The discovery of a list of pubs in Rozelle led to my plan for today. I’m going to do a pub crawl of Rozelle, meandering along to discover pubs and former pubs in this once working-class Sydney suburb.
Where is Rozelle?
Less than two square kilometres in area, Rozelle sits between the ANZAC Bridge and the Iron Cove Bridge.
Alighting from the Light Rail at Rozelle Bay, I follow a pedestrian/cycle path towards the Bay dodging the many cyclists on their way to work. Huge signs strung between beautiful old trees protest against WestConnex plans to take over a little park I am walking through.
With a continuous and noisy stream of traffic on my left and Rozelle Bay and its light industry on my right, the walk is less than pleasant. Massive rusted anchors and other boating paraphernalia lie abandoned behind a wire fence. A very scared brush tailed possum runs towards me, stops and races up a tree not three metres from where I stand. His habitat has almost disappeared, and I wonder sadly how long he will survive here.
Shipyard noise adds to that of the traffic as I pass a multilevel boat storage centre and walk into the blinding sun towards the ANZAC Bridge. Raised male voices call out. A group of men in orange vests hang from lines at the top of the tall heritage listed Glebe Island silos shouting to each other. They are changing an advertising banner which runs along the top of the silos. Beneath the banner, the silos which are painted to look like Greek columns for the 2000 Olympics, display sporting images including javelin, discus, wheelchair racing and hockey.
A side trip to the Blackwattle Bay lookout places me beneath the sculpture of an ANZAC soldier standing head bowed holding his rifle the barrel pointing down. I look up and feel his eyes looking down at me. Alan Somerville created both this New Zealand Wari soldier (positioned in 2008) and the Australian Digger (positioned in 2000) on the other side of the road.
White Bay Power Station and Surrounds
The path leads me to the White Bay Power Station which is surrounded by fencing topped with barbed wire and warnings to keep out. The last remaining metropolitan power station from the early twentieth century, the heritage site is a photographer’s delight – if only entry were allowed.
Opposite the Power Station, warehouses occupied by light industry including a gym and panel beaters line the street. The rego of a van parked nearby reads ‘CAVIAR’. Looking around I discover Europa Epic-Cure – a smoked salmon, caviar and other fine foods supplier. I must remember this place – it is open to the public.
Another surprise is the Sydney Teleport Services. The name conjures up images of Star Trek. Satellite dishes aim towards the heavens and a man in the back of a truck sits behind a bank of rather sophisticated looking screens.
Further on, bright blue eyes look down at me from a painted mural as I step onto a ramp on the side of a rock face. From the top of the ramp a lovely little park provides clear views all the way to the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Starting the Rozelle Pub Crawl
The Bald Rock Hotel
Workers strip the interior of the first pub on my list, the Bald Rock Hotel. Renovations should be complete by the end of May but the website indicates the pub is still open for business. One of the workers asks me in a lovely lilting Irish accent what I am doing. I could listen to that accent all day.
The Beach Hotel
Outside the Beach Hotel (now a private residence) another man suggests I come back to photograph the building again later, as it changes according to the light. He used to be a truck driver and amateur photographer. He describes how the best time for him was between four and five in the morning when the mist rolled over a dam with the moon shining through a spider web bejeweled with dewdrops.
Houses of Rozelle
The weatherboard, brick or sandstone workers cottages, both single and double storey, delight me. One tiny corner home, the shape of a very thin wedge, intrigues me. I would love to peek inside to see how it works. In Mullen street a row of three subtly different yet almost identical homes each with three arches over bay windows stand side by side.
I inspect a fence close up that I first saw from a bus window and which has always fascinated me. Words cut out of a large piece of rusted metal refer to local landmarks, but don’t seem to make sense. A work of art that must have taken forever to make, I leave with unanswered questions. How were the letters cut? What is the meaning of the piece?
Having crossed Victoria Road now, I notice six terraces more or less true to the original. They form ‘Cromwell Terrace’.
Former Easton Park Hotel
Only the word ‘Hotel’ remains of the former Easton Park Hotel. Opposite the ‘Hotel’, colourful murals decorate the amenities block of Easton Park where the field is a lush green after recent rains.
The voice of a man singing along to a tune wafts from an open door of Smith’s Hall. Built in 1908, the hall appears to be lodging for men who are down on their luck. A broken flyscreen flutters in the wind, a man sitting on a wooden bench doffs his hat while another seemingly on serious medication returns my greeting.
Three Weeds Hotel and former Tower of London Hotel
I remember buying an ice cream from the corner store over the road when walking the Seven Bridges walk some time ago. The Three Weeds Hotel nearby is still a working pub while the former Tower of London Hotel is now home to Roberto’s cakes and fine food.
The Welcome Hotel
Having crossed Victoria Road for the second time, I admire the late nineteenth and early twentieth century homes as well as the Excelsior Store (1891) next door to the Welcome Hotel (1877). Down a side street, cute cottages, painted in pastel colours, have the appearance of dolls houses. One home cleverly screens inside rooms from the street with replicas of early advertisements painted on the frosted window. There’s Streets Ice Cream, Foleys Butter, Arnott’s Biscuits and ETA mustard.
Darling Street Rozelle
The Sackville Hotel
In Darling Street I pass the Sackville Hotel and then notice a sculpture and street art on a nearby corner. The sculpture remembers the victims of the Rozelle fire while the mural depicts different hair styles for the adjacent barbershop.
Independently owned small businesses line Darling Street. Here you’ll find clothing that is a little bit special or different. There’s a patisserie, fruit and veggie shops, a chocolate shop (Belle Fleur) and more than one eatery and coffee shops. The Red Cross and Vinnies have op shops here too.
And if you enjoy Collector’s Markets, the local Rozelle Public School hosts a Collector’s Market on weekends.
Red Lion Hotel
For the third time, I cross Victoria Road. The Red Lion Hotel has pride of place on Red Lion Street. The Essential Ingredient has gone, but the pretty leadlight windows have pride of place above the larger empty display windows.
Garry Owen Hotel
A mosaic decorating the Neighbourhood Centre wall encourages people to “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. The restaurant, Le Coq occupies the former Rozelle Hotel and further on is the Garry Owen Hotel, the ninth pub on my list.
The Bay Run
Tall Moreton Bay figs tower over the high brick wall surrounding Callan Park. Manning Street leads me to King George Park and onto a section of the Bay Run. The last time I was here (on that long Seven Bridges Walk), the park was full of walkers, food stalls and spectators.
Taking it slowly now, I enjoy the river scene in front of me. The King George Pontoon squeaks as it moves up and down with the flow of the river. A man balances precariously on a side ledge of his boat as he works on one of the hatches.
After admiring the Iron Cove Bridge(s) from the Victoria Road Lookout, the path leads me along the shoreline past the site of the former Balmain Power Station. An upmarket housing development replaced the Power Station and only the pumphouse complete with white internal ‘bathroom style’ glazed tiles with blue trim remains.
The Bridge Hotel
On the home run now, my route passes the Bridge Hotel, a live music venue. Opposite The Bridge, the former home of the Balmain Tigers stands derelict. A newspaper report from March 2018 indicates that the site may be compulsorily acquired by the State Government as a ‘dive’ site for the Western Harbour Tunnel.
Three More Rozelle Hotels in Victoria Road
There are three more pubs on the list. Art Deco lettering advertises a former Hotel Rozelle and I realise that I attended a 40th Birthday party at the Native Rose Hotel. While it was established in 1879 it nevertheless has distinct Art Deco Features. Last but not least, the Merton Hotel (1878), is an Irish owned and run pub which also offers live music on weekends.
Summing Rozelle Up
Doing a pub crawl (without drinking a drop) of Rozelle has been fun and a good way to discover new drinking holes while exploring local streets along the way. The ‘pub crawl’ had me walking in a zig zag fashion from the ANZAC Bridge to the Iron Cove Bridge and is a great way to get a feel for this Inner West suburb of Sydney. I will be back.