Sweet Belem

Petersham (Little Portugal): A walk in a Sydney Suburb

I’m going to Little Portugal, as Petersham is affectionately called and I can hardly wait for my Portuguese tart. My first stop will be Sweet Belem Cake Shop for coffee and a ‘pastel de nata’.

Portuguese Petersham

After only ten minutes on the train from Central, I walk along Terminus Street towards Audley Street. Ahead is a brightly coloured tiled wall. Portugal and tiles (azulejos in Portuguese) go hand in hand and this wall was created by a Portuguese Australian artist. The colourful wall cheers up an otherwise unremarkable streetscape.

Portuguese tiles in Petersham

A colourful addition to the street

In Audley Street the Portuguese flavour of Petersham emerges with signs for a couple of Portuguese restaurants. In the cake shop (in New Canterbury Road) I eagerly search the rows of sweet offerings.

Sweet Belem

It is not quite 10am but only two Portuguese tarts remain. Phew. One has my name on it. I later learn that as quickly as they are sold they are replenished. I sit at a small round tiled table. Scenes of Lisbon adorn the walls. Soon I am savouring the delicious flaky pastry with creamy custard filling of my Portuguese tart.

Charly’s Deli

I explore New Canterbury Road further. Walking past Charly’s Deli something draws me in. My excitement rises as I realise this is where locals shop for goods from their old country. Boxes of bacalhau, the dried salted cod used in many a Portuguese dish greet me. Shelves are lined with tins of sardines, peri peri sauce, dried herbs and spices.

The fridge offers a selection of cheeses and small goods. Leaving with her bag of goodies, an older woman asks her companion “Quieres café?” Sounds Spanish but it’s good enough for me.

Portuguese Butcher

We speak your language

Bacalhau in Petersham

Bacalhau

The bottle shop sells Portuguese wine and I discover The Majestic Gourmet Grocers housed in a converted cinema. If I wasn’t exploring, I’d be shopping up big.

We speak Portuguese and Spanish

In the Portuguese/Spanish butcher, hams hang from the ceiling. The sign “Tahlo Portugues Habla español” indicates that staff are bilingual. At each intersection, the pavement becomes an artwork of cobblestone tiles. There’s a rooster and a coat of arms. Another reminder of Portugal.

Portuguese tiled footpath in Petersham

Surprise on the footpath

Suburban Petersham

Now I leave Little Portugal in search of other treasures. Walking down Audley Street, I enjoy the sunshine and looking at houses built in times gone by. There are small free standing cottages, terraces and larger houses, some converted into smaller dwellings. Many homes seem to have been freshly painted in colours in keeping with their heritage.

Multicultural

A man sits outside his home enjoying the pleasant autumn weather. He migrated from Lebanon many years ago. Petersham may be ‘Little Portugal’ but like everywhere in Sydney it is a melting pot of people from all over the world.

Marr Park

My plan is to walk more or less in a rectangle visiting places unearthed in my research. I zig zag along side streets to Albert Street where I stumble across Marr Park. Here I discover a lovely stonewalled garden of lavender and rosemary. And a fruiting olive tree, a reminder of the olive groves I walked past last year in Portugal.

Public House Petersham

I relax on a bench in the shade before continuing to New Canterbury Road. There the Public House Petersham boasts graffiti by ‘Phibs’ who I learnt about on a recent walking tour of Newtown. Apart from two young men playing pool, the pub is empty but I’ll return for lunch another day. And have a go on one of the pin ball machines.

Public House Petersham

Public House Petersham

Daisy's Milk Bar

Daisy’s

Daisy’s Milk Bar

My next stop on New Canterbury Road is Daisy’s, a 1950’s retro Milkbar complete with red and white gingham curtains and pastel décor. I have my first thick shake in many years – boring banana. You are likely to be more adventurous.

Heritage Water Tower

Petersham is home to a 1965 heritage-listed water tower. Not far from Daisy’s, it looms large over neighbouring houses. After a closer look at this welded steel reservoir on a concrete tower I turn down Crystal Street towards the railway line passing the art deco Town Hall, another local landmark.

Heritage Water Tower

The water tower

Over the Railway Line

I walk across the 1883 iron pedestrian bridge at the railway station noting the now fenced off old, but with heritage significance, unused station.

Petersham Park

I pass cottages and larger houses, some lovingly restored, others less so on my way to Petersham Park. There is a lot of history here. The grandstand overlooks the cricket pitch where Donald Bradman scored his 1st grade century as a young eighteen-year-old. It looks all very English with its white picket fence.

Petersham Park

ANZAC Memorial Avenue

ANZAC Gate Posts

The ANZAC gate posts and gates saved from the old town hall provide a grand entrance to a tree lined memorial avenue. The outdoor aquatic centre, named after Fanny Durack, the first Australian woman to win a swimming Olympic Gold, is closed for winter.

Finishing off in Petersham

I return to Little Portugal for a few purchases. I get Jamon from the butcher, Vinho Verde from the bottle shop and hot peri peri sauce from Charly’s deli. I return home pretty pleased with my day and keen to share my experiences.

If you liked this post, you may also like to walk through

Blacktown               Summer Hill            Surry Hills

Next stop: Palm Beach

Useful information:

  • Sweet Belem is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
  • By train take the Inner West & South Line Towards Ashfield or plan your trip at transportnsw.info

A map to give you an idea:

(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):

Petersham (Little Portugal) Walk Map

 More Random Photos:
Petersham-12

Cute cottages

Petersham-14

Art Deco?

Car Park

Car Park

Bicycle

Bicycle

No one home

No one home

Anyone for bowls?

Anyone for bowls?

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Comments

  1. Hi, Jo,
    Another great little Sydney adventure – keep up the good work! I have fond memories of Petersham – I was living there in 1982, sharing a flat with my brother when I first started going out with Ros 🙂
    Cheers,
    Philip

    1. Author

      Thanks Philip. Its funny what you learn when on a journey like this.

  2. Just had dinner with Carly at another hipped-up oldmans pub previously the Cockatoo now Westvillage on Terminus Street directly across from the railroad stair at Petersham station (north side). Great food, warm neighbourhood atmosphere. Easy parking-or take the train!

    1. Author

      Great to have more suggestions on where else to go in Petersham. Thanks Becky. It is time for me to revisit some of the places I went last year.

  3. Now I know where my children can go and buy bacalhau for Christmas eve. Charly’s Deli is waiting.
    We’re coming over to spend their first Christmas in Australia
    Thanks for the info.

    1. Author

      So pleased that you have found it useful Eduardo. Have a great time in Australia. Joanne

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