Following my dose of culture in Melbourne, I headed to the world’s third most ethnically diverse city, Sydney. I’ve been to Sydney twice and neither time had an instant affinity for the city. Perhaps due to me visiting with other people so I wasn’t on the lookout for interesting opportunities; perhaps I didn’t put enough effort into identifying these. I still had a great time, and I’m sure most people love it, but it’s not at the top of my Australia recommendations.
Despite being tucked away in a remote corner of the world, over 40% of Sydney’s population is born outside of Australia. Some call it the Australian New York but I found it more like Los Angeles. Not only due to its melting pot population, but more so because it only has a small central business district, which makes it more sprawling than a city full of skyscrapers like New York. Solely based on feeling and no science, it has a more creative ambiance rather than the hard-nosed, money-making machine that is New York. Plus, it just doesn’t seem in the Aussie DNA to be conducting cut-throat business; they definitely value a healthy work-life balance. Plus y’know, sunshine.
The world-famous icons are a must-see. The Harbour Bridge lives up to the hype. In my opinion the best place to see it from is just across the harbour at the Botanic Gardens, which also takes in the Opera House. I’ve heard a lot of people say the walk over it is well worth it, but for me I’m not such a huge fan of organised tourism.
Bondi beach is gorgeous and brilliant for watching surfers. The attraction for me was the graffiti and street art along the promenade and the Bronte walk. Six kilometres along stunning coast line taking in half a dozen different beaches. Each bay provides the opportunity to grab a beer, veggie burger or photo opps of crashing waves.
‘Icebergs’ at Bondi beach is an institution and very accessible. The ocean waves spill over into the seawater pool and it’s just as busy in the chilly Sydney winters as it is in the summer. Visitors can pop by for a coffee and people watch, or those confident enough to take a dip with the body-beautiful locals can dive right in. It’s also the ultimate spot to work out with a personal trainer. Very darling.
If you have time and transport, a drive out of the city to the Blue Mountains can be the perfect remedy to a few nights of Sydney nightlife. Australia is famously flat for the most part, so I didn’t know how mountainous these mountains would be. Driving up to the viewing spot didn’t seem too promising and just before you arrive, you turn the corner to a spectacular landscape. Full of Indigenous history, you can take a few hours to explore the different tracks and tackle some pretty steep and scary stairs.
Similar to most global cities, Sydney’s cost of living is through the roof. It’s in the top 5 most expensive cities in the world, with the second most unaffordable housing market. The average house price in Sydney is over $1million AUD, meaning a typical home would cost over 12 years’ average salary. At the last census in 2011, Indigenous Australian women had an average income of $16,000 AUD annually, compared to non-Indigenous males who made an average $80,000. This paints a picture of the likelihood of indigenous women entering the property market independently.
Given the ethnic mix of Sydney, you can eat every cuisine under the sun knowing that it will be authentically cooked. While I was there, the food trend was gami chicken, Korean friend chicken washed down with a beer. For the clean-eaters, there is plenty opportunity to get your fix of avocado, chia seeds and acai.
Regardless of your appetite for art, nightlife, tourism or sports Sydney has it all.