Balmain, is a suburb of Sydney, about 6km west of the central business district. I took a ferry there from the Circular Harbour as I’d been invited to the home of one my Australian friends who lives in the adjacent district of Birchwood. The Balmain ferry stop was quite close and getting off there gave me an opportunity to explore the area.

Historically it was very much an industrial area of ship building, coal mining and manufacturing. The population would have been overwhelmingly working class, and the housing reflects that. But like many inner city areas the industry is pretty much gone and its been gentrified, the main street being lined with boutique shops, cafes and restaurants. there’s still some industry there, though as Sydney Ferries maintenance and repair base is located at Balmain Shipyard, next to the ferry stop where I disembarked

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Balmain is a famous name in Rugby League Circles. The Balmain Tigers were a leading Aussie RLteam in the not too distant past – a founding member of the New South Wales Rugby League and one of the most successful in the history of the premiership, winning eleven titles. I remember Ellery Hanley going over to play for them one year in the British off season (in the days when Rugby League was a winter sport in the UK).  They merged with the Western Suburbs Club in 1999 to form the present day Western Suburbs club following the effective takeover of Rugby League in Australia (an the UK for that matter) by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.

Balmain is important in labour movement history as it was here where the Australian Labor Party was formed in 1891


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