Macquarie Park-Ryde (also known as the Northern Districts or Inner Northwest) is the metropolitan area on the northern bank of the Parramatta River and is bordered by Lane Cove National Park to the east and north and Parramatta and the Hills District to the west.
The Macquarie region has a diverse mix of peoples, cultures and cityscapes and offers the curious traveller an opportunity to see a different side of Sydney. There are four main areas of Macquarie to explore.
The first of these areas is the suburbs that sit along the northern edge of Parramatta River and include suburbs such as Hunters Hill and Woolwich. These suburbs are filled with 19th-century buildings overlooking the water and are home to some of the wealthiest people in Australia. There are also many parks and reserves in the area with views of the water and great picnic spots.
Further north of the river is an area famous for its diversity and great food. In the suburb of Eastwood in particular, you will find large numbers of wealthy East Asian families and international students who have come here for the schools and universities nearby. The Chinese and Korean restaurants here are some of the best in Australia. Eastwood also holds a number of cultural festivals throughout the year.
Further north of Eastwood and reaching the upper limit of the region are the suburbs of Beecroft and Cheltenham. These suburbs are hidden gems and have lush tree lined streets with grand heritage homes, a quaint shopping village that is reminiscent of an old English town and an abundance of golf courses, grass tennis courts and nature reserves.
Finally, to the northeast is Macquarie Park and Macquarie University. This area was developed to be similar to the area surrounding Stanford University in Palo Alto, California and is now Australia's undisputed high technology hub. Travellers that come here will find large campus-style office buildings for companies like Microsoft and Oracle as well as the lush rolling lawns of the university. The central hub of this area is Macquarie Centre, a sprawling shopping mall that is Sydney's second largest. Macquarie Park is also the gateway to Lane Cove National Park, a large park that borders the region to the east. The park contains the picturesque Lane Cove River, walkways, picnic spots and a campground.
The region is well serviced by public transport with trains, buses and ferries servicing the area.
If you intend to go to the business area in the northwest, take the Gore Hill Freeway, Lane Cove Tunnel and M2 Motorway from the city. If you intend to visit the Hunters Hill and Woolwich peninsula, take Victoria Road all the way to the Gladesville Bridge and you're there.
By train or metro
Sydney Metro serves the technology park at North Ryde and Macquarie Park. The most useful station is Macquarie University, connecting to the namesake university, Macquarie Centre, and has bus connections to the surrounding suburbs and the city.
T9 Northern Line serves the middle/western parts of Ryde, and has stops in Eastwood, Epping and Beecroft. The intercity rail line, the Central Coast and Newcastle Line, calls at Epping for connections to the Metro, and runs north to the Central Coast.
Buses from the city (departing from the Queen Victoria Building near Town Hall and also from Wynyard and Central) travel frequently to Macquarie Park and Epping. The 545 and 550 buses also travel between Macquarie Park and Parramatta, winding through the Ryde and Parramatta suburbs.
There are regular ferries from Sydney and it makes a great way to get to places near the Parramatta and Lane Cove Rivers. The Parramatta River Line (F3) leaves from Circular Quay and has stops at Woolwich, Huntley's Point and Meadowbank. The Lane Cove River Line (private operator) leaves from Circular Quay and has stops in Hunters Hill and Lane Cove.
There is a separated bicycle path for most of the distance between the city and the Macquarie region. When riding from the city simply head over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and follow the signs to 'Macquarie Park'. Once you are in Macquarie, there are bicycle paths (some separated, some shared with other road users) that can safely get you around the region. Be mindful that like most of Sydney, the Macquarie region has hills, but no extended climbs.
Like much of suburban Sydney, this area is not easy for walking due to size and infrastructure. A hike through the middle using the Lane Cove National Park is possible.
Parks and gardens
- 1 Woolwich Lookout and Clarks Point Reserve, Woolwich Road, Woolwich (take the ferry to Woolwich wharf or bus 538 from Hunters Hill). Clarks Point Reserve offers picnic grounds overlooking Sydney Harbour with distant views of the bridge and city. This spot is also popular for fishing, sailing and stand-up paddle boarding. Above the reserve is Woolwich Lookout and is worth going up to see the view. Free.
- 2 Lane Cove National Park. One of the closest national parks to the centre of Sydney, and it is an oasis of green natural habitat in the middle of Sydney. The Great North Walk runs through it, and the area between Lane Cove Road and Delhi Road is very popular for its numerous barbecue spaces and easy walk by the Lane Cove River. You can rent a boat and explore the area from the river, or camp in the camping site. There is a fee for car parking.
While not as historic or as grand as its competitor in the Inner West, Macquarie is still a unique Australian university with over 126 hectares of rolling lawns and natural bushland. It is one of the only campuses where you can see natural wildlife wandering around and stopping human traffic. Nestled in the trees are modern Brutalist style buildings designed by renowned architect Walter Abraham. The campus features a modern library, museums, art galleries, a sculpture park, an observatory, sports facilities and a hospital. If you happen to visit the campus, here are the main attractions:
- Central Courtyard is at the centre of the campus and fans of archieture will appreciate the Brutalist style concrete buildings that surround it.
- University Lake is a picturesque spot to relax in the sun and read a book with the university's students. There are plenty of ducks and fish in the lake to watch and play with.
- Macquarie University Art Collection emphasises contemporary Australian art. Its main pieces can be found in the art gallery (building E11A) while its large sculpture collection is scattered throughout the campus.
- Museums including the Australian History Museum (Building W6A Level 1), Museum of Ancient Cultures (Building X5B, Level 3), the Biological Sciences Museum (E8B-110), and the Downing Herbarium (Room 148 in Building E8C). Museums are generally open Monday to Friday, 9AM-4PM.
There are a small number of events held annually in the area.
- Granny Smith Festival, Eastwood Plaza. A Saturday in October, Check website. Usually 9AM-8:30PM. The annual Granny Smith Festival celebrates the life and legacy of one of the district’s most famous citizens, Maria Ann Smith (aka Granny Smith) who, back in 1868, ‘accidentally’ grew the first batch of little green apples that bear her name and are now grown all over the world. Free.
- Lunar New Year, Eastwood Plaza. Jan or Feb. Music and Chinese and Korean dance performances, high pole dancing lions, food stalls, fireworks and Eastwood’s longest dragon parade.
- 1 Lighthouse Theatre, Gymnasium Road, Macquarie University. Hosts a small selection of shows mostly put on by Macquarie's various arts societies.
- 2 Event Cinemas, Macquarie Shopping Centre. Part of the modern chain showing mainstream and some independent movies with various types levels of cinema experiences and screens. There is also another Event Cinemas at Ryde City Shopping Centre.
- 3 Super Shute Shield Rugby. Watch Eastwood's Rugby team, 'The Woodies' play at their home ground at T G Milner Field (2, 146 Vimiera Rd, Marsfield). Eastwood are part of Sydney's premier Rugby competition, the Intrust Super Shute Shield and are continuous contenders for the title. Games are played on Saturday during the winter season, refer to website for details.
- AIHL Sydney Bears. Watch the local ice hockey team - the Sydney Bears play in the Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL). They play out of Macquarie Ice Rink on Saturday or Sunday nights and are located. Tickets should be pre-purchased from their website. They regularly hold theme nights at their games.
- Ryde River Walk. From Gladesville Bridge to Ryde Bridge, Ryde River Walk provides walkers and cyclists with nice river and city skyline views as it meanders into bays, parks and playgrounds, through bushland and mangroves, past historic sites, Aboriginal cultural heritage sites and art installations. The walk in total is twelve-kilometre bridge to bridge. To access the walk, take the T9 Epping Line train to Meadowbank train station and follow signs to Meadowbank Park and Ryde River Walk. If you need to hire a bike, you can start from Olympic Park Wharf.
- Great North Walk. The entire Great North walk is a mammoth 250-km multi-day hike however it is possible to tackle part of the track in the Lane Cove National Park in a day trip. There are lots of scenic spots to stop for a picnic or break along the way and you’ll be impressed by the beauty of the landscape that is so close to Sydney. Refer to website for the various access points.
Fitness and recreation
- 4 Macquarie University Sports and Aquatic Centre, Gymnasium Road, North Ryde. This is an excellent facility for elite athletes and recreational sports people alike and boasts a number of professional sports teams (e.g. Sydney FC, Sydney Kings, North Harbour Rays) as major tenants. Facilities are extensive and include a 50-m Olympic size swimming pool, 25m indoor swimming pool, 10 squash courts, indoor basketball court, multi purpose court, gymnastics hall, gym, women's only gym, outdoor crossfit zone, group training rooms, tennis courts, 6 sports fields, a museum and a cafe.
- 5 Macquarie Ice Rink, Macquarie Shopping Centre (2-minute walk from Macquarie University railway station), ☏ +61 2 9888-1100. One of the few ice skating rinks in Sydney, session times vary depending on school terms. Activities include training sessions, birthday parties and casual visits. Skates are available for hire (usually a bit worn and not necessarily sharp), or bring your own. Phone to enquire about public session times as the ice is shared between many other users (like hockey teams) and may not be available for the whole day. $20-22 for two hours, includes skate hire.
- 1 Eastwood Night Markets, Eastwood Plaza, Rowe Street, Eastwood. Held every Saturday night. Festive atmosphere with bright lights and food stalls serving everything from noodles to pop cakes plus fashion bargains, jewellery, toys and roving entertainment including children’s activities and free face painting.
- 2 Epping Twilight Market, 29 Oxford Street Epping. Second Friday of each month from 5-9PM. Organic foods and a variety of fresh produce (including fruits, cheeses, olives, oils, sweet and baked items, pastas, cakes and pastries, plants and herbs), and unique hand-crafted items and giftwares.
- 3 Hunters Hill Organic Food & Farmers Market, Riverside Girls High School, Huntleys Pt Rd & Victoria Rd. Every Saturday 8AM-2PM. Selling great local fresh food and other goodies
The area is in abundance of enormous (but generally soulless) shopping malls.
- 4 Macquarie Centre, Cnr Herring and Waterloo Roads, North Ryde, ☏ +61 2 9887 0800, +61 2 9887 0888. The second biggest shopping mall in Sydney, Macquarie boasts a good variety of shops, an ice skating ring and a multi screen cinema. There is also a large food court with a number of cheap eats and tables that overlook the ice skating ring.
- 5 Top Ryde City, Cnr Devlin St &, Blaxland Rd, Ryde. Once considered Macquarie's poor cousin, Top Ryde underwent a major renovation in 2012 and now features a good variety of stores and an outdoor alley with restaurants and cafés.
Despite the popularity of shopping malls, a couple of small shopping streets are making a come back.
- 6 Hunters Hill Village, Corner of Alexandra Street and Ferry Street. While certainly not a destination in its own right, Hunters Hill village is small but charming mix of boutique shops, galleries and cafe's and is worth checking it out if you are in the neighborhood.
- 7 Beecroft Village, Hannah Street, Beecroft. Here you will find eclectic stores selling quirky giftwares, children's bookshops, and boutique clothing. The village is right next to Beecroft Train Station.
If you are craving East Asian food then Eastwood is the place to go. Prices vary and depend on if they are targeted towards international students or wealthy Asian families and businessmen. Restaurant turnover is high in Eastwood and finding the newest and hottest restaurant is easy as there will be a long line of people trying to get in. If in doubt, try any of these classics that have stood the test of time.
- 1 Eastwood Garden Peking Restaurant, 167 Rowe St, Eastwood. 11AM-midnight. The Beijing dish of duck and pancake is not done better anywhere in Sydney and that's why after many years it's still hard to get a table.
- 2 K & J Takeaway, 1 Lakeside Rd, Eastwood. This was the first genuine Chinese noodle shop to open in the early days of Eastwood and long-term locals will recall being shocked at seeing pigs blood soup on the menu. It took a while for the locals to build up the courage to try this place but it didn't matter as international students came in droves. The shop that resembles more of a street food stall is still going strong serving students well over a decade later. $9-15.
- 3 Myung-GA BBQ, 120 Rowe St,Eastwood. This is not the fanciest looking place however BBQ and hots pots are the real deal and the price is good. $14-18.
- 4 Sakae Yakiniku House, 1/6 Hillview Road, Eastwood 2122. Daily noon-3PM, 5:30-10:30PM. Hidden away on level 3 of an nondescript building similar to those in Japan, this place offers great quality beef. It's a little expensive (similar to Japan again) so be prepared. Buffet $45-55 per person, value set $27 pp.
- 5 Zenya Noodle Bar, 217 Rowe St,Eastwood. Daily 11:30AM-3PM, 5:30-9:30PM. Classic ramen dishes as well as well as amazing Teriyaki chicken. Ramen $11-15, bento box $15-19.
Hunters Hill and Woolwich
This is an upper middle class area and restaurants here are expensive. If you are on a budget and want to check out the area it's best to bring a packed lunch. Otherwise, splurge and enjoy.
- 6 Cucinetta, 103 Woolwich Road,Woolwich. This Italian represents classic Sydney dining. Great food, great service and of course a view of the sparkling harbour in the background. Mains $35.
There are pockets of good food in suburbs not listed above. Here is a list of the best ones.
- 7 Wing Wah Chinese Restaurant, 122 Blaxland Rd Ryde, ☏ +61 2 9807 6585. Provides fresh and hearty Chinese food at affordable prices. Offers eat-in, take-away and home delivery if you live nearby. Try one the chow meins with crunchy noodles.
- 8 BCD Tofu House (북창동), 74-76, Shop 10, Rawson St. Epping (less than 5 minute walk from Epping Station. Opposite Coles supermarket.), ☏ +61298684300. M-Sa 11:30AM-30AM-daily 5-9:30PM. Authentic Korean restaurant with good range of spicy and mild tofu soups, as well as other Korean dishes. From $15.
It is fair to say there is a lack of bars in the area, let alone good bars. Here is a list of places scattered in the area.
- 1 Woolwich Pier Hotel, 2 Gale Street, Woolwich, ☏ +61 2 9817 2204. Not your average pub, this places serves great steaks and Sunday roasts with views over the harbour and Sydney city in the distance. Mains $20-40.
- 2 Hunters Hill Hotel, 64 Gladesville Rd, Hunters Hill. Not as good as Woolwich Pier Hotel down the road, but still serves a good selection of beers and food with distant views of the city and harbour.
Bars and clubs
- 3 Tracks Nightclub, underneath The Epping Hotel. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights. Wednesday nights is popular with students and has DJs playing through the night. Friday night has piano players while Saturday night is live music.
- 4 Hump Nightclub. Open Wednesday nights only. Located within The Ranch Hotel, Hump Nightclub is a popular student party venue near Macquarie University. Happy hour is from 8:30 - 10:30 and entrance is normally free. Queues to get in are surprisingly long and the venue often reaches capacity so best to arrive early. If you're not seeking the student party vibe, give this place a wide berth.
- 1 Lane Cove River Tourist Park, ☏ +61 2 9888 9133. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. Located within Lane Cove National Park, this campground and caravan park is surrounded by nature and has access to the river. Voted the best Caravan Park & Campground in Australia 2008 by the National Tourism Industry. Only 10 km from the Sydney Harbour Bridge and located within the Lane Cove National Park. 300 caravan, camper van and tent sites. 28 fully self-contained cabins with all linen and towels supplied. Fantastic public transport links. Very friendly and helpful staff. Powered sites: 2 adults from $39 per day, $234 per week. Extra person $10 per day. Children under 12 are free. Unpowered sites: 2 adults from $37 per day, $222 per week. Extra person $10 per day. Children under 12 are free..
These are the cheapest (but not necessarily good) hotels to stay in the area. There are no hostels.
- 2 Metro Inn Ryde, Cnr Victoria Rd & Bowden St Ryde. It features a restaurant, an outdoor pool, and a bar/lounge. Free WiFi in public areas and free self parking Roadside room $150, Standard $160.
- 3 The Ranch Hotel, Cnr Epping & Herring Rds Macquarie Park. Along with a restaurant, this smoke-free hotel has a bar and a complimentary children's club. Free continental breakfast is provided, as well as free WiFi in public areas, free self parking Standard $159.
Been a non tourist area, the only 4 and 5 star hotels are located near the business area in Macquarie Park.
- 4 Courtyard by Marriott North Ryde, 7-11 Talavera Road, North Ryde. offers spacious rooms with views of Lane Cove National Park and the business park. Some rooms include a balcony and split-level suites are available. Twin $309, King $339.
- 5 Meriton Serviced Apartments North Ryde, 88 Talavera Road, 2113 Ryde, Australia. Offering luxurious self-contained accommodation with equipped kitchen and lounge areas. 1 GB of free Wi-Fi every day Studio $266, 1BR $288.
There is a library near almost every town centre. They are open Monday to Friday and Saturday mornings and all provide full internet access. Bookings are taken, and you may need to book at peak times.
Most coffee shops have WiFi. Shopping centres also offer free WiFi.
There is an absolute abundance of internet cafes that are primarily used for gamers in Eastwood and Epping. These advantage of internet cafes is they open very late into the night.
- The Lower North Shore is the next district to the east. Chatswood is a little more upmarket compared to Eastwood, with bigger and brighter shops and restaurants.
- Parramatta to the west is also an important business area.
- Cross over to the Inner West using Victoria Road or the Ryde Bridge.
- Take the ferry from Woolwich Wharf to historic Cockatoo Island.