Two Days in Sydney

I’ll be in Sydney, Australia for five days in May. It will be my first trip. I’ll arrive on a Saturday morning, taking the red eye from Singapore. After a nap, I want to explore the city on Saturday and Sunday. I’ll be too busy with work to do anything for the three days after that, but I’ve got those two days to check things out.

For those who are from Sydney or frequently visit, what should I see? I’ll be hanging out with a colleague. We’re both pretty energetic but not major drinkers or carousers. Where should we go for those two days? What type of transport should we arrange?


checking out the inner city areas are kind of a must - the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, Circular Quay - hop on a ferry to Manly, or go to Watsons Bay. Go to Bondi Beach, have fish and chips and a beer and take the walk around the rocks to Tamarama and Bronte Beach. There’s an all day transport ticket that gives you access to buses, trains and ferry - incredibly easy and available at lots of different outlets. The Art Gallery of NSW is also good and is situated in a great park…
Oxford St on a Saturday night could be fun - lots of good restaurants to choose from…there are good markets on Oxford St in Paddington on a Saturday too - lots of good food, cool people. You can’t really go wrong in Sydney!

Head up to Palm Beach, or any of the northern beaches. That’s where I grew up. Beautiful coastline, about 60-90 mins bus ride from downtown.

in the city, walk through the Rocks and then visit the Opera House (take a backstage tour). grab a 280 bus to Bondi Beach. take a ferry ride to Manly (take the slowest ride possible unless the weather’s terrible).

Botanic Gardens is a good walking connection from the Opera House to King’s Cross area (before sunset).

Northern beaches is possible too (Palm Beach bus trip) but there’s not much to do up there except surf unless you find the Newport Arms Hotel for a beer and some fish and chips.

I get the feeling that Sydney will kick Bracknell’s arse :wink:

Start the day with a cafe brekkie in King Street, Newtown, perhaps hit Gould’s second hand bookshop (top end of King Street towards Sydney University) first to stock up on some reading. Gould’s is HUGE. Mind you, the local weekend paper, the Sydney Morning Herald’s like a phone book, particularly if you also grab the Weekend Australian. Check the gig guides on the free hand out mags in the cafes and pubs to see what’s on. King Street is also decent for a drink at night. Botanic gardens sounds twee, but it’s a beautiful place on a nice day. Go find Mrs Macquarie’s chair, look out over Pinchgut Island (AKA Fort Denison) and ponder what it must have looked like when wadjilas (white people) first arrived. Convict song featuring Pinchgut

Cut yer name across me backbone
Stretch me skin across yer drum
Iron me up on Pinchgut Island
From now to Kingdom Come.
I'll eat yer Norfolk Dumpling
Like a juicy Spanish plum,
Even dance the Newgate Hornpipe (slang for a hanging)
If ye'll only gimme Rum!

Since you’re almost there, get a pie at Harry’s Cafe de Wheels. Don’t do the pie floater (pie and peas), that’s for South Australians, and their shitty water quality makes them stupid. Wash it down with a schooner (less than a pint, but bigger than a middy. Don’t ask for a pot, or they’ll think you’re another weirdo from Melbourne with some strange chip on your shoulder about Sydney vs Melbourne. Hey! Wake up, Melbourne, we simply don’t care! We have real beaches. That chat ends there.) at the Wolloomooloo Hotel and head up the hill to Kings bloody Cross.. You can walk from here up to Oxford Street, Paddington.

Alternatively, do brekkie or lunch on Oxford Street, Paddington. Find a coffee shop, then hit the Paddington markets (Saturday). Oxford Street used to be the place for gay pubs and a certain in your face gay culture, but I think that’s moved to the more Bohemian Newtown given issues with random street violence. Sad on so many levels. Other markets include, Paddy’s market in the Haymarket, which straddles China town. Glebe market (Sunday), Balmain market (Saturday) and Rozelle market. All good for some local colour and knick knacks.

In the off chance you absolutely need pearl milk tea, you can get that in all four of Sydney’s China towns. The oldest and mostly Canto is in the Haymarket in the city. There’s another in North Sydney, which is new HK money, then there’s Ashfield, mostly mainlanders, and Vietnomatta, or rather Cabramatta, which is Vietnamese Chinese. Sydney does good food, and most of it Asian. Vietnamese is abundant and excellent. Marrickville is an amazing window into Australia’s multiculturalism. Stepping out of the train station it;s mostly Vietnamese, but head down the main street and you hit Greek, Italian, Lebanese, Somali, you name it.

Unless you’re surfing, got your hands on a really nice motorbike to zip through the Bilgola esses, or it’s a superb day and you got a very nice car, skip the northern beaches, as beautiful as they are. For beaches, head to Bondi, have a body surf (watch your valuables) then nip up for a sundowner at the Bondi Icebergs. Don’t forget to stand up at 6pm! Actually, Bronte often has the best body surf, and used to, at least, have a Latin American music scene on a Sunday around the BBQ area at the back of the beach. You can keep walking south and up to the Waverley Cemetery.

As for a ferry to Manly, that’s sort of alright, but takes time. My family are silver spooners - nickname for the Manly rugby league team, who pretty much everyone on the northern beaches supports, and they’d hang me for this - but they are suburbs. You need a car. And frankly, the Corso’s just an open shopping mall. More interesting is to take the short hop across to Lavender Bay, which takes you just across and under the Harbour Bridge. Take a quick wander about Lavender Bay. Lovely place, and the former home of one of Australia’s better known modern artists . . . damn, I forget his name now (about as memorable as his art, frankly). Anyway, there’s some nice sculptures scattered about. You can try your hand at playing the 'long jumping jeweler (dueller) of Lavender Bay" A song about an old Sydney habit of waiting till the ferry pulls out before trying to jump on as it departs. Thus the jeweler/dueller. Don’t land on the prop!

[quote]Long jumping jeweler by Little River Band.
Everybody can’t be heroes, but some can still try,
to make their lives a little different before the
time it goes by, now I live up around the north
shore in a room with no view, every morning on
that ferry, my view is filled with you.

I’m gonna let my heart take me away, I’m gonna jump a little
further everyday, I’m gonna let my heart take me
away, I’m the long jumping jeweler of Lavender

She’s there every single morning with about a
hundred more, they watch as I come a-runnin’, they
all know the score, I always like to be the last
one so I jump as she pulls away, the gap gets a
little bit wider the longer I delay …

I handle gemstones in the city, in a little
lane off Australia square, I got one picked out
for you that looks so pretty, but I got to make
you notice that I’m there. Well I started to make
the papers and people began to bet, would I end up
with the lady or would I just end up getting wet,
now I’m not gonna give you the answer, in oh so
many words, but swimming in Sydney Harbour, you
know is strictly for the birds. Tweet, tweet, for
the birds …

Long jump, long jumping jeweler, I live in Lavender Bay, hear what
I say, I’m the long jumping jeweler of Lavender
Bay, long jumping jeweler … (repeat) I live in
Lavender Bay, long jumping jeweler. [/quote]

Great post, HG.

Yes, thank you lady and gents. HGC, a special thank you to you for your very thorough, very articulate advice.

I’ve copied and sent all of the recommendations here to my colleague in the US. He will be mightily impressed. This is Forumosa at its best.

One last question–which beers must absolutely be sampled while in Sydney? I don’t think I’m going to get away with asking for VB in a Sydney restaurant :laughing: .

James Squire (four varieties thereof) is very Sydney

Lord Nelson Hotel in the Rocks, one of the oldest pubs around town at about 200 years old, brews its own in several varieties.

Some beers from the Fremantle Brewing Company, over in Perth, may be available.

Rogers Pale Ale, Little Creatures, Mountain Goat, etc: all microbreweries in other states

if you’ve never tasted any Aussie beer, try the red and the green label Coopers (from Adelaide). very popular and easy to find. Also a Strongarm from Tasmania to try.

Tooheys Old. long been a staple drink in Sydney. I think the newcomer, Tooheys New, was launched some time around the turn of the century (about 1890) but it tastes like all the other the usual pissy lagers that Sydney offers as a bulk beer.

and if you can find a bottle, a Sheaf Stout to take you back to the 1950s

VB is bought in slabs and taken to parties or sporting events. I really dunno what they drink these days, as I can imagine there’s a lot of boutique beers. For the real Sydney experience, you should ask for:

A “schooie of new.”

Or a “schooie of old.”

I won’t even pretend these are good beers in the Tigerman sense.

Boags is decent.


Boags… that’s the Strongarm i meant. There is a limited release version of the Boags called Strongarm. Nice and bitter…

Thanks again chaps. Those beers have gone into the travel file and will most certainly be sampled by my colleague and I.

[quote=“Tomas”]Yes, thank you lady and gents. HGC, a special thank you to you for your very thorough, very articulate advice.

I’ve copied and sent all of the recommendations here to my colleague in the US. He will be mightily impressed. This is Forumosa at its best.

One last question–which beers must absolutely be sampled while in Sydney? I don’t think I’m going to get away with asking for VB in a Sydney restaurant :laughing: .[/quote]
Boag’s for beer. Its Tassie I think. Perfect beer for Sydney.

That’s a great post, Nurse Ratchett. I can’t remember what I did in Sydney, but it was bloody good fun and there was beer and lashings of wine. I do remember going to the Rocks and spending time in an absolutely fucking superb pub there.
The Aussie wine you get in Oz is about 1,000 times better than the stuff they export, by the way – they tend to keep the good stuff for themselves. Definitely needs to be sampled as much as possible.

Last time I was there, I actually went to a show at the Opera House. Saw Rigoletto and it was definitely a great way to spend an early evening before heading out. On the same note, Sydneysiders love live music, so check a local listing and see if there are any acts that you like that might play while you’re there.

Concur with the beaches: I lived in Rose Bay for the better part of a year in the early 90’s and recommend Bondi for a late Sunday breakfast or the ferry out to Manly for a couple drinks by the shore on Saturday. Both are great fun, as there are always tons of folk about.

The other thing to remember: Eat! There is so much great food all over the city that you definitely have to take advantage of all the great restaurants. There was one on the top floor of the Banking House directly across from Circular Quay that jumps to mind, but I can’t remember the name of it. Perhaps someone else will know it.



Also, Bilsons Restaurant, the Boathouse on Blackwattle Bay in Glebe, Tetsuya’s in Kent street, city (if you can get a table and have deep pockets), Salt, L’Est, and so many more.

Or just head to the Ultimo Wine Center, grab some decent plonk (may I recommend a Lark’s Hill riesling or a pirramimma red or a d’Arenberg Old Bush Vine) then drop down to Sydney Fish Market, grab a kilo of cooked prawns, and sit next to the port eating prawns (that’s shrimp to the American speakers out there) in the sun and chilling out to the sound of seagulls fighting over some poor kid’s chips.

Don’t have much time to post any details, gents, but I’ve just spent a few days looking around Sydney and wow, what a city! Absolutely brilliant place. I’ve had a hell of a time.

Thanks again for all of the recommendations. Now, to work.

Good grief, man, it’s only 11pm there in Sidderknee.

just thought of another couple of classics:

Barons - King’s Cross. Late night bar. Like walking around an old terrace house after a mad party.

Piccolo Bar - King’s Cross. Not sure if Vittorio is still alive, but if he is, this is the place for coffee and madness late at night. Heaven’s, they have a webpage and Vittorio is still doing his thang!

Ciao, Vittorio!

fark me, is Baron’s STILL going? I vaguely remember seeing the sun come up through their terrace windows many many times.

Coluzzi Bar for coffee in Darlinghurst Road is the business.

Glad you liked Sydney, Tomas. It’s a great city to live in. try to get in to an Opera House show if you can, or just stop by the Harbour Bar at sunset for an expensive beer…

and to the fellow who saw Rigoletto at the House, you were lucky: that was one of their best shows for many years, and that production with the revolving house set is still one of my favourites (I worked back stage doing lighting for the opera at the opera house for 15 years). the Baz Luhrmann production of La Boheme was another favourite of mine.

More importantly, is the TAXI CLUB still going? How the HELL could we have forgotten that . . . second thoughts, I know. I’d kill to go to the Taxi Club right now.

Tomas, please keep the feedback rolling. I haven’t been back to Oz in six years. I could do with some prompt to get me on such a long flight again.

Edit. Barron’s is dead. long live Barron’s.

But the Taxi Club lives!

[quote]Address: 40 Flinders ST, Darlinghurst
Phone: 9331 4256
Style: Lic/Reg Clubs
Hours: 24 hours

Crowd Eclectic odds and sods.
Vibe Fun, tragic or comic. I’m still unsure.
Highs Cheap drinks, 24 hours, trannie-watching.
Lows Wine on tap but only before you’re too drunk to care.
Drinks Schmiddies $2.50, spirits $4.

Leotards are back. You’ll remember them from jazzercise and the early, best years of Aerobics Oz Style.
Darling, it hurts.


Pulled Barrons down? what a shame, a grand old house that was.

The Taxi Club was a right giggle, tho. " Why do drag queens always drink schooners? It makes their hands look smaller, daaarling."