Disabled Access - NO
Food and Drink Options - YES
Tourist Attractions - NO
Transport Links - YES
Shopping Centre - YES
Nightlife - YES
Thames Street Wharf is a secondary wharf located next to the central Balmain Ferry Wharf, which sits alongside Mort Bar park and the Balmain Shipyard. It has recently been modernised as part of a redevelopment project and has excellent transport links.
If you live or are staying in Balmain, then this would be your recommended pick up and drop off point for your Sydney party boat hire. It also provides excellent access to Birchgrove, Ballast Point Park and more besides. Note that as the wharf is attached to a ferry wharf, ferries will always have the right of way. Also, note that there is no disabled access here.
Indigenous people inhabited the Balmain area before the European settlements in the 18th century, and the city was, in those early days, where Aboriginals, Gadigals and Wangal people used for hunting kangaroo.
Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, however, the peninsula became one of the premier industrial centres in the city, with shipbuilding, metalwork, engineering, boiler making and more taking place around Mort Bay. There was also the Lever Brothers soap factory, which was demolished in 1996 (though parts still stand as modern apartment conversions) and a coal mine beside what is now Birchgrove Public School.
The opening of the railway in the 1920s further established Balmain as a rough working-class area of Sydney, but the coal mine closed in 1931, and a massive influx of immigrants began to boost Balmain's population by the 1950s. The region as we know it today was born in the 1960s when the industry in the area began to wane, and gentrification took hold.
Today it is a very desirable location for the middle and upper classes due to its waterfront location and its proximity to the CBD (Sydney's Central Business District), so the buildings are now primarily residential. Glimmers of the area's industrial past remain, however, in heritage sites scattered throughout the region.
Mort Bay Park is a mid-sized, dog-friendly park with great views of the Harbour, elegant landscaping and a children's playground. A well-maintained open space perfect for families and also very well placed for the NYE fireworks, if you don't mind watching them from the back. Ballast Point Park is also a short walk around the bay and offers a more secluded experience, with a BBQ area and numerous art installations.
The park is notable for initially being a factory that was converted in recent years and is now one of the more unique small parks in the city. Darling Street, which is Balmain's main thoroughfare, features numerous boutique shops, restaurants and cafes alongside older pubs.
Landmarks on this street include the Post Office and Court House, Balmain Town Hall, the historic Westpac Bank, Balmain Fire Station, Balmain Watch House and Balmain Working Men's Institute. This makes the area fascinating for history buffs, but also the perfect location for an afternoon stroll or quiet night out. Darling Street is also home to various shops of both international chain and local boutique varieties.
The vast majority of restaurants and bars in the area will be found along Darling Street, which is a short walk or an even shorter bus/taxi ride from the wharf. There are countless dining options along Darling Street, with cafes, tapas bars, Chinese, Indian, Italian and traditional Australian options.
Of particular note are The Cottage Bar & Kitchen, which serves pizzas and sharing platters in a warm, comfortable space; Our Place on Darling, which is an intimate venue with rustic wooden tables and a breezy courtyard serving delicious modern Australian food; and the always famous Contessa for more affordable, hearty fare.
There are also many historic drinking establishments to choose from, such as The Cat and Fiddle, the Cricketer's Arms and the Exchange. Closer to the wharf, adjacent to Mort Bay Park, the Sir William Wallace Hotel is a traditional pub and favourite local watering hole with pool tables and a veranda, whilst the Royal Oak, a little further south, serves pub grub and affordable drinks in a 2-level venue with simple, smart decor and distinct maritime motifs.
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