Harry’s Cafe de Wheels is an iconic pie cart located in Woolloomooloo, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia on Cowper Wharf Road, near the Finger Wharf and Fleet Base East of Garden Island Navy Base, opposite the Woolloomooloo Bay Hotel.
Ten other Harry’s Cafe de Wheels operate in Wharf Road, Newcastle; Capitol Square, Haymarket; North Parramatta, Tempe; Liverpool; Burwood; Penrith; George Street, Sydney; and Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach.
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 (30 cm) 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. Local legend tells that the name was temporarily changed to Cafe de Axle at one point when the wheels were stolen. It was referred to as Harry the Axle’s for most of the sixties throughout the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney.
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 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.
Harry’s specialises today in the same basic food that was popular back in the 1940s, such as pies and mushy peas. During the 1970s Harry’s introduced hot dogs, mostly to appease the American sailors.