Small and decently-equipped North Shore suburb can be either pretty in spots or more affordable – depending on how far your budget can stretch.

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Summary: Compact, safe and clean, Waitara on Sydney’s north shore is a small suburb which strikes a balance between the two suburbs which fringe it on either side. It walks a middle ground between the upper-tier housing of Wahroonga and the more bustling and dense atmosphere of Hornsby to provide a little bit of both, however recent development has made it far more apartment-heavy than in the past.

As a result, this is a suburb with a high population relative to its physical size, with numerous mid-rise apartments which have been constructed to provide families with a more affordable way to take advantage of its mixture of rail and highway connectivity to the city, and public parks and educational facilities which dot the suburb throughout. It’s thus a suburb with two very separate characters between the green pockets of “old Waitara” freestanding homes and “new Waitara” and its high-density apartments, with one lifestyle far less affordable than the other.

Suburb Ratings:

Public Transport

Affordability (Rental)

Affordability (Buying)

Things to See/Do


Pet Friendliness

Key stats

Region: North Shore

Population: 6,000

Postcode: 2077

Ethnic Breakdown: Chinese 20.0%, English 12.3%, Indian 10.7%, Australian 9.1%, Iranian 5.0%

Time to CBD (Public Transport): 45 minutes

Time to CBD (Driving): 50 minutes

Nearest Train Station: Waitara

Highlights/attractions: Waitara Park Playground/Hornsby Rugby Club

Ideal for: Small families, professionals, retirees

When some of the more famous, “brand-name” suburbs of Sydney’s North Shore are brought up, little Waitara may not typically be one that’s mentioned.

At a glance, it’s not too hard to see why – the suburb is physically relatively small, and doesn’t have much in the way of flagship ‘attractions’ which would draw visitors in from far away.

Waitara suburb review

That doesn’t necessarily apply for the purposes of a place to live however; look below the surface, and Waitara offers several positives that can make it a viable choice for a couple subsets of people in particular.

It’s not outstanding for any single reason, but it offers enough in the way of services and amenities – or close proximity to even more services and amenities – along with decent connectivity and a hefty dose of more affordable living (for the North Shore) versus some of its more posh neighbours.

Waitara Sydney

Like any suburb along the North Shore (T1) train line, Waitara benefits from offering what is still a relatively reasonable journey by Sydney standards into the city.

You’re looking at around a 45 minute train trip into Town Hall by rail, and Waitara’s location fairly far north along the line means it’s possible to get on before things get too crowded.

Waitara station

In addition, while Waitara’s station posts a decent little helping of commuter parking on either side of its station, the suburb’s flat and compact layout means it’s possible to walk to the station in short order from much of the high-density housing which surrounds it.

Even the furthest pockets of freestanding houses in Waitara’s older extremities are still only roughly a 15-minute walk from the station, eliminating the need for a daily park-and-ride scenario for most people living here.

Waitara far homes

TWaitara is also (unevenly) dissected by the Pacific Highway and has the freeway nearby, making it easy for drivers to jump on and then join the morning crawl along with everyone else.

This also means that all the larger-scale amenities of Hornsby are likewise accessible in short order, either via a miniscule drive or simply hopping over one extra stop along on the train.

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Waitara Westfield

Much of Waitara’s development over recent years has been constructed with this type of lifestyle in mind – think higher-density, cheaper (in North Shore terms) living designed to provide people with an any springboard onto public transport and be ferried into the city.

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As a result, a huge array of large, mid-rise apartment buildings have continued to fill out the inner portion of the suburb leading to a pretty dense concentration of living, and high overall population for such a small suburb.

Waitara Apartments

Pretty much all of these are situated on the north side of the train line, and range from buildings built a couple of decades ago to recently-released blocks with ultra-modern styling and decor.

It’s compact living that’s augmented by a range of pretty solid public parks, schools/daycare, and other amenities within walking distance of pretty much anywhere within Waitara, with the idea that you’ll be able to make up for a lack of a yard by simply being outdoors instead.

Waitara parks

Its centrepiece for this outdoor congregating is the area around Mark Taylor Oval and its adjacent Waitara Park Playground, which are both designed with families in mind. It’s got multiple options for sports and exercise, with kicking a footy/running around the oval itself, tennis courts and ping pong, public facilities for barbecues and proper toilets, and more.

This is on top of a good little array of rides and slides for kids, making it a central spot that’s buzzing – and often a bit crowded – during peak times such as sunny weekends.

Waitara Playground

Head further north, and elements of ‘original Waitara’ still remain, and make for a markedly different atmosphere versus all this new development.

Pretty much everywhere north of Edgeworth David Avenue is more traditional higher-end North Shore living, with largely older freestanding houses – although the occasional modern duplex or newer two-story build is continuing to creep in as well.

Waitara large house

The streets in this area are clean, quiet and leafy with your traditional northern Sydney level of house-pride; lawns are well-kept, there’s little litter, and even the older ‘cheaper’ original fibro houses that remain are typically kept in good condition.

Waitara fibro houses

A general lack of through-traffic makes them even quieter, as does a general lack of amenities (outside of childcare) in this area that would provide anyone who doesn’t live here with any real reason to visit.

Waitara preschool

Head further down again towards the highway, and things soon change. Much of Waitara’s highway-adjacent land is taken up by car dealerships; most of the major car brands are located here, with only the odd pet store and local restaurant (and McDonalds) to break things up.

Waitara Highway

Entertainment-wise, Waitara does alright considering how small it is.

It boasts a duo of quite decent little pubs/clubs on either side of the highway in Magpies Waitara on the north side (a good multi-purpose club with several options for dining and watching sports on the screen, and a play area for the kids), and chill Hotel slash sports pub the Blue Gum Hotel on the south (broken up into a ‘pub’ area in the front, and more restaurant/family oriented section in the back).

Waitara hotel

That’s not bad, considering there are plenty of bigger suburbs in Sydney which struggle for just one.

Waitara pub

Outside of these spots, Waitara is a little lacking in amenities and cafes/dining, but given its proximity to Hornsby it almost doesn’t matter.

While it technically doesn’t have a supermarket, IGA or similar within its borders – the corner shops of the Palmerston Centre are a bit of a neglected, 1980’s style Sydney affair that feels mostly abandoned, and ripe for renovation – Waitara basically bleeds into part of Hornsby itself anyway.

Waitara Shops

This means the Westfield Hornsby complex with its array of shops, dining, cinemas and more is literally ‘just down the road’ and again something you can basically just walk to if you’re not doing any bulk-sized shopping.

A lot of your token favourite bigger outlets are located here – think the big supermarket brands, K-Mart, electronics stores, and all your smaller-scale retail, so you’ll seldom have reason to hike down to the city or similar for all but the most niche of needs.

Waitara shops

Waitara is also a suburb that’s fairly heavily oriented around aged and health care. A large portion of its cute and tidy little pocket to the south of the highway is taken up by The Grange village, an over-55’s lifestyle complex complete with its own medical facilities, and streets that are draped in pretty trees and highly well-groomed.

Waitara Grange

There’s an additional supply of townhouse complexes in this area that provide more housing variety for those looking for a middle-ground as well.

Waitara townhouses

Waitara’s religious roots are still also on prominent display in the present-day. Churches/cathedrals and denominational schools can be found in this area, and add to what is a pretty solid array of schooling and childcare options for those with kids.

Waitara schools

The most obvious is the historic Barker College, which sits on a pretty massive grounds for a suburb this small, however Waitara Public, Our Lady of the Rosary as a Catholic option, and more schooling choices in nearby Hornsby offer a decent mix of choice for education.

Waitara religious schools

With even more high-end options down the road in Wahroonga and beyond, there’s a reason this part of Sydney continues to lure in families from all over.

Waitara small schools

The catchment area thus offers plenty of chances for a quality education, while its multiple childcare facilities dotted throughout all corners of the suburb provide daycare and early learning options for those with younger children as well.

Physically, Waitara is mostly flat and non-descript; it’s largely walkable, and green enough with decent tree cover, grassy nature strips, and a couple of parks that are solid if not spectacular.

The main benefit here for outdoor-goers comes from its location not too far from the various National Park and other green areas in the area.

Waitara small park

This includes easily travelling up to Berowra and beyond; if you like walks and hiking, then there’s ample available within reasonable drives from here.

The downside comes for those who prefer the beach; your best bet is making the drive to the Northern Beaches, which is a fair bit of a hike although still reasonably doable at roughly just under 40 minutes.

Waitara streets

The main issue, as with any fairly quickly developing suburb, mostly comes from rapid population growth. Waitara’s apartments have sprung up fairly quickly, and given that the price of freestanding homes in the area has always been high and only continues to rocket, they’ll be the default choice for most people regardless of if that’s to live or to rent.

More people has meant more competition for the use of simple things like public facilities, swings, and seats on the train, as well as more long-term trends like schooling enrollments and cars on the road.

Waitara new apartments

This also carries over to the typical concerns about apartment build quality as well; while Waitara has several older blocks that have stood the test of time, the newer builds and their longevity remains to be seen.

Waitara is also fairly ‘characterless’ in general; it’s nice enough, and there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with it, but it’s really nothing more that a convenient place to be able to access transport – there’s no major attractions, or cultural highlights, or must-visit restaurants. It’s mostly ‘serviceable’, and there’s nothing wrong with that

Waitara older apartments

Price-wise, Waitara is pretty affordable by North Shore standards – if you’re willing to settle for apartment life. This extra supply of buildings has given it plenty of inventory, and you can thus grab yourself a pretty nice 2 bedroom/2 bathroom apartment for around the $650-$700k mark, or rent one instead for $450-$500 per week.

That’s not bad, given the accessibility of the commute for CBD workers, and the overall safety and quality of the suburb.

Waitara townhouses

Housing is a different story for those after a detached home.

“Price-wise, Waitara is pretty affordable by North Shore standards – if you’re willing to settle for apartment life.”

Scarcity of supply and the desirability of having some space in a desirable area combine to make for little available houses on the market, and prices which have soared to around the $1.5 to $1.6 million mark for something relatively modest – when they do move at all.

Waitara wealthy house

The Verdict

Waitara’s a suburb in which the two different ‘classes’ of living are very evident, with its reasonably affordable and ample supply of apartment living in direct contrast to its rare and expensive freestanding homes. Regardless, it strikes a pretty good middle ground between the ritziest North Shore suburbs – which are still only a matter of minutes away – and those that are a bit more hectic and built up.

It’s mainly a spot that will be suited to those who work in the city, and are either cashed up enough to afford a house, or are content to downsize and not too concerned with capital gains given all the unit supply that exists. It’s not the liveliest suburb in the world, but it’s also far from the dead and sleepy, sprawling top-tier other suburbs in the area in which everyone just retires to their mansions of an evening and never ventures outside, either.

For families who can come to grips with the idea of living in an apartment – at least for a few years – it provides a decent compromise with its positives of safety, transport connectivity, and a couple of decent little pubs/clubs and restaurants, with larger-scale shopping also available right nearby.

Those who need to drive down the highway daily and/or get to other more distant parts of Sydney or across the bridge on a regular basis will likely way to look elsewhere, but for Sydney city workers or those who work in other hubs like Macquarie Park or Pennant Hills it serves as a viable springboard.

If you’re adverse to a place that’s getting more crowded and not wanting to share public spaces with others, or opposed to a little more diversity, Waitara may not be for you, however.

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