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Paddington Travel Guide

Paddington: History, location and things to do

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The eastern suburb of Paddington, New South Wales, is located just three kilometres east of Sydney’s central business district. It is bordered by Darlinghurst, Edgecliff and Kings Cross. Although a vibrant suburb of one of Australia’s most brilliant cities, Paddington was once a swampy patch of land with sand hills and boulders scattered across its barren landscape.

The Cadigal people made the area now known as Paddington their home and stretched out from where Sydney’s CBD is now located to where Oxford Street is. Many of the indigenous people succumbed to outbreaks of smallpox, to which they had no natural immunity, when the European settlers arrived. The few remaining members of the tribe scattered into surrounding areas, such as Woolloomooloo, where Governor Macquarie built huts to provide them with shelter.

The government began to offer land grants to various citizens, which allowed development to begin. Homes, orchards and watermills were built, and in the early 1800s, 1,000 acres were set aside for leisure use. This area eventually became a park and later Sydney’s first public zoo. Today, Moore Park, as it is known, features golf, football, cricket and tennis. A distillery was established a few decades later. Picnic grounds sprang up as surrounding towns discovered the allure of Paddington.

The area became more heavily populated, and settlers added more residences, businesses and services. Early roads tended to be convoluted since some settlers had denied public access to their lands. Windmills were erected to grind wheat and other grains.

Victoria Barracks was built in 1841. Convicts and Canadian stonemasons were used to quarry local stone and build the structure, which was not completed until 1848. Intended to be occupied by the 11th regiment, the Victoria Barracks was not as successful with the soldiers as intended. Troops objected strongly to living in the scrub and believed they were too far from town. However, the site had been strategically chosen and continues to be used today. In fact, Victoria Barracks may well be one of the most significant military structures in the country’s history and has been a base for NSW forces and are currently home to Headquarters Land Command and Headquarters Training Command.

Development was extensive throughout the latter half of the 19th century. Victorian terraces crowded the streets alongside workers’ cottages, and Paddington quickly became overcrowded. Hit hard by the Great Depression in 1929, it took on a more slum-like appearance and earned a reputation for being dirty and crowded for the next several decades. In the 1960s, however, Paddington underwent a transformation. Much of its architecture was restored, and the suburb was largely gentrified as wealthy young individuals, families and immigrants moved in.

Paddington today is rich in history and culture. It is home to a diverse range of restaurants, cafés, bars, boutiques, chain stores and entertainment venues. One of the top attractions in Paddington is the Paddington Market, an open air market that is held each weekend on the Paddington Uniting Church grounds. Paddington Market features locally produced arts, crafts, jewellery, candles, soaps, accessories and other goods that are often exclusive to local artisans and emerging designers.

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