Balmain's historical soul is grounded in working class culture as it was not that long ago it was primarily the home for working families. In fact it was in Balmain that the Australian Labor Party was formed in 1891.
Balmain has a rich industrial background and was home to coal mines, shipbuilding, metal foundries, boiler making, engineering and soap factories. Because of this tiny cottages were built and rented to the workers. Today they have been restored and enjoy a new and grander life.
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Thankfully, Balmain respects its heritage which is now enjoyed a wide cross-section of locals, local enterprises as well as tourists and visitors.
Balmain is only 6km west of the Sydney CBD in inner city and it lies on a peninsula jutting into Sydney Harbour and surrounding suburbs are Rozelle, Birchgrove, Iron Cove, White Bay and Mort Bay.
Photo Balmain & Glebe Heritage
One of Sydney's most interesting shopping strips.
Take a walk on Saturdays from Balmain to the Rozelle Markets. You'll pass high fashion shops, stores with handmade jewellery, shops with shoes from Europe and unconventional fashion designs. There are stunning collections women's designer wear at Strelitzia and the Saturday Balmain Markets for recycled fashion, pre-loved books and music, antiques and collectables.
Photo Helen K
Selected Balmain Attractions
St Andrews Church
217 Darling Street Balmain
8am to 4 pm Saturdays
Ph 0451 637 701
140 stalls with high quality art and craft, jewellery, bric-a-brac, books, clothing, footwear, antiques and collectables, organic fruit and vegetables. More info
Rozelle School 663 Darling St Rozelle 2039
Ph 02 9818 5373
Every Saturday and Sunday 9am to 4pm.
Everything from bric a brac, furniture, records and books to vintage clothing and jewellery. Garage sale stalls are a specialty as are antiques and collectables. All the ingredients are there for the seriously creative or just the practical bargain hunters. There's a great selection of international food, a massage for the weary and even tarot readings for the curious.
Balmain East, NSW 2041
Rich in history and a fascinating and important part of Sydney's Port Jackson. Tours are available.
Selected Balmain Shopping Destinations
489 Darling Street, Balmain, NSW 2041
Ph 02 9810 8855
Destination fashion store for all Sydney stylistas.
Monday - Friday 10am - 6pm, Saturday 9.30am - 5.30pm and Sunday 11am - 5pm
The Source Bulk Foods
262 Darling Street Balmain,
NSW 2041 Ph 02 9810 0095
Heaven for those looking to nourish nutrition, health and the environment with over 350 raw products lining the walls of this eco savvy store.
Open Monday-Friday 9am-6:30pm (Thursday open till 7:30pm), Saturday & Sunday 9am-5pm Check Facebook page for public holiday opening hours.
Selected Balmain Accommodation
"A Waterside Enclave"
Private home at Birchgrove
Birchgrove Road, Birchgrove, NSW 2041
Ph 02 9358 2655 Mobile: 0448 700 199
Beautifully renovated home with original charm, catering for family living and entertaining with sweeping open plan living and spectacular harbour views.
An Oasis In The City - Balmain
20 Colgate Avenue Balmain NSW 2041
Ph 02 9810 3487
An Oasis in the City offers a spacious, sun-filled room with views over Sydney Harbour.
Balmain Wharf Apartments
10 Darling St Balmain East
Ph 02 4455 3044 Mobile 0405 677 293
Contemporary, stylish apartments, rich in history in a prime location.
A wonderful way to soak up the Sydney lifestyle and it's urban villages is to stay at the Balmain Wharf Apartments. These superb prime waterfront apartments have stunning panoramic views across Sydney harbour to the Harbour Bridge. They are all beautiful, contemporary and stylish, rich in history in unique location.
Nestled within the historic 200 year old heritage sandstone building is a collection of four luxury serviced apartments. Once, long ago it was the Shipwright's Arms Hotel and it has had a long and interesting history. Now one finds the interiors fitted out to a very high standard in designer style and comfort. They are full of character and heritage without any loss of comfort.Just below the building is the Balmain East ferry wharf with regular ferry services to Darling Harbour, Milsons Point North Sydney and under the Harbour Bridge to Circular Quay and the CBD.
These apartments are a wonderful combination of style and ambiance. And being set in Balmain places guests within a short distance to an extensive range of stunning restaurants, cafes and boutiques and eclectic shops.
Selected Balmain Restaurants and Cafes
Adriano Zumbo Balmain Patisserie
Bistro Balmain at Exchange Hotel
Adriano Zumbo Balmain Patisserie - Cafe
296 Darling St, Balmain NSW 2040
Ph 02 9810 7318
Open Mon to Sat 8:00am to 6:00pm Sun 8:00am to 5:00pm
You can't go to Balmain without visiting this cute little shop on Darling Street.
It has been created by Adriano Zumbo, patissier and chef, known for his creations on MasterChef Australia and famous for adding colour and passion to the Australian food scene.
He has made macarons (please note not macaroons) mainstream.
From small beginnings with this first store in Balmain, Adriano now has five in NSW and one in Victoria. It seems the we can't get enough of everything he touches.
And why not. We all love people and businesses driven by passion and great ideas.
Adriano Zumbo Patisseries showcase Adriano's evolving creativity and we always look forward to discovering his next move, cake, or idea.
We just can't wait.
Contessa Balmain - Cafe
371b Darling Street, Balmain 2041
Ph 02 9555 7399
Open for breakfast and lunch 7 days a week.
Casual dining cafe/restaurant bringing a unique slice of New York City cool to Balmain.
Here is a great way to start the day as the Balmain locals do. Along Darling Street opposite the grand old Courthouse you'll find Bar Contessa (better known just as Contessa). Chef and Owner Marco Adoncello and his great team present tons of choices and variations for breakfast, brunch and lunch and they are liquor licenced serving brunch cocktails and "Two Italian Boys" wines. Marco's passion, experience and love of food is a standout attraction.
It shows in the way he sources the very best fresh produce supporting other local small businesses, even the free range eggs are delivered directly from a farm on the Hawkesbury River. You should try the absolutely delicious Rosa's Breakfast Bruschetta. It's a thick slice of toasted organic sourdough with smashed avocado, fresh roma tomato, basil, rocket, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic reduction and a free range poached egg. Then you can sit back and sip a cup of "The Grounds Roasters" coffee. This is why Contessa is where we like to go, The staff are friendly and involved and there's an interesting and diverse very Balmain crowd. Enjoy!
Bertoni Casalinga - Balmain
281 Darling Street, Balmain NSW 2041
Ph 02 9818 5845
Excellent coffee and home-style Italian fare made to recipes that have been in the Bertoni family for decades.
Bistro Balmain at Exchange Hotel
Corner Beattie and Mullens Streets, Balmain NSW 2041
Ph 02 8755 2555
This excellent bistro is in the iconic Exchange Hotel with its huge ornate veranda, chic decor and lots of historical features.
The Exchange Hotel was built in 1885 and rightly so is Heritage Listed. It is wonderful to see such an important building being cared for and enjoyed by the locals and visitors to Balmain.
Traditional and superb hospitality is presented in a relaxing welcoming atmosphere. Many claim this but it actually happens at the Exchange.
You will be impressed, as we were, with the Bistro and what it offers. A great favourite is lamb shoulder for two which is served with grilled flat bread, tzatziki, hummus and cucumber salad.
And you will have no problem selecting the right wine to accompany your meal. Their wine list is truly extensive. As a suggestion try the 2011 Phillip Shaw Shiraz from Orange if it is a special occasion and indeed if you are having the lamb.
They say, "Our passion is market driven food, cooked with care" and we would have to agree with that.
Blue Ginger Restaurant
241 Darling Street, Balmain NSW 2041
Ph 02 9818 4662
A casual style with a buzzy ambience it is one of the most popular Asian restaurant in the inner-west.
350 Darling Street, Balmain NSW 2039
Ph 02 9810 0086
Menu features Central American street food.
79 Elliott Street, Balmain NSW 2041
Ph 02 9810 5466
Modern, authentic Turkish quisine in a vibrant and fun atmosphere.
Dinner Tuesday to Sunday. Lunch Friday to Sunday. Breakfast Sunday only
235 Darling St, Balmain NSW 2041
Ph 02 9818 3272
Fresh authentic selection from one of the most extensive Indian restaurant menus.
379 Darling Street Balmain NSW 2041
Ph 02 9555 7067
Kazbah's menus reflect owners Zahi and Penny Azzi
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