True Blue Trio
Experience quintessential Sydney with our top three hotspots for history, diversity and the sublime outdoors.
The natural beauty of brilliant cornflower-blue skies, celebrated harbour and iconic landmarks are easy on the eyes, accentuating its sunny disposition.
While Melbourne is often likened to New York for its edgy, urban vibe, many consider Sydney to be Australia’s California thanks to balmy weather, a thriving beach culture and easy breezy attitude. The natural beauty of brilliant cornflower-blue skies, celebrated harbour and iconic landmarks are easy on the eyes, accentuating its sunny disposition. Comprised of areas each with their own distinct character, the following three pockets showcase the city’s classic colonial architecture, colourful subcultures and legendary surf.
An apt place to begin exploration, The Rocks was claimed by Sydney’s first European settlers - British convicts and their overseers - in 1788, setting up camp atop sandstone cliffs. Fortunately many of the original buildings have been preserved, making it easy to imagine the lively port community once comprised of colourful sorts, from spirited sailors to debauched ruffians.
The atmosphere today is equally vibrant, though decidedly upmarket, former shady dens replaced with boutique shops, galleries with some of the country’s oldest pubs tastefully restored. The charming cobbled alleys and brick warehouses provide a backdrop to a host of elegant accommodations, such asShangri-La Hotel, Sydney, which boasts enviable views of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House.
A great way to take advantage of the traditional surroundings and picturesque setting is by browsing The Rocks weekend market for one-off jewellery, locally designed home ware, linen, beauty products and original artwork, prints and photography. Sampling the spread of homemade goodies as your peruse, from lovingly prepared jams to artisan chocolate, is an absolute must.
Art lovers should stop by The Ken Done Gallery, showcasing the cheery kaleidoscope of national landmarks by one of Australia’s most famous artists. Housed in the magnificent heritage Australian Steam Navigation Building, the new summer collection, Living By The Sea, reflects Done’s affinity with the sea and coastal life, from his own stomping ground, Chinamans Beach, to the Aegean encircling the Greek Island of Hydra, and of course, the beloved Sydney Harbour.
A foray into the city’s progressive Inner West suburbs reveals a cultural hodgepodge, characterised by a passion for the arts, music, quirky markets and self-expression. Eclectic King Street is teeming with Thai eateries, vintage boutiques and antique offerings. With the highest concentration of independent theatres and performance spaces in town, the live entertainment scene is expectedly thriving.
One of Sydney’s oldest districts, Glebe, encapsulates bohemian living with a village vibe and strong sense of community. The Saturday market is a main draw, known for its alternative atmosphere, offbeat fashion, gorgeous Peruvian jewellery and handcrafted leather-bound stationery. It’s worth a visit simply to chill out on the lawn, Turkish bread and homemade lemonade in hand, while listening to live bands. New age types will be in their element with the surrounding holistic health and healing centres and wholefood supermarkets.
The harbour-side Balmain neighbourhood will capture the heart of architecture buffs with its quaint two-storey Georgian and Victorian terraces typical of the 1800s and early 1900s. Once a working class suburb, the area is now frequented by hip, young families, catered to with Darling Street’s chic galleries, bookstores and stylish bistros and pubs. Epicurean delights are countless, encompassing homey pizzerias, tempting patisseries and authentic Moroccan eateries.
Situated on the lower North Shore is the affluent, seaside Mosman residential area, primed for trendsetters with designer outlets, gourmet delis and upscale florists on Military Road. Outdoor enthusiasts are similarly spoilt with picturesque bushwalks through Bradley and Middle Head, a section of Sydney Harbour National Park. Bush land remnants of the original ecosystem and ancient Aboriginal sites remain, offset by arresting skyline vistas, certain to make the hike worthwhile.
Mosman is also home to one of the city’s best-loved attractions, Taronga Zoo, the only harbourside menagerie of its kind in the world, housing a fine collection of native animals and exotic species and staggering vantage points overlooking Sydney Cove. A highlight is the Free Flight Bird Show, a skilful spectacle of nimble kites, coin-snatching Galahs and Red-tailed Black Cockatoos. Enter the wildlife park from the top and work your way through the exhibits, catching glints of the ultramarine harbour on the downhill meander.
A Sydney sojourn would not be complete without hitting one the city’s famous beaches. Perhaps most splendid is Balmoral Beach on the eastern side of Mosman, an idyllic crescent-shaped stretch, framed by a scenic esplanade with sweeping seascapes of North Head, Manly and Clontarf. Make a day of it, starting with the classic Bathers Pavilion café experience, a 1928 Spanish Moorish-style building known for its delectable brunch fare in a convivial setting. With a heaped serving of blueberry pancakes, the tingle of seawater in the air and first rays of sunlight peeking through, there are few better ways to ease into the morning.
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I like jewelry :) It would be nice to have some from Sydney: I ask for a pair of earrings & necklace, dear boyfriend, hehe :D