Surry Hills and Chippendale
Away from the glittering CBD and the serene waters of the harbour, Sydney’s inner suburbs offer a glimpse into the real life of Sydneysiders, at least of those rich enough or fortunate enough to live there. Two suburbs lie on either side of Central Station in defiance of the usual close-to-station-seediness rule of cities: Surry Hills (note no “e”) and Ultimo/Chippendale.
We stayed in Surry Hills. Really it could be called Surry Hill as it is just one hill, but a decent one at that. Off the vertiginous Foveaux Street, lanes and alleyways contained cramped but wincingly expensive Victorian housing, hipster cafes and bars. Stepping into one cafe, breakfast contained unusual ingredients such a bacon crumb or bacon custard, charred banana, foam or “scram on rye” (in plain English scrambled eggs on toast).
Four pubs characterised the area: down at the foot of the hill near the station the Keg and Brew was studenty ($4 happy hour), whilst halfway up the hill El Loco was sporty and full of unsophisticated (or honest) country-boy types ($5 steaks on Tuesdays). At the top of the hill the white-draped Dolphin was a catwalk for young fashionistas, the yummy mummies of the future ($30 salads), whilst the Art Deco Beresford proudly hosted Sydney’s celebrated gay community (but with a surprisingly colourless menu).
A short walk to Ultimo to locate a Sunday Market yielded a number of surprises. The market, dubbed the best inner city market, was located in Central Park (aka Brewery Green), a contrived space within a ultra-modern luxury flat and mall development. Disappointingly small, it nevertheless contained many of the Sunday market staples: antique stall (1), clothes stall (1), candle stall (1), artisanal bakery (1), plus the compulsory giant paella – although this one, reflecting the area, was an “Asian fusion paella”
It was then that we stumbled upon the Chippendale Creative Precinct, an entire suburb given over to art studios, collectives and galleries, and our Sunday market outing turned into a gallery crawl. So we spent the afternoon trawling through collectives, creative spaces and art accelerators perusing the artistic endeavours of the up-and-coming. A final stop saw us at the startling White Rabbit Gallery, worthy of a post on its own (watch this space).