Just outside the city, Sydney's Western Suburbs are a short drive to the diverse character of these working class come trendy hangouts. Without the price tag of an inner city holiday location but enjoying the convenience of the city's proximity, these areas drew young professionals to restore older houses to modern glory and now enjoy living in residences which regularly appear in leading lifestyle and decorator magazines. The interesting main streets of Balmain, Glebe, Newtown and Parramatta offer a distinctive atmosphere, lifestyle and character.
During the mid-1900s, Balmain attracted Bohemian artists, writers and academics until the 1970s when young professionals moved. It's this fusion of wealth and culture that makes the area such an attraction. Opposite Darling Harbour, Balmain is home to a few local shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants as well as a number of beautiful old churches and historic buildings as well as craft markets on the weekend. However, one of Balmain's most loved spots is the harbour peninsula and Illoura Reserve at Peacock Point. With your back against the city, these spots are popular for scenic strolls and holiday picnic lunches enjoying stunning views of the Harbour Bridge.
Glebe is similar to Balmain and is home to some of Sydney's best eating on the main street of Glebe Point Road including modern Australian cuisine, Thai, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Indian, Italian and much more. There's also local pubs with live entertainment and a street market on Saturdays but possibly Glebe's most well-known attraction is the offbeat Valhalla movie house. Showing cult classics, pulp films and black and white movies, the Valhalla is the oldest cinema in Sydney.
Newtown is just a short drive from the city and is renowned for its 'alternative' culture that populates the suburb. It's still popular with young professionals but is home to more colourful and expressive characters. There are a good range of dining options and the shops offer an interesting combination of fashion, alternative and natural therapies and sub-culture specialty stores. Newtown is also popular with the gay community and retains some of the Greek community and culture that once dominated the area.
Not just a suburb, Parramatta is considered a city in its own right and is the geographic centre of Sydney's Metropolitan Area. Home to a busy business centre and a few historical buildings, the area is most easily accessed via the JetCat. Although train services are available from the city or just a short drive, the JetCat is the most scenic way to arrive in Parramatta. Historical sites such as the Experiment Farm Cottage, Old Government House, St Johns Cathedral and the Lancer Barracks are all open daily to visitors. Each building has its own historical significance and tours and displays in each help to explain their important histories.