The inner-city suburb of Pyrmont
is located just two kilometres from Sydney’s CBD. It was not well developed
until the mid-19th century, however. The early Aboriginal inhabitants of the
area included the Gadigal people as well as another clan that has not yet been
officially recognised. The European settlers christened the area Pyrmont after
a town in Germany known for its spa. The pretty setting and its natural spring
later named Tinker’s Well led to Pyrmont becoming a pleasant picnic ground.
As Sydney grew, so did its need for building materials. Pyrmont began to be
heavily quarried and became a largely industrial neighbourhood. Shipbuilding
yards and ironworks were built along the shoreline, and small stone cottages
that housed workers were scattered throughout the peninsula. More industries
began to move in by the 1850s, and Pyrmont became known for its yellow block
sandstone, which was used to build many of Sydney’s homes and public buildings.
Abattoirs, wool stores, mills, power stations and refineries dotted the
landscape, choking the skies with noise and filth and clogging the roads with
lorries and foul odours.
The population, which had never been large, went into a decline as the 20th
century dawned. Industry began to take up more and more of the peninsula, and
those who had called this once pretty suburb home fled for newer, less-polluted
suburbs. Those who remained suffered from the decline of Pyrmont. Residential
neighbourhoods became slums, and once-busy factories were even abandoned for
more fashionable neighbourhoods.
Although Pyrmont by now may have seemed hopeless, its future was to be as
bright as its past had been. By the early 1990s, the City West Development
Corporation was born with an eye to transform Pyrmont. Since that time, a
majority of the remaining industries have been transferred from Pyrmont, and
residential development has blossomed. A multicultural, largely immigrant
population has moved in and brought with them a vibrant new mood.
Upscale shops line its streets, and trendy restaurants have taken the place of
rough pubs. The Star, one of Sydney’s favourite nightspots, is located here,
and features a world-class casino, luxury spa, five-star hotel, restaurants,
bars, clubs, arcade and cafes. A walk along Harris Street, Pyrmont and you will have the chance to check out some clothing styles and unique fashions as well as experiencing some fine food and wine and some of the local eateries. One of Pyrmont’s best known attractions is the
Powerhouse Museum, which is one of the largest museums in the country and
features diverse permanent, temporary and interactive exhibits that educate its
visitors in science, technology, history and the arts. Pyrmont Point Park,
which is known for its award-winning sustainable design, solar panels and
native plants, includes a children’s playground, boardwalk, green spaces,
sandstone artefacts and barbecue facilities. No visit to Pyrmont would be complete
without a stop at the Sydney Fish Market, which allows visitors to experience
an authentic working fish market and an extraordinary variety of fresh seafood.
Traces of Pyrmont’s history can still be found throughout the suburb, however.
Industrial machinery often features prominently in art installations in the
city, and the sandstone quarries are still evident on the peninsula. The
sandstone itself has been disseminated throughout the region and is featured in
such prominent buildings as the University of Sydney and Sydney Town Hall.