The Balmain Rozelle area is one of the most fascinating and exciting areas to visit in Sydney. Located a short distance across the harbour from the Sydney CBD the area is famous for its shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants as well as a fascinating history. A short trip by bus or ferry from the city, Balmain - Rozelle is a great place to explore. From what were historically blue collar workers suburbs to the trendy Balmain and Rozelle of today the area is a drawcard for residents, Sydneysiders and visitors alike.
The Balmain Rozelle area is great place to do everything so spend a day here and you do everything you wanted too!!
- A great place for shopping
- A great destination for eating and drinking
- A great place to be pampered or get in shape
- A great place to do business
- An easy destination to get to by public transport
- An area with a fascinating history
- You can do anything here in a day that you need too!
A great place for shopping
Focussed primarily on Darling Street which runs from Rozelle in the West all the way down to the harbour at East Balmain, the areas shops offer something for everyone. Speciality shops and boutiques are supplemented by a large range of food shops. Often you will find things here that you will not find in other places. From natural and other foods to meet your day to day needs to hand crafted chocolates and other treats for that special occasion they are all here. For both ladies and men there is a great range of fashion – clothing, shoes, handbags, jewellery and accessories.
Use the business directory on this website to find a specific shop or just start at one end of Darling Street and walk its entire length! And don’t forget to look down sides streets for more shops.
A great destination to for eating and drinking
Balmain Rozelle may well have a greater concentration of pubs, cafes and restaurants per head than any other area in the country! You can use the business directory to find a specific pub, cafe or restaurant or simply wander through the area and see what takes your fancy.
At its peak the area had over 80 pubs! Today it still has something for everyone from traditional to trendy, neighbourhood friendly to chic and all serving a wide range of beers, ales and often cocktails. Make a night or day of it! The areas pubs are also great places to eat with a range of food from simple to sophisticated. Most pubs also cater for a variety of functions from christenings or birthdays to weddings to wakes or company events.
If the area did not invent Sydney’s cafe culture it has certainly embraced it fully. You can rest and relax with your favourite coffee, in the morning, afternoon or evening seven days a week. A wide range of food and beverages is served at over 80 outlets throughout the area.
Balmain and Rozelle have always attracted some of the best up and coming Sydney chefs and there is a large choice from Asian to European and everything in between. Many restaurants are BYO and there are a number of liquor outlets with a large range of wines to go with whatever style of food you choose. Whether it be an intimate dinner for two or a family outing you will find something to please. During lockdown many venues are doing special take-away menus- you can find full a-la-carte options, offers, meal kits and even take-away your favourite cocktails.
A great place to be pampered or get in shape
Skin care, hair care, body care, hand care, foot care, muscle care and all over care and maintenance for your body can all be found here. Hair, beauty and natural therapies are available side by side with doctors, physiotherapists, chiropractors, Pilates and yoga studios personal trainers and gymnasiums. Or why not swim in the famous Dawn Fraser pool by the harbour?
A great place to do business
Although today perhaps most famous for its shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs, Balmain- Rozelle is also the home to many thriving other businesses ready willing and able to delight their customers. For example the area is home to a thriving professional services community – architects, engineers, accountants, lawyers, designers, consultants and coaches. It also houses a strong artistic community including the Sydney College of the Arts, Balmain Art School, galleries and film companies, to name a few. As you walk along Darling Street don’t be surprised if you bump into a well known person from television, movies, music or other arts.
An easy place to get to by public transport or by car.
Take the Bus
- There are many Sydney buses to the Balmain Rozelle area running 7 days per week
Go to the NSW Transport website for all timetable and route information https://transportnsw.info/trip#/trip
Take the Ferry
Balmain houses the Sydney Ferries Balmain shipyard, tucked away in Mort Bay. This is where many of the ferries are docked when not in use and where they go for repairs and maintenance.
Two Sydney Ferry services run regular services from Circular Quay, King Street Wharf, Barangaroo and Pyrmont Wharf.
Take a taxi
A short taxi ride from the city will put you in the thick of the action at Balmain-Rozelle. With such a large density of pubs, cafes, shops and restaurants the area is well served by taxis and very familiar to most drivers.
Come by car
Victoria road, one of Sydney’s main road arteries runs through Rozelle, as does the City West link.
Parking is available in the area, albeit there are meters in Darling St and some other streets.Meters on the High now are mainly 30 minutes free. There are parking areas located in Rozelle and Balmain. Some of the back streets are quite narrow so take care to look out for pedestrians and cyclists. Most of the area has a 40 km/h speed limit.
An area with a fascinating history.
The Balmain/Rozelle area has a rich and fascinating history.
Balmain takes its name from William Balmain who was appointed in 1796 as Principal Surgeon for NSW. In 1800 he was granted a parcel of land of about 500 acres in what is now known as Balmain and Rozelle and which he subsequently sold on his return to England in 1801. Over time this large parcel of land was subdivided and the suburbs of Balmain, East Balmain and Rozelle emerged.
Also in 1796 governor Hunter granted land in the area now known as Birchgrove. Birchgrove takes its name from Birchgrove House built by Lieutenant Thomas Birch in about 1812. This historic house was demolished in 1967 and replaced by home units. Birch had purchased what was then known as Whitfield’s farm in 1810 and this estate subsequently changed hands on several occasions. In 1856 a Frenchman, Didier Joubert, commenced the first residential subdivision with streets such as Louisa and Numa named after his family.
Rozelle was actually known as West Balmain until 1892 when it was renamed Rozelle. The origins of the name are not known although it has been suggested that it is derived from the nearby bay which had been known as Rozella Bay. This may have related in turn to birds or flowers. Rozelle is well known for Callan Park which was established as a mental hospital in 1877 with the transfer of some patients from Gladesville Hospital.
A significant part of the history of Balmain / Rozelle is tied to shipbuilding and dates back to the early 1800’s when shipyards were established. Over time this activity attracted other industries and the area remained largely an industrial area until the 1970s. After World War 2 large scale industry such as the Balmain Coal Loader, Power Station, Unilever, Colgate-Palmolive, Monsanto and Caltex provided much employment. The area also developed a reputation as noisy and polluted – not really a nice place to live!
Did you know:
- Birchgrove was the entry point for a large coalmine which operated under the harbour?
- During the years 1942-45, 11 naval ships were constructed at Mort Bay?
- At its peak Mort Industries was the single biggest employer in Australia?
- There were two power stations located in Rozelle, one near the Iron cove Bridge now the site of Balmain Shores apartments and the other still standing at White Bay.
- The first game of the Sydney (now National) Rugby League competition was played at Birchgrove Oval.
If you are interested in more information on the history of the area the Balmain Association (www.balmainassociation.org.au) is a great source. They have published several books of interest including:
- Around Balmain – A Second Record of an Historic Suburb and Some of its Buildings
- Called to the Bar – 150 Years of Pubs in Balmain & Rozelle (Lists 93 hotels!)
- Streets Lanes and Places 1836 – 2005 An index of the origins of the street names of Balmain, Birchgrove and Rozelle
For the full list of books go to: http://www.balmainassociation.org.au/publication.php