Sydney for beginners: stuff edition
February 11, 2023 6:46 AM   Subscribe

Visiting Australia from the US - what local products, snack foods, personal care items (sunscreen?), or other souvenirs should I make sure to check out?

You all gave me some great recommendations for stuff to do in and around Sydney in my previous question. I have now realized I'm gonna need to buy things while I'm there. What things should those be? Recommend me your favorites!

Bonus: where in Sydney should a mid-30s queer nerd get a haircut?
posted by zeptoweasel to Travel & Transportation around Sydney, Australia (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I don't live in Australia, and I will go out of my way / pay substantially over the odds / beg travelling friends and colleagues for a packet of Arnott's Mint Slice. It's a crunchy chocolate-flavoured biscuit (cookie) with a mint cream layer on top, all chocolate-coated, and it's by far the most superior example of its kind I've ever found.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 7:12 AM on February 11, 2023 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you like strong coffee make sure to order a long black at some point. Sydney has generally pretty great coffee.

I’m a big fan of savory hand pies, if that’s an option for you they are pretty much ubiquitous. Tend to be meaty but you can find veggie options. They get a lot of chip flavors you won’t find stateside. Another kinda touristy and meaty option, especially around the harbor, fairly unique to Oz, is croc or kangaroo or emu kabob. There’s also just so much good Asian and Levantine food over around Newtown/Marrickville that I spent much of the last trip just mowing through dim sum and laksa.

I’m interested in the haircut question myself, as I’ll be back in Sydney very soon (!) and likely don’t have time to get a trim stateside.
posted by aspersioncast at 8:08 AM on February 11, 2023

Best answer: grocery/convenience store stuff:
ginger nuts cookie
golden gaytime ice cream bar
"strong and bitey" cheese
australia has very good bug sprays and anti itch lotions lol
pawpaw ointment is an australian cure-all that ppl love

restaurant things to look out for:
Indonesian food like Nasi Goreng
din tai fung best soup dumplings

also victoria park is very cool and fun at all hours!!
posted by wowenthusiast at 9:26 AM on February 11, 2023

Best answer: Oh gosh yes have a golden gaytime while you're there (spiritually and literally)

If you're in Newtown, eat some Thai food

Fish and chips is an Aussie classic, you can find it almost anywhere but it's worth trying the next-level version at Mohr Fish (Surry Hills; drop in at the Shakespeare next door for a beer while you're there)

For salons, almost anywhere in Newtown, Darlinghurst, Surry Hills or Paddington should be pretty queer-friendly, but here's a few: Guilles (Newtown), Muse (Surry Hills), or if you want to lash out, Headcase (Paddington/Potts Point)
posted by happyfrog at 1:19 PM on February 11, 2023

Chicken Salt
Tim Tams
posted by ryanbryan at 1:22 PM on February 11, 2023

For sunscreen recommendations, check out an Australian chemist’s favorites on her blog Labmuffin.
posted by alygator at 1:56 PM on February 11, 2023

Best answer: Smacks/foods to eat while you're there:
Potato wedges (with sweet chili and sour cream)
Meat pies
Sausage roll
Coffee- flat white
Chinese dumplings (especially soup dumplings)
Late night souvlaki/Halal snack pack
Yum cha weekend brunch
Any modern Thai/Asian fusion
Any modern Australian restaurant, really
Greek food
Moreton Bay Bugs
Cocktail prawns
Lord of the Fries vegan burgers
Chicken parma (this is pub food with fries and salad not an Italian dish)
Fish + chips from a takeaway shop. Get the flake.
A good hipster bunch - avocado toast
Australian wine

Packaged foods to take home:
Good local chocolate
Weird crisps (potato chips) flavors
Sweet chili sauce
Tim Tams
sparkling Shiraz wine

Other items:
AS colour is a great local clothing chain for gender-neutral basics
'tropical strength' bug spray- I like the roll ones, great for my ankles which are mozzie magnets
Blundstone boots
Bonds brand basic cotton underwear
AFL scarf
Pawpaw ointment
Leather goods/ wallets- Status Anxiety and Apostl brands

Source: American who lived in Australia for 10 years, married to an Aussie. This is what I miss and eat/buy when I go back
posted by emd3737 at 2:08 PM on February 11, 2023

Best answer: Caramel Crowns seemed to be getting harder to find the last time I was in Australia, but I think they're worth tracking down (superior to any caramel variation of Tim Tams, as Mint Slice is superior to mint Tim Tams, imo - I've generally preferred any of the chocolate-only Tim Tams).

I've been happy with the Australian Cancer Council sunscreens, although there are cheaper options, especially if fragrance isn't an issue for you.

If you like hats, Australia's hat game is better than the US, generally speaking. I have a larger head and a much easier time finding nice sun hats there.

Haigh's chocolate frogs are a fun souvenir, as are their Easter bilbies, if you're there around Easter.
posted by EvaDestruction at 4:41 PM on February 11, 2023

Best answer: Blundstones, definitely. I saw a pair in a Chicago shoe shop for $300 and nearly fainted.
Bonds undies
Double pluggers [unbreakable flip-flops]
If you can get Firehorse Chilli Sauce over in Sydney, my USA chilli sauce lovin friends love it, and I have to take a stack over when I visit. My USA partner puts the mouth blasting ‘Dark Horse’ one on his eggs n soldiers every morning
[oh yeah, have eggs n soldiers, why isn’t that a Thing in the USA?]

Also, if it was me, I’d be in Bunnings hardware getting metric measuring tapes because why are feet and inches. Take a bunch back and mount a stealth metric conversion.

Whenever I am somewhere new for awhile, I usually buy or procure some kind of art. Sometimes it’s just a free poster of something iconic or unusual. Maybe a movie/ food/ music/ festival flyer or poster (the last one I got was the Beargrease dog race in Duluth MN which when I put it up in my Perth, WA home, its pretty neat). Pride is coming up soon, there’ll be some great flyers/posters/ trinkets

Maybe beer coasters from interesting or kitschy nightspots. They weigh nothing, it’s low stakes to use them until they fall apart when you get home, and have good memories whilst you do.
posted by honey-barbara at 5:23 AM on February 12, 2023 [1 favorite]

I was in Sydney more than 20 years ago but in the subsequent years when I meet an Aussie who finds out that I was in their country, they always ask me if I tried the beer. No, not Fosters but something like Victoria Bitter or VB. I see that it has existed for 150+ years so it is an institution.
posted by mmascolino at 8:36 PM on February 12, 2023

Just a warning that fosters and VB are considered to be very low budget, not very tasty beers by most people! There is a massive craft beer scene in Australia which I would definitely pursue if you want a beer that is, like, not awful.
posted by jojobobo at 12:35 AM on February 13, 2023

Local honey in addition to what was suggested above. Make it bush honey, too. Hyper local and robust is the way to go.
posted by jadepearl at 2:44 AM on April 15, 2023 [1 favorite]

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