72 Hours in Sydney

Explore the Harbour City like a true Sydneysider.

WORDS Katrina Lobley

So, you think you’ve “done” Sydney. That may be so, but a lot has happened while you’ve been away. The Bondi Pavilion has had an expensive face lift. The hip inner-west suburbs of Newtown and Marrickville keep upping the ante with cool eateries and breweries, bakeries and bars. And if you’re keen for a day trip with altitude, a European-style sauna is now steaming up the Blue Mountains. Mix the brand-new with some classic under-the-radar spots to make you feel like a local, not a visitor. If you want to dig just that bit deeper into the sparkling Harbour City, we’ve got you. Check out these ideas for three fun-filled – and delicious – days.


This little-known 1.8km harbourside track linking Rose Bay to Nielsen Park in Sydney’s eastern suburbs comes with high-wattage views. Spy the Harbour Bridge and Opera House in the distance while working up a sweat along the bushland-shaded boardwalk.

It travels past two tiny harbour beaches – Queens and Milk – and 19th-century Strickland House. Take a dip in the glittering water, dry off on a rock platform and return to Rose Bay’s buzzy Lyne Park for a Turkish brekky and brew at Jezve Coffee while watching ferries and seaplanes shuttle back and forth.

Continuing the beach theme, head ocean-side to Bondi Beach’s Pavilion – fondly known as the Pav – to check out its $48 million facelift. The revamped classic Italianate building now includes driftwood-like columns supporting a new glass atrium and the Bondi Story Room, which incorporates a touchscreen map and 300 stories about locals and famous visitors, such as the late Queen Elizabeth II. If the salt-laden air induces hunger pangs, head to Ikaria Bondi on Campbell Parade for a Greek-inspired feast.

The leafy inner-city suburb of Paddington is packed with cute boutiques. Pop into Sarah Gardner Fine Jewellery to see her ultracontemporary take on opals, take a squiz at the latest exhibitions showing at art galleries such as Maunsell Wickes, Martin Browne Contemporary and Australian Galleries, and head below the pavement of Oxford Street to experience the evocative Paddington Reservoir Gardens, a sunken garden fashioned from a 19th-century water reservoir.

It’s time to hop back in the saddle. Clip-clop around Centennial Park’s 3.6km tree-shaded horse track while aboard a calm and sturdy steed. Three riding schools are located in the equestrian centre near the park. The 189-hectare park, known as “the lungs of the city” and a popular spot for cyclists, joggers and picnickers, is also home to bird-attracting waterways and wetlands, and an 11-circuit sandstone labyrinth (you can download a specially composed piece of music to enhance the meditative experience). Until March 26, you can also head to Moonlight Cinema and not only take in a film, but also absorb the park’s sounds at night – an atmospheric experience that includes distant planes and overhead flying foxes.

DAY 2 
Sydney’s Inner West is packed with some of the city’s most vibrant, cutting edge neighbourhoods. In Newtown – three train stops from Central – slurp a umami-laden breakfast ramen at the one-hatted Rising Sun Workshop (both a restaurant and communal motorcycle workshop). Chase that with a slice of Black Star Pastry’s famous strawberry watermelon cake – known as the “world’s most Instagrammed cake” – on nearby King Street. If you’re into building your vinyl collection, browse the racks at Egg Records when it opens at 11am. 

Pop into the Bob Hawke Beer & Leisure Centre in suburb-on-the-rise Marrickville to check out the RJLH Pool Room, which doubles as a memorabilia stuffed museum honouring the beer loving larrikin who served as Australia’s 23rd Prime Minister. Wet the whistle in his honour with a Hawke’s Lager, which is brewed next door. Part of Hawke’s endorsement agreement with the owners was that a portion of beer sales went to supporting Landcare projects around the nation, so you’ll be helping the environment as you sip.

Travel from the inner west to the farflung outer west – to Leura up in the Blue Mountains – to wander around Everglades, an Art Deco house that’s famous for its Paul Sorensen-designed gardens. The National Trust property, overlooking the rugged Australian bush, includes a formal Cherry Terrace that’s a froth of pink in spring.

Linger in the Garden Village and wind down with a full relax in the nearby European-style Blue Mountains Sauna, tucked into a Leura adventure hub called Lostlane – located in Quinns Avenue, off Leura Mall. Feeling peckish? Head to Leura Garage, one block away, for an early dinner – share a mezze plate complete with grilled pizza bread and house-made seedy crackers while sampling the Central West’s highly regarded cool-climate wines.

On the harbour’s northern side is Waverton’s Coal Loader Cafe. Before heading inside, stop to ponder the intriguing Indigenous rock carving depicting a whale with a man and an animal in its belly. Work off brekky with a wander over the top of the former coal-loading platform that’s been transformed with a grass roof and gardens, then descend to explore a 160-metre-long coal-loading tunnel – a highlight of this former industrial precinct. Take a 2km stroll east to reach Lavender Bay, home to Wendy Whiteley’s lush Secret Garden.

After strolling over the Harbour Bridge or taking the train from Milsons Point to Wynyard, board your 2.5-hour Sydney Sundeck Cruise from Darling Harbour. Admire the new additions to the city skyline – thanks mainly to the Barangaroo development that’s provided Sydney’s tallest building. As you cruise under the bridge and pass the Opera House, enjoy a fresh platter and cold drink – or upgrade by splashing out on a bottle of Bolly.

Zip across the city to the Domain, home to the Art Gallery of NSW and its impressive four-level extension, Sydney Modern. There’s much to see, from the Indigenous gallery near the entrance to the Yayoi Kusama polkadotted flower sculpture on the outdoor terrace, and the subterranean gallery known as the Tank.

Finish the day in a delicious way by taking a seat at tiny Surry Hills finediner The Blue Door. Chef Dylan Cashman has made a name for himselfwith attention-grabbing tasting menus
that showcase the best NSW-sourced produce. His partner, Angelica Nohra, is also racking up accolades thanks to her extensive NSW-centric wine list. But here’s a tip: on Mondays and Tuesdays, it transforms into The Wine Down Wine & Snack Bar, where you can feast on more budget-friendly fare from the same culinary maestro.

The Cruise Sydney Sundeck Cruise departs from Darling Harbour daily at 11.55am, excluding Mondays and public holidays. Click here to book your cruise today.


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