Top Tips For Your Next City Break – Sydney


The Harbour City (Australia's largest with a population of over 4,600,000 people) enjoys a breathtaking oceanic location, a warm and sunny maritime climate, a wealth of great museums and galleries, a fantastic and inexpensive public transport system and offers diverse world class cuisine and wines at competitive prices.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

The Australian summer runs roughly from November through to March and, provided you are diligent in wearing sunscreen and seeking shade, it is a great time to visit a vibrant and welcoming metropolis.

Background reading and viewing?
Patrick White, Nevil Shute, Kylie Tennant, Dorothy Hewett, Peter Carey, Germaine Greer, Clive James, Oodgeroo Noonuccal and Barry Humphries all feature in Sydney's celebrated, harbourside 'Writers Walk' at Circular Quay. Contemporary fiction writers that draw praise include Patricia Wolf and Tracey Lien. The new, 2023 edition, of The Rough Guide to Australia is a worthwhile investment for £19.99 and, for those travelling light, a Kindle version is available.

Clive James - Writers Walk

The Australian dollar, which is currently very close to 2 units per pound Stirling.

Get around by?
Ferry, bus, tram and train. Sydney's public transport system is extensive, efficient and inexpensive and you can pay by touching in and out with your mobile phone which makes life easy. Beautiful beaches and parks also make for wonderful running and walking.
The longest state ferry ride (circa 20 minutes) is out to Manly wharf which offers magnificent views and both ocean and harbour beaches, plentiful restaurants, surfing and shopping opportunities and the chance to visit the historic former quarantine hospital.

Hotels and AirBnbs are plentiful on all budgets and there are cost-effective campsites in some great locations too. On the dual recommendation of a Bristol-based Australasian friend (cheers Darby) and The Rough Guide we spent a comfortable week in the Glenferrie Lodge in Kirribilli, a well-appointed guest house in a quiet but fashionable quarter, a stone's throw from both Kirribilli House (the prime minister's Sydney residence) and Admiralty House where the governor lives when in town.

Food and drink?
Now we are talking. Top of the agenda is seafood, which is widely available and as fresh as can be. Sydney Fish Market, the world's second largest after Tokyo, is worth a visit in its' own right. We had a fantastic al fresco repast of sashimi and lobster with glasses of Ara Estate Pinot Gris at the 'Boat Shed' restaurant, that could not have been better. The food scene in Sydney is vibrant and diverse. We also had a terrific Thai dinner at Porkfat in Haymarket, a great Indian meal at Malabar in Kings Cross and two fine Asiatic suppers at Bacari, a wonderful 'local' at Milsons Point. There are terrific wines available from all over Australia (and the rest of the vinous world) but the Hunter Valley offerings are marvelous and have the lowest transportation costs.

Sashimi in Sydney

Don't miss?
The opera house or the harbour bridge. Happily, you can't. They are in surprisingly close proximity and the former is smaller than imagined and the latter is larger. They are both wonderful. You can get a guided tour of the opera house, which we did courtesy of our Sydneysider friends Peter and Graham (thanks guys) which takes about an hour and is informative and fun in equal measure. You can climb the bridge, which we didn't, or rattle over it in a train, which we did. Newtown, an up and coming urban area, and Bondi beach are both worth visiting, as are the Gallery of New South Wales and the Museum of Contemporary art, which are both world class. The Mardi Gras festival, which starts in the second week of February, is the highlight of Sydney's famous LGBTQ+ calendar and the New Year's Eve firework displays (at 9m and midnight) draw attention from all over the world. Horseracing is a serious feature in Sydney and there are festivals to celebrate it in August and September and March and April. The zoos and aquarium all get great reviews but we didn't venture to them, but we did check out the Maritime Museum which has lots of interesting artefacts, including Ken Warby's, Sydney-built, world record breaking (and holding) 'Spirit of Australia', the world's fastest ever boat. The botanical gardens are also beautiful, free to visit and packed with points of historical interest, such as the oldest bridge in Australia. Those interested in wine, who fancy getting out of town, could enjoy a Vineyard Tour in the Hunter Valley – .
Sport is also a major attraction, especially in the form of cricket, rugby and Aussie rules football.

Spiders, sunburn, 'skip pigeons' (white ibis or Threskiornis molucca) which proliferate in parks, and trying to pack too much in too quickly.

Take home?
A suntan, photographs, magical memories, Vegemite (if you are partial) and some amazing wines.

Jason Yapp with Pinot Gris - Sydney