Shades of Sydney - Explore the city like a local
Updated: Mar 9
- choose your shade, for there is something for every traveler.
All you need to know to visit Sydney.
Sydney is a city of promises, of diversified people, and nationalities. Gradually building its own shades from different shades of people who live here, a true cosmopolitan and true spirit of world-citizenship.
It is hard to identify the original natives of the city, as there has been none actually it’s an amalgamation of various nationalities and diversities. It’s absolutely astonishing the way it has embraced different cultures and their festivals. Here you can live the notion of calling yourself a world-citizen.
Be it Chinese New Year, Diwali, French Wine tasting, Mardi gras, aboriginal day, Australia Day, New year celebrations at harbour or the amazing and colourful Vivid Sydney.
It’s a city of “celebrations - of culture, of people, of rituals and sometimes just diversity”.
Its expansive, and still growing, the way all the surrounding suburbs have merged together. During peak hours, it’s really a struggle to travel to work, when all the suburbs population gets accumulated in the public train to city for their daily jobs.
The original idea of Migration.
Before I write about how I am finding it in Sydney, I shall first narrate my reason for shifting to Australia. No I wasn't just looking around to migrate for better job or finances. Ofcourse! they have some play, but my reason is different.
The decision to come to Australia was taken over a few drinks, when all my friends were sitting in my living room, during weekend at my house in Swindon, UK. We were a group of young and enthusiastic IT professionals deployed in UK. We were discovering our love with the beauty of world, enjoying our bachelorhood in 2012, dreaming, discovering and exploring.
Together we pledged we will always remain close, and will plan our lives around each other. Followed by this, there was an emotional oath to live in one country, one city, probably around same vicinity. Some of us took the pledge very seriously in 2013 specially me. In India we have families and we prefer living with them, so its highly unlikely to follow this dream hence this option was ruled out, UK though my favorite and first preference, already closed it doors therefore was not a choice.
Like every other Indian planning to migrate, we were also left with only two choices, Australia or Canada. I am not much fond of super cold weather and also, Canada is very far, so Australia was obvious choice.
The North and South Pole
Hanish pursued the migration first, followed by me and his sister Karishma, then it became impossible for others as all settled in different geographic locations we got literally poles apart Vinay in Norway (North pole) Rajat, Rajiv, Gunjan, Neeti and Devika was well settled in UK, and Europe (near north pole) me and Hanish now south and down under.
The struggling and settling
Between the decision and its actual execution, I had 5 years of great life chapters in UK and Pune which will come separately in my blog.
I have been living in Sydney on my PR from 15 months now. Initially I started in Canberra with Hanish. I stayed there for two weeks in parts only, first weekend I came to Sydney along with new girlfriends Karishma (Hanish's sister) and Farah (Hanish's friend and flatmate).
Fortunately, one of my batchmate from Uni, Anubhav, who is also a great old friend was deputed to Sydney the same time and his flat was at "One Darling Harbour". What a great location to explore Sydney, living at such prestigious and convenient location we gals were completely blown away by beauty of Darling Harbour and Harbour side at circular quay.
We were walking the Pyrmont Bridge almost every day, we had amazing clubs to go around and a choice to just sit in Balcony and admire the view, it couldn't have been better. One of my old friends Sunny, from early days of TCS, also got along and together we had loads of fun.
Ultimately, All these factors influenced me and I decided to find a job in Sydney.
The excitement remained for quite some time and we explored almost everything in the city, but then it became the usual and I came across lot of challenges.
While I had a Roller-coaster journey to settle, accepting and finally adapt to Australia, I believe Sydney has started growing on me.I have dwelled in to several feelings for this city from:
· “Love the harbour view” to “I don’t like traveling so much yaar, its nonsense”,
· “ This City is so Lively and Vibrant” to “Absolute, nightmare finding homes”
· “I don’t have time and freedom” to “Wow! I got a license I am an explorer now”
· “Why is everything so procedural” to "what a great medicare system"
“Amazing places in NSW, man loving it” to “OMG horrible traffic”
· “Such an amazing drive” to “ Arghhh..super expensive living”
· “ I love the location of my Job” to “ I need a better salary”
· “I feel homesick” to “ I am making it my home”
I have gone thru several shades in my life while, I have lived under Sydney’s umbrella. Similarly, There are many shades to the travellers exploring this city. I am trying to define here something for everyone from my local experience.
My current house Pictures
1. Sydney the City
Sydney is wonderful, perky, and Vivacious. I have been working right in the heart at Circular Quay hence, was lucky to explore it bit by bit every day during our lunch strolls. People used to d-board the train with cameras and casual wear and I used to dboard with pride, in formals, with a statement like “ you know its pretty casual spot for me, I work here! you come here and pay, while I get paid to come here “ everyday same uplifting feeling, and to add to it there was panoramic view of Harbour from 15th floor window where I used to sit 😊.
Things to do in City:
a. Circular Quay Station– My previous work spot, the highlight of Sydney as it has Oprah house, Harbour bridge, Botanical Garden and the Rocks.
i. Oprah House
ii. Botanical Garden
iii. The Rocks
Catch city circle train from Central Platform 16, use an opal card its anyway better than single ticket as there is no charge for the card and you can charge it with any amount
starting from $10.
b. Wynyard or Townhall station– One of the best shopping place in Sydney, you can either go to Queen Victoria Building which inhabits a mall and is actually a plush place to visit.
Catch city circle train from Central Platform 16, one station before Circular quay if you
board from Central. Use an opal card, you can install Trip View Lite app to get the train
schedule and plan your journey between two different station.
c. Darling harbour – This can be easily accessed from Town hall station which is 2 stations
before Circular Quay in the same train line, if you are starting from Central.
Most of the daily cruises start from here. I have been to many and l loved each of them. Try
finding the deals via Groupon there are better options with discounted prices.
Activities around Darling Harbour:
1) Walk the Pyrmont bridge, for the extraordinary site of the buildings and harbour.
(a) It gives you 360-degree view and you can capture the grandeur of the location from here.
(b) Once down the bridge, you can stroll around the harbour area for some great restaurants with outdoor sittings. I personally like Kazbah and Oliveto for the service. 2) Sit over the stairs in middle of the darling harbour and have a sip of coffee or an
Ice-cream scoop and enjoy the liveliness of the place. Just be alert about the Seagulls
as they attack for food and mostly are annoying.
3) Shop at the harbour side mall, if you are looking for some shopping deals go for this mall
it has some good variety, but not the best.
4) Explore STAR Casino and some pubs around townhall in night, like Club IVY, Marble Bar is
awesome, and Bunglow 8, Oliveto, Kazbah etc are also good if you want to remain close
to harbor. There is also a bowling club called Strike which can be good fun.
5) Take a dinner cruise deal from Groupon and while on-board you can enjoy drinks and stunning view of harbour and this will take you to Oprah house and Harbour bridge site. You can see the night view with lights over harbour bridge and Oprah house. This was my first cruise in Sydney, I did it on first week after my arrival in Canberra. Truly makes you see the exotic side of Sydney.
6) Vivid Sydney Cruise is highly recommended if you are visiting around Vivid Sydney season which is late May to mid-June.
2. Sydney’s Discovery point
I have already written a separate blog for this and this surely is one of my favourite spots in Sydney and mostly is missed by travelers in their itinerary. Here is the blog link
3. City beaches
Some popular beaches around Sydney
Bondi Beach– train from Town hall to Bondi Junction and then a bus to the beach. Good for Surfing, seafood and pubs. Link
Coogee Beach- Bus goes from Circular quay and Wynyard, check timings before you plan. There is a nice walk around the cliff as well otherwise its mostly similar to Bondi. There is also a walk from Bondi to Coogee along the coast and is very picturesque.
Manly Beach– best way to go is thru a ferry from Circular Quay Wharf 5 to Manly- you can get Opal ferry or super-fast one they just have difference of $1.5. In the super-fast ferry there is beer available on deck which you can enjoy on the route. The trip is awesome in ferry with all the suburb and harbour views.
i) Go for a Whale watching cruise - it’s worth it to see the huge water mammal do the dives in the deep sea, it’s a formidable experience you can’t easily have elsewhere.
ii) Dolphin watching cruise- while most of us have seen Dolphins in Sea life parks and zoos, but this is a chance to see them in their natural wild habitat, Australia has great variety of Dolphins and wonderful cruises to explore them in the sea.
iii) Snorkelling or Scuba Diving at Sydney harbour there are many agencies that organise that at reasonable prices you can do the complete course here.
iv) Climb the harbour bridge – This is another popular activity amongst tourist. I recommend keeping it optional as there is plenty of other things to do also it’s a bit expensive.
v) Cruise the harbour with Tallboy – There is a cruise from Sydney harbour in the 200 years old Tall boy sail cruises, this is an amazing experience with staff dressed like old sailors and pirates. The lunch and drinks are on the house and commentary is superb. The rock and roll over the waves due to winds on the sail is what makes it adventurous if you have motion sickness this isn’t for you.
vi) Jet boats – there are jet boats available at Circular quay if you want to get your adrenaline rushing in the sea waves with your group.
vii) Helicopter Ride – Go for a Panoramic experience of harbour view from the window of the helicopter, this is quite expensive though.
viii) Skydiving – There are many operators who facilitate this experience around Sydney. The views are best in NSW for Skydive you can try your first fall experience here Link- Sydney Sky dive.
5. Explore Wildlife
a) Sydney Sea-life Aquarium – I have been there recently, initially when we started tour I was little disappointed but then later on, it went on expanding and it was worth it, there is large variety of Australian aquatic life, displaying more than 700 species comprising more than 13,000 individual fish and other sea and water creatures from most of Australia's water habitats. The highlight is Shark Valley and great barrier reef area.
b) Sydney Wildlife – Its included under activities at Darling harbour an indoor wildlife set up can be combined with sea-life aquarium and Madame Tussauds.
c) Taronga Zoo – Rescued animals are kept here, its Harbourside animal attraction with over 340 separate species and a ferry service to the city centre. But if you have been to other Zoos in Australia or Thailand or Hongkong, then you should lower your expectation it’s not as huge. However Sea lion and Bird show are really attractive. Typical ticket price is $35. You can get some deals in Groupon and combine with some other activities.
d) Feather-dale Wildlife Park, Blacktown – is an Australian zoo in Doonside, west of the Sydney CBD. It specialises in Australian native wildlife and birds, as well as reptiles and marsupials. Here its more liberal than zoo, you can feed the Kangaroos and Koalas, great activities for Children. Ticket Price is around $25 for adult.
e) Prospect Reservoir – Watch Kangaroos in their natural habitat for free. I like this park for picnic there is ample of parking drive is beautiful it’s not a wildlife park or zoo. It’s a water reservoir and Kangaroos just happen to occupy this place. You can plan a picnic, enjoy family games or if you are couple just enjoy a walk around.
6. Places to Shop
Wynyard, Townhall, DFO, Haymarket.
For Souvenirs, don’t shop at the popular places there is a dollar shop on the start of Hay market with very cheap prices for Souvenirs and lot of variety you can buy things in bulk to gift your friends.
Townhall and Darling harbour has many great pubs around you can do pub hopping while most of the working crowd is directed here on weekends.
The Rocks – Is my favourite of all. The whole place, is on the street and looks like some part of Europe, Pubs are based on European theme, you can find Italian, Spanish, Swiss cuisines and the ambience is amazing.
I recommend a visit to Munich in the evening sitting outdoors and enjoying a drink. or enjoy the live country music inside.
Another great one is The Argyle, Harts, The Rowson, The Doss House
For dining El-Camino etc are nice as well. You can try other pubs as well all of them are really good for a visit.
There is a heritage walk inside the streets of Rocks with pubs lined up even if you don’t intend to sit do have a stroll in this area, there is bunch of local shops selling crafts and street food etc. Specially pay a visit for the October fest.
Darling Harbour- there are many great pubs and eateries around darling harbour some of the best are Kazbah, Bunglow 8, Bat & Ball Hotel.
Wynyard - Door Knock - A hard-to-find underground cocktail bar in the CBD.
Town hall - Marble Bar (Ambience is too good), Club Ivy, Ramblin’ Rascal Tavern.
Central - MJOLNER Underground pub great cocktails, Shady Pines Saloon
The Darlinghurst original that spawned an empire.
Majorly operated by bus, trains and ferry every day all you need is get an opal card via any news agency or train station and register it using this link so that if you lose you can always block and transfer your account. Top it up as you go. On Sunday the fare is just $2.5 anywhere you go but frequency is extremely low, so plan your itinerary accordingly.
There are lot many suburbs and areas around this ever evolving and expanding city but from a traveler's point of view and days I have tried covering pretty much the best ones.