I Heart Sydney


Memoirs from the land down under. Moments that still linger in my thoughts. With its sparkling harbour waters, cosmopolitan cafe culture and interesting history, I had an exciting time in Sydney… and I didn’t want to leave. Photos: © Copyright Rosemarie John | All Rights Reserved

{module Rosemarie – I Heart Sydney}

Sydney is a sprawling city of over four million people, spread over a vast coastal basin with Sydney Harbour as its centrepiece. To get the feeling for the geography, the best place to start is at the very top – and that is at the top of the Sydney Tower.

Discover Sydney by foot for the best feel of the city. Visit Hyde Park – peppered with towering fig trees. Declared a common in 1810, Hyde Park became the venue for early colonial cricket matches, prize fights and horse races. In 1932, the park saw the construction of the Archibald Fountain.

Find out more about the city’s grisly past, seasoned with tales of transportation ships, convicts and hardship at the Hyde Park Barracks Museum. Built by early prisoners and with exhibits of the belongings they left behind, this is a great place to learn about Sydney’s colonial heritage.

Nearby, is the Australian Museum located on College Street. Established in 1827, this is Australia’s oldest museum. It has many exhibits including an Aboriginal Heritage Unit. The dinosaur skeletons will keep children transfixed and in awe while the Kidspace is an interactive area for kids under five.

Sydney is build around a beautiful natural harbour. Easy walking trails abound, and some of the best views a plenty. Hop aboard a jet boat thrill, a short cruise or a luxury excursion on a yacht at Circular Quay.

The launch pad for all manner of waterborne sojourns, Circular Quay is a hive of activity where souvenir stores and buskers sit alongside some of the city’s best restaurants and harbour views. Don’t forget to look out for an Aboriginal man who plays the didgeridoo beautifully. For a small contribution, you can take a picture of him or with him, which ever you desire.

Contrasting with the Opera House’s convex sails is the dramatic steel presence of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Drive across it, climb it or simply gaze at it from an angle. And while you are at the harbour, visit the much loved Luna Park at Milsons Point. The Park is next to the northern pylon of the Harbour Bridge.

Darling Harbour and Cockle Bay Wharf are an easy walk from the city or a short water taxi ride from Circular Quay. You’ll find stylish shopping at the Habourside Shopping Centre with most stores open everyday until 9pm. There are a wide choice of excellent restaurants and bars, from the causal to the sophisticated too.

At Cockle Bay Wharf, is a place where Sydney’s adults come to play, New South Wales’ only casino has a multitude of gaming rooms with more than 200 tables in all. The complex called Star City also houses eight bars, seven restaurants, two theatres, a nightclub and a five-star hotel.

Down the lane from Star City is the IMAX Theatre showcasing 3D movies on the world’s largest screen – eight storeys’ high. There’s a wide variety of films showing everyday and its open daily from 10am to 10pm. The harbour is home to the Sydney Aquarium and the Sydney Wildlife World.

Walk beneath the sea through 160metres of underwater tunnels with massive 3.5m long sharks glide only inches away or come face to face with koalas and kangaroos, Australia’s unique native furry friends. The Sydney Aquarium is located on the city side of Darling Harbour; between Sydney Wildlife World and Pyrmont Bridge. It is open everyday from 9am until 10pm.

Explore The Rocks, the city’s most exciting shopping, dining and entertainment spot. It was originally the site of the first colonial settlement in Australia in 1788 and has been home to colourful characters and events for hundreds of years. Today, it’s a vibrant, contemporary area of lively hustle and bustle set against a backdrop of historic splendour.

Only a short walk from the Opera House, it houses charming restaurants and cafes, hearty pubs and also a weekend market open from 10am to 5pm. With more than 200 stalls housed under sail-like canopy, The Rocks Market has something for everyone, including a dedicated designer’s section and a huge range of artisan and homemade products.

Finding The Rocks is easy. It’s at the northern end of the city, near Circular Quay. A must visit, is The Rocks Discovery Museum. Housed inside a restored 1850s sandstone building, this museum walks visitors through the story of The Rocks from its Aboriginal past to the present.

Apart from the Sydney Tower and Hyde Park, there’s a lot more to check out at Sydney’s Central Business District – and its great shopping! If you are pushed for time, shopping in the city would be the ideal thing to do. First stop, The QVB. With its stunning architecture and domed roof, the Queen Victoria Building was built in 1898 as a monument for the reigning monarch.

Now, its home to jewellers, cafes, antique stores and international boutiques. Looking for a gem with the red of ruby, the blue of sapphire, the green of emerald and the purple of amethyst all scintillating in one magnificent stone? Drop by Australian Opal Cutters located on Pitt Street for individually designed jewellery pieces.

Australia’s two major departmental stores are Myer and David Jones. They both offer international designer couture, gifts, cosmetics and more. There are many branches spread across the city.

David Jones is located at Castlereagh Street while Myer is located at George Street. If that is not enough, The Strand Arcade is a Victorian-era shopping hub between Pitt and George Streets, with shops and eateries. Don’t miss a chance to check out the innovative clothes at the Graduate Store that showcases wares from local fashion-design graduates.

A deep desire for good food lurks in us all. Wander around the city and you’ll find many restaurants – local, European and Asian. Chinatown is also a must go for great Oriental food.

Fabulous Greek and Italian food can be found all over the city too. Here are some Asian Restaurants located in the CBD. The food is authentically Asian and reasonably priced for medium sized portions.

If you are up late, the Deli Choice offering Malaysian Cuisine is open until 9pm boasting a decent number of Malaysian dishes to soothe your taste buds. Should you travel into the suburbs, there are a variety of restaurants and cafes offering scrumptious cuisines.

As a result of Australia’s multicultural heritage, Sydney has had the opportunity to develop its own form of gastronomy using fresh local produce with a mix of new and traditional cooking styles. The dishes of the world be it Thai or Turkish, French or Fijian, Malaysian or Mediterranean is found here.

Even Indian food in Australia is simply amazing! The best hot chocolate, cakes and everything else can be found at Zellini’s Cafe in Randwick and for delicious Indian food, visit Maya Tandoori in Surrey Hills.

Located on a busy street spotting at least ten different Indian restaurants and a variety of stores selling groceries, spices, DVDs and home decor, Maya Tandoori is truly innovative and unforgettable. It could be considered as Surrey Hills’ best Indian joint.

Overwhelmed by what Sydney has to offer? Amazed at its diversified city yet? Well…. what are you waiting for? Visit Sydney, the Land Down Under for an amazing adventure of sights, sounds, scents and a smashing good time! I know I did… I Heart Sydney! Till we meet again…

The writer is an aerospace and defence journalist. She is currently based in Jakarta as a freelance writer and can be reached at rosemarie.johnc@gmail.com or visit www.rosemariejohn.com for more information.

Rosemarie John