An attempt to visit every suburb in Sydney.

I've been galavanting around the North Shore of Sydney for the past few posts. These suburbs tend to be quiet, leafy places, where...

Catswood: Chatswood

I've been galavanting around the North Shore of Sydney for the past few posts. These suburbs tend to be quiet, leafy places, where not too much seems to go on. Well this next post is the suburb that turns the North Shore on its head.


There are many different ways to get to Chatswood. The least common is to walk in from North Willoughby, which is what I did today.

Sure, the middle upper class suburbia that is the rest of the North Shore is nice, but dowdy suburbs are much more my jam. As such, the immediate sight of a Korean grocer, discarded shopping trolleys and old apartments put me at ease, and all within the first few steps of crossing the border. .

Chatswood is best known for its dynamic commercial centre and so, naturally, that was my goal. To get there, I had a very simple requirement: walk down Victoria Avenue, one of the suburb's main arteries.

On the way, I passed more old apartments,

with some turning out to be rather pretty,

before stumbling upon Mashman Park, a neighbourhood courtyard.

Short of just being somewhere to sit on a wet bench and look at a not-running fountain,

this courtyard also tributes a pottery factory which once stood here. An interesting bite of local history.

Continuing on, the merge into the suburb's commercial core continued, with a small shopping strip,

and newer apartments starting to replace the old,

while still maintaining the North Shore's leafy demeanour.

I soon stumbled upon Chatswood Place, an interesting looking apartment building with a shopping plaza underneath.

This was my first indication that I was arriving in the bit of Chatswood that we think of when we think Chatswood.

Well, that and this export store specialising in sheepskin, wool and vitamins.

Even if you missed the hints above, you'd surely know you've made it when you start to notice the shiny glass and increased foot traffic of the area.

In Chatswood CBD, there seems to be an endless number of restaurants and cafes serving up primarily Chinese food,

but there's also an endless number of people walking the streets in order to keep the businesses full.

Parramatta is always touted as "Sydney's second CBD", but I personally think Chatswood has it beat, with the amount of people out and about, and its constant buzz of activity. Having visited Adelaide a few months ago, I can confirm that Chatswood is more buzzing than Adelaide's CBD is, if that counts for anything.

Indeed, the deeper you go into the suburb, the livelier it gets,

with the pinnacle being the suburb's walking street - still Victoria Avenue.

Continue a little further and you reach the train station, itself feeling ultra-modern.

In a way, Chatswood feels like Sydney's homage to lively Asian cities like Bangkok or Singapore.

Like those Southeast Asian hubs, it features shiny glass, with big malls and a handful of offices behind the train station,

it features public transport well integrated into the rest of the suburb

(including the new metro),

and it features a Pan-Asian casual-dining hub above the train station.

But, past the shiny lights of new construction, it also features a realer side. This is Victoria Plaza.

If you go upstairs, it's entirely forgettable.

But, if you instead take the dirty stairs down to its underground level,

it comes alive, with an Asian supermarket, fresh fruit and vegetables, some less mainstream dining options, and a fishmonger and butcher.

Similarly, you've got Lemon Grove, another rather dowdy shopping centre,

this one featuring high-tech toilets for sale,

and "Claw World", a garishly pink place full of claw machines,

and a wall full of its victims.

Now, having walked around in the rain all day, I was ready for a bowl of noodle soup. To cater for my needs, I found the place with the best Google-Maps-Rating-To-Dodgy-Exterior Ratio, and headed up the sex-shop esque stairs of Xin Jiang Handmade Noodle Restaurant.

This place had all the hallmarks of somewhere with good food, with an interior about as shabby as its outside,

and spelling errors all over its menu.

For my meal, I looked past the pig ear salad,

and went for a pork dumpling noodle soup.

The verdict? While this is wasn't the most flavoursome meal in the world, a bowl of soup with some hot dumplings and fresh noodles was the perfect way to wrap up my visit to Chatswood today.

Full, satisfied, and tired, I made my way back to the station and headed home.

Chatswood: Sydney's actual second CBD.