With the sight of test trams trundling up and down George Street, it seems light rail fever has taken over Sydney. But while there’s still a wait before the city lines are finished, the recently extended Inner West Light Rail is one of the smoothest ways to check out Sydney’s inner west, a cluster of old industrial villages that are now among Sydney’s trendiest places to live.inner west light rail

With contactless payment now available on the Opal card system and GoGet cars at multiple light rail stops, it makes it even easier to hop on and off the light rail as you explore from downtown to Dulwich Hill.

Read on for our pick of the best things to do along the Inner West Light Rail. We’ll start close to the city and work our way out.

Powerhouse Museum and the Goods Line (Exhibition)

While Pyrmont might seem more “inner” than “inner west” it’s certainly a suburb on the inner west line with plenty to do. Getting off at Exhibition will drop you a short walk from one of Sydney’s most beloved institutions, the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences – or as it’s more commonly known, the Powerhouse Museum.

The powerhouse is home to amazing collections of history, science, technology, design, industry, decorative arts, music, transport, and space exploration. The ‘power house’ itself is the heritage-listed Ultimo Power Station, which used to provide much of the electricity used to power Sydney’s 19th century tram lines.

If you want to check it out, though, you’d better hurry – the museum will only be fully open to the public until June 2020, as plans are underway to move this gem out west.

Nestled behind the Powerhouse is the old Goods Line, used to transport the coal that produced the power that gave the Powerhouse its name. It’s now been transformed into an amazing green space, winding among heritage and new buildings alike as it connects Pyrmont to Central station. Shady rest areas line the old railway tracks, along with public ping pong tables and a children’s water playground. Keep walking towards Central to spot the University of Technology Sydney’s amazing “paper bag” building and the headquarters and studios of the ABC. If you make it that far, it’s an easy walk down to Chinatown to hop back on the light rail at Haymarket, where the line begins.

Sydney Fish Market (Fish Market)

When a local attraction has a light rail stop named after it, you know it’s a big deal. The Sydney Fish Market has been serving up the freshest catch of the day since 1945, and is the third largest fish market in the world. It’s super popular, no matter what day of the week or what time of year, so parking is expensive and always very busy, so taking the inner west light rail is a great option here.

While it’s still a working fishing port, the Fish Market also has a little bit of something for everyone: a fresh seafood retail market open to the public, a deli, a sushi bar, bakery, and gift shop, a fruit and veg market, a florist, even cooking classes!

And of course, you can pig out on some of Sydney’s best fish and chips, or share some with the local seagulls on the wharves – if you’re willing to risk a few fingers!

Glebe Point Road (Glebe)

One of Sydney’s coolest inner-city neighbourhoods, Glebe has a well-earned reputation for great food, great shopping, and a great vibe. Glebe Point Road runs the length of the suburb, from Rozelle Bay to Broadway, and the light rail drops you off right between the two.

If you’re headed south-east, towards Broadway, make sure to check out: Sonoma Bakery Cafe for amazing bread and pastries; Gleebooks, a Glebe institution overflowing with anything you could ever want to read; and, if it’s the weekend, the famous Glebe Markets, where you can find anything from arts and crafts to vintage treasures.

If you’d rather stroll than snack or shop, heading north-west from the tram stop along Glebe Point Road will give you a great walk past some of the area’s beautiful old terrace houses, as well as some great cafes. Walk far enough, and you’ll end up at Jubilee Park, with great views of the bay and the next light rail stop!

Tramsheds (Jubilee Park)

Another relic of trams gone by, Tramsheds has transformed the site of the old Rozelle Tramway Depot into a great hot-spot for dining and nightlife. Right near the Jubilee Park light rail stop, and also offering free parking, Tramsheds has a bunch of trendy eateries open all week, as well as special events like farmers and artisans markets.

Want to dine in a vintage tram car? You can! Feel like chicken and waffles on a Sunday morning? You betcha! Need a late-night ice cream fix? They’ve got that too! And all in a cool, renovated warehouse setting.

Ballast Point Park (Rozelle Bay + GoGet)

This one is a little further off the beaten path… or light rail line, as it were… but if you feel like going further afield, jump off the tram at Rozelle Bay and book the GoGet car across the road from the stop. A quick 10 minutes up the road will land you in Rozelle and Balmain, two of the inner west’s most charming suburbs.

If you’re looking for one of the best views in the city, head to Ballast Point Park, on the Balmain peninsula. The park has a small parking area, as well as street parking nearby. Be aware, though, most parking in Balmain and Rozelle is timed and metered. Trust us though, these views are worth it!

The park is tucked away in a mainly residential area, so it can be easy to miss, which makes it a nice quiet place most days. From the road, you’ll see some off-looking sculptures peeking over the trees – that’s how you know you’re in the right place. The most striking of these is Tank 101, a towering steel structure that represents one of the oil storage tanks used when the site was used as a fuel depot back in the 1930s. Built with re-used steel from the original Tank 101, the biggest storage tank on the site, the sculpture now features lines from a poem by Australian poet Les Murray.

The park has a few other interesting remnants of its industrial past, as well as some amazing landscaping. Oh, and did we mention the panoramic views of the harbour and the bridge?

Norton Street (Leichhardt North)

How can you go through Leichhardt without stopping by Norton Street? Sydney’s Italian stalwart, Norton Street is brimming with Italian restaurants and cafes, plenty of shops and bookstores, and of course, the Italian Forum.

Designed to emulate the feel of an Italian piazza, complete with colonnaded cafes and a central fountain, an afternoon at the Italian Forum is the closest you can get to that Mediterranean holiday, without leaving the inner west.

At certain times of the year, Norton street also gets its party on! If you’re anywhere near the area during the FIFA world cup, be prepared for some noise, as whole streets can be closed off for street parties during Italy games. Norton Street also plays host to the Italian Festa every October, a huge street fair with, of course, food, but also markets, music, and carnival rides.  

Moon Rocket (Arlington)

This one’s a little odd, but stick with us. Right next to the Arlington stop on the inner west line is the unassuming Johnson Park, part of the Cooks River Greenway, which runs all the way to Iron Cove. Along with a bandstand, some picnic areas, and some modern kids play equipment, there’s a curious structure made of bent metal poles and colourful shapes. 

This is actually a Moon Rocket, a vintage piece of play equipment designed and built by Blackheath engineer Dick West. West built his first Moon Rocket in Blackheath in 1961, and went on to build around 37 more, which were erected in parks all over Australia.

Sadly this one, like most, has been blocked off for safety, so no climbing inside this rocket to the moon. But it’s a cool piece of vintage nostalgia still standing, and a great way to impress your friends with some incredibly obscure Australian play equipment knowledge!

Dear Delicious (Dulwich Hill)

The final stop on the inner west light rail line, Dulwich Hill has some great little spots, tucked away in a nice slice of suburbia. Right near the light rail stop and the train station you’ll find Dear Delicious, a great little cafe dedicated to serving delicious and fun organic wholefoods.

With a garden play area for the kiddos, and great coffee by Little Marionette for the grown ups, as well as an all-day breakfast menu, Dear Delicious is the perfect place to end a big day of exploring along the light rail. And as the months get warmer you can relax in their eclectic outdoor seating areas.

About Tim Beau Bennett

Tim is an ex-journalist and radio presenter, and has been a professional writer for over a decade. He regularly writes about technology, lifestyle, and smart cities, and has written for news site including the ABC, SBS, and Australian Financial Review.