A suburb without a consistent theme, Riverwood nonetheless provides an appealing combination of price and flexibility for its location.

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Summary: A largely working class, fairly central Sydney suburb offering a mixed bag of good value prices, wide and varied public green spaces, iffy traffic and a solid array of amenities, Riverwood has a “little bit for everyone” that comes with a decent location along with the occasional surface-level blemish. It’s a bit of a hodge-podge without much consistency in design, layout and home styles, but this also offers wide variety in environments and property types to choose from as a result.

Good transport connectivity and proximity to main roads and highways help make it quite accessible, while its mix of demographics and cultures is reflected in its diverse blend of stores and restaurants. There’s some neglect in its otherwise impressively varied public spaces and nature strips and it has some statistical issues with crime, yet for families, pets, and general all-round living it’s about the best price you’re going to be able to pay this close and connected to Sydney city.

Suburb Ratings:

Public Transport

Affordability (Rental)

Affordability (Buying)

Things to See/Do


Pet Friendliness

Key stats

Region: Western Suburbs

Population: 12,500

Postcode: 2210

Ethnic Breakdown: Chinese 27.2%, English 10.5%, Australian 10.2%, Lebanese 5.4%, Irish 3.1%

Time to CBD (Public Transport): 35 minutes

Time to CBD (Driving): 30 minutes

Nearest Train Station: Riverwood

Highlights/attractions: Salt Pan Creek Wetlands

Ideal for: Families, small families, professionals

Median property prices: House – $$890,000; Apartment – $$580,000

Median rental prices (per week): House – $530; Apartment – $460

If the mix of relatively reasonable pricing and proximity to the Sydney CBD are your primary concerns when looking for a place to live, it’s not hard to see how Riverwood could be a desirable option to call home.

Simply put, this is one of the better-priced suburbs within around a 30-ish minute commute into the city that – while it still has some gritty elements and blemishes – is neither too dodgy nor lacking in amenities to otherwise drag its scores down.

Riverwood Sydney

As a suburb, Riverwood is all over the shop when it comes to layout, structure, streetscape and demographics.

Ultra high-end homes and ultra low-end homes, noisy and busy highways and quiet green back streets, well-manicured lawns and wildly overgrown ones, well-equipped and kept parks and unkempt massive patches of wild grass, trendy cafes and exotic foreign stores – all of this and more make up the “Riverwood experience.”

Riverwood homes

While this means it’s lacking in any kind of consistent theme or character, it also gives it a level of versatility and flexibility to cater to basically any kind of Sydney resident regardless of life stage or income level.

This is “melting pot” suburban Sydney in full swing, and its relative randomness means it’s also home to a surprisingly high amount of cool public spaces and features than you might initially think.

Riverwood public spaces

Riverwood’s first major selling point is its connectivity. Physically, Riverwood sits in a pretty central and convenient spot in south-ish/west-ish Sydney that provides it with decent access to several major parts of the city without too much of a hike.

Main arterial road Belmore Road directly adjoins onto the M5/South-Western Motorway in short order, allowing for a direct route into the CBD while also qualifying for a toll rebate courtesy of the government’s M5 South-West Cashback scheme.

Riverwood M5

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Bankstown, Sydney Airport, Sutherland Shire, and even beach areas like Maroubra are all reachable within varying lengths under half an hour on a good day as well.

For public transport riders, its train station is well-serviced and again can whisk you into the city in around the same amount of time, while transfers are available at Wolli Creek to get down south and elsewhere as well. Add in reasonable bus services, and you’ve got a suburb where getting to multiple locations should in theory be quite efficient.

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Riverwood Belmore Rd

Of course, that doesn’t always translate on a daily basis. Heavy traffic on the roads here is a common issue, with Belmore Road, Hannans Road and eastbound on the M5 all frequently packed with cars during peak.

This is also a land that the rev-heads seem to love; prepare for frequent loud exhausts any time one of the bigger roads in the suburb open up a gap in the traffic. A lack of parking is also an issue, particularly for those wanting to take advantage of Riverwood’s main amenity strip along Belmore Road itself.

Riverwood Belmore Rd stores

This slice of dining and retail which fans out along the road on either side of Riverwood’s train station is eclectic and pretty well-equipped as a whole.

It boasts a varied, decent little mix of both local cafes, pizzerias, restaurants, delis, bakeries and more alongside bigger outlets including ALDI, Woolworths, BWS and other mixed shops in and around Riverwood Plaza.

Riverwood plaza

The ethnic influences of its Chinese, Lebanese and other communities can be seen here, both in terms of its concentration of Asian restaurants (mostly north of the station) and other unique stores such as shisha cafes, large-scale seafood and produce markets, and its grouping of bigger distinct venues.

Riverwood plaza

Whether it be Club Rivers for a friendly club and bistro vibe, the art-deco-esque Conca D’oro event venue, or the solid pub fare of the Riverwood Hotel, it’s a very solid assortment of options for a suburb that’s not too massive population-wise overall.

Riverwood pubs

Add in the likes of gyms, pharmacies and medical, banking, fast food and more and everything for daily needs is well taken care of by this central hub. It’s not the cleanest or most sparkling shopping strip in the world, but it’s highly practical and receiving new additions all the time.

Riverwood cafes

Elsewhere, Riverwood contains a high concentration of warehousing and light industrial space, mostly contained to its north-eastern portion. Think warehouses and manufacturers as opposed to offices, and smash repairs, ceramics, signage and other blue-collar-oriented businesses which form the backbone here.

This slice offers potential opportunities for jobs while still being accessible from elsewhere in the suburb as well as reflecting some of its “working class” nature and businesses.

Riverwood warehouses

In terms of public spaces, Riverwood tends to punch above its weight, and provides a handful of unexpected surprises.

It’s home to one of the better arrays of public spaces among Sydney’s nondescript suburbs, which are quite diverse and can be pretty impressive overall – although a few of them could do with better upkeep.

Riverwood Park

Riverwood boasts multiple large and roomy green areas, with several large ovals set up for sport/athletics and running, as well as a mix of parks that range from the small and practical Charles Reserve up to the massive and sprawling space of Salt Pan Reserve and everything in between.

Riverwood Charles Reserve

It’s very well set up for both kids and pets to take advantage of; almost every one of its parks large and small offers some degree of playground equipment, while few suburbs provide so many areas for dogs to run around and enjoy open space.

Riverwood Salt Pan Reserve

Salt Pan Reserve in particular is enormous and ideal for those even with bigger dogs. It’s unfenced, but it’s so large that it shouldn’t be a concern; for extra peace of mind, head around the corner to the Mary Street Dog Park for a secluded and smaller fenced alternative.

Riverwood Dog Park

Rotary Park also offers a great assortment of playground equipment, picnic tables and shelter; it’s just a shame it has a bit of an undesirable backdrop being sandwiched between the noisy highway and industrial areas on either side.

Riverwood Rotary Park

Its signature space has to be the Salt Pan Creek Wetlands, however.

It’s a distinctive little strip of water and plant life popular with birds and ducks that also contains multiple public facilities that makes it quite a cool space – fountain, gazebo, skate bowl, community centre and more are again a bit “random” to be grouped together, but a pleasant and varied space nonetheless.

Riverwood Wetlands

This area is surrounded by a cluster of modern, mid-rise and mid-density apartment blocks that’s like someone took a mini chunk out of Wolli Creek and plopped it into the middle of Riverwood. Again, random, but interesting.

Riverwood Wetlands 2

Credit also needs to go to how walkable and bikeable Riverwood is. It’s very well equipped with a mix of walkways and cycling routes, and quite walkable and flat as a whole. Its bike track alongside the M5 is particularly handy for cyclists getting from A to B.

Riverwood Bike Track

For families and associated amenities, Riverwood is also pretty solid.

Riverwood Schools

It’s home to a selection of kindergartens and childcare for those with little ones, and a pretty robust range of public, catholic and general education schooling dotted throughout. Combine this with its large helping of playgrounds, and it scores above average for those with kids.

Riverwood Public School

Unfortunately, as is typical with many suburbs within the Canterbury-Bankstown LGA there’s often something in terms of upkeep to drag each of its public spaces and some of its streets down slightly.

“Trolley dumping culture” is strong here, with no otherwise nice park seemingly without a ditched trolley or three, while many of them are unmowed and graffiti has been left to pile up.

Riverwood trolleys

Head over towards the mangroves of Salt Pan Creek area and its bridges are graffiti-central for example.

Riverwood trolleys 2

This carries over to many of Riverwood’s residential streets as well.

It seems like Bunnings should get their act together and run a few heavy ad campaigns for discount lawnmowers targeted at specifically at Riverwood, as there’s a disproportionate amount of both homes and nature strips with lawns that have been left to run wild.

Riverwood lawns

Along with many front yards with furniture and trash dumped, it puts a bit of a damper on what is otherwise in many spots some nicely presented bits of suburbia.

Whip out the lawnmower a bit more often and call for those council clean ups ladies and gents – or for the many other owners who keep things in good condition, hit up your neighbours to do so, as it drags down public perception (and probably property values) as a result.

As with any suburb, some streets are more desirable here than others – spots like Talbot Street, Shenston Road, Weemala Ave and others rank highly, for example – but a little more maintenance could go a long way.

Riverwood houses

Riverwood’s housing profile is very diverse, providing most kinds of accommodations for everything outside of highrise apartments to choose from.

There’s “something for everyone” here other than the likes of ultra-high-end mansions; older fibro houses, cheaper low-rise red brick unit blocks, new modern double-story builds and duplexes – take your pick, and there’s likely an option to suit here.

Riverwood houses 3

It’s also home to a significant portion of public housing; almost 1/3rd of Riverwood is designated government apartments and the like, with a couple of mixed public and private estates constructed in recent years.

This has added even more diversity to its affordability mix, making for a suburb that really does cover all sides of the socio-economic scale.

Riverwood apartments

Prices for homes in Riverwood are typically cheaper than several of its immediate neighbours other than those directly to the north, and are pretty reasonable considering its positives.

Older 3-bedroom homes can still be found for around the $850k-$900k range, with that price quickly jumping up for newer builds or those with an extra bedroom. For apartment renters, expect to pay around $450 per week for a place in a decently-modern building.

“This is one of the better-priced suburbs within around a 30-ish minute commute into the city.”

Riverwood’s other major downside other than traffic and parking issues are its crime stats. The suburb ranks among Sydney’s upper-third in our crime rankings at 0.19% per capita, and has had some above-average issues with assaults, break and enters and other crime types in the past.

It’s not “unsafe-feeling” during the day compared to many of Sydney’s dodgier suburbs, but it’s something that still needs to be mentioned.

The Verdict

Riverwood clocks in as a “better than you might think” suburb owing mainly to its mixture of connectivity, wide amount of quality public spaces, and solid across-the-board amenities in relation to the price of admission. It’s not “cheap” in relation to Sydney’s suburbs further out west, but it is for one that can still be considered within the “Greater Inner Sydney Ring”.

There’s more here to see, do and take advantage of than multiple other more expensive suburbs not too much closer to Sydney city, and while they’re not always in the most pristine condition it’s still of a high degree of benefit for daily life. Its diversity in choice means it can suit both those after bigger and more spacious/modern houses on large blocks all the way down to older and bare-bones units while still being able to take advantage of its public transport, shops and road access.

Pet owners will find few bigger public spaces for exercising their pets, while it’s got enough scenery for walks and rides for humans as well. Non-rich families may also find it a solid fall-back option to some of the “bigger brand name” suburbs not too far away.

Its traffic situation isn’t great, and its mix of some outlying crime indicators and demographic mix may not be for everyone, but as a “down-to-earth” Sydney suburb without pretension Riverwood more than serves its purpose and can be entertaining and interesting as a whole that’s generally quite good value for money.

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