Thursday, 23 April 2015

Leichardt - Sydney's leafy inner west


Sydney from Leichthardt
A view that's worth a million dollars
Once I had finished my brief visit to Glebe (though I am sure there is more of this place that I could visit) I jumped back onto the tram to continue my exploration of Sydney's inner west. It was partly fortunate that the tram I had jumped on was terminating at Lilyfield, which was my next destination. So, the tram trundled into the tunnel (which was an old railway tunnel for the freight line that terminated at Glebe harbour) and out the otherside.
This tunnel wasn't like those tunnels that you get in Switzerland, where on one side everybody speaks French and on the other side everybody speaks German (and in the south the tunnels divide the Italian speakers from the German and French speakers – though apparently everybody in Switzerland speaks at least four languages – something that I have trouble doing), it was simply a tunnel that divided the trendy suburb of Glebe from the trendy suburb of Leichhardt.
So, I arrived at Lilyfield station and the conductor proceeded to kick everybody off the tram, promising that the next one would be along in a few minutes. However, I didn't hang around to find out if that was true or not (though the tram time tables did tell me fibs because they didn't go every 10-15 minutes during the middle of the day). I had already a destination in mind: a small cafe at the corner of Piper and Catherine Streets, aptly named on Google 'Catherine and Piper' (though the cafe had another name when I finally found it). By the way, this is where I was at the time:


I did get a little lost, but that was because I had walked a little too far down Catherine Street, and when I came across a park my smart phone indicated that I had missed my destination. That was not a bad thing though because as I was wondering down the street I passed this house:

Arty House
I think an artist lives here
This is one of the reasons why I love wondering off the tourist track; you come across things that generally aren't mentioned in the Lonely Planet Guide (not that these guides struggle to find things to talk about – there are plenty – however wondering through an inner suburb looking at houses generally isn't one of them). So, after admiring the house (and uploading a picture of it to Facebook), I turned around and found the cafe that I was looking for; went inside and ordered a pot of tea, which was also an experience because this is how they ended up serving it:

Pot of Tea
It fits quite neatly in the cup
This is another of those benefits of exploring areas that are off the tourist track because you can find places like this that serve you meals (and tea) in rather artistic forms.

Anyway, after finishing off my tea I made my way back to the tram stop, and after wasting around 15 minutes waiting for my tram to arrive, I continued my adventure. This time I got off at Taverner's Hill station, which dropped me beside Parramatta Road.
To be honest with you there isn't really all that much to see on Parramatta Road, that is unless you like bumper to bumper traffic, car dealerships (though a few of them sell top range sports cars like Lamborghinis), and shops, though as you wander further down the road you do come across buildings from a bygone era that haven't yet been levelled by the developers:

Parramatta Road Shops
Okay, some of them probably need a paint job
I also discovered this mural that had been preserved on the Kennet's Storage building:

Kennet's Murals
Actually, I'm not sure what these are supposed to be
Though I found the scenery off of the main road much more pleasing, such as this mural on the wall of the soccer stadium on Marion Street (I was a little confused when I came to the Marion Tram Stop, since I didn't realise there was another suburb in Australia called Marion, but it turned out it was named after the street).

Leichardt Mural
Not as good as grafitti art
Oh, and the old Edwardian houses were pretty cool as well:

Leichardt Houses
Actually, I'm not really sure when they were built
I did end up visiting a few pubs on my journey, including what I would term as a Heavy Metal Pub (there was a girl wearing a Megadeth T-shirt sitting out in the garden, and they were also playing Faith No More over the speakers – for those who are interested the pub is call The Bald Faced Stag), and an Irish Pub that had a pretty good beer garden:

Norton on Norton's Mural
They're going all medieval on us
However, if I were to name my favourite pub that I visited on this trek it would have to be the Lewisham.

Lewisham
794 Parramatta Road, Lewisham

Lewisham Hotel
Best shot I could get without any cars

There were a couple of problems with this pub, and they both involved Parramatta Road. It took me something like ten minutes to get that photo and then into the pub to order my beer, but once I had successfully completed a game of Frogger with the traffic my experience here was one that I am certainly not going to forget. The bartender was one of those incredibly chatty people that I like (because I tend to be the opposite so it takes a rather chatty person to open me up at times) and as he was pouring my beer we ended up talking about the perfect head (on a beer that is).
Having been to the Heinieken Brewery in Amsterdam, I have come to understand the requirement for a 'perfect head'. The reason for that is that the head of the beer keeps it fresh and stops it from going flat. When we were there we even had a go at pouring the beer to attempt to generate that perfect head. Unfortunately, unlike the Heineiken Brewery, the Lewisham wasn't giving away free beer (but then again you did have to pay to go for the Brewery tour).
As I usually do, I wondered around the pub and discovered that they had three beer gardens. I like a pub with at least one beer garden, but this one had three (though one of them doesn't really count since it was full of pokie machines – which makes me suspect that New South Wales is the only state in Australia where you can still smoke cigarettes and play pokie machines – I thought one of the reasons for the law was to force smokers away from pokie machines when they want to have a smoke).

Lewisham Beer Garden
Hey! Pink Floyd mural!
After settling myself down in the beer garden with the pool table a couple of guys appeared and started setting up for a poker tournament (the card game that is) and I ended up having another conversation, this time about why we moved from what is effectively a country town to the big city. I guess the both of us had the same reason, namely that in the city you are so much more anonymous.
So, thinking on that, while I ended up visiting a number of pubs in Sydney, it turned out to be the one where I ended up having conversations with strangers to be the one I liked the most.

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