A Self-Guided Walk in Hurlstone Park
Download the Walking Map and Notes
When I tell friends that my daughter has moved to Hurlstone Park, most ask “Where’s that?”. Today I want to find out more about this small suburb tucked next to Dulwich Hill in Sydney’s Inner West, a place most apparently know little about.
Alighting at Hurlstone Park Station, the heritage listed Platform buildings appear similar to those at Hawkesbury River Station, my station. The original features of the stair rails are also worth a second look.
Discovering the Streets of Hurlstone Park
Turning right from the station, a mobile phone tower and modern signage above and below three decorative arched windows overwhelm what was once an interesting building. Over the road a tiny white cottage nestles between the street and the railway line.
A retired couple relax in the sun on their veranda with coffee and a cigarette. We exchange greetings, commenting on the pleasant warmth after the rain. A worker calls out to them “Lovely in the sun”. The man replies with a drawn out “beeeuudiful”.
Pieces of furniture and other bric a brac overfow the veranda of a corner federation home. They may be clearing out but perhaps a hoarder lives here. The house opposite has a similar problem. Bags of all shapes and sizes and piles of soaked clothing fill the small front yard.
Owning a heritage listed home must require constant maintenance. The semis at 58 and 60 Garnet Street could do with some attention to the facia boards. The slate roof, terracotta capping and entrance porch are typical of the era.
A few homes in Garnet Street are heritage listed and others display original features. Strolling down the street is rewarding to anyone interested in 1880s architecture.
The Garnet Street Group
Four homes make up the so-called “Garnet Street Group”. These narrow-fronted cottages, identical in structure, but with slight differences have carved bargeboards (a new word for me – it means the board fastened under the gable) and decorative rosettes.
An elderly man with a white beard, wearing a beanie and large overcoat walks towards me. Carrying a green and a blue shopping bag, one in each hand, he looks me in the eye and says “Hello”. I get the feeling that Hurlstone Park is a friendly neighbourhood.
New Canterbury Road
In contrast to Garnet Street, new unit blocks line New Canterbury Road. While a few original buildings remain, they are tired and many are empty or closed. The Watch Repair man has gone, the Cycle Shop is moving and while sign in the Upholsterer’s door says it is open, the shop looks dusty and closed.
On the other hand, next to the pharmacy ‘The Skein Sisters’, a niche wool and knitting shop looks bright and friendly. The last time I saw a shop dedicated to wool was in Penrith.
Greek Community in Hurlstone Park
St Stephanos Greek Orthodox Church makes me wonder if Hurlstone Park is a Greek enclave in Sydney? Perhaps it is – near the empty Brake and Clutch place (they have moved) with its surprising pressed ceiling on the awning and leadlight detail, a Greek shop sells religious artefacts.
Over the road there’s a Greek Bilingual Bookshop. Unfortunately, its façade has been graffitied over with a large curvy white “THIS” bordered in black.
Looking up and down Canterbury Road, from the traffic light, there’s the modern Canterbury Hurlstone Park RSL, a Puppy School inhabiting the 1923 ‘Buying Centre’ and even though it’s 11am on a Thursday morning, Police are pulling motorists aside for a RBT.
Two cement bulldogs guard the gate of a home in Melford Street. Strongly tempted to rub the nose of one, I photograph it. Then I can’t resist and caress his rough nose.
Euston Road Group
The smell of paint fills the air outside one of the “Euston Road Group” of heritage listed homes. While messing around with my camera, the owners come out to ask what I am doing.
Mollified by my answer, the man (wearing a Rabbitohs jumper) asks if I want to see inside the house. I demur but we end up chatting anyway. The wife says that this group of houses were all built at around the same time. She tells me that Council may provide a limited amount to assist owners with maintaining heritage listed homes.
Further down the road, another Rabbitohs supporter, wearing a green and red beanie walks out of his driveway. I comment that “there are lots of Rabbitohs fans around here”. He replies forcefully that “It’s a good team”.
In Euston Park, a wet limp Australian flag droops from the pole near the war memorial. A drink bottle on the bench and plastic container with straw and green lid on the memorial mar the solemnity of the space.
A woman laughingly calls out to a man tinkering with his car “when are you going to get it going”. He light-heartedly replies “got to get it registered first” and bends back down over the engine.
The Sugar Mill in Hurlstone Park
Crossing the pedestrian walkway over the rail line, a piece of history comes into view. Like ‘The Flour Mill’ in Dulwich Hill, this former Sugar Mill, built in 1841 has been converted into a residential building.
After operating as a Sugar Mill for 13 years, the building was used for various purposes including an engineering works, butter factory and bacon factory. Nick Scali Furniture owned the building from 1983 to 1997.
There are people around, more than I have seen in many other suburbs. Well serviced by public transport, and with shops nearby, people seem to walk rather than get in a car.
The Cooks River Cycleway in Hurlstone Park
Ongoing community action to clean up the Cooks River is working. Birdlife has returned to the river and the cycle path alongside the river makes for a pleasant ride (or in my case walk).
A large bird flies across the path ahead of me landing heavily on a soft branch which bends under its weight. Wanting to identify the bird, I approach slowly. The yellow tailed black cockatoo looks at me curiously but apart from cocking his head doesn’t move. I chat to him and he chats to his mate.
Leaving the Cooks River, I explore more of suburban Hurlstone Park. One small front yard has become a mini banana plantation, plastic bags protecting the fruit.
If I didn’t know better, the murals and small size of Edgeware Public School would lead me to think it was an infant’s school. Actually, this ‘School for Specific Purposes’ caters for students in years 7 to 10 who have conduct disorder.
A man pushing a wheelbarrow through Burnett Street Reserve wears a sweaty pale blue T-shirt with the insignia of the ‘Mudcrabs’. This local community group works to clean up the Cooks River and surrounds.
Hopetoun Street Group
Another group of heritage homes, the ‘Hopetoun Street Group’ also display striking features. One has a sulphur crested cockatoo painted in the apex of the gable, a vine frieze and lacey ironwork.
Hurlstone Park Village
In the village of Hurlstone Park, dates on the building facades indicate their age. 1904. 1912. 1905. Hand painted tiles of a cow, sheep and pig indicate that a butcher once traded here.
An older woman who has lived in the area for 50 years tells me that apparently the closed Hot Bread Shop still bakes bread, but sells it through the local grocer. Her step son used to live in the house next door to where my daughter now lives.
She says that ten years ago people could wander across Crinan Road, but now there is more traffic and with the cafes, more people. She points out the Drapery and Mercery sign. Today it’s a pop-up vintage store. She doesn’t know why Con’s Shoe Shop isn’t open for business but tells me that Con is an old man now.
Hurlstone Park with its friendly face, heritage architecture and river walk could easily be called a ‘hidden gem’ of Sydney. My daughter is lucky to have found a place here.
Hurlstone Park is located 9km South West of the Sydney CBD
It is easy to get to Hurlstone Park by train or Bus. Plan your trip at transportnsw.info
I enjoy a pastry or savoury treat at Dora’s Bakery
Walking Map and Notes
Use this map as a guide: Use the map (which you can download here) in conjunction with these Day Notes. Please note that I take up to four hours to do my walk. You may take less.
I’m currently house sitting in Hurlstone Park and found your article fascinating. I’m looking forward to discovering more of the area.
How fortuitous, Belinda. I hope you enjoy your sojourn in Hurlstone Park. House sitting must be a great way to get to know Sydney.
One of the shops in Crinan St was given a makeover by Selling Houses Australia about 6 or 8 years ago (I think, about then). You also missed my house in Duntroon St which had its front garden made over by Better Homes and Gardens 3 years ago. It’s divine succulent heaven! People are always hanging over the low front wall to check it out. I’ve made a large mosaic out of buttons on the front wall, to complete the look.
I didn’t miss your succulent heaven. I sent the address to my daughter to check out for an easy care option for her garden. I won’t give it away here. And the circular button mosaic is lovely. Thanks for the info.
This is my ew home too and I love it
You might catch me at Dora’s on a Wed when I babysit. Enjoy your new home.
I lived in New Canterbury Road in the 1960’s. All the empty shops at what was once known as Hurlstone Park Terminus, were all operating as flourishing businesses, now they are all closed. St. Stephanos’s Church was originally St Stephens Church of England. A number of other shops have been demolished and blocks of units have taken their place. The history of this suburb is slowly disappearing. Thanks for your current commentary on my childhood playground of “Hurlo”.
Hello Jan and thanks for your added information. ‘Hurlo’ would have been very different in the 1960s. Yes, as I walk around Sydney’s Suburbs, I see change everywhere. At least some of the older houses are being preserved.
Beautifully preserved heritage homes and the path along the Cooks river looks like a lovely place to walk or cycle.
I think you’d enjoy riding your bike along the Cooks River, Bernadette
Hurlstone Park sounds like a lovely place to live. I hope the developers never hear about it.
I think my daughter will be very happy there. Hopefully the developments will stay on the main roads where they have already changed the face of the streetscape.
I recently moved from Hurlstone Park to retire in the country. I do miss the Cooks River. I walked it most days and at sunset it can be breath taking. Hope Con is okay. Last year he fixed a vintage leather bag for me but not before telling me of for not taking better care of the leather. I love the old houses and gardens. Hurlstone Park is a friendly community and I do miss chatting to my neighbours.
You have probably traded breathtaking sunsets on the Cooks River for beautiful sunsets in the country. The community does seem very friendly and when we walk past someone in a front yard with our grandson, there is always a lovely smile and greeting.
Lived there until married. Nobody knew of it then either. When my mother pasted away in 1998 we sold the house in euston rd they pulled it down and built a double story columned white ugly place. Sad.
Yes it is sad when old houses are pulled down to make way for new developments. I have seen that happen all over Sydney on my walks.
My husband lived in hurl stone park from 1946 till 2012 . We got married in 1979 and lived in Hamden st then moved up to his parents house in Barton ave beautiful federation homes in that street . The sugar mill is in Canterbury not hurl stone park. I loved living in hurl stone park there was an article written in the daily mirror news paper saying hurl stone park was a hidden gem of the inner west . I now live in thirlmere in the southern highlands I love it but I miss hurl stone park looking forward to your article on Campbelltown it’s our closest hospital and large shopping centre there is a lot of Australian history and historic homes in Campbelltown and surrounding suburbs.
My son was three when they were making the bike track at Ewan park he had a ride on a steam roller he is now 39. We had many great birthday parties at the park.
How lovely to have such memories, Vinlei/
Yes, you are right, Vinlei, the Sugar Mill is in Canterbury, but just on the border of Hurlstone Park. I was so excited to find out about it that I had to write it up. I hope the Campbelltown post lives up to your expectations – I didn’t really manage to get into the suburban streets.
Do you recall if there was ever a retail shop in Hampden St not far from the bus stop? thanks
Unfortunately I don’t know, Sav. Hopefully Vinlei sees your question.
Joanne, I found your website researching for walks I organize with my hiking group. Very informative and packed with useful info. Your doing a great job promoting the exploration of Sydney and beyond by foot. So many places to see that are mostly unknown, unless you just take your time and walk around.
Many Thanks and looking forward to your next discovery!
Thank you so much, Karin. I have fun and enjoy sharing my discoveries.
Thank you for this Blog. I grew up in Keir avenue sandwiched between the train line and Cooks River. I am currently writing a memoir as part of a Creative Writing Master about my childhood in the 1970s in an Italian migrant family. Your blog stirred up more memories and moments.
Hello Valerie and thank you for sharing how the bog stirred up memories and moments in your childhood. Best wishes with your memoir – what better time to be writing than now when we are stuck at home.
its baggin fam, lived there all my life
I grew up in Starkey St Hurlstone Park and it was the most fabulous area to grow up. There was a whole generation of us kids on our bikes , down by the river , in the parks and even canoeing in the river sometimes.
Not much has changed and I live not too far away and keep in contact with some elderly neighbours who still love living in their hidden suburb. Selling the family home in 2012 after 55 years was a sad day indeed.
Thanks Joanne for capturing Hurlstone Park.
You are right, Arlene. Not much has changed. My pre- school grandchildren are surrounded by children their age and have a ready built friendship group. I enjoy the shopping strip and friendliness too.
I’ve lived in Hurlo for 16 years now. When I first moved here the Real Estate Agent gave me a leaflet “Town Centre Guide & Heritage Walk” While sorting thru papers I found it and decided it was about time I used it! When I came home I decided to goggle to see if there was an update, it was put out by Canterbury Council (now C-Bankstown!) and thee I found you site! Next time I feel like an historic walk I’ll try yours! Following something like this draws your attention to the details you walk past regularly but never see!
Thanks Helen. I hope you enjoy the walk. Your last sentence about noticing things around you really speaks to me as that’s what I aim to do.
Stumbled across your website looking for some old photos of the suburb around the Sugar works even though that is in Canterbury. We have lived here now for 6 years. Kids go to the local public school in Canterbury. Its a great little suburb that has held onto most of its heritage features. We live on Melford Street not far from Euston Road. I love that very large house near the park. Probably the grandest in the suburb.
Hi Gordon, how lucky for your kids to grow up in the area. My grandchildren have a special time there with so many young families around.