Local Travel

Sydney Sights: A Walking Tour Through Summer Hill

Spent a Saturday taking a self-guided walking tour through the suburb of Summer Hill in Sydney.

I love spending weekends exploring the backstreets of my hometown Sydney on a self-guided walking tour. Wandering through the streets of some of the best suburbs this great city has to offer.

There is so much colonial history which has almost been forgotten and hidden behind modern architecture and ancient leafy trees, which now tower above some of the best buildings from our past.

Suburbs in the inner-west of Sydney boast some of our best colonial secrets. Following the rail-line from east to west (or the other way around) really gives you an insight into how Sydney’s development expanded across the region from colonised to today. Suburbs like Ashfield, Lewisham, Ashfield, Marrickville and one of my favourite Summer Hill.

I’ve driven through Summer Hill and many of the other mentioned suburbs so many times, but I have never really taken the time to explore any of them.

Prior to heading off to Summer Hill, I spent a little time online checking out what the suburb had to offer. I came across a blog called ‘Travel with Joanne‘ who had also spent a day walking around Summer Hill. Her story was great and gave me some real insight into what Summer Hill has to offer.

So, I grabbed my partner and my mother-in-law and we took a walk through Summer Hill to explore and learn all we could about this very pretty and very leafy suburb.

We had a great start to the day. Within ten minutes of parking the car, a little out of the main town centre, we came across an apartment building on Carlton Crescent; right across from the station. I recognised the building straight away, as Travel with Joanne had mentioned this building in her blog.

The complex is called ‘Penalt’ and the facade of the building is so retro, it was easy to recognise from the photos on Joanne’s blog. I happen to mention out aloud to my partner that this was the building from the blog we read and a woman who was exiting the building heard me and stopped to ask if she heard me correctly; that I had seen this building in a blog. She thought it was great. I didn’t catch her name, but she was lovely.

Her husband then exited the building afterwards and she told him we were interested in the building, to which he then asked if we would like to go inside and have a quick tour. WOW! How nice is that? We couldn’t believe it. Of course we accepted.

His name is Benython, he is a agent for writers. His agency name is Zeitgeist Agency (great name). Benython showed us some old newspaper articles from the 1940s about the Penalt flats, which were about how this was the first apartment (flat building) fully wired with electricity in all of Sydney. From shoves, lighting to heating.

Unlike many other complexes in Sydney at the time, where they only had electric lighting. Pretty interesting.

We were given a tour of his unit inside; which was beautiful and a tour of the rooftop which provided a spectacular sight of Summer Hill. Such a fabulous way to start our walking tour.

Thinking of taking a visit to Summer Hill? Here are four places you must include in your visit when you go there.


Do visit the building. Even if you aren’t able to get inside, the outside art deco facade has been perfectly preserved and is great condition for such a an old building. From the beautiful green tiles which border the side door entrance to the grand glassed main entrance to the building; which has now been converted to a real estate agent. A bit of shame, but that’s business today.

The Rio Bar:

This a renovated Milk Bar, which has kept all the original signage on the facade of the original building from back in the hey day when it was a milk bar. It’s been beautifully restored to house a pretty trendy bar and a great little hangout joint for a coffee or a drink.

Summer Hill Church:

Nothing says Colonial History, like a beautiful old Church littered with stunning stained glass windows and an ancient bell tower. This church was a pretty great find actually, as we had no idea Summer Hill had such a grand old church. Unfortunately it wasn’t open to view inside when we walked by, but a local walking past did mention if you go on a day when the church is open, it is pretty spectacular inside. No problems, a great excuse to visit Summer Hill again.

Decolata Cafe:

Awesome place to eat, the food and service here was great. They have a small garden out the back also, where you can kick back in a really great space surrounded by peace and quiet and leafy trees. Coffee was delicious and the food was delightful. I chose this cafe whilst we were walking around as it catered for gluten-free and vegetarian peeps like myself.

There are so many great houses and streets to explore in Summer Hill, so do make a day of it, where you have the time to wander through the backstreets, admiring all the old art deco and colonial styled homes and buildings.




I am a freelance writer and content creator who designs website and manages social media. I also write travel and beauty for www.renaesworld.com.au, and a weekly beauty column for www.bondibeauty.com.au whilst managing my own personal travel and lifestyle blog at www.my-life-journal.com

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