Part one of many
“But it’s so farrrrrrrrr.”-Everyone, about Australia
Damn you, Sydney. You gleaming jewel by the harbor, shimmering in a gown of aqua blue sequins. You say, “This old thing?” and you mean it sincerely because you’re innocent like that. Or naive. You’re open and honest and you don’t give a rip what the rest of the world thinks of you. You’re far from everything, that remoteness providing you a promised land for the weird and the wonderful; spiders the size of your hand, budgie smugglers and blistering beaches on Christmas Day.
When the world comes to visit, they don’t want to leave, relishing the pace of life and the flawless weather. They begin to imagine commuting to work on the ferry. They get behind the idea that flip-flops are proper footwear and acceptable for any occasion. “No worries” enters their lexicon immediately as though it’s always been there, they end their sentences with a questioning lilt and before they know what hit them, they’re happy to pay $25 for a salad.
“If Paris is the city of lights, Sydney is the city of fireworks.”-Baz Luhrmann
You’re a seductress, Sydney. Though some may call you soulless, those fortunate enough to know you, love you. You never fail to astonish just by being who you are. Some folks are daunted by the distance… “Gosh, I could never fly in a plane for that long”… but this just means that they aren’t yet worthy of you and the bag of tricks you have up your [short] sleeve. Sadly, you hover on so many bucket lists, certainly near the top, but for some, there you will remain- on paper- to be passed over for places closer by.
For those bold enough to cross it off, we salute you and your gumption. As insiders, we know that Sydney is full of things to do, and we’ve done ‘heaps’ of them. It thrills us to take our visitors to spots that we know will represent the best of what Sydney offers. From the well-known to those that fly seriously under the radar, we’ve had some great experiences and are always discovering more. If you’re planning a trip to the Harbour City or thinking about doing so (can we tempt you?) you’ll want to have a look at our favorites.
Bountiful Brunch at the Shangri-La
Not only is this a bottomless mimosa and Bellini situation, you’ll also delight in truly extraordinary long range views and local Sydney Rock Oysters to your hearts’ content. Overlooking both of Sydney’s iconic symbols, the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, these will be some of your best classic photo memories. Along with the oysters, expect prawns, local pastry and cheeses, blue swimmer crab omelets and a plethora of other delicious choices. Request a table by the windows, and don’t dilly dally. Bookings fill months in advance as there are only two seatings. Should you feel particularly festive, upgrade to bottomless Veuve for an additional cost. Sat. 11-1 and 1.30-3 Sun. 11.30-2.30
Everyone talks about Taronga Zoo, and for glamping, (aka Roar and Snore) it was a sure fire hit- at least it was for us. However, if you’re willing to travel a bit further out, our absolute number one choice for Aussie animal encounters is this little spot in Calga. A working wildlife sanctuary, it’s only an hour from the CBD, and an intimate way to experience koalas, kangaroos, echidnas, flying foxes, dingos, wombats and wallaby’s, plus a few other surprises including some slithery friends to boot. There are options to stay overnight in one of the self-contained cabins if you wish to extend your visit. For those with a real desire to commune with the local flora, you can sleep under the stars in a tent . Hiring a personal ranger for up close visits with the animals is highly recommended. Seriously, how many times will you have a chance to pat a dingo or stroke a koala? The area is steeped in Aboriginal history, and ancient Aboriginal sandstone artifacts are on the grounds should you be keen to explore. (You totally should.) Open everyday except Christmas, 9-5. Make sure to stick around for the ranger talk on bush tucker and keep an eye out for pouch peeping joey’s.
If you’ve got a BBQ at your accommodation (they aren’t called ‘grills’ here) pop into the grocery store for some kangaroo. (You’ll probably be sick to death of lamb.) Sold right alongside the beef and chicken, you’ll usually find it in fillets or diced for skewers. ‘Roo is lean red meat with less than 2% fat, and is high in iron, zinc, Vitamin B12, and B6. We always serve it to visiting guests, and a fairly consistent reaction is initial trepidation but eventual delight. Interestingly, it’s not on many restaurant menu’s in Sydney, perhaps it’s not considered cosmopolitan? Think of kangaroo as the deer down under. One can also eat the other animal on Australia’s coat of arms, the emu. Pizza fiends- this one’s for you.
The Spit to Manly walk
This is a glorious, coastal trek that hugs the coastline and will take you about 4-ish hours; it’s a 10km portion of the 20km Manly Scenic Walkway. Dipping through lush canopies of green and soft sanded beaches, you’ll traverse boardwalks, sand, bush track and some paved walkway. You’ll want to pack a camera, a water bottle which can be refilled along the route, and of course, some treats (think dried fruit, crackers, cheese and your beverage of choice) to toast the magnificent views. You can choose to go the other way, Manly to Spit, but we like to celebrate with some microbrewed goodness at 4 Pines so ending at Manly is our usual route.
Circular Quay (pronounced ‘key’) is where it’s all happening. Smack dab in the city, equidistant between the white sails of the Opera House and the girded arch of the Bridge, it’s a transportation hub for the ferry system, the buses, the trains and soon, the trams. It’s also a haven for buskers, tourists and locals. Surrounded by water on one side, and bars and restaurants on the other, there is always something to see here, and it’s entertaining for a day of wandering, souvenir shopping, surveying the boats, dodging birds and people watching. Grab some ice cream from Gelatissimo and find a seat to watch the hustle and bustle, then walk east to view the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Sydney Opera House. (If you’re so inclined, make sure to research the complicated history of this famous icon.)
So there you have it, the first installment of the Insider’s Guide to Sydney. Tell us, what’s on your travel bucket list? Have you crossed anything off lately? Do you find yourself rearranging and reprioritizing?
Lorraine @Not Quite Nigella says
Interesting choices girl! And did we discuss the word “quay” and how it seems like people don’t know how to pronounce it? I’m sure we have. I’ve had people ask me how to say it and I always thought it was a word everyone used!
Why thank you for that! I’d never heard quay pronounced ‘key’ and not ‘kway’ until I moved to Australia. I actually know of places in America where it’s pronounced the second way…. See- traveling teaches!