Balmain Beauty

Have you ever picked a random destination on a map and decided to go there, just because you’ve never been before?

That’s how I came to be coasting around the side streets of Balmain one cloudy day last November, looking for a nice 2P – for those unfamiliar with the somewhat confusing parking signs in Sydney, this means a parking space which is free for 2 hours.

Sometimes I like to just walk around with my camera and see what happens. I think it helps me see places in a different way.

Without further waffle…. let’s go to Balmain!


Balmain is a suburb in the inner west of Sydney, just off the A40. I find this hilarious because that’s the road I grew up near in rainy England. It’s one of the older districts in Sydney, with buildings dating back to the 19th century.


Some of the buildings look like they could be lifted straight from the Welsh valleys, if you ask me.


On the main road we found the town hall, decked out in similarly tasteful shades of grey and muted green. We’re not in Wales anymore, Toto.

The grey and green theme was continued throughout our walk, picked out in architectural details as well as entire building colour schemes.


We found the Balmain Glasshouse, a community space that is used for growing various edible plants as well as community education. I have to say, it looked very chic.


I became fascinated with the architecture of the buildings we walked past. I found them quintessentially Australian.


Then I wondered, what makes a building look Australian? How would I pick this out of a line-up?


Is it the veranda? The ironwork? The mixture of brick with wood, or the shape of the windows?


Or is it the way that plants and greenery seem to be incorporated almost integrally to most spaces?


Whatever it is, all I can say is that the colours of Balmain are definitely tasteful greys. Which unfortunately reflected the weather, not providing us the vibrant blue Sydney skies to which we have grown accustomed.


I found my colour elsewhere, like in the peeling paint of this patriotically painted pub.

Soon enough it was time to head down to the ferry wharf, where we caught a boat directly into the CBD. I’d never really been to this part of the city before, so it was refreshing to see the now familiar sights in a different context.


Oh hey, harbour bridge.

I found Balmain a peaceful, chic and overwhelmingly grey place. In a good way. The thing that surprised me the most was how quiet it was, yet how close to the CBD.

Have you ever been to Balmain? What did you make of it?

Linking up with Bonnie and Anna, and Bumble Bee Mum for Travel Tuesday, and with Melanie for #TravelTuesday



  1. 8th February 2016 / 20:00

    i don’t know what it is either, but those houses and such really do look very australian. maybe it’s just that i have never seen anything similar in the other countries i’ve been in (which lets be honest, isn’t a lot). it’s been a long long long time since i’ve been to balmain. i used to love tigers when i was younger so when people would ask me what football team i liked, i said the balmain tigers even though the only reason i liked them was for the tigers in their name haha.

    • 10th February 2016 / 17:19

      If it’s any consolation I’ve never seen anything similar in any other countries, and I’ve been around a few European ones. The closest I can think of is Paris with the railings but still, not even close. I expect a proper architect could tell me, but I’m happy to keep the mystery alive! Plus I don’t know any architects. Anyway… Very cute story about football teams, that sounds just like something I’d have done! (Or maybe still would, to be honest)

  2. 8th February 2016 / 23:17

    That’s so cool that you just decided to visit somewhere new! I think it’s so much fun to explore new places and see what their personalities are!

    • 10th February 2016 / 17:19

      Yeah! We had a hire car and thought we’d best get good value out of it! I love seeing new places, nothing like it. Turned out well again 🙂

  3. sydneyshopgirl
    9th February 2016 / 00:58

    What beautiful photos! Apologies for the absence on your blog, I can’t seem to add you to my feedly.

    SSG xxx

    • 10th February 2016 / 17:20

      Glad you like them! I think there might be something wrong with my RSS feed and I am clueless about these things so have been sort of ignoring it and hoping it goes away…. Maybe I should actually address the issue :/ Still, thanks for coming by again!

    • 10th February 2016 / 17:21

      Really, do you think? It seems quite different to me, but I’m interested to hear others’ points of view!

  4. 9th February 2016 / 20:16

    That’s such a great idea to get a map and just pick a place! I’d love to do that 🙂

    • 10th February 2016 / 17:22

      Simple pleasures! I’m just not imaginative enough to do anything more sophisticated. However, it generally works out really well for me so I’d highly recommend it!

  5. Lizzie Woodman
    9th February 2016 / 20:34

    It looks fascinating! Thanks for sharing it with us. I’d have been fascinated too by all those interesting old buildings

    • 10th February 2016 / 17:23

      It was! I loved the old buildings, despite the fact that by British standards they’re actually quite new 🙂 what I really like about Australian architecture is their ability to blend old (or old-ish) and ultra-modern seamlessly. I find it so stylish but think it would be pretty tricky to recreate here.

    • 10th February 2016 / 17:24

      It’s funny, I didn’t mean for it to turn out that way when I was taking the photos but there you go! I guess there was just a lot of grey around. Balmain was great, and I liked the history of the suburb. I’d recommend a visit if you ever get the chance, but most of all I think it would be a fabulous place to live.

  6. 10th February 2016 / 02:56

    You’re right: this doesn’t look like something someone would find in Australia at all! Beautiful photos, just encourages me even more to make it to Australia someday!

    • 10th February 2016 / 17:24

      I really hope you do! It’s fantastic. I enjoyed having a good poke around somewhere new and having my expectations challenged 🙂

  7. 10th February 2016 / 04:01

    Initially I was thinking Balmain must be some far-off place in Sydney considering how serene it is. Until I came to the last pic of the Harbour bridge! I tend to do the picking random things off the map when I’m in Japan.. I would go to Google map and mouse around for random parks, restaurants and landmarks along my routes. It’s a really interesting way to explore a country I must say. #TravelTuesday

    • 10th February 2016 / 17:25

      Ha I know! It’s right in there, just around the corner from the CBD! I’m glad I’m not the only one with an unhealthy reliance on google maps when travelling. I love finding new nooks and crannies to explore that way.

    • 10th February 2016 / 17:26

      I do hope you make it one day. I’d say it’s not the tourist highlight by any means, but it’s a nice relaxing place for a potter round. There’s a great bookshop there too if you like books….

  8. Andrea On Vacation
    10th February 2016 / 15:01

    It looks a little like England to me. I would have thought that had you not told me where it was! I love to pick a random place I’ve never been and travel there. I’m definitely always up for a new adventure rather than the same old thing.

    • 10th February 2016 / 17:28

      That’s so interesting! I don’t think it looks like England, apart from the old Church, but it’s interesting to hear other’s perceptions. I do love breaking the mould and going somewhere unexpected – this isn’t on the tourist itinerary by any means, as it’s a primarily residential suburb. But that’s why I loved it!

  9. 10th February 2016 / 17:00

    What a neat city! And I LOVE that you just picked a random spot on a map! I can’t wait to do that someday!! Love all the pictures, it almost makes me feel like I was right there!

    • 10th February 2016 / 17:29

      I had a great time, and picking a new place randomly to visit is something I do a fair bit when travelling but not very much at home. I think I need to change that!

  10. 10th February 2016 / 17:16

    I love the idea of just picking somewhere and going! I did it a lot when I was travelling in S America, as we just said ok let’s go here next (pointing at the map) and it leads to so much fun! 🙂 Great shots too 😀

    • 10th February 2016 / 17:30

      I’m glad it’s not just me! Being spontaneous works well sometimes 🙂 I’d love to travel around S America like that, how amazing.

  11. 10th February 2016 / 19:48

    Balmain looks so cool! I’m going to have to copy your idea of just going places and snapping pictures. Such a great way to see a place from a different view. Also.. that Balmain Glasshouse looks wonderful!

    • 11th February 2016 / 12:47

      It’s awesome! A very chilled place. As is most of Sydney, to be honest! The Glasshouse looked great, I was sad it wasn’t open. If I lived there I’d definitely join the gardening club!

      • Arthur
        2nd May 2016 / 08:20

        We’re open every Thursday evening from 6.30pm. Come and say hello.

  12. 10th February 2016 / 21:01

    Wow you take such beautiful photos! Really makes this place come alive for me, like I’m really there!

    • 11th February 2016 / 12:47

      Ahh thanks! I’m glad you liked them, and I’m glad you enjoyed your trip with me to Balmain!

  13. 11th February 2016 / 23:30

    Great pics – I love the colour theme, even if it wasn’t ideal to have it reflected in the sky 😛

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