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Street art in LIverpool1/5
Photograph: Supplied/Liverpool City Council
Outdoor cinema in Macquarie Mall in Liverpool2/5
Photograph: Supplied/Liverpool City Council
Shopping in LIverpool3/5
Photograph: Supplied/Liverpool City Council
Liverpool Growers Market4/5
Photograph: Supplied/Liverpool City Council
Artwork in Liverpool5/5
Photograph: Supplied/Liverpool City Council

A local's guide to Liverpool

We're here to give you the goods on where to eat, drink, shop and play in this south-western Sydney 'burb

By Divya Venkataraman
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As restrictions continue to ease across the city, it is more important than ever to follow health recommendations. Here's our guide on how to go out safely in Sydney.

The bustling, south-western City of Liverpool, which sits on the land of the Darug and Dharawal nations, is almost too vast to pin down. And not just terms of its huge footprint either. The LGA's expansiveness stretches back through time as well as across 306 square kilometres, spanning waves of migrants, cultures, and cuisines that have all found a home in this pulsing hub of Western Sydney. 

If Parramatta is the shiny, new spokesmodel heralded as the economic guiding light of Western Sydney, Liverpool is the wise beauty in the corner biding her time, with years of experience under her belt and a sharp tongue to boot. She’s been around the block a few times, sure. But she’s also got stories to tell.

Now, a whole host of high-rise development is sprouting up in Liverpool's main strip, jostling with the local Middle Eastern jewellery stores, Balkan butchers, Iraqi restaurants and Indian grocers that have been there for years. The Casula Powerhouse has blossomed into a major contemporary cultural institution in its own right, attracting further development and housing around the George River.

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EAT DRINK COFFEE THINGS TO DO SHOP

What’s it known for? 
The Casula Powerhouse showcases up and coming artists of colour regularly and the parks and playgrounds are perfect community spaces, while the food scene is near unparalleled in Sydney in terms of its diversity: think Iraqi, Indian, Vietnamese, Turkish, Chilean, Macedonian, Lebanese and so many more traditions carving out their own space in this tight-knit community made up of a multitude of cultures. 

Why do the locals love it?
Because it's home. Traditionally seen as a starting point for many migrants coming into the country, Liverpool is also finding a groove in its own right and creating its own cultural scene. South West Sydney rapper, speaker and activist L-Fresh the Lion grew up around the area, and says perceptions of it from within the community are shifting in comparison to when he was young. "It's so good to see kids these days being proud of their communities... even different parts of [the Liverpool LGA], which are so different from each other, like kids from Miller representing Miller. Even five, ten years ago, it wasn't cool to claim where you're from. But it's changed a lot."

How do I get to Liverpool? 
The T2, T3 or T5 line trains are the easiest and cheapest way to get to Liverpool – a direct train from Central will have you there in just over an hour. If you’re driving, it’s around 40 kilometres out from the CBD by car via the M1 and M5, but traffic could hold you up.  Otherwise, take the bus to Parramatta, Western Sydney and connect to the CBD from the interchange located right next to the train station. 

What’s nearby? 
Head north and you'll find yourself in the cultural and foodie hub of Cabramatta, or head south-west for residential suburbs like Preston and Moorebank, or the emerging arts hub of Casula. You're also a stone's throw from the Leacock National Park – try the Bellbird Track for a family-friendly walk, or check out the scenic surrounds of the Georges River National Park.

Map of Liverpool

If you only do one thing…
Spot some inventive, surreal art along the Liverpool Sculpture Walk. It’s organised much like the east’s Sculptures by the Sea with installations and outdoor artworks erected on the banks of the Georges River, beginning near the Casula Powerhouse. 

Bowl of hommous at Hammoud
Bowl of hommous at Hammoud
Photograph: Supplied/Liverpool City Council

Eat

If you survey locals, there’s one place that always cops a mention in their list of favourite spots to eat around Liverpool, and that’s Hammoud 1. This tiny, casual Middle Eastern diner earns the mantle, according to rapper and South West Sydney local L-Fresh the Lion, of “the best falafel in the South West”. Go for excellent value for money (a falafel roll is $3.50, while they’ll dish up a full-on feast for you and some mates for closer to $20), casual, friendly service and a no-nonsense commitment to quality mezze. “It’s super low-key, you'd walk past and just not know what you're missing out on,” says L-Fresh. "It's my go-to." Want some charcoal chicken with your mezze? You can’t go past Al Barakeh – the chargrilled, smoky aroma will find you before you find it.  

On the other side of town, the Paper Mill is a new dining precinct which opened in August 2019, with Georgie’s Pizzeria serving up Neapolitan-style pizzas, modern riffs on Lebanese dishes at Charcoal Joe’s, pastries, coffee and sweet treats at Shepherd’s Lane, and modern Australian woodfired plates at restaurant Firepit. 

There’s a rivalry in town unmatched by any other, and that’s the rift caused between loyalties to the two major Indian restaurants on Liverpool’s main strip: L-Fresh reckons you’re either on the Hemanis or the Woodlands team. For full disclosure, he’s a Hemani’s man (and swears by the badaam milk), but Woodlands also serves a wide range of North Indian plates (the naans and creamy, tomato-based curries typically associated with subcontinent’s cuisine) as well as a variety of crisp South Indian dishes like crisp dosa, idli and uthappam. Newcomer Dosa Hut also makes a mean masala dosa, oozy and stuffed with tumeric-spiced potatoes, and served with steaming sambar and tamarind and coconut chutnies to tear and dip your dosa into. 

As for sweets? We’re glad you asked. La Selecta Bakery is known for its meat empanadas and, importantly, its range of Chilean sweets: try the torta milhoja, or thousand-layer cake, or the sopaipillas, a type of fried bread. Or stop in at Nefiz for Turkish street food and desserts – if the crisp, pistachio-stuffed, honey-soaked baklava tastes familiar, you might well have tasted it before – the bakery is earmarked as a wholesale supplier for lots of bakeries and eateries around Sydney. Finally, the most well-known of the lot has to be Liverpool Supreme  the burek tastes like clouds and they’ve got Macedonian doughnuts and pastries for you to try.

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Man pouring spirit into mojito glass
Man pouring spirit into mojito glass
Photograph: Supplied/Liverpool City Council

Drink

While Liverpool isn’t exactly known for its mixology of 100-page wine lists – better to just eat some more, you’re spoiled for choice – you’ve still got a few options. It just depends on what you’re into. Stop in for a casual brew at the centrally located Macquarie Street Hotel, or sidle down to the mosaic-tiled floors and expansive space of the Paper Mill for fancy cocktails at Georgie’s – they shake a mean Lychee Breeze once the sun sets, unless you prefer their bourbon-laced twist on a Negroni. Plus, non-drinkers won’t have to settle for soda water here – the mocktail list is almost as long as the alcoholic one. 

On the other hand, if you’re craving a well-selected Italian wine, stop by Mac Street Diner for its curated selection from Australian makers and international ones.

And when you’re ready to kick things up a notch? The dimly lit private rooms of VIP Karaoke are waiting for you to belt your heart out to old-school classics within their walls – just make sure you leave any self-consciousness at the door. Otherwise, do as the locals do after dinner and forgo alcohol for the sweet scents of Sahrati Shisha – choose from intoxicating flavours like grape, mint, watermelon or more the intriguingly named ‘Blue Mist’. 

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Cup of coffee
Cup of coffee
Photograph: Unsplash

Coffee

If you’re craving a brew, Ristretto and Co brings a little of the grungy cafe scene of the hipster urbanites to Liverpool, with fresh brewed Campos coffee, an all-day breakfast menu (score) and an expansive, greenery-filled courtyard to while away some time out the back. While mall coffees usually leave a little to be desired, Vine and Grind is a go-to for a caffeine pitstop on your way around Westfield in the centre of Liverpool, with petite, delicate pastries and more filling snacks to fuel your retail therapy. 

If your sweet tooth isn’t satisfied after that, use coffee as an excuse and sit down with a tart, bitey Vittoria espresso at Pasticceria Cavallaro nearby and grab a ricotta cannolo or three to go with it.

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Adventure playground
Adventure playground
Photograph: Supplied/Liverpool City Council

Do

The Casula Powerhouse, located on the banks of the Georges River, is a cultural hub and multi-arts space which opened in 1994. It has hosted countless visual art exhibitions, music performances, comedy nights, and is the base for the annual Liverpool Sculpture Walk which winds around the Georges River. Gallery entry is free, and ticketed exhibitions are usually under $30 – if you’re looking to get a handle on the diverse and progressive voices emerging from the area, here’s your first stop.  Make sure to check out the Koori Floor, a huge artwork by Waanyi artist Judy Watson laid out on the Turbine Hall – it spans 600 square metres and pays heed to the fact that the land on which the Powerhouse stands is and always will be Aboriginal land. 

In the mood to get active? Nearby Casula Parklands is the stuff of our childhood fantasies. The adventure playground has a dizzying (literally) bunch of activities to explore, including  a challenging ‘Ninja’ training and obstacle circuit, an eight-metre long Sky Walk and tunnel slide, a twin flying fox, a toddler playground, and dog parks. If the mercury’s rising, you might want to swap out the obstacle course for a splash and slide at Bigge Park’s Water Park – go Bigge or go home, as the locals (probably don’t) say. 

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COLourful Indian clothes on racks
COLourful Indian clothes on racks
Photograph: Supplied/Liverpool City Council

Shop

Indian and South Asian diaspora communities make up a large part of Liverpool’s population, and their long-standing influence is rife through the centre of the city. Liverpool’s high street spills out with Indian clothing and accessories of the most vibrant and bedazzling kind: hit up Roop Darshan or Abhishekh Fashions  for designer embroidered kurtas, sequinned and diamante-studded lehengas and two-piece sets, custom-made pieces, and silk saris galore. Jewellery stores along Macquarie Street hawk gold with the warm, yellow lustre that accompanies only high-grade metal that’s at least 20 karats (it’s a marked difference to the silvery gold you see in ordinary fine jewellery).  It’s great for Indian, Sri Lankan and Fijian spices and groceries, too. Try Udaya Spices or Liverpool India for an inimitable range – and if you’re a newbie, you can’t go wrong picking up a foil packet of Haldiram’s namkeen (it’s a kind of spicy, salty version of trail mix often with nuts, crisps, sultanas and spiced cornflakes) and some fragrant cardamom, cloves and star anise to mix up a sweet, milky chai. 

In the market (ahem) for some fresh fruit and veg? Check out the Liverpool Growers & Foodies Market, which sets up shop on the netball courts alongside the Chipping Norton Community Centre. Flowers, coffee, fresh produce and a cute, community vibe all come together here.

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Two women holding ice cream
Two women holding ice cream
Photograph: Supplied/Liverpool City Council

Save the date...

For Eat Your Heart Out, a (usually) annual festival of food, live music and culture. Locals and newbies mill the streets of Norton Serviceway as the city gathers to do what it loves best: eat. Come for the likes of Dirty Bird, Rangers Texas BBQ and Fritz's Wieners and local drinking holes like El Topo Cantina and juice bar Tropicana. And there's great entertainment to keep the vibes high – in 2019, the festival welcomed acts like dance company Shaun Parker and Co, performing arts group the Bindi Bosses, and musician Milan Ring. 

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The Clock Hotel on Crown Street
Photograph: James Horan

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