Syd­ney’s breath­tak­ing cityscape

The ef­fer­ves­cent precincts of one of the world’s most iconic cities



Think Aus­tralia’s cul­tural cap­i­tal, and Melbourne may creep into mind. But Syd­ney is not about to slink away with­out a fight. Wel­lloved for its land­marks such as the Syd­ney Opera House and Bondi Beach, this city’s still har­bour wa­ters run deep. Ev­ery au­tumn, Vivid Syd­ney, a lights, mu­sic and ideas fes­ti­val, pays homage to the city’s creative ta­pes­try, lived in and ever-chang­ing. But that’s only the face of it. Like the new tram lines be­ing built across town, there’s a sense of re­de­vel­op­ment and rein­vig­o­ra­tion in the city: not only in shiny new precincts such as the Baranga­roo water­front dis­trict, but within in­ner city precincts as well, where lively pock­ets of food, art, her­itage and even mu­sic—aka Mar­rickville’s vi­brant ware­house live mu­sic scene—bub­ble away. Look closer and there is just so much more to dis­cover.

PADDINGTON Well-worn and loved anew

This eastern sub­urb en­joys some se­ri­ous fash­ion cred. Lo­cal brands such as Zim­mer­mann, Camilla and Marc, and Alice Mc­Call strut their stuff at The In­ter­sec­tion, a stretch at the junc­tion of Glen­more Road and Ox­ford Street known for its Aus­tralian bou­tiques. Along the way, there are chic cafes to pique your in­ter­est; Jack­ies Cafe (jack­ies­padding­, for one, is a lovely cafe serv­ing Aus­tralian and Ja­panese fare. Ex­plore ad­ja­cent streets, lined with 1920s Vic­to­rian-style ter­races, and you’d dis­cover small-batch ar­ti­sans who have set up shopfronts there. On Wil­liam Street for in­stance, there’s Just Wil­liam Cho­co­lates (just­, a fam­ily-owned pur­veyor of hand­made cho­co­lates, and fur­ther down the row, Neil Grigg Millinery (neil­grig­, who do be­spoke fas­ci­na­tors, head­pieces and hats.

Stop by one of the most at­mo­spheric del­i­catessen-cafes in this precinct:

Ali­men­tari (face­ ali­men­tari) on Hopetoun Street, with its Lit­tle Italy vibes, deep cof­fee aro­mas and glass cases brim­ming with char­cu­terie, cheeses, Ital­ian pas­tries and desserts. When you’re ready to go, Five Ways is just up ahead, a land­mark junc­tion of Glen­more Road, Good­hope Street, Hee­ley Street and Broughton Street. Buzzy cafes such as Gusto and Son­der beckon, along­side the iconic The Royal Ho­tel (roy­al­ho­, built in 1888 and re­cently re­vamped with a new rooftop bar. And if it’s a Satur­day, you can’t miss Paddington Mar­kets (padding­ton­mar­ right by Paddington Unit­ing Church on Ox­ford Street, where in­die de­sign­ers, artists and crafts­men gladly show you their un­var­nished works.

De­spite its renown, lo­cals say Paddington had fallen off the radar a lit­tle with the emer­gence of other swanky neigh­bour­hoods. But in the past few years, this has changed with ul­tra-cool fur­ni­ture shops such as The

Vignette Room (the­vi­gnette­ and Totem Road (totem­ carv­ing a niche, and up­scale re­tail shops such as Paddington

Fine Wines (padding­ton­ mak­ing their pres­ence felt. But what has re­ally made a dif­fer­ence is the ex­cit­ing slate of restau­rants that have opened here in the last few years. One ex­am­ple is Fred’s (merivale. com/venues/freds), a two-hat­ted restau­rant helmed by head chef Danielle Al­varez, for­merly of Alice Wa­ters’ Chez Panisse. The Cal­i­for­nian na­tive’s restau­rant is a beau­ti­ful, truly open-kitchen con­cept that re­moves the bar­rier be­tween chef and diner. With a cus­tom-made hearth and wood-fired oven at its heart, Al­varez and her team labour around prep ta­bles set up front and cen­tre. Guests can dine right next to them or at ta­bles just a few steps away. Warm light­ing adds to the con­vivial at­mos­phere, a state­ment punc­tu­ated by their darkly-lit bar out front, which in con­trast, of­fers a modern, slinky, sul­try vibe.

While the set­ting is rus­tic, the food is sea­sonal pro­duce-driven, the likes of a pris­tine snap­per sashimi ac­cen­tu­ated with crispy ca­pers, roasted onion vinai­grette and radish to start, or a com­fort­ing main such as a fork-ten­der wood oven-braised lamb shoul­der. Al­varez minds the pass with ra­zor-sharp con­cen­tra­tion but catch her in mo­ments and she breaks out into a gi­ant smile. She doesn’t mind you step­ping up to get a closer look at what’s cooking, as long as you steer clear of the hot stoves! Ad­journ to the bar for a night­cap or head down to the base­ment bar Char­lie Parker’s (­liepark­ers), which of­fers a dif­fer­ent am­bi­ence with its lively tav­ern feel.

An­other ex­cit­ing chef-restau­ra­teur to make a date with is chef Josh Ni­land of two-hat­ted Saint Peter (saint­, a fish-fo­cused restau­rant that has re­cently also started a fish butch­ery (fish­butch­

on the same street. Apart from serv­ing up some un­usual items such as fish of­fal, they are known for their skill in dry-age­ing fish. Chef Ni­land says that un­like oth­ers who tend to do age­ing by us­ing some sort of brine, salt-base or bury­ing in ice, all they do is clean their top-qual­ity fish well, and store it in the fridge in their butch­ery with­out any wa­ter. He adds, “Span­ish mack­erel has been the big­gest suc­cess we’ve had in terms of flavour. The aged fish is earthy, savoury, umami, and re­minds me a bit of the gills un­der the mush­room and toasted nori.” The long­est age­ing time Ni­land has ever ven­tured was 42 days for the al­ba­core, which gave it a firmer tex­ture and el­e­vated flavour. But he is quick to say the length of age­ing time is not the de­ter­mi­nant of flavour. We tried his aged Span­ish mack­erel for in­stance, aged for just 17 days, and it tasted amaz­ingly rich and flavour­ful, par­tic­u­larly when mar­ried with the sauce made with the Span­ish mack­erel bones, fish stock, veg­eta­bles and pesto.

CHIP­PEN­DALE Brew­ery de­con­structed

Chip­pen­dale, a her­itage preser­va­tion area, har­bours a sto­ried his­tory. A no­to­ri­ous in­dus­trial and brew­ery precinct, it housed the old Kent Brew­ery (later known as Carl­ton & United Brew­eries) which closed in the mid 2000s. Rem­nants of the brew­ery’s brick façade still stand at Chip­pen­dale Green, Cen­tral Park, now in­te­grated with a tri-gen­er­a­tion plant. In the back­ground, One Cen­tral Park, a modern residential apart­ment equipped with a fu­tur­is­tic, light-re­flect­ing he­lio­stat looms. Nearby, fur­ther ne­go­ti­at­ing of old and new is ap­par­ent on Kens­ing­ton Street, where over the last decade, ar­chi­tect firm Tonkin Zu­laikha Greer has led the trans­for­ma­tion of for­mer ware­houses and ter­races into re­tail, en­ter­tain­ment and din­ing spa­ces.

A prime ex­am­ple of the seam­less restora­tion that has taken place here is The Old Clare Ho­tel (the­old­clare­ho­, owned by Sin­ga­pore brand Un­listed Collection, made up of her­itage­listed build­ings The Clare Ho­tel pub and the

Carl­ton & United Brew­eries Ad­min­is­tra­tion Build­ing. Here, modern ameni­ties and retro fix­tures meld seam­lessly with parts of the orig­i­nal build­ings that have been pre­served, such as the old board­room in the Ad­min­is­tra­tion Build­ing, which re­mains the ho­tel’s meet­ing room to­day. Cou­pled with swanky restau­rants Au­tomata, Kens­ing­ton Street So­cial and the newly opened A1 Can­teen across the street, this bou­tique ho­tel im­bibes the spirit of strad­dling old and new. While ex­plor­ing this area, don’t miss other de­li­cious venues, such as Masterchef Aus­tralia con­tes­tant Reynold Po­er­nomo’s

KOI Dessert Bar (koidessert­, and Spice Al­ley (spiceal­ where you’ll find a co­terie of Asian hawker-style eater­ies.

Like at­tracts like; along with the creative en­ergy driv­ing this precinct comes artists and cre­atives who work and play in the area. Art gal­leries, for in­stance, are fairly nu­mer­ous and within close prox­im­ity, rang­ing from

White Rab­bit Gallery (whit­er­ab­bit­col­lec­ spe­cial­is­ing in Chi­nese con­tem­po­rary art; to Ga­lerie Pom­pom (ga­leriepom­ fea­tur­ing works by Syd­ney- and Mel­bournebased con­tem­po­rary artists. Speak­ing of which, if art is high on your in­ter­est meter, it’s def­i­nitely worth tak­ing a walk­ing tour with Cul­ture Scouts (cul­ au), a group that spe­cialises in in­cor­po­rat­ing art, her­itage, cul­ture and food. The best part is that the tours are led by guides who are emerg­ing artists them­selves. Through their lenses, back­sto­ries to mu­rals such as Aber­crom­bie Street’s Bin Chick­ens by Scott Marsh and Por­trait of Naomi May­ers by street artist Fin­tan Magee come to life. But more on Fin­tan Magee later.

REDFERN Indige­nous iden­ti­ties

A precinct of many faces, Redfern’s more som­bre vis­age greets you upon ex­it­ing Redfern sta­tion, where you’d spot im­me­di­ately, the im­pos­ing 40,000 Years is a

Long Time mu­ral, run­ning along the wall of Lawson Bridge. Orig­i­nally done by artist Carol Ruff, the work sets the stage for the his­tory-steeped vibes you’d get here. When you are told this is where key fa­cil­i­ties for abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Straits com­mu­ni­ties are lo­cated, the indige­nous street art you see around The Block, an area that used to house indige­nous lo­cals, res­onates even more. At the cor­ner of Hugo and Caro­line Street in par­tic­u­lar, look out for a mu­ral painted in red, yel­low and black, the colours of the abo­rig­i­nal flag, made by Reko Ren­nie and abo­rig­i­nal artists, with the words ‘Welcome to Redfern’ em­bla­zoned on a ter­race build­ing.

On a lighter note, Redfern’s eclec­tic range of tenants means this is also where you’ll find plenty to sat­isfy the in­trepid


gourmet. One is The Rab­bit Hole Or­ganic

Tea Bar (ther­ab­bit­, where there are over 20 orig­i­nal tea blends and a range of ar­ti­sanal Chi­nese and Tai­wanese teas, even aged teas. An­other is Henry Lee’s (hen­, housed in 16 Eveleigh Creative Precinct, a ware­house that used to be the home of Aus­tralian brand wear-proof hosiery and Shel­don Leather Goods Mill. It’s ded­i­cated to sea­sonal pro­duce and work­ing with lo­cal sup­pli­ers, but just stay­ing awhile in its pretty court­yard alone will help re­store the mind and spirit. On Satur­days, head to Car­riage­works Farm­ers Mar­ket (car­riage­­riage­works­farm­ers-mar­ket), lo­cated at the old Eveleigh Rail Yards, where you can dis­cover farm-fresh pro­duce pre­sented by more than 70 pro­duc­ers across New South Wales.

NEWTOWN Street art and mul­ti­cul­tural cuisines

If you’re a fan of street artist Fin­tan Magee, you’ve wan­dered into the right in­ner West sub­urb, and if you’re not, you soon will be. One of Aus­tralia’s most prom­i­nent street artists who gets com­mis­sioned work from around the world, Magee strikes a chord as much for his pol­i­tics on so­cial and en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues as for the larg­erthan-life qual­ity of his pieces. Dra­matic and re­al­is­tic, yet dreamy and child­like, his work spans whole façades of build­ings, some­times even wa­ter tow­ers, in the case of a work in Puerto Rico ad­dress­ing cli­mate change. In Newtown, you can eas­ily view sev­eral of Magee’s mu­rals. At En­more Road’s Ur­ban Ho­tel for in­stance, there’s his iconic Hous­ing

Bub­ble, which speaks about Syd­ney’s ris­ing hous­ing prices, and on Church Street, Woman

with Tele­phone, done to­gether with an­other street artist Numb­skull.

Of course, there are mu­rals by other artists to catch sight of too, and when you’re ready for a change of scene, head to King Street, the precinct’s main thor­ough­fare, to ex­plore vin­tage shops such as King of the Jun­gle (kingofthe­jun­ and Cream

on Vin­tage (face­­mon­vin­tage), as well as a wide range of eater­ies of­fer­ing any­thing from ve­gan to In­dian, Viet­namese, and Ja­panese cui­sine. If you’re a cof­fee fiend, you’ll want to stop by O’Con­nell Street’s

Brew­town (brew­town­new­, a ware­house cafe-roast­ery-bak­ery, whose own­ers met while work­ing at Toby’s Es­tate. If there’s time, head for Aus­tralia Street where there’s bou­tique patis­serie Black Star

Pas­try (black­starpas­, fa­mous for its straw­berry wa­ter­melon cake and other equally de­lec­ta­ble cakes and pas­tries such as pis­ta­chio lemon zen cake and frangi­pane tart. Oth­er­wise, seek out Court­house Ho­tel (face­, an old-school pub with a spa­cious beer gar­den where you can while the af­ter­noon away chug­ging lo­cal brews. Al­ter­na­tively, visit lo­cal craft brew­ery

Young Hen­rys Brew­ery (younghen­ for a tour (week­ends, by ap­point­ment only) or visit their tast­ing bar (open daily) for some of their freshly brewed beers such as New­towner, an Aus­tralian pale ale that’s “fun, fruity and just a lit­tle bit­ter”.

Our visit to Syd­ney was made pos­si­ble by Des­ti­na­tion New South Wales and Qan­tas Air­lines.

Syd­ney’s breath­tak­ing cityscape

Saint Peter

This pagePor­trait of Naomi May­ers; Car­riage­works Farm­ers Mar­ket

This pageRest a while at The Rab­bit Hole Or­ganic Tea Bar

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