Sydney is quite honestly a love it or loathe it type city. I have called Sydney home for over 2 decades now and i'm one who loves it, despite Sydney becoming one of the most expensive cities to live in i still have a love affair with it and know it pretty well. Sydney is by all accounts a cosmopolitan world city surrounded by the iconic landmarks, beaches, World Heritage areas, lush hinterland and acclaimed wine regions of the State of New South Wales...
When most people think of Sydney the images of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House and Sydney Tower spring to mind. Along with popular tourist attractions Taronga Zoo, Sydney Aquarium, Darling Harbour, Bondi Beach, Circular Quay etc and so forth. Although most of the abovementioned would be on a persons list of things to see and do in Sydney on their first trip here, i decided to compose my own personal guide to "MySydney" to give those travelling to Sydney an alternative to the more popular options. This guide is simply my personal "Best of" guide to Sydney and i have inserted links to relevant websites for anyone who wants further information on the places and things i have mention below.
Sydney Quarantine Station (now known as Qstation) Qstation
Q Station is a contemporary take of the former North Head Quarantine Station. Originally occupied by the Garrigal people, North Head was a meeting place with strong spiritual significance. In the 1830s a quarantine station was established, which operated until 1984. Migrants suspected of carrying contagious disease were quarantined at the site to protect the local Sydney community from infection. Originally chosen for its isolation and safe anchorage options, the site today comprises 65 buildings, several archeological sites and spectacular vantage points for viewing Sydney Harbour and the Sydney Harbour National Park. Now leased and in the care of the Mawland Group, the site has been transformed into Q Station, a place for powerful, rejuvenating experiences to explore the future by connecting the past to the present.
Nan Tien Temple NanTienTemple
Situated in a suburb of Wollongong in the state of New South Wales. It is one of the branch temples of Fo Guang Shan, founded in 1965 by Venerable Master Hsing Yun, which has over 200 branches worldwide. "Nan Tien" in Chinese, literally means "Paradise of the South". This is the biggest Buddhist temple in the southern hemisphere.Since the opening of the temple in October 1995, it has become a new venue for local and international tourists and also acts as an important cultural centre bridging different cultures. Fo Guang Buddhism is rooted in the Mahayana tradition which emphasises that Buddhahood is within everyone's potential reach. Fo Guang followers strive to bring Buddhism into daily life and aptly term their faith "Humanistic Buddhism."
Bondi to Bronte Walk
Its combination of beaches, parks and spectacular views make the Walk unique. Begun as a state project during the 1930s, it now extends from Ben Buckler Point to Waverley Cemetery (and on to Coogee). It includes Bondi, Tamarama and Bronte Beaches and a medium gradient cliff-top path from Bondi to Tamarama , with occasional seating and several staircases. The beachside parks offer picnic shelters, coin-operated barbecues, play areas, kiosks, toilets and change-rooms. The Bondi to Bronte walk is an easy, one-hour stroll, the trail follows the headlands between Bondi and Bronte, cresting high to offer a view of sea-carved sandstone and crashing waves, then dipping down for a close-up look at some of Sydney’s best-loved beaches.
Grand Pacific Drive Grand Pacific Drive
The coastal route from Sydney, starting in the Royal National Park, heads south to Wollongong The name says it all. End to end, Grand Pacific Drive is sensational, a roller coaster ride that putters through rainforests, dallies through seaside villages and whisks you along a sensational strip of coast, with never a dull moment. While the drive is short enough for a day trip from Sydney, turn it into a short break and you’ll have time to relax, hike some of the walking trails, take a dip in the sea and savour some of the sensational food along the way.
The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Mardi Gras
The Mardi Gras begins in a party atmosphere with speakers, music, previews of events and refreshments in Hyde Park on College Street, Sydney. The festival runs for around four weeks in locations throughout Sydney.The Mardi Gras first major activity is usually a free outdoor Fair. The day is promoted as a day for friends, family, frolicking and fun with entertainment, music, theatre and an Art Show. The jewel in the crown of the Mardi Gras Festival is the Parade that is held on the first Saturday of March. The Parade commences at Hyde Park (corner of Liverpool & Elizabeth Sts) and makes it's way along Oxford St and then Flinders Street and concludes at Moore Park. At the conclusion of the Parade the Party begins. The Party usually continues through to Sunday morning. Be warned due to it's huge pulling tourist power prices of drinks and night club entry fees have sky rocketed but if willing to let that slide you will experience a night (and atmosphere) unlike any other.
The Sydney Royal Easter Show Sydney Royal Easter Show
The Sydney Royal Easter Show is an iconic annula festival steeped in Australian tradition and history.The show combines exhibits, competitions and entertainment over two weeks at the Sydney Showground, Sydney Olympic Park. Gates open at 9:00am every day for the 14 days of the Show.
some of the shows favourite attractions include:
The Sunday Telegraph Animal Walk, the Woolworths Fresh Food Dome and the Coca-Cola Zone which are key parts of Show tradition, and kids of all ages will be thrilled by over 300 Showbags on offer, colourful parades, enchanting street theatre, and a variety of culinary delights including award winning Sydney Royal produce as well as the ever popular Show favourites.
The Show has hundreds of commercial exhibitors, of which half comprise a wide range of commercial exhibitors who use the Show to launch products, raise brand awareness and reach the Show's large audience. Everything from farm machinery and garden products to clothing, jewellery and even pets are on sale at the Show.
Annual Newtown Festival held in Camperdown Memorial Rest. Park in Newtown. It's growing in popularity and with good reason - it's a great day out. Admission is free although gold coin donations are appreciated and encouraged as it's put back into community based projects. The festival has numerous stages of live music, a writers tent, kids zones, eco zones, markets & food stalls and fully licensed on site bars.
Festival climaxes with an after party at Enmore Theatre but the after party require pre-purchased tickets prior to event.
The world's largest short film festival. Tropfest is a free, public, outdoor, annual short film festival held in February in locations across Australia. The festival provides the ultimate exhibition opportunity for filmmakers, giving them a chance to screen their films in one of the most unique festival environments in the world. From more than 800 entries, each year 16 Finalists are selected to premiere to an audience of more than 150,000 people via simultaneous satellite screenings in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Perth, Hobart and eight regional locations around Australia. Each year, Tropfest has a theme - Tropfest Signature Item (TSI) that must be incorporated in all entries to ensure that they are unique and are made specifically for Tropfest.
Below are a few of my favourite Tropfest Short Film Finalist
The Story of Bubble Boy (2006)
I attended my first Tropfest this year and although the film "Marry Me" won my pick was the hilarious film Made In Australia
The Good Food and Wine Show The Good Food & Wine Show
The Good Food & Wine Show is held at Sydney's Exhibition Centre (in June) with over 300 exhibitors, the Sydney Good Food & Wine Show is the ultimate place to explore new tastes and the latest culinary trends from around the world. Visitors can sample free food and wine, see live cooking demonstrations from celebrity and television chefs and win 100s of fabulous prizes.Usually also with latest cooking products, wine tastings, exclusive show offers, book signings & showbags.The Good Food and Wine Show is a great place to also discover new wines, a few years back i discovered Brown Brothers Moscato at the GF&WS and have never looked back.
The Great Southern Blues & Rockability Festival The Great Southern Blues & Rockability Festival
The Great Southern Blues & Rockability Festival is an annual event held in October over the New South Wales Labour Day long weekend. This always falls on or around the first weekend of October. The Festival is held on Smyth Oval, Narooma on the New South Wales South Coast. Smyth Oval is situated in the middle of Narooma within easy walking distance of most accommodation.Located on the coast nestled beside the pristine waters of Wagonga Inlet and surrounded by majestic National Parks, Narooma is situated approximately 5 hours south of Sydney, 8 hours north of Melbourne and 3 hours from Canberra. Known more as a sleepy summer holiday destination, Narooma is now famous for the "Friendly Festival" that comes to town every September/October. The Festival operates a Festival specific camping ground adjoining the Festival Site complete with showers and toilets for use exclusive of campers
Sydney Film Festival
Sydney Film Festival is Australia's International film event of the year, showcasing contemporary cinema from Australia and around the world. The festival was established in 1954 and has evolved into a major cultural event on the city's social calendar. The Festival takes place at various locations throughout Sydney City but it's base is at the State Theatre located in Town Hall in the heart of the city. If attending the Sydney Film Festival i recommend seeing a film that is played at the State Theatre as the theatre is beautiful inside and creates a rather more intimate movie going experience than that offered by a standard cinema complex.
Twilight at Taronga Series
The Sun-Herald Twilight at Taronga showcases the best of Sydney in the summer - fabulous weather, delicious food in great company and sensational entertainment in an awe-inspiring setting. Experience the thrill of an open-air night concert in the wild surrounds of Taronga Zoo, enhanced by the exotic calls of the animals and the stunning backdrop of Sydney Harbour. These concerts have become an institution for summer entertainment in Sydney - those who have already enjoyed this unique experience will be getting their tickets early, if you don' want tot miss out on a night of musical magic! Tickets are unreserved picnic style, ranging from $40.30 for children to $60.30 for adults
Sydney To Hobart Yacht Race Sydney To Hobart
For more than 60 years on Boxing Day each year the Sydney to Hobart blue water yacht race has attracted interest from all over the world. This is the premier event on the Australian yacht racing calander. The race attracts yachts as small as 30-footers and as big as 90-footers, sailed by crews who range from your weekend club sailors to professionals who have competed in key ocean going races from the major yacht racing circuits. The race is over the 630 nautical miles and begins at 13:00 hours on the picturesque Sydney Harbour on Boxing Day and finishes with a sprint up the Derwent River and the winners being announced at 13:00 hours on Friday December 31st on Constitution Dock, Hobart.
An acronym for "Direct Factory Outlet" mostly just a clothing and shoe outlet centre DFO in a word can be summed up as "tempermental. Despite the tv ads promoting "massive savings" this is often not the case and prices don't vary much if at all from big shopping centres like westfields. However when DFO is having it's clearance sales the result is bagfuls of bargains. It's all dependant on when you visit, sometimes the savings are ridiculously good other times they are non existent.
DFO is located out in Homebush about 20/30 min from the city
Trading Hours: Open 7 Days 10am to 6pm
Birkenhead Point Birkenhead Point
One of the (if not the most) picturesque shopping centre in Sydney. Birkenhead Point Shopping Centre, at Drummoyne, is the only place in Sydney where you can shop whilst enjoying the spectacular views of Sydney Harbour and browsing through a huge range of your favourite fashion, food and lifestyle brands. Birkenhead Point is Sydney’s original factory outlet centre, a site rich with heritage; the development of Birkenhead Point can be dated back to the early 1800’s. More recently, Birkenhead Point is renowned for offering top designer labels at up to 70% off regular retail prices. Birkenhead Point is undergoing a phased redevelopment. The redevelopment will see Birkenhead Point combining its rich heritage, brilliant design and waterfront outlook for a spectacular outcome. An exciting addition to the Centre will be an extension of our existing waterfront promenade to include a premium alfresco dining precinct featuring a selection of restaurants and cafes.
Macquarie Centre Macquarie Centre
Known affectionately as "Mac Centre" this massive shopping complex even comes complete with it's own ice skating rink. located in the western suburbs of Sydney, buses travel to Mac Centre from outside the QVB (Queen Victoria Building) and for families is especially worth the visit as its massive cinema complex along with the ice skating rink and shoppings provides a great day out.
Paddy's Markets Paddy's Markets
Sydney's Paddy's Markets as Australia's original Market boasts products as varied as fruit vegetables, clothing, CDs, flowers, homewares, sunglasses, jewellery - and is one of Sydney's major suppliers to the tourist with souvenirs and Australiana. In two locations Haymarket and Flemington (Flemington being a better option but requires more of an effort to get too).
Entry to all Retail Markets is Free.
The VanGuard The VanGuard
The word ‘vanguard’ has long been associated with freethinking, intellectual, artistic and musical movements. Newtown is home to artists, musicians and intellectuals but it is also home to many families. It is diverse, exciting, growing, moving and totally alive. The venue is extremely small which creates an intimate atmosphere not found anywhere else in Sydney. The VanGuard is a Jazz /Blues music venue with a 1920's interior which creates a great ambience. The restaurant serves an electic mix of soul food and modern Australian cuisine. Located in Newtown on the popular king st it is one of most favourite music venue in Sydney.
The Basement The Basement
The Basement is (along with The VanGuard) my favourite music venue. Located in Circular Quay it's hidden down a laneway and at first glance doesn't resemble much. Once you descend down the stairs and enter the basement it is a different story. Immediately the music venues musical history is felt - the walls decorated with flyers, photo's and posters of past shows with alot of big names in the Jazz / Blues genre who have previously performed there. The Basement takes it live from centre stage 6-7 nights of the week.You can come along just for the music or you can make a proper night of it by taking in both dinner and show where, included in one price you get entry to some hot music, and an excellent 2 course meal. Aside from the main music and restaurant area, are 2 separate bars, the Blue Note and The Green Room where you can take in a post work drink or shoot some pool, grab a Bistro meal or just relax and chat with your mates over a cocktail or coffee. The box office is open from 10 – 5.30pm 5 days a week. You can make your reservation with a credit card by phone – 02-9251 2797 - or you can drop in to the club at 29 Reiby Place, Circular Quay and make your booking in person. Our on-line box office for standing room tickets is available 24 hours a day.
Piano Room Piano Room
The Piano Room is designed to entice gen-Xers and elderly gen-Ys off the couch and away from the TV sets and enjoy a night out amongst an older set crowd. A baby grand piano is situated in the centre of the venue. The Piano Room is fast becoming a popular live music venue and has hosted many Sydney social events & parties. Piano Room is located on the Corner of Kings Cross & Darlinghurst Roads Potts Point.
Enmore Theatre Enmore Theatre
A live venue that hosts international singers, bands, plays and stand up comedians. The Enmore Theatre is located in the Newtown Entertainment Precinct, Sydney's unique heartland of live performance, music cinemas, restaurant, bars, cafes and hotels. Historic King St and Enmore Rd play host to this vibrant nightlife.
Kuleto's Cocktail Bar Kuleto's
My favourite bar and the birthplace of my love affair with French Martini's. Don't expect to enjoy your cocktails whilst seated as Kuleto's is extremely popular and the crowds form fast. Always lively Kuleto's Cocktail Bar is located on King St in Newtown and is one of Sydney's hiddem gems. Currently underwent renovations to expand the bar's space turning into a multi level bar so far the renovations havent stripped away it's original character and charm. Kuletos uses B & O sound equipment in Bar one and Bose on the other two floors. This bar leads you to the top floor which is still having the final paint scheme designed and this leads out to a wonderful open air deck overlooking the city. This will be a great space for BBQ'S planned for summer afternoons and early evenings.Kuletos currently serves Nachos and allows patrons to order Pizzas/dips etc from the next door Pizzeria. An interesting little itdbit the name Kuleto's rhymes with Stilleto's.
Opera Bar Opera Bar
Nestled beneath the Sydney Opera House, Opera Bar boasts picturesque perfect views of Sydney Harbour with it's iconic surroundings and being an indoor / outdoor bar & restaurant creates a ambience and vibe that is simply stunning! The Food is nothing to write home about and the drink prices can seem ridiculous but Opera Bar's spectacular location overcome these shortcomings. Live music adds to it's atmosphere and Opera Bar is best visited at dusk just as the sun begins to set with the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Harbour as your backdrop and the Sydney Opera House with it's close proximity there is no better way to soak in Sydney!
Minus 5 Minus 5
Everything within the bar is made of ice, from the walls that surround you, the seats you sit on, the amazing sculptures and even the glass that you sip their famous vodka based cocktails from. An experience unlike many others highly recommended.
Shellbourne Hotel Shellbourne Hotel
Shellbourne Hotel is a popular night club venue for myself and my friends. The 2 level venue with its reasonably large outdoor beer garden plays mostly r'n'b , hip hop, commercial top 40 music on the bottom level whilst upstairs on the second level plays mostly retro old school type music. Entry is around $15 - $20 the door staff can be tempermental as to who they let in based upon what you are wearing though there is a dress code of "smart casual".
Astral Bar (Star City)
Located on the rooftop of Star City Casino Astral Bar is a sophisticated and cosmopolitan cocktail bar with outdoor terrace and breathtaking 270 degree panoramic views of Sydney Harbour .Open Tuesday to Saturday, 5.30pm til late Live music every Thursday, Friday & Saturday night.
Coogee Bay Hotel Coogee Bay Hotel
Coogee Bay Hotel is located opposite Coogee Beach in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs. This multi-award winning accommodation and entertainment venue, is superbly located across from the beach, and has everything under the one roof. Boasting seven bars, Sydney's biggest beer garden, budget to boutique accommodation, conference and event facilities overlooking beautiful Coogee beach, a 1800 capacity live entertainment venue, two retail liquor outlets and a brassiere. Extremely popualr with locals and backpackers. The atmosphere in the beer garden on a busy friday or saturday night is second to none.
Clovelly is my favourite spot in Sydney..that simple! Clovelly Beach (if in fact you could call it that) is small and tranquil and lies between Bronte Beach to the north, and Gordon's Bay to the south. Concrete platforms and promenades have been constructed on both sides of the bay. The straight hard edges created by these platforms, as well as the surrounding access steps make Clovelly Beach more like a large ocean pool than a beach. On the southern side of the beach, the western end of the lowest platform contains a 25 x 6 metre saltwater pool. The pool and the platforms make the beach particularly popular with family groups and the elderly. Clovelly is home to a massive lookout point in the form on a giant carpark ontop of a cliff. My precise favourite spot is sitting on the edge of the cliff whilst listening to the waves crash beneath my dangling feet. During the day i once spotted dolphins seemingly putting on a performance on for those of us who watched on in amazement. Clovelly lookout point is also a hot spot for amateur photographers during electrical storms and being there during one is an experience in itself.
Whale Beach is relatively ignored in comparision to it's popular and touritsy neighbour Palm Beach (home to hugely successful Australian television tv soap "Home & Away". Despite it's neigbours commercial appeal Whale Beach is far more appealing to me and is one of my favourite haunitng grounds. Part of Whale Beach's problem is accessibility it is also part of its appeal. no ferries service the area and although buses claim to im not sure how a bus navigates the narrow roads. You are best reaching the beach by car but even then there is little in way of road signage to direct one to the beach. There is oe sign on the way to Palm Beach directing you to turn off to head to Whale Beach but it is the last of it's kind..almost like they dont want you to find it. The roads in these parts are shockers and accident prone. Parking meters can make lengthy visits costly affairs but despite this Whale Beach is a secluded gem with no signs of any tourists about only locals. Whale Beach is located approx one hours drive north of Sydney and Sits along a stretch of Sydney northern beaches.
Blue Mountains Blue Mountains
The Blue Mountains is situated within a World Heritage area and there are many places worthy of a visit a few of my personal best are listed below:
Cliff Drive; Scenic Railway; Skyway; Echo Point; Giant Staircase; Visitor Information Centre; Three Sisters; The Carrington; Prince Henry Cliff Walk with Views; The Edge Maxvision Cinema; Explorer's Tree; Katoomba Falls Reserve; Narrowneck Peninsula; Carrington Hotel; Waratah Markets; Ameralia's Plateworld
Falls Reserve; Charles Darwin Walk; Valley of the Waters; Kings Tableland; Wentworth Falls Lake
Jenolan Caves / Oberon
Jenolan Caves, Kanangra Walls, Radiata Pine Plantations, Oberon Dam
Pulpit Rock Reserve; One Tree (Highest Point 1111m); Historic Village; Museum; Mount York Historic Site; Mount Vic Flicks; Victoria Falls; Mt. York Picnic Grounds
Govett's Leap; Rhododendron Gardens; Hargraves Lookout (Shipley Plateau); National Parks and Wildlife Heritage Centre; Evans Lookout; Jenny Kee Mural; Pulpit Rock; Avril Rock; Perry's Lookdown
Jervis Bay Jervis Bay
• Magnificent National Parks
• Beautiful and charming small towns, hidden creeks and inlets
• Natural, unspoilt and secluded bays, clear blue waters and incredible white sand beaches
• A hinterland with rugged scenery, mountains, waterfalls, creeks and great bushwalking
A great place for Dolphin watching too and now one of the only places i know you can go Glamping Paperbark Camp
also i read the other week that Jervis Bay was recently recorded as having the whitest sand in the world.
Swansea (Lake Macquarie & Belmont)
Major town on Lake Macquarie
Swansea is located 131 km north of Sydney via the Newcastle Freeway and is the largest town in the City of Lake Macquarie which covers 749 square kilometres and within which are some 175 510 persons. The lake itself is the largest coastal saltwater lake in the Southern Hemisphere, covering 109 square kilometres (four times the size of Sydney Harbour). It is 24 km long, 3.2 km across at its widest point and 9.7 m at its deepest. It is worth visiting Swansea & Belmont in the Lake Macquarie area if driving to Newcastle and beyond.
Both Bundeena and Maianbar are found in the Royal National Park in Sydney’s south (The Royal National Park is the second oldest proclaimed park in the world (after Yellowstone in the US) and has something to offer everyone no matter whether you are looking for a relaxing picnic or a strenuous bushwalk. The park covers 16,000 hectares of varied and spectacular scenery and in the summer months it is a riot of colour with more than 700 species of flowering plants. Many parts of the park are accessible by car, although roads and car parks can get busy) . If driving from the north, the entrance to the park is at Loftus off the Princes Highway.
Just inside the park is a ranger station at which you will have to buy a vehicle pass for $11 if you want to stop anywhere in the park. If you are intending only to visit Bundeena and/or Maianbar then a pass is not required.
From the ranger station to Bundeena is about 23km. The road is winding in places and can be dangerous, especially when wet. beaches are what bring most visitors to Bundeena-Maianbar. In all, there are four beaches within easy walking distance of the centre of Bundeena:
Lord Howe Island Lord Howe Island
Lord Howe Island is less than 2 hours from Sydney by air and is one of just four island groups to be inscribed on UNESCO's world heritage list for global significance of it's natural beauty and heritage. The island itself is surrounded by the world's southernmost coral reef. Despite not belonging to the mainland Lord Howe Island is a part of the state of NSW. It's isolation from the mainland is a part of its appeal. 400 visitors is the maxium allowed at any one time on the island. The island is out of mobile phone receptions therefore rendering them useless. Lord Howe Island does not need public transport & cars are rarities. The mode of transportation is walking and cycling. Bicycles are available for hire on the Island. It's worth noting that prices on the island are generally higher than those on the mainland due largely to freight costs.
All accommodation on the island is ownded and operated by islanders and range from self contained cottages, traditional guesthouse and boutique luxury lodges. Qantaslink offer year round servies to Lord Howe Island departing Sydney on Most days.
Miss Saigon - Vietnamese restaurant located in the suburb of Hurstville
Thai Tiger - Located in the suburb of Janali (Sutherland Shire)
Thai 2 - Located on king st in Newtown
Circle 8 - Located on king st in Newtown
Doyles - Located in Watson's Bay
Big Johns - Located in Ramsgate near Brighton Le Sands
Rydges World Square
Medina Grand Martin Place
Crowe Plaza Coogee
Star City Casino (i prefer staying in the apartments as opposed to their hotel rooms)