Haberfield the Garden Suburb

Haberfield: A day walk in a Sydney Suburb

I almost didn’t visit Haberfield. You may well ask why. Well, research showed me that many food tours go there and every food blogger seems to have written about it.

However, a café (not mentioned in the food blogs) that I am keen to revisit is just over the border with Leichhardt and there’s a non-foody side of Haberfield to be explored.

The Garden Suburb

I leave the train at Summer Hill, with an air of anticipation, wondering what today will bring. Haberfield, besides being called “Little Italy”, is also called “The Garden Suburb”. Before exploring the residential side of this small triangular shaped suburb I am off to an unusual café.

On the Leichhardt side of the Hawthorne canal is an off-leash park for dogs. I came here many years ago before it was fenced and the Light Rail was built. As I enter the fenced area, immediately a large, old dog lollops (yes there is such a word) towards me, greets me and moves on. I continue along the path. A small schnauzer chases pigeons. People and their dogs sit at tables scattered on the grass opposite a small kiosk.

Cafe Bones


Cafe Bones

Treat please Mum

This is Café Bones, where dog owners can get their coffee hit, while their dogs wander around, rest under the tables or greet new comers. I order a coffee and watch the passing parade.

Haberfield, a heritage listed suburb

I continue along the canal and cross back into Haberfield. The suburb was developed in the early 1900s. It was to be “slum-less, lane-less and pub-less”. With wide tree lined streets, houses were built according to strict guidelines. They were to be single story, set back from the road with low front and side fences to promote a sense of community.

The entire suburb is heritage-listed as a Conservation Area and is part of the Register of the National Estate of Australia.

The Garden suburb

The Garden Suburb

Real estate in Haberfield

One of many

I make my way down Dudley and then Dalhousie Street, stopping occasionally to admire the beautifully manicured gardens behind low walls. Roses are in abundance. Hedges are neatly trimmed and the sound of lawn mowing fills the air. Tiled paths gently curve from garden gates to front doors.

I look up. Roofs, often sporting tall working chimneys, are mostly terracotta or slate, complementing the brick walls and wooden features of verandas. Leadlight windows are in abundance. Unlike other suburbs, people seem to be at home. Windows and front doors are open.

Haberfield architecture

Federation tiles

Haberfield Architecture

The odd one out

There are no pubs in Haberfield. Nor is there any light industry. The well-known and much written about shopping strip of Haberfield is in Ramsay Street. I walk up and down appreciating the two storey streetscape. I step behind a parked car to take a photo of a wall mural.

The sound of a car horn blasts nearby. I look around wondering who is hooting at whom. Oops. I’m blocking the car. I apologise with a smile and a wave. The driver is not amused.

Little Italy

I am keen to check for myself the hype about the Italian Providores. And so I visit the small but popular Peppes Pasta. At Paesanella, I ask them to keep some burrata for me. I’ve been called “love”, “mate” and even “darl”, but today, I’m called “bella”. I rather like it.

Haberfield streetscape

Note the facades

Haberfield shops

Not Italian

Outside Dolcissimo, a group of men chat away in Italian. I wander the aisles of the Zanetti Deli. Papas Pasticceria is full and there is a queue. Perhaps fortunately for me, the chocolatier is closed.

While photographing the bakery, a man stylishly dressed in hat and tie adorned with pins asks that I take his photo. He lists his heritage. Surprisingly it doesn’t include Italian.

The local Lamonica IGA is housed in the old Haberfield Cinema and the food bloggers aren’t wrong. It’s busy even though today is Thursday. People queue up at the deli counter. There are even seats provided for the older folk.

The old Post Office is now a pizzeria and the old Salvation Army Hall a Fruit Market. Gojak meats, besides the usual fare, smokes their own meat. I soon realise that the small businesses featured most often on the food tours of Haberfield and in food blogs are not the only shops selling gourmet product. I wonder a bit about the fairness of mentioning one place over another.

House in Haberfield

Another house

Federation Tilesin Haberfield

More tiles

I walk to Wattle Street at the end of Ramsay Street and wander back through suburban streets to the shopping strip. The anti-pasta I choose for lunch doesn’t quite fill the hole, so I make my way to Papas for a coffee and ricotta cannoli. Yummm.

While savouring my treat, I decide to buy prosciutto and rocket to go with the burrata. So, it’s back to the deli, the cheese shop and a fruit market before the short walk to the station.

Final thoughts on Haberfield

I’m glad I visited Haberfield. I now have a good feel for the Garden Suburb, I understand more about the Federation style of architecture, and know where to come when I host an Italian themed dinner party.

Take a look at Five Dock which also has an Italian flavour. And Summer Hill is interesting too.

Useful information:

In Sydney’s Inner West, Haberfield is 6.5km west of the Sydney CBD

Plan your trip at transportnsw.info

Surprise Temple near Haberfield

Surprise find

Burrata and salad for dinner

Tonight’s Dinner

And a map to assist you: (You can download it here) (NOTE that the time indicated on the map does not allow for any stops. I take an average of 4-5 hours when I explore):Walk map of Haberfield


  1. Glad you included Cafe Bones, one of my dog’s favourite places. And the coffee is great!

  2. Author

    Well, if it is near your neighbourhood, take a walk through the suburb. You’ll find much Italian, beautiful gardens and architecture. Thanks Joanne

    1. Author

      Hi Lou, the surprise find is the Wong Tai Zin & Kwan Yin Kur Temple in Summer Hill. I walked past it on the way back to Summer Hill Station from Haberfield. 18- 20 Liverpool Rd. Summer Hill.

  3. Hi Joanne,

    Excellent summary of Haberfield a gem of a suburb, we are definitely spoilt for choice, I’m so lucky to live here! But I just wanted to give you some more tips.

    While Papa’s is a Haberfield institution San Valentino’s gives it a run for its money with most things on offer made in-house, plus it has very authentic Italian feel to it. Their gelato is sooooooo good (although Papa’s is also excellent – so many choices in Haberfield). But San Valentino’s is well worth the visit. Raffael’s bakery is also excellent for take away bread & treats, some think the arancini is the best in Sydney! And my friends say the tiramisu is to die for (I’m not a coffee fan so can’t say). Next time we visit them in the Bowral we’ve been instructed to bring a tray.

    If you walk back up Dalhousie St towards the West Link you can visit Hungry Grasshopper, after 10 years serving excellent cafe food I think it now qualifies as a Haberfield institution. And Brandon one of the owners is an excellent host.

    Plus you have to visit at night, La Disfida is undoubtedly one of the best Italian restaurants in Sydney, never disappoints. Plus although Haberfield is known for its Italian food it also has some other gems. Across the road from La Disfida is Bistro Cocotte serving amazing French food. While the Japanese just up from it is also authentic & excellent.

    But you are right Haberfield is a foodie’s heaven with so many excellent places to choose from.

    PS thanks for the blog posts, we often take our home city/suburb for granted, and would seek out these types of walks when visiting other places, you’ve inspired me to do better on my own door step!

    1. Author

      Thank you Nat, for your comprehensive comment and suggestions. If my posts encourage people to get out and about in Sydney, I’ve achieved my goal. Places will often have changed, but that’s part of the fun, I think.

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