The Rocks isn’t the only Sydney city suburb able to claim a rich colonial history, sandstone laneways and Century-old pubs. Enter Pyrmont, where the pubs are old and the beers are cold.
When thinking of a Sydney suburb with a heady concentration of historic pubs, many would understandably think of The Rocks. But it may surprise you to know that some of the oldest pubs in the country can be found across the harbour in Pyrmont.
In fact, back in 1855 you could find 26 different pubs spread throughout the bustling inner city village – literally one on almost every street corner. These watering holes sprung up along the streets and sandstone laneways from as early as the 1840s, and increased in number as Pyrmont firmed up its position as a thriving working class industrial and port community, home to large sandstone quarries and major factories supplying the city, including the CSR Limited sugar refinery.
Pubs were typically frequented by locals from a specific industry: abattoir workers would head to the Butchers’ Arms (now The Dunkirk Hotel), wool buyers and workers would congregate at the Woolbrokers’ Arms and the quarry workers were regulars at the Quarrymen’s Arms.
Many of the original pubs still stand today, and while they maintain many of their heritage features, some have come a long way in 150 years, offering gastropub menus, craft beers and stylish interiors.
Here’s a few of our favourite local Pyrmont pubs, each with its own fascinating past and story to tell.
Opened in 1841, Terminus Hotel is one of Sydney’s oldest pubs with a colourful past of patrons, including members of the city’s underbelly back in the day. Originally called the Pyrmont Hotel, this popular watering hole adopted the name the Terminus Hotel in 1911 as it was located close to the last stop of the former electric tram line. In 2018, the pub received a huge makeover to return it to its former glory, and today it serves up a menu designed by celebrity chef Colin Fassnidge, as well as a great selection of craft beers, best enjoyed on the outdoor terrace.
61 Harris Street, Pyrmont NSW 2009 www.terminuspyrmont.com
Named in homage to a moment in Pyrmont’s history when in 1799, John Macarthur bought Pyrmont for a gallon of rum, this local haunt is more of a wine bar than a pub. However, we love its history, housed in a great sandstone building, part of which was the horse stable for five adjacent buildings back in 1870. Run by local husband-and-wife team, Julian and Jarina Leitl, Gallon is a neighbourhood favourite, offering a reliable list of wines and beers, and a menu of pizzas, share plates and filling salads.
117 Harris Street, Pyrmont NSW 2009 www.gallon.com.au
Built in 1879 and formerly the Butcher’s Arms Hotel, this old pub was renamed in the 1940s to commemorate The Battle of Dunkirk. The once tired and rundown Dunkirk underwent refurbishment in 2020, updating its Main Bar, Garden Bar and Pool Room, and more recently its facade has received a well deserved facelift after 100 years.
205 Harris Street, Pyrmont NSW 2009 www.thedunkirk.com.au
This Century-old pub initially opened in 1913, and today is all about craft beer, offering up to 34 beer taps from a range of mostly independent breweries. The staff at The Quarryman’s pride themselves on their knowledge of craft beer and are happy to help find the one that best suits your taste. If beer isn’t your preferred beverage, head upstairs to the beautiful rooftop bar with a Palm Springs vibe, offering the perfect setting for an afternoon cocktail or two.
214-216 Harris Street, Pyrmont NSW 2009 www.quarrymans.com.au
The Harlequin Inn
The Harlequin Inn or “The Harley” as the locals call it is known to be Pyrmont’s sports bar. Originally established in the 1880’s as The Duke of Edinburgh, The Harley is now decorated in rugby memorabilia. Looking over Pyrmont’s Village Centre with 19 beers on tap, 20 screens and two giant projectors you will feel like you’re at the game. If your team isn’t playing, no problem, enjoy a delicious meal in the lovely open outside dining area.
152 Harris Street, Pyrmont NSW 2009 www.harlequininn.com.au
Peg Leg is the home of Pyrmont’s first pub hotel dating back to 1856. The now pirate-themed bar is inspired by the first European explorers who made it to Australia and their trials and trepidations experienced on the high seas. Just a short walk from the hotel, here you can relish in the theme and enjoy a blue tropical cocktail, a tiki drink served in a skull or a tin of beer poured by staff wearing their best party shirts, all adding to the unique experience.
11A Pyrmont Bridge Road, Pyrmont NSW 2009 www.peglegpyrmont.com.au
Pyrmont Point Hotel
Once a hangout of criminal gangs, the former Land’s End Hotel opened in 1850 and today offers some great settings for a meal and a good time. The heritage-listed Pyrmont Point pub has a sun-soaked courtyard to enjoy, as well as balconies, an enclosed verandah and a lounge with a large fireplace to be enjoyed in Sydney’s cooler seasons.
59 Harris Street, Pyrmont NSW 2009 www.pyrmontpoint.com.au
Have we missed your favourite pub off the list? Let us know!