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By all definitions, Pyrmont is a wonderful paradox. Its streets are at once modern and historical. Its restaurants are a tribute to the famous Sydney Fish Market while also offering global fare. And while its small-town neighborly atmosphere will make you feel like you’re far away from big-city living, this tiny suburb is only 2kms to the Central Business District. In short, it is the perfect balance of tranquility and energy, making it one of the most sought-out suburbs within the larger Sydney area.
There’s always been something magical about this place.
Long before European settlers landed on the peninsula, the region was particularly special because of a natural fresh-water spring called Tinker’s Well (1). From a fern-laden rocky outcropping, the cool clean stream cascaded into a hallowed-out sandstone dish. Around this shallow pool, remains of shellfish and animal bones suggest that Aboriginal communities frequented the region long before the colonial era.
Even as European settlers began exploring the area in 1799, the well remained an important feature of the peninsula. Indeed, a popular newspaper from the early 20th century portrays the continued fascination with the spring in the following fond description (2):
“The spring itself is inseparable from the ancient history of Pyrmont and many residents retain sacred memories of the days when they waited their turn to draw from the water for use in their homes.”
Though water continues to seep from various springs in the region, the actual site of Tinker’s Well has been replaced by the rapid development of the past two centuries.
Thanks to its accessibility by water as well as its geographical proximity to Sydney’s city centre, Pyrmont experienced a large industrial boom during much of the 19th and 20th century, producing much of the beautiful Sydney sandstone that characterizes the city’s architecture (3).
Additionally, by the late 1800’s the region’s natural water supply would also appeal to another profitable industry: sugar. Founded in 1855, the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. (known as CSR) thrived in the area for well over a hundred years before relocating in the 1990’s. Today, remnants of the old factories have been renovated to fit into the modern residential developments.
In order to keep up with the booming flow of exports and imports, a few impressive technological advances were constructed in the suburb. One crucial development, for instance, was the Pyrmont Bridge, one of the world’s oldest functioning electrical swing bridges (4). Built in 1902, the design was considered ahead of its time and continues to provide a critical function to Sydney residents who wish to walk over to the Central Business District.
Another key advancement of the time was the Pyrmont Railway that connected the area to southern suburbs (5). Though many of the railroads are no longer in use, the old tunnels and overpasses continue to add historical charm to the area.
In the wake of industrialization
To be sure, industry characterized this suburb for much of its existence. However, in order to address the gradual decline of the industrial state of the area, Pyrmont has transformed into something much more appealing for residents of the greater Sydney area.
One facet of development has been an increase in residential buildings on the peninsula, giving residents who work downtown an accessible and quiet suburban lifestyle. The location became so sought out that by 2013, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Pyrmont was Sydney’s most densely populated suburb, with 13,850 residents per square kilometer (6).
So what does Pyrmont look like today?
Perhaps one of the most visible advancements in the region has been the extensive upgrades to all three major water fronts of the suburb. The construction of an up-scale casino, the establishment of various parks and walkways, an upgraded ferry wharf and commission of multiple museums have rejuvenated the area and rendered it virtually unrecognizable from its former decline.
And with the influx of new residents, restaurants, retail shops, cafes, and entertainment is sure to follow. Indeed, this suburb is teeming with community events, live shows, and bustling markets for tourists and locals, alike.
Don’t miss the big events
Though many visitors enjoy the opportunity to take risks and win big at The Star, the region’s large casino, this venue also offers countless live shows, conferences, and private events throughout the year (7). Some events even take place on The Star’s rooftop, allowing guests to enjoy a panoramic view of the Pyrmont, the surrounding bay, and the sparkling skyline of downtown Sydney. Another beautiful feature of The Star is the Sydney Lyric Theater, an opera house and ballet stage accommodating up to 2,050 guests.
Each year, The Star also acts as a principle partner for the ever-popular Pyrmont Festival, a week-long event hosted by the Pyrmont Ultimo Chamber of Commerce (8). Scheduled in the middle of May, this gathering of artists, restauranteurs, musicians, and vineyard owners gather for nine days of festivities. The event attracts a large number of visitors, from families with small children to long-time residents.
For those who wish the Pyrmont Festival would never end, the region has a few more tricks up its sleeve. One is the world-famous Sydney Fish Market, a hub for experienced fishermen, top chefs, and seafood fanatics (9). After opening its doors in 1945, this market has remained a central community meeting place, offering various events throughout the year for Christmas, Chinese New Year, and other popular holidays. The market even offers tours of the premises and seafood cooking classes throughout the week.
Everything you need is just over the harbour
If you’re in Sydney and looking for something a bit different from the Central Business District, everything you need is just over the bay in the suburb of Pyrmont. State-of-the-art venues, popular events, and gorgeous views and outdoor space makes this region a lovely blend of metropolitan energy, refined culture, and suburban tranquility. Residents have already flocked to the newly renovated area; now’s your chance to see what makes Pyrmont so special.
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