shopping and some good food. We enjoyed several restaurants in Cronulla that had good and affordable food. My wife enjoyed the great shopping in Cronulla at very affordable prices.
Parramatta was a fun experience for us. I enjoyed hopping on the River Cat and travelling along seeing sights I never encountered during my previous trips. Parramatta is a large suburb but has that intimate friendly feel to it. There are many shopping areas, parks and resturants to enjoy while visiting.
Liz and I enjoyed strolling along the river, taking in some shops and enjoying an incredible Italian lunch.
The suburb of Surrey Hills lies right next to Central Railway Station, south east to be precise.
Here is where many of tomorrow's fashions can be seen but not purchased. Wholesalers line streets such as Fairfax and vans can be seen coming and going with the latest releases.
There is more to Surrey Hills where art is concerned than simply fashion; Belvoir Street Theatre is one of the more famous venues (pic 3).
If you venture around you might also see some sculpture in a park (pic 4). I found this on top of one of the rises from where the suburb got its name.
Not too far from the city centre is the lovely suberb of Paddington. Picturesque and upwardly mobile it is one of the more expensive areas around Sydney, we come here to visit friends and always stay for a few nights. Oxford Street is the main shopping street and it runs between Paddington and Surrey Hills and offers some great places to eat and spend your money.
I have to start by saying that I've always been a northern beaches man, been surfing them since I came to Sydney well over 20 years ago & also lived at both Manly (southern end of the northern beaches) & also Newport (part of the "insular peninsula" - see my Avalon page for a bit more).
I dare say you can hear a "BUT" coming on & you are absolutely right. I've been to Coogee a couple of times over the years, the most recently just yesterday & last night & this morning & I have to admit I've quite fallen in love with this beautiful little village by the sea & would move there tomorrow
I'm building a separate "Coogee" page with a range of tips so please come visit it to learn some more about this beaut' area.
So why have I fallen in love with Coogee? Well, anywhere you can smell the salt air & walk along the beachfront (especially where there is a nice green park running along the beachfront) looking at the waves breaking onto the lovely pale golden, almost white, sand is a good starting point. When you add to that very good coffee indeed from a few different places, excellent cafes & resaurants & a few different nightlife spots you're really getting there.
If you're coming to Sydney to visit & you love the beach then I'd strongly suggest staying here. There are a number of accommodation options ranging form a number of Backpacker places that seem o.k. though to flats etc, up to the Coogee Crown Plaza Hotel which is eithr 4 star rated. You are only about 15 minutes drive from the city, but I'd suggest it'd take a bit longer in a bus although you can get an express bus with first stop in Bent Streeet in the City. I wonder if they only run in peak commuter times in the morning & late afternoon/early evening.
The only danger if you stay here (& love the beach & ocean) is that you may well be tempted not to go into the city at all. lol!
Feel freet to visit my Coogee page for more specific info'.
Newtown is a bizarre, cosmopolitan mish mash of society. Trendy little cafes line the main road, attracting a wonderful collection of students, hippies, goths, queers and others from the fringes of society. Pull up a chair, order a coffee and watch in great delight as a stream of colourful characters wander past.
Alternatively, the Dendy Cinema shows arthouse films and the Enmore Theatre is a great place to catch a concert.
Newtown is in the inner west, just up the road from Sydney University. It is on the trainline, so if coming from afar (or the city) that's probably the best option. Driving into Newtown is an absolute nightmare - leave the car at home.
Paddington is a very fashionable suburb in the Inner -East of the City.
40 years ago , it was known as a slum but now it has been heritage listed and gentrified out of its mind.
The old Victorian Terrace /row houses have all been completely refurbished and are beautiful to look at. The streets are steep and narrow so a good pair of walking shoes are an idea. There are wonderful Art-galleries,pubs, and cafe's everywhere.
The architecture is a joy to see. There is even a church that has been turned into an apartment block.Sydney has a great way of utilizing any old building and giving it a 21st century life., without destroying the age -old elegance of some of these .Take a bus and have a look. On the week-ends there, are great markets in Oxford Street.
As you stroll around here, you keep getting extraordinary views of the Harbour as well.
This may sound a bit odd, but in Newtown, there is an old historical cemetaryin St Stephens Churchyard.
This cemetary was established in 1849.At the entrance , is one of the largest Moreton Bay fig-trees that I have ever seen. This also was planted in 1849.
Amoung the graves are some of Australia's earliest settlers including one Eliza Emily Donnithorne.
Charles Dickens brother ,apparently lived in Sydney and Dickens paid a visit and met Miss Donnithorne, who was jilted on her wedding day and spent the rest of her life in her wedding dress.Dickens must have been fascinated by this story as she became the model for Miss Haversham in Great Expectations.
Currently ,this place is often used as a background in movies such as Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
I quite often take overseas visitors on the Rivercat to Parramatta.
This is a ferry that leaves Circular Quay and takes you up the river to Parramatta.The trip takes about 40 minutes each way. You get to see another view of Sydney ,and towards Parramatta ,you travel through some amazing Mangrove wet-lands.Parramatta itself is well worth seeing ,if you like a bit of colonial history.Old Government House and Elizabeth Farm are fascinating to visit..
After a leisurely walk around Paramatta, you can have a quiet ale or whatever beside the river and watch the waterbirds, as you await the rivercat ,to return you to Sydney city.
A very pleasant relaxing experience.