Harry’s Cafe de Wheels: The Pride of Woolloomooloo!

Welcome to Harry's!  Australia's most famous pie cart!

Welcome to Harry’s! Australia’s most famous pie cart!

New York City has Nathan’s Famous Frankfurter’s.  Chicago has Pizzeria Uno.  Los Angeles has Pink’s Hot Dogs.  Philadelphia has Pat’s and Geno’s Cheesesteaks.  And in the iconic city of Sydney, Australia, the most famous food stand/restaurant is Harry’s Cafe de Wheels.  Since 1938, Harry’s has been serving up the most famous meat pies in all of Sydney.  When you’ve got a hankering for something authentically Australian, this lunch wagon in Sydney is the place to be.  It’s Australia, topped with mushy peas and gravy!

Harry’s Cafe de Wheels is an iconic pie cart located on Cowper Wharf Road, near the Finger Wharf and Fleet Base East of Garden Island Navy Base, opposite the Woolloomooloo Bay Hotel in the waterfront neighborhood of Woolloomooloo.  They are best known for their dish “Tiger Pie”, a type of Australian meat pie named after the original founder of Harry’s.

Harry “Tiger” Edwards opened the original caravan cafe, named simply Harry’s, near the gates of the Woolloomooloo Naval Yard in 1938.  He served with the AIF in World War II, during which time the cafe was not operational.  The cart re-opened upon his return from the war in 1945.  The name Cafe de Wheels came about because of the requirement from the city council that mobile food caravans had to move a minimum of 12 inches (1 foot) each day.  The cart has been moved to various locations on Cowper Wharf road over the last 70 years, mostly due to re-development work in the Woolloomooloo Bay area.  As the years passed, ‘Harry’s Cafe de Wheels’ gained new fame as a tourist attraction.  A visit to the caravan became a ‘must’ for visiting celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Robert Mitchum, and Marlene Dietrich.  In 1974, Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame stopped at Harry’s and enjoyed the food so much that he ate three ‘pies and peas’ while leaning on his walking stick in front of the caravan.  A picture of Sanders taken during the visit still hangs in the caravan today.

The Colonel meets the Tiger!

The Colonel meets the Tiger!

The meat pie, as many Aussies and non-Aussies know, is something distinctly Australian.  An invention of England that the Aussies went and perfected.  Like rugby league and beer.  The meat pie is practically a portable meal on the go, but it is best enjoyed with a squirt of tomato sauce (ketchup) while eating it with one hand.  But for the truly hungry,  the Tiger Pie, which comes topped with mashed potatoes, mushy peas, and gravy is the most famous dish there; don’t be surprised if you see many tourists crowding the van for a taste and pic of this Aussie legend.

Tiger Pie: It's Grrrrrr-eat!

Tiger Pie: It’s Grrrrrr-eat!

The first time I visited Harry’s, it was a real adventure for me.  The first time I had heard of Harry Cafe de Wheels was from the second season of The Amazing Race back in 2002.  I had never been there before, much less Woolloomooloo.  I took the train from Town Hall to Kings Cross and began one, very long walk to Harry’s.  Using nothing more than a map route from memory, I hoofed it down the scenic route, if you will.  I made it past the El-Alamein Fountain in Kings Cross, marched downhill on Elizabeth Bay Road, then onto Wylde Street, and rounded it out on Cowper Wharf Road.  Let’s just say my feet were aching after this, but it was my first time in Woolloomooloo, and I did it without using a map!  By the time I saw the glowing neon wonderfulness of Harry’s, my mouth was watering.  I wasted no time ordering up a Tiger Pie and enjoying the messy goodness of it all!  The mountain of mashed potatoes was the starchy icing on this meaty cake, er, I mean, pie!  Follow that up with the eruption of peas and gravy, and it reminded me of a classic blue plate special you get at any diner, only this was could fit in your hands!  I dined in my Rabbitohs jersey while enjoying the late afternoon sunset over the Finger Wharf.  It was definitely worth the long walk, not to mention 15 hours on a plane from Los Angeles!

Can Harry take your order?!

Can Harry take your order?!

All in all, it was a day I will not soon forget.  My first taste of a Sydney institution, combined with a memorable sunset over the Finger Wharf, and a solo expedition of Woolloomooloo and Kings Cross only reminded me of why I love this city.  Oh, and one more amazing thing: I managed to down my entire pie without spilling a drop!  Bonza!

One VERY hungry Rabbitoh!

One VERY hungry Rabbitoh!

About admin

I am a graduate of Stony Brook University, and I have a degree in History. I am an avid traveler, with an extensive knowledge of geography, a passion for photography, and a knowledge of animals too. I enjoy pop music of the 1980's, fine dining, movies, baseball, basketball, and rugby.
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One Response to Harry’s Cafe de Wheels: The Pride of Woolloomooloo!

  1. patricia coats says:

    nice! i will have to get a pie, when i ever get to sydney! sounds great jared! :)

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