Ah, the Hills District. Much like the seven hills of Ancient Rome, those who call these majestic slopes home are known to venture to distant lands (the CBD), battle monsters (the M2) and rock a mean gladiator sandal (Sportsgirl, Castle Towers, $69. 99). On the mysterious ‘other side of the bridge’ and with more shrubbery chit-chat than a Monty Python sketch, the Hills is Sydney's leafy 'burb, double-digit kilometres from the city and home to a kick-ass café or two.
You’ve heard, “So… you’re from Parramatta?” more times than you care to recall when describing your ‘burb. Your gratitude journal is filled to the brim thanks to The Baron and you’ll happily scoff a Baron Benny (smoked ham, brioche and a 63-degree egg) any day of the week. Sitting in traffic on Pennant Hills Road is something you do regularly.
Except the bike is on fire and you’re on fire and everything is on fire because you’re in hell. Your family have started comparing your love life to the M2: never finished. Carlingford Court Shopping Centre low-key scares you. Talk of single-storey dwellings from across the bridge are told as fables imploring children to behave: “Glebe apartments very rarely have guest rooms you know”.
Bonus points if you frequented ‘The Docks’. Double bonus points if you remember/pine for Timezone. Bella Vista and Rouse Hill will always be rolling fields of display homes as far as you’re concerned. You’re pretty sure you’ve met this mum at Cherrybrook shops. The 610 is your second, much seedier, home; and the reason for your debt-inducing Dettol addiction.
Yes, Youeni have ventured to Surry Hills—does it still count if it has ‘Hills’ in the name?—but their Life Extending Bowl is still the business. Your heart sinks a little knowing people’s perception of the ‘other side of the bridge’ barely even reaches your postcode. Someone once mentioned the words, ‘Bible belt’ but you’re still not entirely sure what it means.
You just about wept with happiness the day Crooked Tailor rolled into town with their polenta truffle chips and gin and tonic marshmallows. Years of birthday candle wishes and eyelash hoarding have paid off. A quick pop to the shops results in seeing every person you know i. e. school teachers, netball coaches, a fleeting love interest from the Castle Hill RSL and that one chick you see everywhere whose face looks super familiar.
You’ve received a couple lacklustre pats on the back for your suburbs’ burgeoning train line (to which you’ll still have the drive). Hillside Hotel has seen your rattier, tipsier side a few too many times. Its employees even made a speech at your 21st. You barely blink an eye at a driving time of 60 minutes.
There’s a rumour that every house in West Pennant Hills (your own personal OC) has a tennis court. You’re not yet convinced otherwise. Love the Hills? Here's everywhere you should have eaten. Image credit: Claudia Schmueli .
Gilbert Road, Castle Hill: This reserve is is a large multiple sports facility covering a total of 58 hectares! There are five soccer fields or three cricket fields, cricket practice nets, baseball field, ten tennis courts, a BMX track, remote control car track and a basketball stadium tables and a junior children’s playground.
Go boating, kayaking cycling and canoeing or enjoy bushwalking on the many walking tracks. Take in spectacular views while discovering more about the area’s Aboriginal heritage and see historic heritage sites from early European settlement. If you want to spend more time exploring the park, there are plenty of spots to camp.
When the kids have tired themselves out on on the swings, slides, maze, playhouses and rope bridge, they can ride their bikes or rollerblade around the paths, play ball games or relax at the picnic shelters while their lunch cooks on the barbecue. Older children will enjoy the separate adventure playground and there is plenty of space for bikes and scooters.
Old Northern Road, Wisemans Ferry: Features include walking tracks, electric and wood (bring your own wood) barbecues, picnic areas, children’s playground and public toilets and there is also a Kiosk on site. It’s a great barbecue and picnic spot for day boat hires. There is a take away kiosk located in the park near the main entrance.
Its way cheaper than Taronga Zoo and a lot more hands-on. 84 Castle Hill Road, West Pennant Hills: 10 acres of lush Rainforest, Eucalypt Groves and Native Gardens with Koalas, Red & Grey Kangaroos, Dingoes, Wombats, Echidnas, Emus, many Wallaby species and a large collection of Australian Native Birds. 686 Old Northern Road, Dural: We absolutely love this family fun animal farm.