A wildlife photographer and blogger, I spend my free time finding and photographing wildlife in different parts of the world. Check out my blog at https://www.thewildlifediaries.com/
Published August 20th 2016
Eat, pray, shop in Glebe
Weekends are the time for adventure. Whether you choose to explore a remote wilderness or an urban community, it is the allure of a new and unfamiliar place that urges you to leave your habitual surroundings in search of something new.
One way to satisfy that explorer's itch is to spend a day in a new neighbourhood, walking the streets, seeing the sights, sampling the food and meeting new people.
Glebe is one of Sydney's oldest suburbs, having been settled in the 1820s. Despite being just minutes away from the buzz of Sydney CBD, it retains its relaxed artisan village atmosphere with an added modern twist. Glebe Point Road, lined with grand Victorian terraces and quirky shops and cafes, is the main traffic artery of the neighbourhood, connecting the Blackwattle Bay and the University of Sydney.
Start with the views To start your day in Glebe, make your way to the bottom of Glebe Point road and walk across the park down to the waterfront. From here you can see the three bridges: Anzac, Glebe Island and Sydney Harbor. Take a stroll along the Glebe Foreshore walk to enjoy the views of Sydney CBD across the glistening waters of the Bay.
Explore Oriental Spirituality From the bay stroll up the leafy Glebe Point Road for a couple of blocks and turn right on the quiet Pendrill Street. Here you find one of Glebe's best kept secrets - Sze Yup traditional Chinese temple. It is quite small but very authentic. The three rooms of the temple are dedicated to the various immortals of Chinese folk religion. The muted lighting and the smell of burning incense in the temple are so relaxing that even if you don't understand any of the rituals, you find yourself unwinding from the stress of the city life. And if you do feel like participating, simply buy some incense for $5, light them up from one of the candles, close your eyes, make a wish and place the incense in any of the burners provided.
Take in European Heritage From the temple return to Glebe Point Road and continue your stroll past the 19th Century mansions set back from the street behind wrought iron fences and shrouded in thick greenery. On the next block, you pass one of the most interesting villas in Glebe – the Bidura (357 Glebe Point Rd). It was built by Edmund Blacket – the famous architect who designed the earliest buildings of the Sydney University. He built Bidura for his large family to live in while he was working on the University's Great Hall.
Food glorious food When it comes to eating out, Glebe is a truly global village. A few minutes up the road from Bidura is a charming Italian café - Il Cortile Caffè (325A Glebe Point Rd) famous for its menu of piadinas – flat, Italian toasties that come with a delicious range of fillings.
Get inspired Just up the road from the café, on the opposite side of the street is one of Glebe's adorable quirky shops – the Flowerbox Gallery. Inspired by the vertical gardens of Patrick Blanc - the man behind the design of the Central Park building in Sydney, this little shop specialises in products for displaying living plants on walls, or as they put it: 'creating living art galleries'.
A little bit further up the road is the Glebe library, located in the old hospital building, and next to it is another one of Glebe's hidden treasures – St Helen's Community garden where the local residents are encouraged to plant and then harvest their own produce.
St Helen's Community Garden
Step back in time As you continue walking along Glebe Point Road, you reach the Foley Park. Take a right here onto Bridge Road and walk past the park. This section of Bridge Road remains largely intact from its 19th-century appearance. Just imagine the road without its busy traffic, but with horse drawn cartridges instead and you will see what Sydney looked like a hundred years ago. A true gem in this neighbourhood is the picturesque Gothic house of Reussdale at 160 Bridge Road.
Back on Glebe Point Road, next to the park is another example of Edmund Blacket's work - St. John's Anglican Church. Right across St. John's road from the church there is another relic that is rarely noticed. The flower bed perched on the footpath is in fact, a recycled horse trough – a reminder of Glebe's early days when horses were a common sight.
Back to the future - on the other side of Glebe Point Road there is another famous foodie heaven – Sonoma Bakery with an impressive 17 different types of mouth-watering loaves on the menu.
St. John's Anglican Church
Check out Glebe's Street Art
Further up the road take a left onto Mitchell Street to check out some of Glebe's street art. It is not as extensive as in the neighbouring Newtown, but it certainly adds some colour to the neighbourhood.
Once you return to Glebe Point Road, you find yourself in the liveliest part of Glebe. Innumerable cafes and restaurants to satisfy any taste are strung along both sides of the road. Among the local favorites are the stylish Wedge Espresso on the corner of Cowper Street, Badde Manors Café, that has been around for so long that has become something of an institution, and Sappho Books Cafe & Wine Bar at 51 Glebe Point Rd, where you can pick up a vintage classic at a bargain price and read it in the courtyard over lunch.
Visit an Art Gallery
After lunch spend some time exploring Glass Artist's Gallery at 68 Glebe Point Road. While it specialises in glass, it displays art in other media forms as well. Do not miss the second level of the gallery - it can be reached via the stairs at the back of the building. You might even meet the owner's beautiful dog, Zena. This regal Egyptian Pharaoh Hound is the subject of a few artworks displayed in the upstairs gallery. But not the one in the image below.
Now for some shopping. Before you leave the café strip, drop into Gleebooks. It is considered to be one of the best independent bookshops in Sydney. Plus it hosts frequent author talks and book launches.
If you are in the mood for more vintage and antiques, check out Halchemi Designs located in The Works at 62 Glebe Point Road. They specialise in the restoration of furniture and homewares from a bygone era in styles varying from French Provincial and Farmhouse Rustic to Mid-century Modern and Industrial.
If you happened to be in Glebe on a Saturday, then take a stroll through the stalls at Glebe Markets. Known for their collection of vintage merchandise, the markets are also a good place to pick up some handcrafted jewellery, soaps and even organic produce.
If you decide to stay in Glebe for dinner, your options are almost endless. There is Spanish tapas for all things Espanol, Flying Fajita Sistas with their famous Wall of Pain – a collection of the hottest chilli sauces on earth, Himalayan Char Grill serving Nepalese cuisine, Spicy Sichuan Restaurant if you are looking for Chinese and the award-winning Na Zdrowie polish restaurant just to name a few. Simply decide what cuisine appeals the most and look for a restaurant name that reflects the region of your choice.
Back at the bay, the Foreshore Walk is dramatically transformed by the city lights into a sparkling wonderland.
If you get tired of walking around, there are frequent buses that go up and down Glebe Point Road: 433 and 370 would take you between the Valhalla Cinema and the Markets, and 431 goes all the way down to the Bay.