Things to Do in Sydney - page 4
Vaucluse has always been a neighborhood for the wealthy. Wonderful yet outrageously expensive villas, lovingly restored from the colonial era, stand together and increase in cost as the beauty of the view and location increases too. To gain insight into the life of Sydney's former high society, visit the Vaucluse House, a villa surrounded by a landscaped garden and wooded grounds. It was built in 1803 in the Gothic Revival style, with small turrets and battlements that make it look more like a castle than a house.
The Vaucluse House once belonged to ex-convict Sir Thomas Henry Browne Hayes, who got shipped off to Australia for abducting a banker’s daughter and built this estate. It also once served as the residence of writer, explorer and politician William Charles Wentworth, who is known as the first person to climb the Blue Mountains and who restored this former cottage to the mansion it is today.
The house offers everything you’d expect from a manor home—antique furniture, an extensive drawing room, lots of bedrooms, staff quarters, stables and a huge garden. The gardens are often used for wedding receptions and are an ideal place for a stroll. On top of that, the Vaucluse House also serves as a teahouse, where visitors can settle for a refreshment and enjoy the tranquility.
Home to some of Sydney’s best shopping, Oxford Street is an edgy thoroughfare that runs east from Sydney’s Central Business District (CBD) toward Bondi Junction. Lined with trendy shops and boutiques, it has become a central hub of Sydney’s late-night club scene, as well as the unofficial center of Sydney’s LGBT community.
A pedestrian area of downtown Sydney, the Pitt Street Mall offers some of the most exciting shopping in the city. In the area of just one block lies several flagship stores and more than 500 retail spaces, housed in some of the most expensive commercial real estate in Australia. Specialty stores to suit all tastes can be found in the seven shopping centers, including The Strand Arcade, Westfield Sydney, Myer, and David Jones. Many of the centers were refurbished as recently as 2011. Shops vary from couture and classic fashion, to budget chain stores, electronics, and the latest in athletic wear.
A visit here will certainly include some of the best shopping in Sydney, along with the bustling activity of this urban center. A footbridge runs across the mall, providing ample opportunities to take in the sights of people passing by. Restaurants and cafes provide replenishment from all the action.
The Sydney Jewish Museum serves as a moving tribute to Australia’s Jewish community. It’s devoted to telling the story of the city’s Jewish history and heritage, from the population’s first arrivals in 1788 to the almost 30,000 survivors who started new lives in Australia after World War II and the Holocaust.
Camp Cove is a small golden beach popular with swimmers and families. As the turquoise bay is for the most part protected from surf and winds, it is often completely calm. Often less crowded than other nearby Sydney beaches, it is considered a bit of hidden gem by locals. Indigenous rock carvings made by Aboriginals of whales and fish can still be viewed on the rocks lining the beach. Officers of the First Fleet frequently visited Camp Cove as well.
Just sitting on the beach allows for a great vantage point of the surrounding sea and Sydney skyline. Boats docked just off shore dot the coastline. Furthermore, the calm conditions provide an opportunity to easily view the natural wildlife. Fishing, kayaking, snorkeling, and scuba diving from the shore is common.
Forget the urban, corporate bustle of Sydney’s CBD, and escape to the artsy, brick alleyways of the nearby Newtown suburb. Once a rough and tumble area to the south of downtown Sydney, the gentrified suburb has been completely revitalized as an outpost of foodies and shoppers. When walking the streets of funky Newtown—which are often speckled with graffiti—browse through trendy shopping boutiques or hip little corner cafés. Enjoy live music at the dozens of pubs and theaters scattered across town, and absorb the eclectic, creative vibes of this bohemian Sydney suburb. On King Street, vintage bookshops and music stores ironically sit next to antique shops, and the alternative, grunge, counterculture collective makes for some of the city’s best people watching. From here, it’s only a short drive to Sydney’s beaches or the lights of Darling Harbor, but given Newtown’s creative grit and casual sense of refinement, there’s an indie sense of disconnect from the Sydney most travelers know.
In addition to the Bridge Climb, there is a cheap alternative to get the famous view from the top of town on the Sydney Harbour Bridge–the Pylon Lookout. The bridge walkway leads to the South East Pylon and to the entrance of the lookout, from where 200 steps lead up to the viewing platform located 285 feet (87 meters) above sea level.
From here enjoy fantastic panorama views of the Opera House, Circular Quay and the two arches of the Harbour Bridge. You'll also be able to observe the daring bridge climbers.
The Pylon Lookout doesn't only consist of the viewing platform though, but is made up of three levels of exhibits. A visit to the small museum located inside the Pylon is included in an admission ticket and includes information about the history and construction of the bridge, including the dangerous working conditions of the riveters, stonemasons and riggers who constructed it. Hear incredible stories, such as the tale of a worker who survived a fall from the bridge, and watch a film that features the building process and artifacts that were crucial to the accurate construction of one of Australia’s most famous icons.
To say the Tall ShipJames Craig has had a lengthy history would be a bit of an understatement. Its restoration process took 40 years, and before that it spent 40 years washed up on a Tasmanian beach. Despite that 80-year period, however, when the ship was incapacitated, theJames Craig tall ship still spent 56 years of sailing out on the seas, rounding Cape Horn 23 times and serving her country in World War I when stationed up in New Guinea. Today, after all that hard work restoring the ship and saving it from the sand, she’s the Southern Hemisphere’s only 19th century tall ship that’s fully operational, regularly taking passengers for cruises out on Sydney Harbor and beyond. In total, the ship has 21 different sails and over 140 lines, and for an added fee you can scale the mast and experience swaying nearly 35 feet above the heaving decks. While enjoying a cruise on theJames Craig, take in views of Sydney sights as you make your way out to the Heads, and feel the wind rushing through your hair like salty sailors of old.
Extending out of Sydney Harbour’s north shore, Bradleys Head overlooks many of the sights of Sydney, and visitors flock here for views of the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and Fort Denison. Many will come and linger with a picnic or a fishing spot, or take off on one of the many hiking trails. The popular Bradleys Head to Chowder Bay walk grants even better views of the bay, with the option to continue a longer walk onto the Split Bridge track.
The mast of the HMAS Sydney, a ship of the Royal Australian Navy that fought naval battles in World War I, is mounted on the headland as a memorial. Cannons left over from past defenses still stand, and the Athol Hall that once served soldiers their meals now operates as a modern cafe. Bradleys Head is part of the Sydney Harbour National Park, and offers a new perspective of the city.
The Star Sydney Casino and Hotel on Darling Harbour is one of Sydney’s premier entertainment precincts. Hosting two gaming floors, seven restaurants and eight bars, the Star Casino is the second largest casino in Australia.
You’d be forgiven for calling The Star by another name. Formerly known as both Star City Casino and the Sydney Harbour Casino, it’s not uncommon for visitors to think the three are different places. The Star Casino features two gaming floors. The main gaming floor on level one is the one you’ll see if you’re visiting the Casino on a casual basis. The Sovereign Room is the VIP gaming floor, with heavily restricted access.
Aside from the gaming tables, the Star Casino also features a number of bars including a 24/7 sports bar, the Cherry cocktail bar, sexy Sokyo Lounge, and Rock Lily which often hosts live music. 5-7pm Monday – Friday is happy hour at casino and all of the bars mentioned offer $5 beer, wine and spirits. A wine room and aperitivy bar round out the Star’s collection. Restaurants offering a selection of fine and casual dining from a number of cuisines are dotted throughout the building to ensure you don’t leave hungry.
More Things to Do in Sydney
Avalon Beach may have served as the backdrop for an episode of ‘Baywatch,’ but it’s the impressive waves, orange coral sands and 25-meter salt water rock pool that make this a hot spot among Sydney’s beach bums and surfers. Both longboarders and surfers share the gnarly waves, but there’s also plenty around here for land lovers as well. The Bangalley Headland Walk winds through a stretch of protected bushland known as the Careel Headland Reserve, and local rugby clubs host regular high-energy matches that are full of real Aussie spirit. There’s even a nearby nine-hole golf course for travelers looking to improve their line drive.
Hands up! Housed in a historic building that served as a police office and court from 1856 to 1888, the Justice and Police Museum now shows the judicial and criminal history of New South Wales. This chilling subject is reflected in the interior design: spiked gates, narrow door frames, winding staircases and a fairly scary cell block are all among the main features of the building. Here, you can step into the dark side of Sydney’s past and see an impressive collection of murder weapons, a gallery of defendant mug shots and learn about the stories left behind by judges, officers, thugs and crooks.
In the 1850s, the convict transport to New South Wales had just ended, but crime was on the rise and the cases were notorious. Innocent or guilty, rough criminals or simply unlucky people—they all passed through this building, and law and order was maintained. The crimes reach from simple public drunkenness to razor gangs, something called the Shark Arm Murder, the Pajama Girl Case and bushrangers terrorizing the colonies. And yes, visitors to the museum have the opportunity to get their fingerprints taken in the sergeant’s office.
In the heart of Sydney’s Central Business District (CBD), the Strand Arcade is a Victorian-style shopping center that houses specialty stores catering to a sophisticated clientele, as well as boutique showrooms representing a selection of high-end Australian designer labels and even a restaurant.
The cobbled lanes and colonial buildings of The Rocks are the hallmark of the historic district, and the Nurses Walk is one of its oldest laneways. The Nurses Walk takes its name from Sydney’s first colonial era hospital, which was set up in Sydney Cove to treat the arriving convicts – the narrow walkway served as a shortcut to the hospital, winding its way through the streets and passageways of The Rocks.
Today, the atmospheric street is better known for its cluster of vintage shops, independent boutiques and restaurants, and makes a popular inclusion on walking tours of Sydney and The Rocks. It still pays homage to its origins with a plaque devoted to nurse Lucy Osburn on the original walls of the Sydney General Hospital, and information boards detailing its historic importance.
At the foot of Sydney’s Harbour Bridge lies the city’s historic birthplace, the Rocks: a quarter of winding streets, small sandstone houses and some of the oldest pubs in town. It was here that the colonists from the First Fleet settled, and the site soon became home to the strong community network of Sydney’s working class.
The Susannah Place Museum, a small complex dating back to 1844, tells the story of these former residents. It consists of four terrace houses and a mom-and-pop shop that sells historical artifacts and typical Australian souvenirs. The museum gives fascinating insight into the hard urban life of the working class during colonial times, with workers' stories reconstructed through oral histories. Visitors are shown a documentary about those who lived here and are then given a tour through the buildings, which are all preserved in their original condition. Only essential repairs were carried out on the houses, with their low ceilings, worn-out steps and old furniture from different epochs.
Humble, proud, and unpretentious, Garrison Church isn’t the largest church in Sydney—nor its most popular or famous—but it holds an honorable, timeless charm for Sydney’s military families. Established back in 1840, Garrison Church was the first military church established in the colony of Australia, and today houses a military museum on the small inside of the church. As it’s located next to The Rocks near downtown, Garrison Church makes an easy detour on a popular visitor route of Sydney, and is a way to experience a sliver of life in Australia’s earliest days. The church itself was actually constructed from the sandstone on nearby Argyle Street, and while modern Sydney has grown up around it into the modern metropolis it is today, Garrison Church exists as an almost forgotten window into the past. While here, marvel at the exquisite stained glass windows that are some of Australia’s best, and reflect on the labor, worksmanship, and care that went into decorating this Anglican Church in Sydney’s burgeoning harbor.
Double Bay is the meeting point of Sydney’s prominence–an exclusive shopping district with a European flair full of designer boutiques, jewelers, waterfront properties and world-class restaurants surrounded by Sydney Harbour itself. Here, you will find open parks, stately mansions, tree-lined boulevards and plenty of spots to relax.
Within the beautiful surroundings of Guilfoyle Park, Double Bay also hosts Sydney’s most popular organic food market, which is open every Thursday. If you are in the mood for a little bit of glitzy dining, be sure to check out Bay Street with its plethora of fancy bars, including the ever famous Mrs. Sippy. Of course, you can’t leave Double Bay without spending a couple hours soaking in the sun at the idyllic Redleaf Beach and enjoying a swim in Redleaf Pool.
Though people see Double Bay primarily as a shopping and café district, it is also home to the Double Bay Street Festival, which regularly draws well over 60,000 people.
Crowned by the country’s highest mountain, Mt. Kosciuszko, for which the park is named, this national park spans nearly 2,700 square miles (6,900 square km) in the southeastern corner of New South Wales. The park contains Australia's most extensive alpine region, characterized by its Snow Gum forests, glacial lakes, meadows and rivers.
Australia’s two biggest ski resorts, Perisher and Thredbo, are located in New South Wales’ Kosciusko National Park. While each has world-class skiing and riding—along with a fun après ski scene—the two resorts have distinctive personalities. Whether you’re a first-time skier or looking for challenging terrain, here’s what you need to know.
Tobruk Sheep Station is a scenic 50-acre working sheep farm about 45 miles (70 kilometers) north of Sydney. Visitors to the farm get a peek into what life is like for an Australian sheep farmer. From “mustering” (herding) sheep with the help of some hard-working dogs to enjoying an authentic outback BBQ lunch with can-brewed “Billy Tea,” visitors can observe and take part in all aspects of life on the farm.
The Sydney Conservatorium of Music may very well be the most respected music school in all of Australia. With faculty from the University of Sydney, it was once the site of Australia’s first full orchestra composed of both professionals and students. Today the Conservatorium provides musical education, research, and some of the city’s top performances. Its music library is the largest in the southern hemisphere.
The space itself has a remarkable place in Australian national history. Built on what was once Aboriginal land, it then evolved into an early settlement built with sandstone and supported by labor from convicts. It also served as government stables, remnants of which can still be seen in the architecture today. The historic land turned international music school makes for an interesting visit, with part of the school located underneath the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens.
Botany Bay is a central port of Sydney, significant both in historic and modern times. In 1770, it was the landing spot of Captain James Cook when he first stepped onto Australia after having explored New Zealand extensively. The bay was named for the botanical species found by a naturalist on board his ship. French explorers turned up in 1788, days after the First Fleet had arrived in Australia. The heritage-listed spot is now home to a monument marking the meeting of European and Aboriginal cultures here.
Today Botany Bay serves as the site of both Sydney’s major cargo port, Port Botany, as well as two runways of the Sydney airport. To the north and south, Botany Bay National Park sits on La Perouse and Kurnell headlands. This area offers hiking, scuba diving, snorkeling, walking tracks, picnic areas, and scenic lookouts out over the bay.
Located on the south side of Darling Harbor, Cockle Bay is home to Cockle Bay Wharf, a popular waterfront entertainment complex full of lively cafés, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. Experience Sydney’s iconic harbor while enjoying stunning views, whimsical sculptures, and alfresco fine dining and entertainment.
Hungry travelers looking to experience Sydney’s impressive shorefront need look no further than Cockle Bay Wharf. This culinary destination offers visitors easy access to plenty of restaurants with a wide-range of options, from fresh seafood and Italian fare to traditional Australian cuisine. And while there’s plenty to sink your teeth into during the mealtime hours, it’s the late-night scene that draws spirited travelers to the shores of this famous bay. Nightclubs, cocktail bars and speakeasies offer visitors the chance to dance the night away while sipping strong drinks and listening to contemporary tunes in one of Sydney’s most iconic destinations.
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