Seen for over a century as the blue collar section of Sydney, they have enjoyed a revival in popularity of late, their rows of terrace houses becoming the height of fashion and their streets a desirable place to call home. The city, the harbour and the Parramatta River are never far away, the well established public transport infrastructure, amenities and recreational facilities adding to the appeal of these inner city areas. The suburbs within the region are characterised by medium to high-density housing and include some of the older constructions in Sydney such as the terrace houses of Glebe, Newtown and Annandale. Parts of the inner west have been subject to gentrification.
Prior to the arrival of the First Fleet, the Sydney region was home to the Darug people. This nation was broken up into a number of Aboriginal clans who tended to live in a certain geographic area. What is now the Inner West was formerly home to two clans, the Cadigal, whose land stretched along Port Jackson from South Head to Lewisham, and the Wangal, whose land was immediately to the west of the Cadigals and stretched to about Homebush Bay. Other clans that would have been regular visitors to the area would have included the Birrabirragal and Muru-ora-dial in what is now the Eastern Suburbs, the Bediagal and Kameygal from the Cooks River area to the south, the Burramattagal from the Parramatta area to the west, and the Wallumattagal, Cammeraigal and Gorualgal from the northern shores of the Parramatta River.
The topography of the Inner West reflects rolling hills intersected by shallow valleys through which waterways including Iron Cove Creek, Hawthorne Canal (formerly Long Cove Creek), Whites Creek and Johnstons Creek flow. These waterways have been drastically altered since the late 19th century by the means of concrete lining. For example, in the 1860s Iron Cove Creek was a freely flowing waterway which in places broadened into ponds that made excellent and picturesque swimming holes. It is now barely a trickle lined by residential areas, parkland and fast-food restaurants.