If I were your tour guide – SYDNEY

SYDNEY –  AUSTRALIA   (remember all links are in pale blue)


Seeing the real Sydney.   (I’d skip the main events!)

Dozens of guidebooks give you the major sites, some with great  enthusiasm but mostly they just repeat other brochures info. This is not a foodie guide either.
Sydney is a city I am fortunate to visit quite often. It is only 3 hours on a big plane; a movie, a meal a glass of vino and you are there 🙂  how easy is that! It  is quite spread out so being a tourist requires plenty of energy or time, or both. Map reading ability and walking shoes are also essential ! And a deep pocket if you want to drive and park! $49.00 for two hours parking in the inner city.
However it is a city full of vitality and the public transport is pretty good. Silver Service Cabs are reliable too.
What do I suggest you do ??? These are in no particular order and are  maybe aimed more at my age group rather than young party goers!! These are the activities that I love doing in Sydney.

Opera house in Fog 1/5

The Iconic Opera House with early morning fog.

I always visit the Museum of Contemporary Art at Circular Quay.They have amazing exhibitions and a rooftop cafe with stunning views of Circular Quay with or without cruise ships. They have a great gift shop too and the locals call it the MCA.

Sydney G10-1501Roxy Paine sculpture outside the MCA from a previous exhibition.
Because I’m a photographer I always pop into Stills Photography Gallery in Paddington. The staff are happy to discuss the work and impart their vast knowledge. Stills represent Narelle Autio and her husband Trente Parke. Narelle Autio has an impressive list of accolades. She was named in the Australian Art Collector Magazine’s “50 Most Collectable Australian Artists” in 2001and I think her work is exciting.


Image by Narelle Autio  – 1 of 16 finalists in the of the Basel – Sellars Award 2014.

One of my favourite  day trips if you have a car is to drive to WOY WOY.( I love the sound of that word!) At Woy Woy there are two places where they feed the pelicans at 3pm daily, rain or shine. I have only been to the Restaurant on the water at Woy Woy itself but 45 minutes further on at The Heads they also feed these amazing funny birds! Woy Woy gets 5 stars from Trip advisor!  While there drive to the beaches and poke around the region, it is very picturesque.





This is the restaurant on the water.  There is also a fish shop if you wish to purchase seafood to take home.

Centennial Park is magnificent and opened in 1888. At dusk the bats start to fly around in the hundreds and the chattering noise is sensational! Prior to dusk one can watch Cockatoos,  Egrets, Ibis, Ducks and Long Billed Corella Parrots, or just walk amongst the paperback gums.  FullSizeRender corella IMG_2771

Shopping – Westfield in the city has floors of stores, all the designer labels for sure. I like the 5-6 shoes shops on level 4  – And you get your tax back at the airport! Peter Shepherd is an Aussie institution when one talks about shoes. But There are other shops equally exciting. Beautifeel, Stewart Weizmann etc.
Kate Spade have recently opened too and the unique jewellery shop Linneys is always tempting. On the top floor is the best food hall ever. I know food halls are fast food outlets but this one is different, I promise you. There is a Gluten Free restaurant, an Italian, a noodle and Sushi to name a few… and so much more.
Then of course there is David Jones and Myers the iconic department stores. Myers has better service these days. Across the street is the  famous QVB another favourite iconic shopping centre. Check out the Stained glass windows and the tiled floors. The ladies loos are quaint too. Then there are more shoes upstairs that are whimsical and pricey!

My other shopping places are in the Eastern suburbs.  Woollahra has some great stores for my age group. ‘Artwear on Queen’,  ‘Reads’ and a few others, on Moncur Street is Ma Maison en Provence; at the back of this store  are cute ‘French designed  ‘doll’ pendants. Check out the butcher Victor Churchill in Woollahra , the most expensive in Australia and the door handle is a string of brass sausages.  Well I warned you this is my travel guide…not the normal! Lately. I’ve had great success shopping in Rose Bay at Arielle – Sometimes  I visit the optometrist in Double Bay for the best ever selection of spectacle Frames at Eye Wear  !!


The Maquarie Light built in 1880

Day trips are plentiful, the guide books have them all listed, Doyles at Watson Bay, Manly Beach ,The Zoo, The Blue Mountains even Wine Tasting in the Hunter Valley. I’d never do that in one day!!   All worth a visit though.


 Rose Bay, home of the Catalina flying boats.Now that’s a great way to see Sydney.

imageBale Island at la Perouse

I recently did a day trip to La Perouse, what a delightful coastal community, full of history and secluded golden sandy beaches. Enjoy a visit to Bale Island followed by lunch at a seafood cafe. No fine dining but Danny’s grilled Basa fish was cooked to perfection, salad and chips…take it or leave it. The view was fine. You could drive to Icebergs at Bondi for lunch and spend a fortune there, and from all accounts pretty average fare. On some Saturday’s Bale Island have an Aboriginal Market.

I read of a tour about the non touristy Sydney via a Holden V8 – how Australian is that? You can also do a boat trip south from Circular Quay, through the Heads to the Royal National Park, so there are some less common destinations available. Check out the Viator website, you can stay the night on the beach down there!



Angel Place “Forgotten Songs” art installation.

In the city is a street called Angel Place, the home of a cool art installation consisting of fifty or more bird cages and  bird song whistling over the pedestrians  ‘Forgotten Songs’ commemorates the songs of fifty birds once heard in central Sydney, before they were gradually forced out by European settlement. The calls, which filter down from the canopy of birdcages suspended above Angel Place, change as day shifts to night; the daytime birds’ songs disappearing with the sun, and those of the nocturnal birds, which inhabited the area, sounding into the evening.   ( some great special occasion restaurants near there too. “est., Mr Wong & Felix”)


Entrée at ‘est’ Tortellini and absolutely mouth-watering.

I love Coogee to watch the Tasman Ocean sweeping over the saltwater pool; absolutely mesmerising when the tide is in and a few large swells arrive, always waiting for the BIG one! Take your togs and cool off. The opposite end of the beach has a fun bar and eatery called The Pavillions, a great fit out in the old bathing Pavillion.

image imageSeveral of these photos  are available as limited edition prints – poa
Architecture in Sydney for years consisted of monotonous but practical blonde or red brick, thousands of homes are built of brick in Sydney. However Ultimo around the University suddenly has several new and exciting architectural gems worth visiting. Why they build these gems and supply no visitor parking I don’t know, but I did discover a parking building tucked into a side street for only $18.00 an hour. I suggest you visit this area on a Sunday if possible, less traffic, fewer students and I’m sure a more relaxed time to enjoy.




The ‘paper bag’ Frank Gehrys latest Sydney landmark – an interior and exterior shot.image1 Central Park
The Frank Gehry ( paper bag) building and nearby the apartments at 1 Central Park with their 100 thousand plants are a must see. Try and go inside and see they architectural spaces – WOW!
Then there is another awesome building wrapped in punched metal sheeting! Faculty of Engineering and IT Building so check that one out too, it is on my to do list!

Whale watching – One of my favourite activities between May and August approx is Whale watching of Sydney heads.  If you follow these guys on Facebook you will see if the whales are out there as they post a daily report. The boats are super fast and stable; and they refund your money if no whales are spotted. I’ve been out three times and have seen whales every trip, and I plan to go again. To see enormous mammals interacting with boats and people is exhilarating, memorable moments especially when they rise up right beside the boat smacking the water as they descend – un forgettable. They are half day trips leaving from Circular Quay. I note too a super fast jet boat trip leaves from Manly.





Berowra is a secret part of Sydney – sooo beautiful. 

We hired a boat from the Boab boat hire at Berowra one day and cruised up the Hawkesbury River with our picnic lunch. even just a drive to here is fun for visitors to Sydney. The most memorable aspect of the day were the big lizards called Lace Monitors prowling along one of the beaches! Give them a wide berth and they won’t bother you. Averaging 1.5 metres in length, the Lace Monitor has been known to grow to 2 metres.


The Lace Monitor ambling along the beach.


Cruising up the Hawkesbury from Berowra.

So  my suggestion: do all the regular tourist trips of course  – they are great. Then explore Sydney further and see the less touristy aspects enjoy.