Whether you’re after natural beauty, glorious culture or rip-roaring good times, Sydney’s bursting with experiences to suit every tasteLess
Yes, it’s expensive. Yes, you have to wear an unflattering grey jumpsuit. But if climbing the fourth-longest single-span steel arch bridge in the world is a should-see for out-of-towners and visiting celebrities (Nicole Kidman, Bruce Springsteen and Justin Timberlake have all opted in for the BridgeClimb), then it’s an absolute can’t-miss for locals. The climb isn’t as arduous or scary as you’d think.
From the moment you board the iconic yellow-and-green ‘Queenscliff’, ‘Narrabeen’ or ‘Freshwater’ ferries that cruise from Circular Quay to Manly you’re forced to take things a little slower – and that’s not a bad thing. The most visited Northern Beaches suburb is known for its surfing history, rows of Norfolk Island pine trees and busy thoroughfare of shops, cafés and sprawling pubs. Stretch your legs with the gorgeous Manly to the Spit walk.
It’s the most photographed ocean pool in Australia – at Sydney’s most famous beach – which makes the 50-metre saltwater pool a popular spot for sunbathers and a bottleneck spot on the Bondi to Coogee walk. The baths have been a landmark of Bondi for 90 years, and if you want to become a member of the oldest winter swimming club in Australia you must swim three Sundays a month for a period of five years.
Bondi has always been a suggestive temptress, never shy of showing a bit of leg, sun-baking topless, or sashaying sassily with the sand between her toes. She’s tarty and glamorous, rough and ready, drinking beer from a champagne flute, attracting Hollywood celebs and backpacking hobos alike as they all slap zinc on their noses. Located only 7km from Sydney’s CBD, the fine vanilla sand of its crescent-moon shape is Sydney’s - nay, the world’s - most famous beach.
A bar that closes by dinnertime? It’s an idea just crazy enough to work, especially when you let people bring their dachshund, their kids and their old man, so long as he’s a craft beer fan. Young Henrys is all about the inclusive afternoon sessions and on a weekend you’ll want to shake a leg in order to secure one of the prized high tables at the brewery cellar door.
Just an hour away from Sydney’s CBD, Dharawal National Park provides stunning scenery and an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. The 90-minute walks are designed for people of all fitness levels. There are also options for children as well as wheelchair accessible tours. Guiding the way will be an Aboriginal Discovery Ranger, who will share local knowledge about flora and fauna along the way, as well as Dreamtime stories that connect Indigenous Australians to the area.
White Rabbit is a a state-of-the-art, four-floor temple to 21st-century Chinese art hidden on a backstreet in Chippendale. Founder Judith Neilson created the self-funded non-profit gallery to house her epic collection of post-millennial Chinese art, and it opened to the public in 2009. The gallery also houses a gift shop full of cheap, cheerful and colourful gifts, and a ground-floor tea house that also serves dumplings.
The Imperial was first ordained a safe space for the LGBTQIA community when Dawn O’Donnell, the mother of gay Sydney, bought it in the ‘80s. It has opened and shut with many different faces in the years since then, but at its heart, it has always been a place for queer identities to thrive on the sticky carpet of the much-loved pub, famous for being the starting point of the eponymous bus in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
We love Saint Peter for its singular focus. There is no dilution of the core tenet, no reluctant steak for people who are funny about fish. While it’s true that they do the finest fish and chips in town, save the safe order for another night when you’re getting takeaway from their Fish Butchery up the road. Instead, order a tangle of octopus legs that are punked up with a feisty XO and silky squid ink giving those firm cephalopod limbs a luxe-goth sheen.
The secret may be well and truly out about this hidden garden, but it really is a heart-warming story and a space worth sharing. When Wendy Whiteley lost her husband, Australian artist Brett Whiteley, in 1992, she funnelled her love and grief into transforming a disused, derelict train yard space. Wendy and two gardeners planted natives, exotics, plants and herbs and landscaped the space with winding paths supported by raw bush timber balustrades, benches to sit on and cobbled stairs.