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The Inner West is a general term which is used to describe the metropolitan area directly to the west of the Sydney central business district, New South Wales, Australia. The suburbs of the inner west are predominantly located along the southern shore of Port Jackson (Parramatta River), stretching south to the shores of the Cooks River.



The inner west is not a precise geographical region. The Australian Bureau of Statistics limits its Inner Western Sydney statistical region to the local government areas of Canada Bay, Ashfield, Burwood and Strathfield. This can be considered the core area covered in all definitions of the Inner West. The NSW Government's Metropolitan Strategy adds the local government area of Leichhardt to its Inner West sub region. Local newspaper, the Inner West Courier, includes the suburbs in the local government areas of Leichhardt and Marrickville as well as some western suburbs of the City of Sydney such as Glebe and Erskineville.



Indigenous land

Prior to the arrival of the First Fleet, the Sydney region was home to the Darug people. This nation was broken up into a number of Aboriginal clans who tended to live in a certain geographic area. Each clan contained about 50 to 100 people and, to avoid genetic problems, the men would marry women from other clans. So the clans were interrelated and members from one clan would frequently travel in the territory of others, including to hunt, trade and perform ceremonies. They didn't consider themselves owners of the land, rather custodians.


What is now the Inner West was formerly home to two clans, the Cadigal, whose land stretched along Port Jackson from South Head to Lewisham, and the Wangal, whose land was immediately to the west of the Cadigals and stretched to about Homebush Bay. Other clans that would have been regular visitors to the area would have included the Birrabirragal and Muru-ora-dial in what is now the Eastern Suburbs, the Bediagal and Kameygal from the Cooks River area to the south, the Burramattagal from the Parramatta area to the west, and the Wallumattagal, Cammeraigal and Gorualgal from the northern shores of the Parramatta River.



The topography of the inner-west reflects rolling hills intersected by shallow valleys through which waterways including Iron Cove Creek, Hawthorne Canal (formerly Long Cove Creek), Whites Creek and Johnstons Creek flow. These waterways have been drastically altered since the late 19th century by the means of concrete lining. For example, in the 1860s Iron Cove Creek was a freely flowing waterway which in places broadened into ponds that made excellent and picturesque swimming holes. It is now barely a trickle lined by residential areas, and fast-food restaurants.



The suburbs within the region are characterized by medium to high-density housing and include some of the older constructions in Sydney such as the terrace houses of Glebe, Newtown and Annandale.


It is also the location of several tertiary institutions such as Australian Catholic University, Catholic Institute of Sydney, University of Sydney and the University of Technology, Sydney and the more downtown areas have high student populations. The inner west also features some of New South Wales best schools such as Fort Street High School (Public), Presbyterian Ladies' College, Sydney (Private), MLC School (Private), St. Patrick's College, Strathfield (Private), Trinity Grammar School (Private), Newington College (Private), Sydney Adventist College (Private), Meriden School (Private), Santa Sabina College (Private) and Rosebank College (Private). Rosebank is the oldest private catholic secondary school in the Inner West (established 1867). Newington College is the oldest overall (established 1863), with Rosebank College not far behind.


Commercial areas

The biggest commercial areas in the inner west are at Newtown, Balmain, Leichhardt, Glebe, Marrickville, Burwood, Ashfield and Strathfield. The areas of Balmain, Newtown, and Summer Hill are notable for their vibrant shopping strips, and sidewalk restaurants and cafes. Large shopping malls are located at Marrickville, Burwood, Broadway and Rhodes.



Public transport in the region includes trains, buses, ferries and light rail. CityRail's Inner West railway line runs from Central station, largely running south of Parramatta Road to Strathfield and then to Liverpool. The Northern railway line follows the same route to Strathfield and then branches off to the north to Hornsby, with stops at North Strathfield, Concord West and Rhodes. There are various bus routes provided largely by Sydney Buses.The Bankstown line provides train services to suburbs such as Erskineville, St Peters, Marrickville, Campsie and Bankstown. Sydney Ferries operates services in the inner harbour and Parramatta river. There is also the Metro Light Rail which runs from Central to Lilyfield, via Pyrmont and Glebe.


Parramatta Road runs through the middle of this area. Although still playing only a small part in the overall transport task, use of bicycles for transport has increased significantly in the Inner West since the 1990s. Denser populations and shorter distances mean cycling is often quicker and more convenient than driving or taking public transport. A network of bicycle paths, signed bicycle routes on local streets and other aids to safe and convenient cycling is developing. Main bicycle routes include an East-West route from Five Dock to the Anzac Bridge cycle way, a Northwest route from Gladesville Bridge to Anzac Bridge, a Southwest Route from Marrickville to the City via Newtown. Groups of local bicycle user groups (BUGs) provide help for new cyclists, under the parent banner of Bicycle New South Wales.


Sydney's inner west is multi-cultural, resulting in a diverse range of cuisines enjoyed by locals. Leichhardt and Haberfield have long been associated with the Italian Australian community. Marrickville and Earlwood have a very strong Greek Australian presence. Petersham has a vibrant Portuguese Australian community. Marrickville also boasts colorful Vietnamese Australian restaurants and fresh food markets. Ashfield has provided a home for several waves of migration with Greeks making way for Chinese, particularly from Shanghai and currently to South Asians. Many people of British descent live in the inner west as well, they are dispersed through the region and they also have a vibrant community.



The inner west is represented in the National Rugby League by the Wests Tigers, a merger of the Balmain and Western Suburbs clubs. In rugby union the area is represented by Sydney Uni and West Harbour in the Sydney grade competition. Non-competitive activities like walking, cycling and swimming are well catered for. The inner west also has many semi-professional soccer teams playing in the various divisions of the NSW State Leagues. The most high profile club is NSW Premier League side APIA Leichhardt Tigers. Soccer, Swimming and Netball are the children's sports with the highest participation rates in NSW.




Abbotsford Camperdown Eveleigh North Strathfield
Alexandria Canada Bay Five Dock Petersham
Annandale Chiswick Forest Lodge Rhodes
Ashbury Clemton Park Glebe Rozelle
Ashfield Concord Haberfield Russell Lea
Balmain Concord West Homebush Bay St Peters
Balmain East Croydon Hurlstone Park Stanmore
Beaconsfield Croydon Park Leichhardt Strathfield
Belfield Drummoyne Lewisham Strathfield South
Birchgrove Dulwich Hill Liberty Grove Summer Hill
Breakfast Point Earlwood Lilyfield Sydenham
Burwood Enfield Marrickville Tempe
Burwood Enfield South Mortlake Ultimo
Burwood Heights Enmore Newington Undercliffe
Cabarita Erskineville Newtown Wareemba




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