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Tom Uren Walking Trail – Sydney’s Balmain East

Location: Balmain East | 
Walking duration: 2.5 hours | 

With recent stay home public health orders restricting our movement and daily outdoor exercise allowance to within your Local Government Area (LGA)—or within a 5km radius of your home—we soon became bored of the usual routes. Accepting our predicament during what appeared to be an indefinite lockdown, we seize the opportunity to rediscover parts of our local area and felt compelled to explore and discover new parks and walking routes within those limits.

That’s when we stumbled across this particular walking trail in Balmain East. This is the Tom Uren Trail, which the guidance information from the Inner West Council advises is 2.3km long (and includes some steep inclines) which will take 2.5 hours to cover at a relaxed pace.

When we headed there on what promised to be a beautiful gloriously sunny spring afternoon in September, there was a light smoke haze resulting from hazard burning blanketing the harbour. We decided to still proceed with the walk but to breeze through it at a quicker pace to limit exposure to the unhealthy air. We had previously seen parts of the trail so managed to do the whole circuit in just 1.5 hours, albeit huffing and puffing our way through some very undulating terrain. You can sense this haziness in the photo essay of the walk, which is provided in the gallery below to give you a sense of the delightful walk we did.

Our little walking excursion and physical work out was nevertheless rewarding, offering us glimpses of interesting nooks and crannies as well as expansive views from this little corner of Sydney. This was where Tom Uren was born and had returned to in the final years of his life; the place where he championed public access to Sydney Harbour, advocating that the foreshore was a fundamental public right for the community.

While there were small stretches of foreshore along this walk which had unfortunately been cut off by private ownership, it was pleasing to see that much of it was still preserved with public access and offering breathtaking views of the harbour which gives Sydney its unique sense of place.

Who was Tom Uren?

Tom was born in 1921 and died in 2015. He had many facets which included being a politician and Labor leader, sportsman, soldier, prisoner-of-war, activist, environmentalist, mentor, fighter for peace, equality, beauty and compassion. Tom passed on Australia Day in 2015, and this trail continues his legacy to the local and the wider community. This walking trail names after him was devised and launched by the local council (currently known as Inner West Council) to honour the life of a man committed to working in the service of the human family.

The walking guide provided by the local council for this trail informs us:

His was a full life. He worked hard and earnestly, loved large, and learnt from observation and discussion wherever he went. He practised the art of lifelong learning, always keeping an ear to the ground, combining his intuition and intelligence to work for what he believed throughout his long political life. He was a staunch civil libertarian with a strong sense of social justice.

How to get there?

The trail circuit commences at Thornton Park near Balmain East Ferry Walk. So depending on your circumstances, you can either drive or take a bus to the starting point, or alternatively take can take one of the Sydney ferries from Circular Quay. Street parking and limited public parking spots are available in the area. 

“There is such a gentleness about Sydney Harbour, such a softness. There are important parts in the river systems that surround our Sydney that are still in near pristine state. It hurts you when you see the scars inflicted by insensitive developers. The harbour is more than a jewel – it is Sydney’s heart.”

Relevant Links

The route we walked, over 1.5 hours


All photos by Selwyn Lemos and Ban-Foo Leong