I must confess I’ve only been to Sydney for three days! So that, and the fact I’m not a big fan of the city meant I wasn’t sure I could do a full post on my own (I’m a Melbourne girl through and through). But my lovely friend Adam (you may have read his posts here or here) just returned from Sydney and together we bring you this very special and pretty incomplete edition of Yes, No, Maybe: What (Not) To Do in Sydney.
Obviously you should do the Coogee to Bondi Beach and without a doubt it wins all the most panoramic ocean view awards. Depending on how many photo snap stops you make it takes around 1 and a half hours. My favourite stops were the Waverley Cemetery (now that’s a jaw-droppingly good vista) and the pool next to Bondi Beach (which is actually a public swimming pool), but Adam was all about the Bondi Rescue tv-show shootings.
If you are a bit more adventurous (or ‘manly enough’) then Spit to Manly Walk might be for you. In three hours it takes you from the Spit Bridge at Mosman, through the Sydney Harbour National Park where you can catch a peak at some Aboriginal rock art, before heading down to Manly’s famous beach. And don’t worry if you’re not keen on the walk – just hop on a ferry that’ll take you there faster than you can say Crocodile Dundee.
Manly is hipster heaven. You’ll find a ton of must-blog-about places to eat and drink, but Adam highly recommends that you down a beer n’ burger at 4 Pines Brewing Company – their Mega Burger requires you to dislocate your jaw in order to cram it in your mouth, and contains with more cheese and bacon than should be humanly possible. If that sounds a bit heavy in the stomach, head to Daniel San for some Japanese-Asian street food – yes it’s named for the Karate Kid! Sadly, Mr Miyagi couldn’t be found, but I guess he’s balancing on a tree log somewhere or maybe he catches the fish for the sushi in his little boat.
Take a trip to the Blue Mountains. I did one a day trip with a tour company, but Adam went back to basics and did a camping weekend trip. Of course there’s breathtaking scenery, but the Jenolan Caves were probably the most impressive bit, it was like a giant upside down warehouse of nature’s ‘marital aids’.
Unless you are a movie nut and want to see an action packed blockbuster at the biggest IMAX screen in the world you should stay as far away as possible from Darling Harbour. It’s a soulless crapfest (we actually shouted at the same time) and the typical tourist trap where you’ll find restaurant chains and dull museums/attractions like Madame Tussauds where you can go see low definition giant candles that may look someone you follow on Instagram, or like they looked five years ago.
Don’t get too excited about the Sydney Opera House. It’s so small and dirty brown in real life, it was one of the biggest disappointments. I think it’s only saving grace was that The National played here, only Matt could probably just about make me forgot where I was.
If you’ve got £170 or €250 left then why not do the The Bridge Climb experience? You’ve probably dreamt about it since you saw the Olsen twins climb it in the Our Lips Are Sealed. Why don’t they make their films anymore?? It’s a crime. Well, some might say the cost of the Bridge Climb is the real crime. I’ll let you decide. But anyway, for a much cheaper £10 (well a bit under) you can go up to the Pylon for a less energetic view.
I unfortunately didn’t have time to go to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, but Adam said it was one of his favourites as it was like one vivid trip – and a free one too!
Go to the Royal National Park is what pretty much everyone recommended to both of us, but we ignored them, but still want to pay it forward and make someone else go. This place has nature for everyone – beaches, tick, rainforest, tick, wetlands, tick, giant cliffs, tick, even Aboriginal rock art if that’s your thing.
Do you have any tips for Sydney?
You might not be aware, but that red magazine you see on airport newsagents stands, the Economist, publishes an annual most liveable cities list each August. So why should you care? Well, because of the reigning champ for the last five years, the city of Melbourne.
Thankfully, I don’t remember the weeks I starved on rice, the days public transport made me die inside and the moment my travelbuddy ditched me, but there were a ton of things that made me smile …
First of all, let’s NEVER forget that the city was the backdrop for the Marvel Masterpiece (compared to Fantastic Four ;)) that combined Nick Cage, Sam Elliott and a flaming skull motorcycle rider, what more could you want?
Getting stuck in a crowd at a live music show for a band who’s name I can’t remember and who never made it (RIP Toucan I’ll always love you!) where the main goal on everyone’s mind is to have a good time, or for a more quiet experience the ton of films I was glued to at the Astor Theatre.
When I’d get invited (sometimes not online!!) to a picnic that a friend of a friend organised. It’s something I miss – of course there’s red-tinted glasses, but there was never a pressure to befriend anyone, the focus was on finding out about people, sharing opinions on things on things we loved. Maybe I can set up sincerepicnicmeetup.com?
I thought only trolls lived under bridges, but Melbourne has something way better – Ponyfish Island, and after work snacks and drinks in the sun fills me with joy just thinking about it.
Food markets, no not the cool ones with butter fried chicken, vegan cakes and ‘the best burger according to a moustached chef’, but the actual ones that stock food like vegetables and meat – Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market was the best.
In Brunswick I got my hipster on, and pretended to be unique and be able to afford stuff in one of the many boutiques and vintage stores. I felt so unique, just like the rest of Melbourne, or the world, probably.
Those occasions I got dragged to new gallery openings even if I didn’t know anyone, just to soak up the energy, get free drinks and see what was new – I’ll let you decide which of those three things was most important 😉
I only lived in Melbourne for six months, it took me a while to feel it out, but once I did it never left me (like herpes right!?), and I still love the city with a sentiment words can’t explain.
The thing with analog photography is that you never know how it’s going to turn out. When I picked up the photos I took with the Lomo Holga I was disappointed to find all of them turned out like this …
I spent 6 months in Melbourne for an internship. On my first day I was shocked when I bought ONE banana for almost €1.50 and I wondered how the hell I was going to make it in one of world’s most expensive cities to live in with a tight budget. But I soon learned there are enough free things to entertain you and live on the cheap without worrying and missing out too much.
- Southgate Cinema hold free screenings every Tuesday. Upcoming movies include Grand Budapest Hotel and X-Men the Days of Future Past. You do need to book your seat ahead. Or how about open air screenings at Point Park in the Docklands? Films like Frozen and Skyfall screen from February on.
- During summer the city unpacks and shows what they have and holds free entertainment and dancing events in the parks or at street festivals so keep an eye on those.
- The Shrine of Remembrance is a war memorial dedicated to the men and women who lost their lives in WWI. Climb to the steps of the shrine and enjoy the fine views across the city.
- Rooftop bars are another way of enjoying great views while having a drink. Rooftop Bar & Cinema is a famous one, but try the lesser know and busy like the Red Hummingbird. If you are not attached to a 9 – 5 job go earlier and enjoy happy hour prices.
- Lunch at Lentil as Anything. Now…it’s not really free but rather a pay as you feel and what you can according to your financial status. You won’t want to be stingy, so don’t think it will necessarily be a free lunch. See it as a break from your usual choice of home made lunch.
- Pubs have often free BBQ on weekends and on Tuesday’s most food places offer dishes for $5 or 2 for 1 meals.
- If you want to save on food shopping then Queen Victoria Market is the place to be. Everything from fruit and vegetables, fresh produce and delicatessen. The market is closed on Mondays and Wednesdays which makes Tuesday the cheapest day to get your goods.
- Federation Square is place to sit down and look at people, catch a game or film on the big screens or just check your social media There’s also a number of free events, such as live music and dance performances, and complimentary Wi-Fi is provided … what else do you want? The square also holds cultural festivals, event launches, exhibitions and various performances.
- And while you are there and you are into movies hop into the Australian Centre For The Moving Image, an unique attraction in the city that gives you an insight in the world of the moving image.
- The Royal Botanical Gardens are definitely a place to spend the day if you love nature or just want to be amazed. The gardens contain around 12,000 plant species and will keep you busy for a while.
- The reading rooms at the State Library of Victoria and the building itself is well worth a visit. It makes it a great place to get some work done since Wi-Fi is free, but note that the network can be a bit slow sometimes due to high levels of use.
- Melbourne is known for its amazing street art scene. Hosier Lane, AC/DC Lane (yup, the band have a street named after them) and Canada Lane in Carlton are the probably the biggest ones.
- Venues like the Espy in St. Kilda hold free weekly gigs. Don’t expect big artists but they might as well be the next big thing from Oz.
- The National Gallery of Victoria is the world’s first big gallery dedicated to Australian art, but it also holds international art and is a great place to spot some art.
- The free tram are the best way to get around to lots of sightseeing. The City Circle Tram has services every 12 minutes and take you around the city’s top attractions. The free tram stops at places like Melbourne Aquarium, Parliament House and Federation Square.
- And…apparently there is now a free tourist shuttle bus too with on-board commentary! It operates daily and stops at popular attractions like the Queen Victoria Market, Chinatown and Fed Square.