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Paddington: Sydney's most fashionable suburb?

Thursday, September 16, 2010
The inner-Sydney suburb of Paddington was once a dingy, crowded suburb. Rows of two-storey terrace houses lined the streets and families struggled to feed and educate their children.

In the second-half of the last century, how things changed. Houses were in great demand and renovations were taking place in every part of the suburb.

Fortunately, those in charge insisted the original feel must be kept, so there was a roaring trade in intricate wrought iron and tessellated tiling. Now the streets of Paddington are quite grand and the cost of housing has gone sky-high.

Reservoir Gardens

Jason Dundas went on a wander with the lord mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, around Reservoir Gardens. A grand example of what can be done, this beautiful sunken garden was created on a derelict water reservoir. It was filled to the roof until 1899 when it was decommissioned and became a garage and workshop and later a service station. In 1991 sections of the roof collapsed and the reserve was closed.

The open space and cultural facility links the town hall, post office and historic Juniper Hall. The reservoir roof was reconstructed and a wonderful sunken garden established in the western chamber.

Vibrant graffiti was preserved in the eastern chamber, which is a place for community and cultural activities. Lighting highlights the new timberwork and stone of the reservoir. New stairs and viewing platforms provide access to the chambers.

Alimentari Deli

Alimentari means "to feed" in Italian and this special neighbourhood cafe has been doing just that for 45 years. Even before Paddo was trendy, the aroma of fragrant coffee and special Italian goodies were drifting from Alimentari.

These days it's in the trusty hands of panini queen Laraine Russo who was a regular customer before buying the business. It's always busy with those who've fallen for the array of Italian breads, preserved meats, cheeses, fresh pasta and pastries.

A little cluster of tables forms a cafe so you can enjoy a coffee with a panini stuffed with delicious goodies of your choosing, handmade lasagne with a gelato chaser, meatballs or their now-famous schnitzel panini. A house specialty is olive bread with prosciutto and bocconcini and another favourite is ricotta cannoli.

Andrew McDonald Bootmaker

If you love shoes, tucked off the main road in the William Street boutique strip is where you can indulge in handmade and custom-designed footwear. If you happen to have weird feet or see something in a magazine you can't live without, Andrew McDonald is the man to see.

He's started out in 1992 in a small workshop designing handcrafted shoes for men and women. Andrew's skill and artistry were recognised when he was awarded a Churchill Fellowship which allowed him to study with master shoemakers in London and Paris.

Andrew has plied his trade for the Star Wars franchise, actors Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen and he made boots for Brandon Routh when he played Superman in Superman Returns.

Andrew runs five- and 10-day shoemaking courses where you can create your own snazzy footwear.

Urban Walkabout Tours

Tailored for the design and fashion savvy, Urban Walkabout Tours offers walking tours of Sydney's most creative precincts. On their shopping tours you will visit boutiques, people and places making Sydney's unique fashion scene.

Paddington is packed with interesting treasures and you can explore them with one of Urban Walkabout's creators or pick up a free guide and go it alone.

Related: Surry Hills and Newtown


The inner-city Sydney suburb of Paddington.


Andrew McDonald five-day course costs $2600 and $4400 for 10 days. Tuition and materials for one pair of shoes are included. They run between 10am and 4pm.

Urban Walkabout Fashion Secrets three-hour tours cost $95 per person. They run on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays between 10am and 1pm. Lunch is included. They have other tours available.

Virgin Blue has one-way flights to Sydney from:

  • Canberra $88
  • Melbourne $90
  • Brisbane $99
  • Hobart $109
  • Adelaide $119
  • Darwin $229
  • Perth $245

There are limited seats which may not be available at peak times or on all flights. Fares quoted are one-way booked on the internet. An extra $15 will be charged for phone bookings. A credit card surcharge of an additional $2 per person per one-way flight is applicable. Fares are correct at September 16, 2010, and are subject to change.

Prices correct at September 16, 2010.

For further information

Virgin Blue
Ph: 136 789

Paddington Reservoir Gardens
Corner of Oxford Street and Oatley Road
Paddington 2021

Alimentari Deli
2 Hopetoun Street
Paddington 2021
Ph: (02) 9358 2142

Andrew McDonald Bootmaker
58 William Street
Paddington 2021
Ph: (02) 9358 6793

Urban Walkabout Tours
Ph: 1300 660 624

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