Take to the Streets: Historic Walks in the Inner West
No matter whether you’re a long-time resident or simply visiting, the best way to understand and appreciate any city’s history – and geography – is to put on a pair of walking shoes and spend some happy hours exploring on foot. When it comes to historic walks, the City of Canada Bay offers plenty of fascinating insights into the changing social make-up of the area, its industrial heritage and the unique natural beauty still evident to anyone who has the time to slow down and step out. And there’s no better time to do it than over the cooler autumn and winter months. Here, we share some of the highlights you’ll discover on three historic walks that take in some of the best of the Inner West.
Cabarita and Breakfast Point Walk
Before European settlement, the area now encompassing the City of Canada Bay was home to the Wangal people, a clan of the Darug (Dharuk or Dharawal) or Eora language group, who are believed to have occupied it for more than 20,000 years. While few traces of their presence remain, some shell middens are still visible at Rodd Park, Rodd Point, as well as a smattering of cave painting sites and rock shelters around the area. Hen and Chicken Bay was a major meeting place for the Aboriginal peoples of Port Jackson and the greater Sydney region. It was Captain John Hunter, leading an expedition up the Parramatta River, who made first contact with the Wangal in February 5th, 1788. He was having breakfast at what the Wangal called Booridiow-o-gule and which was subsequently named Breakfast Point. The name Cabarita is said to be a derivation of an Aboriginal word meaning ‘by the water’.
Along this walk, you’ll encounter many remnants of the area’s industrial heritage, such as the grand AGL Gasworks memorial gates and entry, as well as the adjacent Blacksmith’s Shop, built in 1891, and Power House (1910-11). Places to linger abound along the way, including Cabarita Park, first reserved as a place of recreation in 1856, and its neighbouring Correy’s Pleasure Grounds, which ran from the 1880s until WWI.
Bourketown, with its central hub, Bourketown Square, is Drummoyne’s oldest subdivision and was established in the 1840s. This walk takes in Iron Cove Bridge, first opened to traffic in 1882. Built low to prevent sailing boats from entering Iron Cove, it was superseded by the current bridge, completed in 1955, but the original bridge’s sandstone abutments can still be seen on both sides. Another noteworthy spot along the way is Drummoyne Pool, built in 1904, where Olympians Dawn Fraser and Jon Henricks famously were trained by Harry Gallagher. For nature lovers, the small section of natural foreshore at Sisters Bay features a rare opportunity to witness the rock formations, sandflats and mangroves that once predominated in the Drummoyne area. Elsewhere, Henley Marine Drive – constructed in 1910, and now part of the Bay Run – is among the first of its kind in Sydney, and is renowned for its glorious Iron Cove views. Among the five churches you’ll encounter along the way are St Bede’s Anglican Church, whose first timber building was constructed in 1884, and Drummoyne Presbyterian Church, whose imposing steeple is a local landmark.
This approximately two-hour leisurely stroll takes in some beautiful Sydney views, in a loop that you can start and finish at Battersea Park (said to be named after London’s own Battersea Park), where plenty of parking is available. Designed to offer a glimpse into the history of Abbotsford, the walk takes in the former Battersea Baths, a saltwater swimming pool built in 1910. The stone terraces forming the wall of the park at the water’s edge were originally used to seat Sydney Rowing Club spectators during the 1920s. Along the route you’ll also encounter Riverview, a grand late-Federation-style mansion that is one of very few remaining stately waterfront properties in Abbotsford. Other highlights include Henry Lawson Park, dedicated to the writer in 1938; Abbotsford House, built by Sir Arthur Renwick, a prominent Sydney physician, in 1878; and, of course, Sydney Rowing Club, which originally was the site of the Red Cow Inn (or Red House) before being sold in 1872.
For more detailed information about these walks and accompanying route maps, click here. https://www.canadabay.nsw.gov.au/lifestyle/our-area/local-history
Image Source: Postcard Sydney