Sydney again



Sydney is one of those truly great cities that can be a holiday destination in itself. You can spend months there and still find new things to do. Even if you’ve already visited once, chances are that there’s a heck of a lot you’ve missed out on. So, for those who’ve done the usual harbour, Bondi, Watson’s Bay and Manly Ferry schtick already, here are a few suggestions to try for when you go back to Sydney.


The Moonlight Cinema

During January, a few spots in the city trade on the moonlight cinema concept. They vary in levels of comfort and formality – the one at Mrs Macquarie’s Point in the Botanic Gardens erects temporary seating and strictly controls the number of tickets, while the one at Centennial Park is very much a picnic blankets and beanbags affair. The latter tends to mix in the all-time classics with some new releases, and whilst it’s hardly the best place for viewing the screen and listening to car chases, it’s a wonderful way to pass an evening with friends, cheese, nibbles and a bottle or two of wine. The former, of course, wins out by having the harbour as a backdrop to the screen.


Newtown and Enmore

The hugely likeable suburbs of the Inner West have a tendency to blend into each other somewhat, but the Newtown-Enmore hybrid is probably the most interesting spot in the area if you have to pick one. It’s full of bars that are far more down to earth than their showpony rivals in the Eastern Suburbs and CBD, you can generally find a good live band on, and there’s food from all around the world available – usually at a very reasonable price. This is Sydney’s slightly grungy, slightly arty heart and most people don’t venture there due to a lack of obvious tourist sights. Time to rectify that.


The Spit to Manly Walk

Everyone does the Bondi to Coogee walk. That’s why you’re constantly fighting through disgustingly fit joggers dragging their tiny little rat-dogs behind them. There is, of course, an absolutely justifiable reason why everyone does the Bondi to Coogee walk – it’s brilliant – but it’d be a mistake to think it’s the only brilliant walk in Sydney. The slightly longer 10km trail from the Spit Bridge to Manly takes you around the undeveloped northern reaches of the Sydney Harbour National Park, past Aboriginal rock carvings, sunbathing lizards and tethered yachts. If you couldn’t look out upon the rest of the city, it’d feel a world away.


The Northern Beaches

For most visitors, going to the beach in Sydney involves getting the bus to Bondi, or the ferry to Manly. If you stay a while, you branch out to the other Eastern Suburbs beaches such as Coogee, Bronte and Tamarama. None of these would probably be in with a sniff of Sydney’s top five – perhaps even top ten. For the best beaches in the city, you have to head north. Manly is theoretically one of the northern beaches, but the trees make it shade over in the afternoon and it can get very crowded. Take the bus up to any of the options on the way to Palm Beach at the top of the Barrenjoey Peninsula and you’re pretty much guaranteed to find a beautiful, relatively uncrowded spot. My favourites are Whale Beach and Bilgola Beach, but Narrabeen, Collaroy, Dee Why and Curl Curl all have a lot going for them too.


The Royal National Park

In Sydney’s southern reaches, this is the second oldest national park in the whole world. Established in 1879, it is largely untamed bushland with a few walking tracks running through it. Bushfires periodically have their wicked way with the eucalypt trees, but the hardly-touched beaches and big cliffs make the coastal fringes worth battling through the bush for. Hire a kayak, bring a picnic or strap on the walking boots – you’ll forget that you’re still within the city boundaries.


Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park

Also within the city’s boundaries, albeit at the northern rather than southern end, is Ku-ring-gai Chase. It’s another staggeringly large swathe of bushland where the walking tracks barely see a soul, and the water gives it a magical frame. In this case, the water is Pittwater, the yacht-strewn stretch that separates the Barrenjoey Peninsula from the thick greenery of the National Park. Incidentally, much of the Skippy television series was filmed here...



OK, Kurnell isn’t the most glamorous part of Sydney, but it is one of the most historically important. It was here at the southern tip of Botany Bay that Captain Cook landed in 1770. With the land claimed for Britain, it set into motion the European colonisation that vastly changed ancient cultures and turned Australia into what we know it as today. A monument marks out Captain Cook’s landing place, while there are also memorials to the most important members of his crew, such as Joseph Banks. The latter was the botanist who meticulously catalogued as much of the native Australian fauna and flora in the short time he had on the new land. The Discovery Centre, within the Botany Bay National Park, partly tells the story of Cook’s expedition – but it also goes into the much longer history of the area.



Also of interest to the historically minded is Sydney’s ‘second CBD’. Way out to the west, through all manner of unappealing, faceless, suburbs, Parramatta doesn’t exactly have the hippest reputation. But it was the second settlement in New South Wales, and many of the buildings from the early colonial era still exist. Elizabeth Farm is now a museum, but part of it is the oldest surviving colonial home (dating back to 1793). Old Government House – which used to be the official home of New South Wales governors – is also worth a look. But the real joy of Parramatta is getting there. Everyone takes the ferry to Manly, but the Parramatta ferry from Circular Quay gives you just under an hour of boat ride along the harbour and Parramatta River.