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Outdoor dining in Sydney

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Spring is in the air in Sydney, and it’s time to welcome back the warmer temperatures. Sydney is a city that’s best enjoyed outdoors – even when you’re dining!  Al fresco dining areas abound in a city that likes to show off its outdoor lifestyle and beautiful natural assets.

So if you’re in Sydney in spring, make sure you sample some of these dining options – many giving you vantage points of some of Sydney’s best natural and tourist sites!

Bondi Beach

On the foreshore of Bondi Beach, there are a number of open air dining options. Once you’ve walked the spectacular Bondi to Bronte walk which offers breathtaking views of Sydney’s famous coast, settle in for a meal or a drink at one of the alfresco dining options along Campbell Parade. At the southern end of Bondi Beach you’ll also find Bondi Icebergs, a well known institution offering great food and the best views of the beach.

Circular Quay

If you want to see Sydney’s iconic landmarks, there’s no better place to situate yourself than in Circular Quay. From this bustling area you can see the Harbour Bridge stretching across beautiful Sydney Harbour, and have a front row view of the Sydney Opera House. There are a number of dining establishments that are well positioned for you to enjoy your meal and the view, but it’s also just as nice to grab some takeaway and perch yourself on one of the many benches or grassy patches. If you’re looking for a Sydney hotel, there are a number located in or close to Circular Quay.

Darling Harbour

Darling Harbour is a great place to soak up the sunshine in Sydney. There are a number of restaurants, cafes and food courts with outdoor seating and views of the sparking water.

Woolloomooloo

For an up market dining experience, head to the Woolloomooloo finger wharf. There is a range of dining options to choose from including Brazilian, Spanish tapas, Italian and modern Asian. If you’re on a tight budget, try the iconic Harry’s Café de Wheels around the corner. It’s a Sydney institution and you can try Australia’s culinary icon – the meat pie. Keep your eyes peeled – you may just spot a celebrity in this area!

Manly

Take a ferry ride across the harbour to the North Shore of Sydney and the Northern Beaches. You’ll find the beautiful Manly beach and a number of eatery options from which you can watch surfers and soak up the Aussie beach culture. Popular with locals on a beautiful afternoon is Manly Wharf Bar.

All of these dining areas can be easily accessed from your Sydney accommodation. So get out there and enjoy an al fresco meal Sydney style!

Paddington Parks

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

There’s always a green space to spread out a picnic blanket, read a book in the sun or take some time out in Sydney. But one of the most ‘park centred’ suburbs is a surprising one. When you envision Paddington you don’t necessarily think ‘space’. But if you look past the famous Oxford Street shopping strip and side lane boutiques you’ll realise there are two particularly important open-air locations. Think Paddington Resevoir Gardens and Centennial Park…

Paddington Reservoir Gardens

It’s a new addition to the Paddington street and landscape but after being officially opened in March 2009 it has become a popular outdoor space that embodies an important part of Sydney’s history. For years the reservoir, which played a crucial role in Sydney’s early water supplies, stood disused and derelict. These days, you’ll see children playing, families picnicking and people spread out in the sun with their weekend newspapers. It’s a park (sitting on the roof of the reservoir) that has been completely reconstructed. What’s more, there’s even a sunken garden in the western chamber.

If you’re after visible ‘historical’ remnants you’ll find some vibrant graffiti in the eastern chamber, which is now also used as space for community and cultural activities. For the rustic architectural lovers amongst us other features to look out for are the timber and stonework.

The gentrification of this historic space on the corner of Oxford Street and Oatley Road has brought the key elements of the original designer, Edward Bell, back to life.

So for anyone in and around Paddington, the Walter Read Reserve is a must do and see ‘relaxing’ location. It’s got some big names to live up to after being described as a combination of the Baths of Caracalla and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon so this is something you’ll have to pass judgment on and check out for yourself!

Centennial Park

Sydney is lucky enough to be surrounded by a lot of natural space but Centennial Park could almost be described as the ‘lungs’ of the city. Entering through the gates you leave the busy streets and traffic behind. Whether you’re sitting back or getting some exercise, it’s a good place to be. For those seeking some down time, find a spot by the water, under a beautiful Morton Bay Fig, or in one of the many quiet corners of the park. Otherwise, get your roller blades and bikes out, take a run, walk or horse ride.

Apart from being a space loved by many, it’s one of the most historic parklands in Australia. Not many would believe it was originally a swamp. Luckily for Sir Henry Parkes vision, it didn’t remain so. His wanted to create a “People’s Park” in which the public could “take in the air” away from the city centre. He certainly achieved it.

If you’re set on making the most of these two open spaces and experiencing a different side of Paddington why not treat yourself to a hotel? Paddington is a stone’s throw from both the city, and the beaches – another kettle of ‘open space’ fish. So for your next trip to Sydney consider the range of Paddington accommodation on offer and it could be you walking to the Paddington Reservoir Gardens or Centennial Park with your weekend paper to lie in the sun.

Musical magic in Sydney

Friday, August 5th, 2011

If you’re a musical lover, Sydney is a good place to be this winter and spring season. With everything from the classic Mary Poppins to modern day Hairspray, you will have your pick of shows to dazzle you while you sit fighting to need to sing and dance in your theatre seat.

For those Sydney bound, here’s the must-see list.

Hairspray – Lyric theatre

This is without a doubt the feel good musical of the Sydney season. Wouldn’t it be terrible if we were all the same? Here’s a production with a message. Everyone’s different. Everyone has something to offer. Let this show lift your spirits – perfect for the young theatre-goer or anyone who loves big and colourful energetic displays.

Mary Poppins – Capitol theatre

Who hasn’t seen Mary Poppins as a child? Who hasn’t uttered the word, ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’? There wouldn’t be many. This is the multi-generation childhood classic which has made its way from book, to the big screen and now, to the stage. Sit back and enjoy the dance scenes, spectacular sets, ‘lift offs’ and the overall imaginative magical world of Mary Poppins.

Jersey Boys – Theatre Royal

There’s a reason this musical is so popular. It’s brilliant. On paper, the story of four blue-collar kids becoming a hit doesn’t sound like too much of a show-stopper. But it certainly is.  These boys are a sensation in storyline and on the stage. Go along and watch the rise of Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi – the four seasons – who sold 175 million records before the age of 30. You won’t be able to help yourself singing along to their big hits like “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, “Oh What a Night” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”. It’s a foot tapping spectacular!

Strange Bedfellows – The New Musical – Princess theatre

It hasn’t quite yet rolled into town but come October, Strange Bedfellows – The New Musical, based on the hit movie with Paul Hogan and Michael Caton, will be on stage! The flick, which also won Best Film at the Toronto World of Comedy film festival, had no trace of singing. But that’s about to change. This is a production set to take Australia, and the world, by storm. Think footsteps of The Boy From Oz, Shout and Priscilla. If you’ve ever been impressed by well-known composer John Foreman (known for his work on Australian Idol) you’ll love his original score for this musical.

Of course, any busy theatre-goer needs a place to rest their head after an evening of entertainment. Make a weekend of it and treat yourself to a Sydney musical trip. The beauty of Sydney’s theatres is that they’re all within a stone’s throw of each other. If you base yourself in the city, any location is a cab ride or short walk away. There’s always the CBD but also check out the surrounding suburbs. For something a little different, think Glebe, Paddington, Darlinghurst and Surry Hills hotel options. Surry Hills accommodation, for example, takes you one step out of the business sector and into the café culture and boutique shopping strip heart of Sydney.

Sydney, an enclave for artists

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Melbourne is often labeled the most ‘artistic’ and cultural of all the state and territory capitals. But Sydney gives it a good run for its money. While natural features like the harbour and beaches dominate the Sydney ‘snapshots’, it’s also a home to just as many galleries as its southern sister.

If you want a taste all you need to do is take a stroll around some of Sydney’s art hubs. Apart from the ‘big Kauna’ (Art Gallery of NSW and Museum of Contemporary Art), you’ll find smaller commercial galleries sprinkled through the streets. One of the most densely populated districts is the very centrally located Darlinghurst. Here’s a ‘to do’ list to get you started:

  • TAP Gallery (278 Palmer St, Darlinghurst): This is a space that provides exhibition space for emerging artists. As a result, it’s often somewhere to see some of the most exciting and innovative work on the market.
  • Urban Uprising (90 Fitzroy St, Surry Hills): If TAP gallery is innovative… Urban Uprising is groundbreaking. This new gallery has a mission to bring street art from around the world to audiences in Australia. This fresh approach to graffiti challenges the divide between high and low art. We’re talking big names like Banksy, Insect, Beejoir, Faile, Gee Vaucher, Jamie Reid, James Cauty, Shepard Fairey, Blak Le Rat and Nick Walter. If you are a street art fan you’ll be weak at the knees by now. If you’re new to the genre, do yourself a favour and make a beeline to this gallery.
  • King Street Gallery (177 William Street, Darlinghurst): Here you’ll find a number of Australia’s most prominent paintbrush wielders including Elisabeth Cummings, Idris Murphy, Jenny Sages and Wendy Sharpe. It also throws a line to emerging artists, who often exhibit some of the best work.
  • The Artery Contemporary Aboriginal Art Gallery (Shop 2, The Westbury, 221 Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst): This not-for-profit gallery, established by Alesha Glennon who set out to establish ‘a gallery with a difference’, returns all their profits to charity. Drop by and experience the colourful, engaging showcase of indigenous art.
  • National Art School Gallery (Cnr Forbes & Burton Streets, Darlinghurst): This gallery, showing a range of interesting exhibitions, is housed in one of the oldest and most prestigious visual arts schools in Australia. It’s worth going in just to have a sticky beak behind the historic walls.

To make the most of a day trampling the art filled Darlinghurst streets, treat yourself to a night in a nearby hotel. Darlinghurst has a range of options. You could also try the close by areas of Surry Hills and Paddington but to be a stone’s throw from these galleries, and surrounded by excellent eateries and bars, Darlinghurst accommodation is sure to be a winning choice.

Time to detox?

Monday, July 4th, 2011

If the long weekend got the better of you or if you’re just feeling sluggish from too many winter meals, it may be time to detox.  The thought of dieting and exercising in winter is far from appealing but it doesn’t have to mean a complete lifestyle overhaul. There are small changes you can make to your daily routine so that when summer comes around, the thought of that bikini doesn’t make you want to head for the hills.

Alcohol-free days

You don’t have to give up the drink completely, just try cutting back. Aim for four alcohol-free days a week if you can, and that still gives you the whole weekend to let your hair down. Alternatively, you can get on board the popular ‘Dry July’ campaign, and try being dry for the whole month.

Substitute heavy food

Don’t worry, you don’t have to go all Gwyneth Paltrow and start eating raw vegetables and tofu to stave off those extra kilograms. But instead of curries, casseroles and stews try chicken and vegetable soup or a noodle stir-fry. They are just as comforting and filling but don’t have those extra calories.

If you think you can handle it, give vegetarianism a go for a week or two. There are some fabulous restaurants around, like Yullis, opposite the Clock Hotel, Surry Hills and Bodhi, in the city. Having a break from meat can help give your liver a rest and make you feel less sluggish and lethargic.

Set fitness goals

It’s usually easier to get up for that run in the morning if you are working towards something. Sign up for the City to Surf or the Blackmores Running Festival so you know you have to get fit before the chilly season is over.  Group fitness classes are also worth the cash in winter. You know you have to wake up because you will get in trouble if you don’t turn up! Plus, there are other people to whinge with.

Incidental exercise

Little things like walking to work, walking to the next bus stop and taking the stairs rather than the escalator can help in your detox. They may sound miniscule, but if you walk up four flights of stairs a day, that can add up to an extra 45 minutes of exercise a week!

Take a mini break

Too tempted by the after-dark delights of Surry Hills, Glebe and Paddington? Accommodation for out-of-city breaks can be really cheap if you keep your eyes on red hot click websites. It could be easier to just escape the delights of the inner city and treat yourself to the ultimate detox away from the bright lights!

Househunting in Sydney

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Looking for a rental house in Sydney is rarely a pleasant experience. No matter where you’re looking, you will probably have to face packed viewings, overworked and overtired real estate agents and extortionate asking prices. But it doesn’t have to be that bad – try some of our hints that will help get you through the day.

Have your forms ready before you see the property

It sounds simple but having your applications form ready on the day of the viewing can help you immensely. Not only will it show the agent that you’re keen, it also saves the Monday morning rush – when the reliable photocopier at work is bound to be broken. Make a couple of copies of your passport and other forms of identification to save you time later and make sure that the people you want to move in with have everything ready as well.

Go to every viewing you can

Even if the photos online make the house look like a dump, you will never know unless you go and see the place yourself. Often the best real estate finds are those that weren’t advertised properly.

Check for bus routes

The property may look great on the morning of the viewing but make sure you keep an eye and an ear out for little things that could make a big difference when you move in. You might not initially notice nearby buses and trains, noisy local pubs and flight paths but you definitely will once you move in.

Drive (if you can)

You may be a public transporter during the week but if you can borrow a car for house viewings, it will make the day a lot easier. Not only will you be more likely to make it to viewings on time, you will also be able to see properties in different areas that you may have struggled to get to on weekend buses and trains.

Have somewhere to crash afterwards

House hunting can be an exhausting activity. If you are not from Sydney, make sure you have somewhere you can rest and relax afterwards. If you have been looking around the Eastern Suburbs in Double Bay, Paddington or Surry Hills, accommodation options are everywhere. North of the bridge, there are plenty of cute hotels and rental apartments in Milson’s Point, North Sydney and McMahon’s Point. Or if you just want somewhere to rest your feet for a while, there are plenty of chilled out pubs, bars and cafes. Try the East Village Hotel, Darlinghurst or Pocket Bar in Paddington. For a quick meal, head to the Golden Sheaf in Double Bay or Commodore Hotel in North Sydney.

Be patient

There is no doubt that looking for somewhere to live can be stressful, time-consuming and frustrating. But good things come to those who wait and the property market in Sydney is definitely a waiting game. The longer you wait, the more you know exactly what you are looking for and what you are not.

Sydney on a cold, winter’s day

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Contrary to popular belief, Sydney is not in an eternal state of summer. It can get rainy, windy and cold and suddenly your favourite rooftop bar is closed because of the bad weather. In a city where one’s social life can tend to revolve around the beach, the harbour or beer gardens, it can be tricky to find things to do in Sydney when the weather isn’t so good. Never fear, there are plenty of things to keep the cabin fever at bay on a rainy day, a rainy night or whenever you need to get out of the house.

A rainy day – If you’re feeling cultured, the Art Gallery of NSW hosts Australia’s most prestigious portraiture award, the Archibald Prize, from April 16 until June 26. It showcases around 40 of the best portraits from around the country and draws a huge crowd every year. But if you require a little more physicality in your rainy day, try Strike Bowling in Darling Harbour or go indoor rock climbing at ClimbFit in St Leonards. Alternatively, you could catch a flick at Sydney’s trendy Chauvel Cinema on Oxford St or the Verona just down the road. Both are licensed so you can have that bottle of red while watching the big screen.

A rainy night – There’s nothing worse than a night on the town when it’s pouring with rain – there are no cabs and the light summery jacket you’re wearing doesn’t seem to be keeping you warm. That’s why it’s best to find shelter from the rain and stay there.  Sydney Comedy Festival is being held at venues all around the city from April 11 until May 8 so try and catch some of the international acts on offer, like Danny Bhoy and Nina Conti. Out-of-the-rain watering holes include the Beresford Hotel, Surry Hills or Grasshopper bar in the CBD. For an ultra-hip bar that has an underground feel to it, pop into Shady Pines in Darlinghurst. Accommodation options are a dime a dozen in the area if you’re feeling a little worse for wear and can’t bear the agonising wait for a taxi.

It’s been raining for days and nights - There are always the reliable indoor options like the world-famous Sydney Aquarium or the Museum of Contemporary Art in the Rocks but after days of rain, the idea of any sort of roof over your head can be a little too much to bear. So why not take on the rain? Buy a pair of gumboots, a raincoat and an umbrella from one of the hundreds of stores at Westfield Bondi Junction and puddle-jump to your heart’s content.

There are always things going on in Sydney – rain, hail or shine. All you need to do is pop open that umbrella, pray that the bus is running on time and go and see what Sydney can offer, despite the wintry weather.

The Royal Easter Show

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

Sydney’s Royal Easter Show is the Australia’s largest national event, combining entertainment, agriculture, food and fashion into two jam-packed weeks. From roosters to rollercoasters and cows to Cadbury, the Show offers something for everyone. Whether you’re young, old, a family, a couple, or taking on Sydney solo – make a day of it and head out to the Showground for a day you’ll never forget….

The Easter Show caters for people of all ages and interests. There are a number of ways you can tackle the show but the most important thing is to make a rough plan so you don’t miss out on anything!

-Transport. Getting to and from the show is easy! Sydney Showground is located in the Olympic Park at Homebush and is serviced by bus, train, ferry and taxis. There are also parking stations if you choose to drive. If you’re an out-of-towner and wondering about accommodation – Surry Hills and Darlinghurst and are both located within walking distance of Central Station, which has direct train services out to Olympic Park.

- For the kids. If you’re heading to the show with kids, make sure you don’t miss out on the Dairy Farmers Milking Barn, where farmers will show you how they milk their cows.  You can also catch a sheep shearing demonstration and visit your favourite breeds of cats and dogs in the Domestic Animal pavilions. Why not grab some fish and chips to eat outside in Cathy Freeman Park before heading into the Kids Carnival for the afternoon to have a pony ride or a heart-racing drop on the Free Fall.  Finish off the day with a trip around the Showbag Pavilion and watch their eyes light up!

- For the adults. There’s plenty to do for adults wishing to enjoy the best the Show has to offer. Start the day with a freshly ground espresso coffee from Café Alfresco before taking a tour around the foodie’s paradise – the Woolworths Fresh Food Dome. Once you’ve tasted everything on offer, chill out and watch the famous WoodChop.  It would be rude not to have a drink, so why not grab one from one of the bars in the arena or head to the Tyrells Wine Bar for a cheeky tipple. Head back to the Main Arena to catch the Precision Driving Team and a wild horse riding performance. And as always, your Easter Show night will end with a bang…

With so much to see and do, one day at the Show might not be enough!  It’s worth coming down to Sydney for the experience of the Show and with 900,000 people expected to attend the show, it’s worth making a trip of it and booking a hotel. Darlinghurst, Surry Hills and the city have plenty of accommodation options that will place right next to public transport networks as well as being in the midst of all the action.

Sydney’s Autumn Racing Carnival

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Sydney’s racing scene comes alive during the Sydney Carnival, held from March 19-April 23th. At race courses throughout Sydney, the finest thoroughbreds battle it out on the field, while Sydneysiders and visitors come in their finest frocks for a day out with friends. If you’re in Sydney during this time, head to Randwick Racecourse to enjoy all the action – you might even win some money! Randwick racecourse is close to the city and the perfect way to get a taste of Sydney away from the tourist traps.

The Sydney Carnival consists of different carnivals and race days. If you would like to be part of Sydney’s biggest racing event, then get yourself along to Randwick Course on one of these days to celebrate the glamour, style and prestige of Sydney’s world-class racing carnival.

- David Jones Australian Derby Day, April 9th

The excitement begins on April 9th, the first race day of the Carnival to be held at Randwick Race Course. The 2011 Derby Day also marks 150 years of the AJC Derby at Royal Randwick. The star-studded Group 1 racing line-up isn’t the only thing to look forward to – Derby Day’s notorious Fashion on the Fields is sure to encourage Sydney’s fashionistas to dress in their finest! Fit in with the David Jones theme by wearing black and white.

- Emirates Doncaster Day, April 16th

The 2011 Doncaster Day boasts a premier racing line up and trackside entertainment. There will be a Punters Podium, a Punter’s Club and an interactive Fashion Spotting Competition. Don’t miss out on your chance to win a $50,000 bet on the Group 1 Emirates Doncaster Mile. A win could make one of the best days on the Sydney social calendar even better!

- Schweppes Sydney Cup, April 23rd

Held on Easter Saturday, the Sydney Cup is a great way to celebrate with friends during the Easter break. The Sydney Cup is the grand finale of the Sydney Carnival, so there’s much to look forward to. Huge prize money, high fashion and trackside entertainment add to the exhilarating atmosphere.

If you want to do something different while you’re visiting Sydney, or if you live in Sydney and are looking forward to enjoying one of its finest social events, then you won’t be disappointed by the 2011 Sydney Carnival. The races in Sydney are as much about the horses and races as they are about the fashion, friends and having a great day out! Randwick Racecourse is conveniently located to Sydney, so you won’t be far from your Paddington or Hyde Park hotel. On race days, there are also additional public transport services operating to get you there from your accommodation. Paddington, Surry Hills and Darlinghurst are all Sydney suburbs located close to the action.

*Ladies, remember to wear comfortable shoes or carry a pair of flats in your bag!

March in Sydney

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Summer might be winding up and the weather cooling down, but there are plenty of things going on in March in Sydney. It’s a great time to explore the city with a range of activities and events to choose from. Make the most of March in Sydney – here’s a guide to what’s on.

Exhibitions – There are a number of exhibitions of note in Sydney during March. At the Museum of Contemporary Art you’ll find the Annie Leibovitz: A photographer’s Life 1990-2005 exhibition, which showcases the work of celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz, as well as her photographic documentation of her family life and close friends. The exhibition features photographs of Daniel Day Lewis, Demi Moore, Scarlett Johansson, Al Pacino, Nicole Kidman and Brad Pitt amongst other well-known faces. Leibovitz has been documenting American popular culture since the 1970s, and her works can be seen in Sydney until March 27. At the Australian Museum until March 13, you’ll find the most candid, extraordinary and unique photography of the natural world and animals at the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2010 exhibition.

Music concerts – Sydney attracts a number of world famous musicians. In March, Sydney welcomes stars such as Cyndi Lauper, MGMT, Usher, Rihannah and Santana. Catch one of their shows at one of Sydney’s great entertainment venues.

Festivals – A mainstay of Sydney’s March cultural calendar is the Alliance Francaise French Film Festival. The Palace Chauvel, Verona, Norton St. And Hayden Cremorne Orpheum cinemas host the event, and show some of France’s finest cinematographic pieces of the year.  Get your tickets early!

Earth Hour – The grassroots movement known as Earth Hour began in Sydney in 2007, and has grown to become a worldwide phenomenon. On Saturday, March 26 at 8:30pm, governments, businesses and individuals around the world will switch off their lights for a designated hour, in recognition of the environmental responsibilities the world faces and a commitment to uphold them. Do your part, and participate in Earth Hour in the city where it all started.

Mardi Gras – Every year in March, Sydney comes alive in celebration of its LGBT communities. The city hosts a number of events, and the festivities offer a great chance to participate in some of Sydney’s most flamboyant and outrageous parties and spectacles. If you’re in Sydney between February 20th and March 6th then get involved! The event culminates with the parade on Saturday, March 5th. If you’re visiting Sydney and looking for accommodation, Surry Hills, Paddington and Darlinghurst are all suburbs with accommodation options close to all the action.

If you’re visiting Sydney in March, you won’t be short of things to do and see right on the doorstep of your accommodation. Darlinghurst, Surry Hills and Paddington all offer accommodation options from which you can enjoy Sydney’s March events.