Kyle Taylor launches his ‘Mood-Based’ Travel series with an insider’s guide to the cultural capital of Australia
“How are you going?” You’ll be asked that at least ten times a day in Sydney and the answer is always the same. “Yeah, good mate.”
How could you not be “going good” when the weather is always perfect, you’re constantly surrounded by some body of water, the food is delicious, the wine is spectacular and the panoramic views are awe-inspiring?
A good friend told me “I start every day with a flat white at my local café. Then, when I get home from work, I pop down to the beach for a sunset swim. Living is Sydney is like being on permanent vacation.” To embrace Sydney like a local it would be rude not to follow suit.
There are very few “tourist traps” in Sydney.
In the interest of brevity, avoid Darling Harbour, the “Australian” museum, the entirety of the Central Business District and the shops and bars of Bondi Beach (but not the beach itself). Other than that, you’ll find yourself surrounded by real-life Sydneysiders doing real-life Sydneysider things.
BEFORE SUNSET: A perfect Sydneysider day starts with a cafe.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a local morning cafe that doesn’t make the best flat white you’ve ever tasted. Top tip: a standard coffee only has one shot of espresso so be sure to ask for an extra (or two). The best “drag” for cafes is Crown Street between Oxford St. and Cleveland Street (Surrey Hills) and Newtown – Sydney’s too-hip and too-cool answer to Brick Lane.
Match your “flatty” with avocado on toast, corn fritters or ricotta pancakes – the three staples of every café menu. Top spots include Mo’s or Bill’s (no, not that one) in Surry Hills (both on Crown street) or Gather on the Green in Newtown (opposite Camperdown Park). Gather on the Green has the added benefit of serving your food to you in the park adjacent, complete with picnic blankets, a big tree for shade and regular cricket matches.
Go for a walk
A Sydneysider’s day continues with some form of physical activity because hey, the weather is perfect and the beaches are second to none. You can’t go wrong with the classic Coogee to Bondi coastal path, where you’ll take in Coogee, Bronte, Tamarama, Clovelly and Bondi Beaches as well as an open air sculpture garden perched atop a seaside cliff because, Sydney.
Don’t forget a swimsuit both for swimming in the open ocean or in one of the surreal ocean water pools perched precariously on the side of cliffs. A truly local experience!
Far from the Madding Crowd
If you want to get slightly away from the crowds there are two alternative seaside walking options. They both involve a ferry ride: another quintessentially local experience. Tens of thousands of people commute – COMMUTE – to work every day by ferry. It has to be the most beautiful commute in the world. From circular quay shoot to Manly Wharf then walk from Manly Beach to Shelly Beach.
If you’re feeling tough, take on all 12.5km along the northern beaches from Manly Beach to Palm Beach – set of the Australian soap opera classic “Neighbors.” Say hello to Kylie from me. To find yourself among even fewer people, ferry to Rose Bay and walk the inner harbour to Watson’s Bay, where you can dine on the the Watson Bay Hotel’s world-famous fish and chips and watch the sunset over the city.
Dinner and Drinks
You will of course need to finish your day with dinner and drinks. Fear not, the bar with the best view in the world is at your fingertips. Opera Bar – tucked underneath the Opera House itself – offers 270 degree views from the city and central harbour along Harbour Bridge to the Opera House. Their house sparkling pairs perfectly with their Best-in-Oz potato wedges, which are served with a sour cream and sweet chilli sauce that is utterly divine.
After you’ve watched the sunset, walk through Hyde Park to The Commons Local Eating House in Darlinghurst, which is one of the best kept secrets in the city. The menu coffers daily specials based on what’s available at the farmer’s market and is drawn up on a chalk board. The wine list is dynamite and the location is perfect to slowly eat and drink yourself into utter bliss.
If you want to carry on late-night, Sydney is also home to some of the world’s best drag acts. Centred around The Stonewall Inn on Oxford Street, the gay village is open and inclusive, buzzing with all types of people pouring out into the street with beers, wines and cocktails in-hand.
A world city seen by many as “past it prime,” Sydneysiders could care less what anyone thinks of their hometown. Given the chance to live surrounded by exceptional food, wine, coffee and seemingly endless beaches, would you?