Amazing places to show overseas vistors in Sydney?
September 30, 2008 7:41 PM   Subscribe

Amazing places to show overseas vistors in Sydney?

HI All,

I've lived in Sydney most of my life and I've had no trouble in the past entertaining overseas visitors - Blue Mountains, Opera House, Harbour Bridge etc.

But I have a friend from overseas who is living here, they have done all the standard tourist things (other than the mountains, they come from a very mountainous region so the piddly Blue Mountains is unlikely to impress them). I'm looking for something out of the ordinary - for me as well! Maybe National Parks (of which I know very little about), or even weekend trips with a few friends (Hunter Valley).

posted by Admira to Travel & Transportation around Sydney, Australia (21 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Open Sydney 08, especially the Focus Tour.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 7:49 PM on September 30, 2008

I recommend the Quarantine Station at North Head - it is an incredible place and a fascinating part of Sydney's history. They have a brand new restaurant onsite in the old boiler room which has beautiful harbour views. There are also some historical and ghost tours which are a lot of fun. It's also close to Manly Beach, so you could take the Manly ferry from Circular Quay over.
posted by madforplaid at 8:29 PM on September 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

I guess if you were all feeling especially flush you couldn't go past a seaplane trip to the Berowra Waters Inn for lunch. That's an extremely memorable experience.
posted by lottie at 8:38 PM on September 30, 2008

We visited NSW in 2005 for mr. headnsouth's brother's wedding (at Pepper's Creek in the Hunter Valley). We had kids with us so we didn't do the bridge climb but it looks like a lot of fun.

The highlight of our visit was a leisurely trip to the Blue Mountains, including camping at Glenbrook, staying overnight in Katoomba & doing the touristy things there (3 sisters), and especially hiking at Blackheath. Really lovely. Until those longer hikes I had no idea you had rainforests in Oz. It was beautiful.

In Sydney the very best food we had was at Green Gourmet in Newtown. It's a vegetarian restaurant but even our meat-eaters were in heaven. So good. That whole neighborhood is nice for aimless walking & bookstore browsing & the like.

We walked along the beaches too, from Coogee up to Bondi, that was an easy scenic walk with cliffs and a seaside cemetery and a bunch of old guys playing bocce.
posted by headnsouth at 8:42 PM on September 30, 2008

Dinner and a movie at Govindas is always nice.

Or take them to Scotland Island.

my favourite place though is Taronga Zoo.
posted by robotot at 9:05 PM on September 30, 2008

What about a trip around the harbour on one of the tall ships(they're moored around The Rocks) or one of those nauseating fast boats that spin and do spinny fasty things on the harbour... or an afternoon tea cruise.

The harbour is your secret tourist weapon. Clifton gardens has Ripples Restaurant or there's Bathers Pavilion for breakfast. Or Manly for Max Brenner chocolate after a trip to the Quarantine Station.

The zoo is fab, but be warned, it's $39 per adult. Unless you have access to guest pass....
posted by taff at 9:53 PM on September 30, 2008

Walk the length of Palm Beach & climb up to the lighthouse.

Visit West Head, just across Pittwater from Palm Beach.

Try Wattamolla beach (complete with a pretty lagoon) in the Royal National Park, then continue driving south as far as Stanwell Park for some great views. Nice road, too.

Wander around the cute backstreets of Balmain (ferry to & from, naturally!)

I recently cycled from Taronga Zoo wharf through southern Mosman & Clifton Gardens (amazing big old houses & gardens!) to a gallery with a view on West Head - spectacular! There's a walking track that covers a similar sort of route.

I assume they've already been to Watsons Bay & The Gap, and done the Bondi to Coogee cliff walk...?

Wander around the finger wharves in White Bay (west of the Harbour Bridge). If jogging or cycling, you can follow most of the foreshore as far as Annandale.

You can also follow the Cooks River from Tempe to Canterbury - all parkland. Prettiest in the early morning or late afternoon, especially if the tide is high.

Try hitting some ethnic enclaves, eg Auburn (Turkish), Campsie (Chinese / Vietnamese), Marrickville (Greek / Vietnamese / everything), Lakemba (everything, but largely Lebanese & Islamic of all stripes), Cabramatta (Viet), Hurstville / Chatswood (Chinese), Strathfield-Flemington (largely Korean).

Nielsen Park in Vaucluse for a picnic & swim. Boy Charlton pool in the Domain for a scenic swim. Ditto any ocean bath, or the Dawn Fraser pool in Rozelle / Balmain. Don't forget Balmoral Beach (Mosman area). The Womens' baths on the headland north of Coogee, if yr friend is female.

Markets: Glebe every Saturday, Surry Hills once a month, Paddington every Saturday, Rozelle, um, I forget when. Balmain Markets, too. There are night markets in Dixon St (Chinatown) that are quite lively, but I've never been able to work out the schedule - think they're warmer months only. The Fish Markets are OK for a bite to eat on a weekend.

Don't discount the Blue Mountains just coz yr friend is from Mountainland. Our bush & landscape are foreign to them, after all. Blue Gum Forest is particularly recommended.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:10 PM on September 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

that might've been walsh bay, not white bay.

my personal secret for a great picnic spot: the tiny park at the tip of Darling Point.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:14 PM on September 30, 2008

Response by poster: Awesome awesome responses so far ... keep them coming! Thanks!
posted by Admira at 11:25 PM on September 30, 2008

I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss the Blue Mountains. If they're into bushwalks the vertigo inducing Giant Staircase is still quite impressive.

If it's a misty day they can enjoy the eucalypt vapour which they won't experience back in their mountains. There are some awesome one-day or two-day walks if the weather is fine.

Nthing the North Shore. We had an uncle who was a local drive us all around the sites of the shore from Palm Beach, down to the military bases, Mosman, the zoo and gondola, and Manly. And on top of that when we pulled up to Manly we found the food festival was on so we got to taste all sorts of yummy Australian food and wine at the end. Bonus!

Maybe check the local events calendar to see what's on around town.
posted by BAKERSFIELD! at 12:10 AM on October 1, 2008

One of my favourite afternoons in Sydney was getting lost in Longueville - it's a beautiful suburb in which to wander by the water, although I understand some of the gorgeous Sydney architecture has now been replaced with McMansions.

Along similar lines, I really enjoyed a walking tour of Castlecrag, the suburb developed by Walter Burley Griffin - it's not a leisurely tour, with all those hills, but fascinating and beautiful.

Take the RiverCat upriver to Parramatta and do the historical sights there. I also loved a Playing Beatie Bow tour of The Rocks, but it was one of my fave books as a kid so might not be as fun without that reference.

What about the Powerhouse?
posted by goo at 3:28 AM on October 1, 2008

I'll just type this verbatim from a newspaper clipping of an article by Bruce Elder:

Positioned between North Bondi and Vaucluse, Dover Heights is one of the city's little-known scenic treasures. This narrow strip of land stretches along the ridge above the eastern coastal cliff face, providing some of the finest views of the city and delightful cliff-top walks.

...a sensible starting place is Rodney Reserve at the eastern end of Liverpool Street (which runs off Military Road) is possible to walk in either direction but heading north will lead to playing fields where, above the cliffs, there is a plaque commemorating that the CSIRO used the site in the infancy of radioastronomy and achieved a first in 1949 when it identified a radio galaxy.

Further north there is a superb new, wide walkway - with metal and wood railings - that runs along the cliff tops from Lancaster Road to Diamond Bay Reserve. The views are some of the most spectacular on the NSW east coast.

On the other side of Military Road is Dudley Page Reserve and its uninterrupted views up the harbour, with the bridge, Opera House and skyline of the CBD on the horizon (with) carefully placed seats to help you enjoy the glorious scene.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:07 AM on October 1, 2008

The Museum Of Contemporary Art (MCA) at Circular Quay is free. While down that way, Customs House is nice to check out, even if just to use the clean toilets and read a free newspaper.

Seeing the bats in the Botanical Gardens at sunset is awesome.

Also just walking across the Harbor Bridge is a cool cheap way to see the harbor.
posted by Burgatron at 5:52 AM on October 1, 2008

I clicked in to recommend the bats in the Botanical Gardens, too. I was there mid-day and just dug them hanging from the trees and muttering to themselves.
posted by Scram at 6:20 AM on October 1, 2008

Seconding Palm Beach, and also Glebe and the Blue Mountains. Check out the iconic Hydro-Majestic Hotel.

I lived in Sydney for a period in the late 1990s and these are some somewhat unusual things that interested me :-

The Glebe joss house is a Chinese temple which gets busy on weekends - interesting place.

Waverley Cemetery is a very peaceful place, huge with great views over the ocean. There's also the enormous Rookwood Cemetery.

There are a number of Aboriginal rock engravings in the Sydney area - you can do worse than seek some of them out. Another link.

The Manly ferry and a ferry trip round the Harbour - Sydney Harbour is central to the whole geography of the city.

Also seconding a walk across the Harbour Bridge.
posted by plep at 6:33 AM on October 1, 2008

I was going to mention the Coogee to Bondi walk, but it's already been mentioned, so consider it seconded. Also great (and completely different) was the Spit to Manly walk.

I'll also second the Saturday Glebe Market. Glebe has got some great little shops and the like too.
posted by backwards guitar at 6:47 AM on October 1, 2008

The Glebe joss house is a Chinese temple which gets busy on weekends - interesting place.

Yes, although it was largely destroyed by fire earlier this year. Haven't been back yet to check out how well the reconstruction is going.

Seconding Waverley Cemetery.

Also, a couple of bar tips that aren't run-of-the-mill:

It's a little known fact that you can enjoy a beer or cocktail in the Bennelong restaurant (the smallest sail of the Opera House) without ordering dinner. Prices are what you'd expect from any slightly fancy bar (~$7 for a premium local beer, ~$15 for a cocktail).

The bar inside the Wooloomooloo finger wharf has an incredible, theatric-industrial setting. Again, looks very fancy, but is no more expensive than the one mentioned just above. Well, maybe slightly, but it won't break the bank. Beers less than $10, good cocktails to about $20.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:50 PM on October 1, 2008

also, two slightly adventurous suggestions:

horse riding in centennial park (there's also trail riding up in the windsor / colo river valley area)

learn-to-sail course from any of the skiff clubs dotted around the harbour
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:59 PM on October 1, 2008

Kuringai-Chase and the back of Pittwater is my favourite part of Sydney.
Bobbin Head is a beautiful place to spend some time and is only about 20 mins from the Spit Bridge.

Take a cruise from the Palm Beach wharf to Bobbin Head in Kuringai NP.
Ferry seats are a bit uncomfortable but it is great way to see parts of Pittwater you
would never otherwise see unless your a boat owner.

Or alternatively have lunch at Akuna Bay and hire a tinnie and motor round the river to Bobbin Head and back.
Takes about 2 hours return.

Here's a photo of Akuna Bay..

And Bobbin Head...

Drive up to the tip of West Head and check out the view from the lookout.
For me it is easily the best lookout anywhere in Sydney.
Here's the view..

As you drive along the road to West Head there are many bushwalking trails where you can pull over and walk through the park.

Closer to home, a great walk to do is to start off at Cremorne and follow the harbour foreshore round till you cross over the headland to Balmoral Beach.
You get a fantastic view of Sydney Harbour all the way and see some spectacular lookouts and harbour bushland.

Parsley Bay in Vacluse is another great little secret in the heart of Sydney.
posted by MetaPenguin at 2:06 AM on October 2, 2008

I forgot the Coast Walk in the Royal National Park - best with an overnight camp. Better yet when the whales are migrating along the coast.

Plenty of other good walks in the world's second oldest national park - see the link above, or this article from The Age for more on what the park has to offer.

Bundeena & Maianbar themselves (quiet, isolated suburbs surrounded by the park, on the southern side of Port Hacking) are ok to wander around, too. Ferry from Cronulla is the way to go.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:57 PM on October 2, 2008

to a gallery with a view on West Head - spectacular! There's a walking track that covers a similar sort of route.

whoops, i meant Middle Head there. West Head (which i also mentioned) is the one up Ku-Ring-Gai / Pittwater way...sorry about the confusion.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:01 PM on October 2, 2008

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