For most of us Sydney is on the other side of the world. Australia is a diverse land full of history and culture but is best known for its beaches and wildlife. Sydney was founded as a penal colony for the British Empire during the late 1700s and has since become a major commercial, business and tourist capital of the world. Below are some of Sydney’s well known and hidden treasures only locals know about and frequent often.
On Sydney’s prestigious North Shore is the suburb of Mosman. The average price for a house is upwards of 2 million dollars, including small ones in need of renovation, with larger ones selling for fifteen million plus. Sydney’s Millionaire Row is Raglan Road. The suburb became popular before the construction of the bridge in the 1930s with residents and beach goers ferrying their way across the bay. Walks along the tree lined streets are a must here, as are shopping trips to the numerous high end boutiques and cafes.
Architecture varies from Federation, a fairytale type style to ultra modern houses built from glass and chrome with white walls. Hilly Mosman is known for it’s spectacular walks around the edge of the peninsula where one can look out at the Pacific Ocean and just south to the sparkling city centre. The Sydney Zoo is situated at the south end of the suburb and ferries sail from the city centre multiple times throughout the day. Mosman borders Cremore, an areas you’ll pass through on your way to Sydney’s wealthy north side. Cremore’s main street is lined with shops and restaurants and you’ll have your choice of cuisines. Walks around the area, like Mosman, will show you a verity of old buildings. From hundred year old sprawling cottages with terracotta roves to multi-million dollar homes and water front mansions with walks along the bay to be found in parks behind the houses, displaying views of the skyscrapers of the city centre.
If you’re a fan of high end food and clothes, history and plantation style architecture, big trees and leisurely walks, then Mosman, Cremore and Neutral Bay are the places for you.
Chinaman’s Beach, towards the north of the suburb is so called because locals once said, “The waters are so calm even a Chinaman wouldn’t drown here.” A far cry from the crashing waves of well known Manly and Bondi Beaches. The small beach is a hidden gem only North Shore residents are very familiar with and it’s often empty during the day. Bordered by Rosherville Reserve park, a large green area with mature trees, the beach makes a perfect day out for singles hoping for a quiet dip, couples looking to enjoy lunch, or families wanting the safety of calm waters for their children.
Views across the small bay to the wealthy and modern suburb of Clontarf are a sight to see and kids can play in the park playground and dogs enjoy a sniff in the large park. The beach is entered via a small downhill road after walking Hopetoun Avenue, one of Sydney’s most affluent streets, lined with mega mansions and celebrity homes. The beach is known for it’s calm waters and quiet atmosphere and makes a perfect relaxing beach day.
Staying on the north side, at the far end of the city you’ll find Home and Away’s filming location of Palm Beach. The peninsula is known for the beach houses of Sydney’s wealthiest and many homes have back gardens on the water. Views from the beaches and hill walks are either of the nature reserve to the west or Pacific Ocean to the east. Locals flock to the beaches most days with surfboards and for casual lunches but the shoreline is never too busy.
Hill walks include Barrenjoey Head where recognisable Home and Away lighthouse stands and Bangalley Head where you can climb down the cliffs to sit beside the crashing waves in private. The Barrenjoey House and Hotel offers a variety of seafood and vegetarian options for lunch, dinner and take away. The upscale restaurant features an outdoor covered terrace and rooms with views of locally famous Pittwater Bay and Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.
The prestigious Avalon suburb offers a quaint village with many high end restaurants and boutiques. The area is very family friendly and is known for its wide beaches and many yacht clubs to dine at. The Newport Pub offers stunning relaxing views of Bayview dog park and a range of signature cocktails as well as a large pizza menu and classic take away menu cooked to gourmet standards.
Four large malls sit in Sydney’s northern suburb of Chatswood. Half an hours train ride away from the city centre you’ll find traditional Fderation style cottages surrounding Chatswood CBD. A large Target and Kmart will suit all budgets from everything from clothes to kitchen appliances and kid’s toys. More upscale Westfield mall will offer you H&M, sushi bars, local Australian clothing brand stores and a plethora of shops on four floors. Bondi will treat you to surf gear and holistic cafes selling green juices and raw foods as well as the famous beach.
The city centre will offer you every shop you can imagine inducing high end stores such as Chanel and Versace and high street shops such as Sunglasses Hut and Ugg. Sydney’s north and south sides both offer an array of shops in each of their neighbourhood villages, with more expensive options to Sydney’s north.
Many large malls are housed in the extended city and you’ll find everything you can imagine including tropical fruits unheard of in the northern hemisphere, such as chocolate and apple custard fruit and the usual high street and local stores. National parks containing wild koalas and a variety of snakes are found surrounding the city and are best visited during the winter when many of the more dangerous animals are sheltering for the winter.
Boat trips can be taken around Sydney’s many bays during the day but are especially beautiful at night when the city lights sparkle. The Opera House displays a range of exhibits all year round and history lovers will enjoy walks around the suburbs of Paddington and Balmain. Taronga Zoo sits at the south end of Mosman and is Sydney’s large zoo with views overlooking the main bay towards the city centre.
Two hours drive west offers the Blue Mountains and a variety of excursions and unmissable cliff top walks. The National Botanic Gardens takes up a large area of the city centre and you can watch bats leave the trees to dine in the city every evening. Famous Kingscross and Darlinghurst are Sydney’s nightlife districts and offer a range of bars and clubs suitable for all budgets.
Sydney is an architecture hotspot where all types of buildings can be found, from the ultra modern to castle like structures surrounded by parks and Victorian town houses with wrought iron railings. Manly, to the north of the city centre, is where surfing began in Australia and is still a busy and well known hotspot for surfers. Sydney’s ferries and snorkelling excursions will introduce you to the marine life of the bay including friendly sharks and a myriad of coloured fish.
To the west you’ll find Parramatta, Sydney’s secondary shopping and residential district offering a very multi-cultural shopping and dining destination. Manly Dam is one of Sydney’s treasures only known to locals. Sitting on the north side and accessible via a short forest walk the large dam is a regular swimming spot for locals and a lesser well known but very favoured family day out location.
There are many small towns on the outskirts of the city boasting art galleries with art from Aborigines explaining Australia’s history and river side beaches unsuitable for swimming due to river sharks but perfect for a relaxing or stroll.
For those from colder climates, temperatures are more comfortable during the late Australian autumn, winter, and early spring and flights to other locations around Australia are daily and very affordable with the airport being a twenty minute train ride from the city centre.
A trip to this city and its surrounding suburbs is worth a visit as it offers everything a holiday maker could look for. Busy and famous and quiet and secluded beaches dot the city’s coast line and goods from all over the globe can be bought here due to Sydney’s diverse population. Accommodation isn’t cheap but prices are the same as any western country, despite the apparent increase due to the currency exchange.
City parks and rented yachts are perfect for lunch and dinner and nights are best spent quietly exploring the neighbourhood or enjoying drinks at a city centre rooftop bar. The city’s large bays are its crowning glory and boat trips are the best way to see the city and experience the high life in the southern hemisphere. A trip here, however long or short will be more than you expect and will leave you longing to return.