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Paddington, a slum at the turn of the twentieth century, became a popular hangout for hipsters during the late 1960s and 1970s. Yuppies took over in the 1980s and turned Paddington into the smart and fashionable suburb it is today: the Victorian-era terraced houses, with their iron-lace verandas reminiscent of New Orleans, have been beautifully restored. Many of the terraces were originally built in the 1840s to house the artisans who worked on the graceful, sandstone Victoria Barracks on the southern side of Oxford Street, its walls stretching seven blocks, from Greens Road to just before the Paddington Town Hall on Oatley Road. The barracks are still used by the army, though you can visit a small museum of uniforms, medals and firearms. Free tours include an army band recital.
Shadforth Street, opposite the entrance gates, has many examples of the original artisans’ homes. Follow this street north then turn right onto Glenmore Road to reach Five Ways, the focus of an area of pleasant, winding, tree-lined streets that make a great place for a stroll, and offer a chance to wander into speciality stores, cafés and numerous small art galleries.
The area’s swankiest clothes shopping is around the junction of Glenmore Road and Oxford Street, and there are more classy shops further east on Elizabeth Street, which runs off Oxford Street almost 1km further southeast. Always bustling, the area comes alive on Saturday when everyone descends on Paddington Markets in the church grounds at no. 395. The markets just keep getting bigger, selling everything from handmade jewellery to local artwork, cheap but fresh flowers and vintage clothes.