Blog & Insights

Introducing Newtown

For live bands, old pubs and cosmopolitan restaurants and cafés, check out Newtown – Sydney’s Bohemian Centre.

A 15-minute walk from Broadway, Newtown is one of Sydney’s great alterative precincts – a suburb with a rich heritage and happening live-music scene. Newtown took its name from ‘New Town Stores’, a grocery store that stood near the Newtown Railway Station back in the 1830’s. It was around this time when the farms and large properties in the area were developed into side-by-side terrace houses with wrought-iron balconies and staccato facades.

In part because of the cheap cost of these houses, and in part because of the many factories and warehouses that popped up in the area, Newtown evolved into a working-class suburb in the 1900s with a large number of alehouses or pubs to entertain the masses – several of which are still trading today.

There’s The Marlborough Hotel, which has a snug cocktail bar and open-air bistro (budget-priced restaurant); The Bank for late-night dancing and a large selection of beers on tap; The Union Hotel, one of the few Newtown pubs to have a beer garden; and The Courthouse Hotel, a favourite among Sydney University students, footie-heads and punks alike. Newtown is also a great place to see live music.

The Sandringham Hotel hosts bands on its upper floor and front bar five nights a week. The Vanguard at the northern end of King Street is A mainstay of Indie (Independent) rock, and you can see big-named acts like Fat Boy Slim and Kay & Silent Bob at the art deco Enmore Theatre – one of the busiest medium-sized concert halls in Sydney.

Newtown is also a hub for Sydney’s gay and lesbian community, with a number of bars appealing to the demographic, like ZanzibarThe Sly Fox and Freaky Tiki. If you’re feeling hungry, Newtown’s King Street has a great selection of restaurants and cafés.

For tapas and Mediterranean sweets, try Madam Fling Flong. Thai Pothong Restaurant and Gift Shop make a great pad-Thai noodles and Padang curries. Izote Mexican make cheap nachos and tacos, while the Smash Sausage Kitchen sell Sydney’s best potato mash. The list goes on and on – from Lebanese, to Japanese, to pizza and fish ‘n’ chips, you’ll never go hungry – or thirsty – in Newtown.

In mid-November, Newtown’s Camperdown Park comes alive with the Newtown Festival. With food and vintage clothes stalls, live music, a dog show, writers’ tent and more, it’s a great day for one and all. For great Australian wine and food from around the world, check out Feastability, Newtown’s Food and Wine Festival, in the last weekend of September. Also in September is the Blue Moon Festival, an alternative community festival with live entertainment, fashions shows, debates and other manifestations of Sydney’s bohemian set.

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Image: Courtesy of NSW Tourism

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