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]