At its peak, the Balmain peninsula had 55 pubs and hotels and a succession of colourful publicans. Many have disappeared over time, but the area still has a vibrant pub culture. Read about the history of pubs in Balmain and Rozelle here
This Heritage Pub Trail is a celebration of one of the greatest things about Balmain and Rozelle. Take on the whole pub crawl or visit one of the pubs with your families and friends. Enjoy the local atmosphere with live music, cold beer, boutique wines and fine food.
Click on the pubs below to follow our Heritage Pub Trail.
THE MERTON HOTEL
38 Victoria Road, Rozelle
Established in 1878, The Merton Hotel is a locally owned and managed pub with unique accommodation overlooking the harbour bridge and city skyline. The pub has been gambling free since 2010 and supports free live music three nights a week. In winter, you’ll find a cosy lounge with a real fireplace, a wine list from boutique vineyards and a fairy lit beer garden.
Locals love the excellent bistro with delicious curries (famous for its goat curry), fresh seafood and pub staples. Friendly staff serve up ten beautiful beers on tap including the best pint of Guinness around.
NATIVE ROSE HOTEL
68 Victoria Rd, Rozelle
When Native Rose Hotel first opened in 1878, the suburb of Rozelle didn’t even exist. A couple of decades later the suburb would be named Rozelle after the abundant Rosella parrots found in the area. The pub has seen a few name changes and transformations over the years and now is a much-loved pub by inner west patrons.
The pub brings together friendly staff, live music, good food and most importantly cold beer. The vision today is to showcase a range of musical talent from the local inner west area and beyond, so you’ll find live entertainment there almost every day of the week.
THE THREE WEEDS
197 Evans Street, Rozelle
This local institution has been a working pub since 1884, so it’s safe to say it’s seen many a good time by locals and Sydneysiders. The pub with its 130 heritage has now reopened serving cool beers, a friendly atmosphere and live music.
A Merivale favourite - Totti’s now sits alongside the neighbourhood pub with executive chef Mike Eggert’s signature dishes including Totti’s famous wood-fired bread and antipasti, handmade pastas and fish dishes cooked in a Josper charcoal oven.
THE BRIDGE HOTEL
119 Victoria Rd, Rozelle
At their prominent Victoria Road position, The Bridge Hotel is Sydney’s longest running live music and entertainment pub venue. This year the hotel celebrated 36 years of holding that crown!
The Bridge Hotel has played host to a countless number of Australian and International acts, and now with covid restrictions lifted the venue will return to a full program of music, comedy acts and shows celebrating the best of the best in music. With many acts coming up including the Choirboys, check out the new four level beer garden rooftop bar and art deco bar.
599 Darling Street, Rozelle
The Sackville has been at the heart of the Rozelle community since 1876, first established as the Bellevue Hotel. James Kavanaugh took over the pub in 1900 and renamed it The Sackville after his not-so-local birthplace in Scotland. We’re not sure how the ‘Sacky’ story ends, but for now, the moral stays the same - sharing stories over delicious food and drink is time well spent and every local and visitor to the Sacky has a story to tell.
The drive-thru bottle shop is well known for its extensive range of delicious craft beers, spirits and wines from local and international wine-makers.
CAT AND FIDDLE HOTEL
456 Darling Street, Balmain
Initially established in 1930 as the Star Hotel (making it the second last one to be built in Balmain), the Cat and Fiddle Hotel went on to become a neighbourhood icon in the 80’s and 90’s as one of the few live music venues in Sydney – with bands such as The Whitlams, The Waifs and Leonardo’s Bride kicking off their careers there.
The pub, located in the heart of Balmain, has undergone numerous facelifts over the years and now is one of the most popular venues in Balmain. Rita’s Bar and Kitchen, serves classic pub meals as well as modern Australian cuisine which you can enjoy with a cocktail or cold beer with friends.
THE WELCOME HOTEL
91 Evans St, Rozelle
In 1878, Winston, an English foxhound who’d lost his master, stumbled upon a friendly publican in his hotel on Evans Street. The publican welcomed the dog, giving it a new home. That day this Rozelle pub gained not only a new mascot but an inspired name.
Today, The Welcome is known for seasonal gastro pub fare, including arguably the best English style Sunday roast in Sydney, and a cracking lineup of craft beers. Ten taps are reserved for local craft beer from around Sydney, including our very own White Bay Beer Co. You’ll also find pub classics such as Melbourne Bitter, Reschs Draught and Coopers Pale on tap. On a sunny day your favourite brew is best enjoyed in the leafy beer garden. And, staying true to its history, dogs are always welcome here.
89 Beattie St, Balmain
Built in 1874 by local publican John Dick, Dick’s hosted many political and community meetings in the early days. It was here, in 1894 an unanimous decision was reached to establish an Australian Branch of the Life Saving Society of Great Britain, today known as Royal Life Saving Australia.
Dick’s is still community focused and the iconic dome shaped beer garden is perfect for larger groups. Much loved for its laid back charm and live sport, Dick’s is the place to share the elation or deflation of the big game. With DJ’s playing in the beer garden on Friday and Saturday nights, Dick’s is a favourite for a night out in Balmain.
UNITY HALL HOTEL
292 Darling St, Balmain
Located in the heart of Balmain since 1875, ‘The Unity’ is where people from all walks of life come together to share stories over a schooner or two. The hotel is steeped in history and is the birthplace of the Australian Labor Party, formed here in 1892. The Unity is also known as one of Sydney’s best venues for live jazz. Pop by on a Sunday and the place is heaving! The hotel even has its very own jazz band - The Unity Hall Jazz Band. They’ve been performing at the hotel for 52 years and are the longest running resident jazz band in Australia.
The Unity, in the early stages of renovation, is eagerly awaiting final DA approvals.The plan is to bring a new era of entertainment and hospitality to the peninsula.
ROYAL OAK BALMAIN
36 College St, Balmain
The heritage listed Royal Oak Balmain first opened its doors in 1878. From its early days until the late 50’s, the hotel was frequented by dock workers from nearby Mort’s Dock. Like many pubs, Royal Oak had a separate ladies lounge and the entrance on College Street is still visible today. Owner Maureen has been at the helm since 1988.
With quality pub food served alongside daily specials, Royal Oak Balmain is a favourite for locals and foodies alike. With a number of private areas the pub lends itself to functions and can cater for up to 140 people. The outdoor tables are perfect for an afternoon cocktail, and your dog is welcome there too.
DRY DOCK HOTEL
22 Cameron St, Birchgrove
Dating back to 1857, Dry Dock Hotel is the oldest licensed hotel on the peninsula. Located across the road from Mort Bay Park, in the early days the hotel provided both refreshments and accommodation for wharfies at Mort Dock.
In late 2021 the Dry Dock Hotel underwent a change of ownership and is currently closed awaiting a much needed reinvigoration and renovation. Work is yet to commence and the hotel is expected to reopen in late 2022. The heritage listed facade will remain, as will the character of the hotel but patrons can look forward to a refreshed vision delivering a high-quality food, beverage and hospitality experience aimed at the local community and beyond. The public bar will continue to offer sports, TAB and much more. Watch this space!
CRICKETERS ARMS BALMAIN
255 Darling St, Balmain
The Cricketers Arms Hotel was established in 1872, a time when Balmain was one of the premier industrial centre’s of Sydney. Traditionally blue collar, the ‘The Arms’ spent many years playing host to the many dockers and wharfies working nearby and had a reputation of being one of Balmain’s more colourful pubs known to people of questionable integrity.
Today, the pub still represents Balmain’s working class history, but with a few twists. The Arms boasts 17 taps devoted to beer, cider and wine, the most on the peninsula. The pub is also home to Balmain Burger Co and One Ford Street, a favourite Italian restaurant serving authentic Italian food focusing on handmade pasta and seasonal produce.
THE LONDON HOTEL
234 Darling St, Balmain
For the best view in Balmain, you can’t go pastThe London. Perched up on Darling Street since 1870, the hotel is one of the longest operating pubs in Sydney. For over 140 years, locals and visitors alike have flocked here to catch up over a beer or two. The beverage selection has developed over the years and today patrons can enjoy a unique selection of draught beers and ales alongside an extensive selection of Australian and International wines.
What has remained the same is the iconic Harbour Bridge view. Pull up a pew and watch the world go by from the heritage front balcony or join the locals and their dogs at the pop-up beer garden.
EAST VILLAGE HOTEL
82-84 Darling St, Balmain East
Lovingly referred to by locals as ‘The EVH’, this is the official watering hole of Balmain East. Perched on top of the hill towards the end of Darling Street, the pub has welcomed patrons since 1875. Today, the family-friendly pub offers gastro pub fare, thirteen beers on tap, over fifty beers in bottles and wines from small independent wineries. Only a short walk from Balmain East ferry wharf, it’s the perfect pitstop for an after work pint.
The pub loves dogs and has a whole wall dedicated to the dogs of the EVH. Humans and dogs alike favour the lush beer garden out the back. The beautiful garden is the perfect setting for a Sunday session with friends or early dinner with the kids.
THE BALD ROCK HOTEL
15 Mansfield Street, Rozelle
The Bald Rock Hotel is the oldest continually licensed venue on the peninsula. The hotel opened in 1876 and if the original sandstone walls could talk, they would tell you of the colourful history filled with a lot of stories. The family-owned pub has seen many changes, much like the formerly working class, industrial area which it calls home.
The team behind the Bald Rock is dedicated to restoring the old girl to her original glory, with rustic charm. Known for excellent food and a cold beer, trivia on Thursdays and live music from local artists on weekends. The friendly bar staff are reminiscent of pub-days gone by, and its dog friendly.
WHITE BAY BEER CO.
26C Mansfield Street, Rozelle
Backing on to White Bay Power Station, this namesake brewery is steeped in history. Located inside a 100-year old steel mill, White Bay Beer Co. is the peninsula’s very own brewery. Original steel beams still crisscross the ceiling and the corrugated iron walls show rusty streaks of time but inside you’ll find a new brewhouse, fermenters and taproom.
The family and dog friendly taproom is popular with locals. It has fourteen taps dedicated to pouring White Bay beers and a selection of domestic and imported wines and ciders.The taproom is open Thursday to Sunday with catering supplied by a changing line up of food trucks. If you crave White Bay beer but the brewery is closed, head to one of the many local pubs serving the brew.
2. Native Rose Hotel
3. The Three Weeds
4. The Garry Owen Hotel
5. Red Lion Hotel
6. The Bridge Hotel
7. The Sackville
8. Cat and Fiddle Hotel
9. The Welcome Hotel
10. The Balmain
11. Dick’s Hotel
12. Unity Hall Hotel
13. The Riverview
14. Royal Oak Balmain
15. Dry Dock Hotel
16. Cricketers Arms
17. The London Hotel
18. East Village Hotel
19. The Bald Rock Hotel
20. White Bay Beer Co.
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