This week is the second instalment of our #NetflightsNotebook series. Last time we went to New York, and this time we’re taking you somewhere where the pace isn’t quite as fast, but doesn’t mean it’s not as exciting or exhilarating.
So pack your cases and head to the land down under, as we show you how to experience Sydney like a true local.
Australia with its scorching climates, beautiful beaches, colourful coral reefs and glistening blue oceans has always been a favourite with tourists. And Sydney, with its world famous landmarks, is often the first port of call on an Australian adventure, which makes it all too easy to just do the ‘touristy thing’ when you first arrive. However with little secrets scattered throughout, like the chic restaurants of Surry Hills, the cool bars of Darlington and Newtown’s plethora of shops; we’re going to show you how to experience Sydney like never before.
Australia is famed for its beaches, and Sydney has its fair share. But with hundreds descending upon the famous Bondi and Manly beaches, it can often get a bit overcrowded and spoil your beach experience. This is why we suggest you try one of the lesser known beaches; of which there are many.
For a more secretive beach spot try out the likes of Flat Rock Beach, a secluded lcoation that you’ll discover after a little bush walk; or head to the southern end of the National Park and try out the tranquil and tourist-free Obelisk Beach. There’s plenty more scattered around such as the smooth and spotless Milk Beach, the posh Lady Martin’s Beach or Little Congwong Beach, a known nudist spot.
One main attraction about beaches, further up the east coast of the country, is their access to the Great Barrier Reef. However you don’t have to head right up to the north east to experience beautiful underwater scenery. There are several hotspots for snorkelling and underwater adventure around Sydney, such as Bare Island. It’s a great spot for snorkelers of all levels and showcases some thrilling underwater life too – look out for colourful sponge life, sand rays and the occasional turtle. Clovelly Beach is excellent for underwater adventurers of all ages and levels, and has perfect snorkelling conditions. Keep your eyes out for octopi, schooling fish and moray eels.
Food & Drink
Sydney is filled with a wide variety of different culinary delights; from fancy breakfast (or brekkie as the locals call it), to fine dining at lunch and dinner, to those who want to eat more alfresco.
For breakfast, check out Bills in Darlinghurst, owned by Bill Granger. When you sample the delights of ricotta hotcakes with fresh banana and honeycomb butter, or the crab, chorizo and house kim chee fried brown rice, you’ll understand why this has been a foodie hotspot for two decades. Or venture to the Flat White in Woollahra, which is well known to locals for their amazing selection of delicious eggs.
For something a little later on, you can experience a whole variety of different foods at a host of different restaurants. If you want the delights of thick cuts of meat – which Australians are well known for – then head to Hurricanes at Bondi Beach for a selection of steaks, ribs and burgers. For Tapas float over to Cockle Bay, and experience the delights of Firefly, where fantastic wine is also on the menu – another Aussie favourite.
Sydney is known for having a whole host of different Thai restaurants, but if you head over to the swanky Surry Hills, you can dine at Longrain and experience the best Thai food available.
If its seafood you like, then head towards Pyrmont near Darling Harbour. Here you’ll find the Sydney Fish Markets, which sell everything from fish and chips to sashimi, which you can enjoy in the beautiful Australian sunshine. Seafood is something that’s always on offer in Sydney, but Doyles at Watson Bay, offers superb dining on the beach, where you can eat everything from prawns to salmon and bass.
Eating outside is something may Australians do, and who wouldn’t with the sun shining constantly. But sometimes you’re on the move and need a quick bite. Grab a Marrickville pork roll, often considered the best around. Or you could head towards the David Jones Food Hall, grab some food and enjoy a picnic at Hyde Park – a favourite of many Australians.
Fancy a coffee? Well there are plenty of places in Oz to find an amazing cup of coffee. Head over to Manly and sample the hot beverages on offer at Barefoot Coffer Traders, or venture back to Surry Hills and try out Reuben Hills and Single Origin Roasters.
The popular consensus is that Australians and alcohol go together like shrimps and BBQs; and whereas this is mainly a stereotype, the Aussies do enjoy a few drinks. So make the most of the various bars, pubs and clubs spread throughout the whole of Sydney, offering you a different take on Australian partying wherever you go.
With the Sunday session being a popular summer tradition; where better to take part in this afternoon pastime than at a beach bar. Northies is a great place to kick back on the Southern beaches, or head to the Northern beaches and check out the Newport Arms. But for some of the coldest beers around, complete with ocean views, hit up Bondi Icebergs.
If you fancy some wine, you could either venture back to Surry Hills and sit in one of their many wine bars, or head towards Paddington and check out 10 William Street.
Sydney has many bars, but it also has many bars with a slight twist. If you head to Manly, you can check out Harlem on Central, which is like a traditional American bar down under, or head to Judgement Bar, which is open from 7am until 6am the next day. But for a really different Aussie bar experience, check out Summit. This bar and restaurant is located on the 42nd floor of Australia Square offering you some of Sydney’s best views.
The shopping scene in Sydney is beyond comparison, but don’t just stick to the multitude of shopping malls. Venture a little further afield and check out the abundance of quirky shops, filled with vintage and retro pieces.
Heading to Paddington will offer you an upscale shopping experience, much like that seen in New York’s Greenwich Village. Make sure you check out places like The Intersection and The Corner Shop for a real boutique shopping experience. Whilst in Paddington you simply must spend time in the Sydney institution that is the Paddington Markets, with more than 250 stalls filled with retro clothing, unusual rarities and old school furniture and much more.
Newtown offers a quirky shopping experience, with various little shops selling funky offbeat clothes, books and home ware. Combined with the multitude of cafes and ethnic restaurants, as well as a plethora of street art, makes Newtown a real alternative treat. Although Oxford Street may be known for boutiques such as Kate Madden and Collette Dinnigan; just around the corner you’ll find backstreets filled with vintage shops, second hand clothing and book stores, filled with gems for you to discover.
With so much to see and do in Sydney, it would be easy to look at the Opera House or the Harbour Bridge. But take the time to venture further into what the city has to offer, and open your eyes to a whole host of new things.
Pay a visit to Cockatoo Island; after being off limits to the public for over a hundred years, you can now venture and explore the history that makes this such a fascinating place. Or if you want to see what else Australia has to offer aside from beaches, check out one of the many green spaces throughout, such as the Chinese Garden of Friendship, Lane Cove National Park and the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Venture down to Darling Harbour’s latest entertainment precinct, Darling Quarter. Here you can experience a communal green, ping pong tables, restaurants, cafes and a playground for kids. There’s usually some form of entertainment happening here at certain times throughout the month; seeing someone play a didgeridoo is a regular sight too. If you still want entertainment then head back to Surry Hills and check out the Belvoir Theatre Company; one of Australia’s most acclaimed companies.
The Observatory is another sight you have to experience whilst in Sydney. It’s a key part of the city’s heritage, as the building is more than 150 years old. It includes a telescope, 3D space theatre and provides brilliant views. Remaining outdoors you can enjoy the delights of open air cinemas such as Centennial Park and Mrs Macquarie’s Point, for a theatre experience you’ll never have imagined.
So there you go, a full off the beaten track tourist guide, which will allow you to travel through Sydney without feeling like a newcomer.
Where will your adventure down under take you?