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Bakeries, Bookstores and Blues Bars: Why Dulwich Hill Is the Inner West's Best-Kept Secret

At the end of the L1 route is a pot of gold, and its name is Dulwich Hill.
By Alec Jones
November 21, 2022
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By Alec Jones
November 21, 2022
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Sydney has a thing with its regions. We tend to limit ourselves to local pockets — from the Northern Beaches to Eastern Suburbs, or the Inner West to the Greater West. But at CP, we're all about pushing people outside these imaginary walls to discover everything this incredible city has to see.

Today we turn to the Inner West, where charming tree-lined streets and unassuming apartment blocks hide some of the most exciting experiences in town. You might be thinking: I know the Inner West. I've eaten at the hot Newtown spots, gone on brewery crawls in Marrickville and slurped stand-out spaghetti in Leichhardt. But we're here to tell you that there's definitely more to see.

Right now we're loving Dulwich Hill. It's one of Sydney's few suburbs in which big business is yet to claim every second shopfront, leaving independent and family-owned businesses to run things their way (in some cases for the last few decades). There's more to see than we can write about, and it deserves an in-person visit, but here are some appetisers for the feast on offer.

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GIFTS GALORE

Whether it's for yourself or someone else, there's plenty to shop on New Canterbury Road. Make your first stop Connie Dimas Jewellery, which is less than ten minutes's stroll from the light rail stop. This charming store has been part of Dulwich Hill village for over five years, and continues to delight customers with its wide variety of artisan jewellery. Thanks to her ever-growing collection of silver, gold and pearl jewellery, as well as custom designs, Connie has become a local legend, adorning necks, fingers and wrists all over the Inner West.

Hailing from a family of creators and craftsmen, she eventually found her niche in the jewellery world, travelling and learning the craft worldwide. Now, she brings everything she's learned into Dulwich Hill, crafting a range of gorgeous pieces that take inspiration from our world and the people that live in it.

Over the hill and to the left is Marrickville Road, where bookworms should plot a course because only a short distance down is Gleebooks. From its first store in Glebe since 1975, Gleebooks has spent over 40 years growing into one of Sydney's biggest and most loved independent bookstores, with multiple branches around town. Gleebooks is the heart of the Dulwich Hill reader community and keeps its shelves stocked with both classics and new arrivals.

Gleebooks has also become just as well-known for its regular events, hosting hundreds every year across all its sites — names like Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, Colm Toibin, David Malouf and Annie Proulx have graced the doors of its various stores across Sydney. The Dulwich Hill store has recently seen the likes of Bertie Blackman, daughter of famed Australian painter Charles Blackman and Cornersmith duo, Alex Elliott-Howery and Jaimee Edwards.

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HOME AFFAIRS

Interior design is a big business in Dulwich Hill, but one spot in particular stands out. Medina Interior offers authentic handmade furniture and interior decorations direct from Morocco — so expect vivid colours, hypnotising forms and top-quality materials that will bring a fascinating design into any home, from Fes mosaics, safi ceramics and arabesque silver, brass and copper tea sets, lanterns, leather, painted furniture, wicker wares and more.

Established in 2000, Medina imports all of its products from Morocco, so you know you're getting the real deal. Owner Krisi has made a family within the Dulwich Hill community, and locals always pop in to say hi and see how she's doing.

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Julian Hochgesang - Unsplash

Across and down the road is Brady's Used Furniture (also known as Sydney Used Furniture). This local legend of the Dulwich Hill furniture game has been at it for over 30 years, and recently became an online hub for all of Sydney. It's immediately visible on approach, with its gorgeous selection of wooden, fabric, leather and metal furniture spilling out beyond its doors — head inside to discover an always intriguing range of antique glassware, books and other bric-a-brac.

As well as buying, Brady's is a top choice for selling your used furniture, and dishes out cash for your old couches, bedside tables and household relics. Brady's specialises in deceased estates, ensuring that treasured belongings are in the right hands for the right price. It also offers evaluations on the valid price of your possessions, so you know you're not getting ripped off.

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WINE DOWN

You may smell Larder Wine and Cheese Bar before you see it. This hangout on Marrickville Road brings a top-shelf attitude paired with top-quality provisions from around Australia and the world. The menu is in the name, but patrons can also partake in beer, cider, charcuterie boards, cheese toasties, grazing platters and the tasty bits and bobs to fill them. You buy some to take home or order from the online shop that offers click-and-collect on its extensive range of products, but our tip is to enjoy it in store — it's an excellent excuse to put on nice clothes and indulge in wine and cheese, guided by co-owners Monique Emmi and Raymond Carbonaro.

If you prefer a bit more kick than wine and cheese can offer, Butchers Brew Bar is a vibe you'll want to get involved in. It's a gem of a live music venue, putting on regular jazz, funk, blues, reggae, soul, indie pop, folk, Brazilian gigs and more. Drinks are free-flowing, with over 20 wines available by the glass, plus craft beer, cider, spirits, cocktails and alcohol-free options.

There's no food menu, but there is a very welcoming BYO policy here — patrons are invited to bring any food from any local eatery. So you can chow down on Thai, Mexican, Japanese, Vietnamese, Sri Lankan, Turkish, burgers or pizzas as you take in a gig.
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WHEN HUNGER STRIKES

Given its incredibly diverse demographic, it should comes as no surprise that Dulwich Hill is home to an incredibly diverse range of eats. If Mexican is on your mind, locals look no further than Tamaleria & Mexican Deli. Owner Rosa Cienfuegos emigrated to Australia from Mexico City in 2009, working with her father at the El Cuervo Cantina in Enmore, then breaking out on her own to run monthly pop-ups in Marrickville before finally opening a permanent spot in Dulwich Hill in 2018.

Her hole-in-the-wall spot on Marrickville Road offers a broad menu of tasty, homes-style Mexican delights. As the name would suggest, the tamales here are a stand-out, having earned fame far beyond Inner West.

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For snacks or sweet treats, Honey and Walnut Patisserie is a must. A post-lockdown addition to Dulwich Hill village, this charming bakehouse is owned and operated by a team of four trained pastry chefs. Peter and Nelly Kalamvokis, joined by Angela and Peter Bozikis, bring decades of shared experience, and the couples' Greek heritage is visible in both the decor and menu items like spanakopita, pastitsio and tiropita, which sit alongside picture-perfect sweet treats like baked cheesecakes, velvet cakes, eclairs and everything in between.

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Dulwich Hill is located in Sydney's Inner West, and borders Lewisham, Marrickville, Hurlstone Park and Summer Hill. It's accessible via the L1 light rail or on T3 train line. There's also plenty of street and council parking.

For more amazing ways to experience Dulwich Hill and the Inner West, head to the website.

Published on November 21, 2022 by Alec Jones
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