Not long ago, if you told a non-Westie friend you were going to Parramatta, they’d ask if you were bringing pepper spray. Oh, how times have changed! The Western suburb has well and truly ditched its dodgy rep, becoming known as one of Sydney’s biggest culture and cuisine meccas.
And nobody knows this better than Katrina James from The Westies. Katrina is a photographer who grew up in South Penrith, before moving to Parramatta. She started The Westies project as a way to embrace her home, build a sense of community and tell the world about all the awesome things happening out west. Check out her awesome website for more. We asked Katrina for her fave healthy hotspots in Parramatta.
Best brunch: Circa Espresso (21 Wentworth St, Parramatta )
“Hands down, Circa is THE place to eat. The Ottoman Eggs are divine and I could easily eat them every day and never get tired of it.”
Best place for a non-alcoholic drink: Darcy St Project (City Center Carpark Shop 4, 4/71 George Street, Parramatta)
“It’s got to be Darcy St Project, who serve the very special Hot Ottoman (yes, it seems I have a thing for Ottomans.) It’s like liquid Baklava. YUM! Try it with soy milk!”
Best spot for swimming: Lake Parramatta (Lake Parramatta Reserve, 28 Bourke St, North Parramatta) “This lake is an oasis in the middle of the city. You turn off a residential street to find a secluded lake surrounded by beautiful bushland — you could easily think you are somewhere in the Blue Mountains or in a National Park. The lake was recently re-opened for swimming and you can also hire canoes or a rowboat. Or, if you prefer to stay dry, you can picnic on the banks of the lake.”
Best running route: Along Parramatta River
“I am not much of a runner, I get too distracted by all the pretty things! So, I prefer a walk/jog. I head out my front door take a left and within two minutes, am exploring the paths along the river, which are full of birds and wildlife hanging out in the lush greenery.”
Best yoga studio: Seva Yoga (3c/8 Cowper St, Parramatta)
“Seva Yoga is absolute bliss. Forget the Lululemon and pretzel poses — this studio is all about connection and breathing. The studio is in an industrial building with exposed brick and high ceilings, reminiscent of a New York warehouse. I try and get there 3-4 times a week.”
Best festival: Parramatta Lanes Festival
“Parramatta Lanes Festival in October is one of the best festivals I’ve been to. The city’s lanes come alive with art and food and the place is absolutely buzzing.”
Most underrated spot in Parramatta: Centenary Square (Church St, Parramatta)
“On any given day, the most underrated spot to check out is Centenary Square. This is where you will see the best cross-section of culture — Afghani men drinking coffee, devoted Tai Chi practitioners, Indian women dressed in their finest Saris eating oranges, teenagers facing off with not-so-teen but still formidable table tennis opponents. This is the true meaning of multiculturalism and it exists in harmony, without any assisted integration or special event.”
Favourite day trip: The Rivercat Cruise
“Jumping on board the Rivercat and cruising into Sydney is one of my very favourite things to do! Starting in the mangroves, slowly cruising to where the river meets the ocean and watching how the landscape changes before sailing under the Harbour Bridge to arrive at Circular Quay is unbeatable. It really gives you a sense of how big and absolutely stunning Sydney is.”
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