Balmain Highlights & Essential Things To Do
Discover Your Local Balmain Area
Walk down Darling Street today and you can still almost hear the working-class larrikins stumbling out of the pub. Listen closely and you'll make out the clip-clop of horse drawn carriages and the tram's bell making its way down the peninsula. The same rowdy pubs sit on every street corner. The twisting streets are just as narrow and the jacarandas still shine against the cool sandstone cottages. Sure, Balmain hasn't changed that much physically. But this is one old suburb that has definitely out-grown its working-class roots.
Only ten minutes from the city, Balmain is now one of Sydney's most sought after residential areas. Tell that to someone one hundred years ago and they'd have laughed in your face. Hard to believe walking through this sunny little village with Darling Street's winding path framing a close-up of the city. Dotted with wonderful smelling boutiques, all day breakfast cafes (where bringing your pooch is a given) and markets that hum beneath gothic church spires, Balmain is a hub of activity. There's nothing more Balmain than grabbing a crusty bacon and egg roll, a coffee and a picnic rug then heading to Gladestone Park.
In fact, the Little Marionette on Gladstone provides these picnic rugs so anyone can perform this intrinsically Balmain ritual. A ritual which is reinforced by the strong coffee culture that saturates Balmain's strip with so many cafes you will be spoilt for choice. Decide whether you support Team Marionette or Team Bertoni just around the corner with the milk crates out the front. Balmain is also pretty outstanding in the culinary department. Join the queue for macaroons at Adriano Zumbo or try your luck at Spice I Am opposite Gladstone Park. Follow the streets down to Mort Bay Park, and if it's a clear night, park yourself on the edge of the wharf and just take in the beauty.
Down towards the water, Balmain is bordered by grassy parks and reserves including New Year's Eve hotspot Birchgrove Oval. The untamed Elkington Park encircling Dawn Fraser Baths is full of people drying off in the sun beneath the palms. The heavy branched figs continue into the surrounds of verdant East Balmain where plump pines shade locals sipping a beer at the Bald Rock if not East Village. Just like the locals one hundred years ago.
There's no denying the working class Balmain still haunts today's busy strip. However, after refurbishment, there's no way the ghosts are complaining.