The railway line divides Eastwood Sydney almost exactly in half. I wonder how different the east and west sides are from each other. But before exploring the streets, I am off on a bush walk.
The Eastern Side of Eastwood
From the train, I walk to the Eastern side of the station. Immediately the Korean nature of this side of Eastwood becomes apparent. Shops signs are in Korean and English. There are Korean Restaurants and Asian stores.
Walking towards the start of Terry’s Creek Walk, I pass young children walking to school in their blue and white uniforms and wide blue hats. Some hop and skip while others chat away to their carers and I’m reminded of a statistic I heard recently – that only a third of Australian children walk to school. It seems that in Eastwood at least, the figure is higher.
There are quite a few people out and about. Most are of Asian descent, and the young man of with blond hair and blue eyes stands out.
A mixture of older art deco and newer 60s unit blocks line the street, none more than 3 storeys high. The development that I have seen elsewhere has not yet come to Eastwood.
There’s a wire cage in the window of an Auto centre. The cage is open and a long-billed Corella looks at me from the top of his cage. That bill looks lethal.
Terrys Creek Walk
Now the rows of units give way to older style bare brick houses. A little bridge crosses Terry’s Creek and brings me to the start of my bush walk. The creek is named after Edward Terry, the first mayor of Eastwood. It meanders through a wildlife corridor and leads into Lane Cove National Park.
The Terrys Creek Walk map put out by Hornsby Council includes easy to find points of interest. The first makes reference to the Convict Trail and The Great North Road which I have found previously in Five Dock and Gladesville.
Wildlife on Terrys Creek Walk
The creek is low, but the water is clear with dappled sunlight reflecting from the surface. While birds chatter in the bush around me, there is no sign of Eastern Dragons sunning themselves on rocks or a Long-necked Turtle in the once popular swimming hole. Perhaps you will have more luck.
A Brush Turkey watches me silently from a branch above my head. After walking beneath him, I hear a kerfuffle in the tree. The large bird has moved to another perch closer to his mate on another branch. There are plenty of mozzies around and I could do with some insect repellent.
Remnant Blue Gum Forest
If it were not for the sound of a dog howling and a school bell and the occasional nearby house, it would be easy to forget that Terrys Creek Walk is in the middle of suburbia. The trail passes through rare remnants of a Blue Gum Forest, a group of Sydney Red Gums and an area that was once a sandstone quarry.
Back in Suburbia
A little disoriented, I follow a sign to Pembroke Park. Apparently, the creek swells dangerously in rain. The path takes me back to suburbia where locals are busy in their gardens, watering, weeding and mowing the lawn.
A young Magpie proudly shows off the worm he has caught, while a learner driver concentrates on the road.
The street blocks are long, and I have a bit of distance to cover before reaching Granny Smith Memorial Park. Did you know that the Granny Smith Apple was first grown in Eastwood?
Maria Ann Smith (nee Sherwood), is the woman behind the “Granny Smith” Apple. The family farm was nearby and today the Granny Smith Festival is held annually in this large park.
Walking back to Eastwood Village via suburban streets and along Balaclava Rd is rather uneventful. One or two people pass me with their shopping jeeps or plastic bags filled with shopping. Here, at least, some people still walk to the shops.
A Korean Feel
Rowe Street is a typical suburban strip of shops with mainly Korean stores and a few coffee shops. Instead of stopping for coffee, I follow two well dressed Korean women into a restaurant and order an appetizer – a seafood and vegetable pancake. Served with five side dishes, it is enjoyable but far more than one person can eat.
Framed posters on the wall explain in English the background to some of the traditional dishes. I can’t help noticing a couple of spelling mistakes and have to hold myself back from letting the proprietor know. But really, what does it matter – I can read the word and anyhow, my own spelling isn’t perfect.
Before crossing to the other side of Eastwood, I take in the beautiful detail of the Eastwood Hotel façade, and then chat to a herbalist weighing out herbs which he says are “to help with gas”.
The Western Side of Eastwood
In Avondale Way another surprise awaits. The square brick chimney stacks (the tallest of their kind in Sydney) are visible long before I reach the Downdraft Kilns and The Mill Building of the Great Northern Brickworks. The area has been restored creating a nice piece of history not dissimilar from the brickworks in St Peters.
The next place of interest means a bit of a hike to the Western edge of Eastwood. On the way, I pass orange and black striped barriers outside a beautiful old home. It seems that the house is subject to an interim heritage order which prevents the existing home being demolished.
Much bush regeneration has been done at Brush Farm Park, the last remnant of Gregory Blaxland’s Farm. It was put aside for public recreation in 1914 and today red netball posts stand ready for play.
Over the road is Blaxland’s House, Brush Farm House which is next door to Brush Farm Corrective Services Academy. In another life, I attended a course here (I used to support people with intellectual disability when they were in prison).
Today rhythmic drumming reaches across the parade ground where flag bearers and new recruits in pale blue shirts and dark pants practice drills before their passing out parade.
I return to the Eastwood Village on the Western side of the railway line. An old man in front of me stops to watch a house being demolished. “A rebuild” he says of “at least 3 storeys”. He shakes his head as he walks away.
A walk down this side of Rowe Street reveals a Chinese and Taiwanese presence. There’s a Taiwanese Bao Dao Kitchen and a restaurant dedicated to Dim Sum. A couple of the eateries are set up to look like street food vendors. I decide to try something called mochi and ask for a mango flavoured one. It’s a sweet glutenous rice ball. The texture is strange, but I enjoy it nevertheless, especially the custard like filling. A quick internet search reveals that mochi is actually Japanese.
The Street Food Market looks rather desolate, but the young woman at Jiggle Cheesecake says it only opens at 4pm. Her husband is about to make the first batch of their “fluffy” Japanese style cheesecake.
In the seating area of the market I find something new to me. Two tall wide vending machines. They are actually “vending” Karaoke and the singer can record themselves as they perform.
Strolling through the outdoor mall on my way back to the train, I recall that when I was last here (to meet my book illustrator), a group of people were doing Tai Chi. They are long gone this afternoon.
Final Thoughts on Eastwood
Eastwood has a nice feel to it and the suburb has it all – bush, culture, history and great Asian cuisines. It is well worth a visit.