After arriving Sunday, taking a much needed nap, and wandering around The Quay at Sydney Harbour in a jet-lagged induced haze, I decided Monday was my official first day in Sydney. wanting to see the Sculpture by the Sea exhibit before it ended, so I headed to Bondi Beach!
Day 1 – Bondi Beach
Bondi is definitely the most famous and busiest of Sydney’s beaches, it is also the start of the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk that connects seven beaches south of Sydney: Bondi, Tamarama, Bronte, Clovelly, Coogee, Maroubra, and Malabar. Hopping off the bus just at the bottom of Bondi road, the beach lays to your right and to your left the street is lined with shops, cafes, restaurants, and bars. I was just in time for the Sculpture by the Sea exhibition along the Bondi to Tamarama portion of the walk. Over 100 artists’ works are displayed along the coast walk cliff edge and on Tamarama Beach. Walking up and down the cliff you really feel as though you’re on the edge of the world. Many parts of the walk have a short fence with one piece of wood fence or no fence at all allowing you to walk right out to the edge of a cliff or down along the rocks of Mackenzie Bay.
Just past the bend around Mackenzie Bay, tiny Tamarama Beach appears. Reminiscent of a cove, this is the host of Sculpture by the Sea with pieces displayed right on the beach surrounding sunbathers. My favorite was the half-buried rhino, protruding belly up. I
stopped here to cool off and take a break in the sand. Though it was in the mid-eighties, the water was freezing and I literally could just dip my toes in, but the surfers didn’t seem to mind.
Back to Bondi Beach, I had lunch at the eclectic cafe and bookstore Gertrude and Alice. Three rooms lined with books and interspersed with communal tables, it’s the perfect neighborhood bookshop to sit and read a bit while filling up with a fresh tasty Panini before heading back to the beach for some late afternoon sun and then on to the city.
Day 2: Photography, Shopping, and Theatre
My plan for day two was to make my way down Macquarie Street toward The Rocks for a show later that evening, and see what I found along the way. The book lover and nerd that I am, I found the State Library of New South Wales. On display In the lobby was the Nikon-Walkley Awards showcasing Photo Journalism award finalists’ works. Looking through the photos covering global and local events – riots, it was interesting to see that Australia is also facing an anti-Islamic movement and police/ indigenous racial tensions similar to the Black Lives Matter movement in the U.S.
On a lighter note, the main Gallery was displaying Planting Dreams – Grand Garden Design. Garden photographers captured landscape architecture throughout the country. I’m assuming the timing was in correlation with the 200 year anniversary of the Royal Botanical Gardens.
Making my way down Macquarie, I cut through Market and traversed the Pitt Street Mall. The mall runs along Pitt and George Streets with indoor and outdoor access to stores. Nothing like a suburban American Mall it’s not like walking around Broadway in Soho with designer boutiques mixed in with retail chains.
That night, I sat front row at Speed the Plow at the Sydney Theatre Co. with Rose Burn (the gal from The Hangover and Neighbors). A David Mamet satire of Hollywood, it was pretty funny. It was the first night of previews (of course I didn’t pay attention to that on my ticket) and the director, Andrew Upton, spoke beforehand which was pretty cool.
After walking in a circle three times around The Wharf, I’m happy to say I didn’t get lost walking back to the apartment! Though I think the woman I kept passing thought I was a little nutty muttering to Google Maps.
Day 3: Gardens, Art, Books and The Rocks
I had walked along the edge of the Royal Botanical Gardens on Sunday, but didn’t see too much, so I decided to spend the morning walking to Mrs.acquarie’s Lookout. The lookout gives you a full view of the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House from the opposite side of the harbour. It was cloudy and windy, but still a pretty great view.
The gardens were beautiful too, especially the Fern Grove. Though the bugs were super annoying. I think they smelled my foreigner’s blood and were out for the kill.
I took the Bridge Street exit and headed down to The Rocks via George Street, stopping off at the Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art. There was a really interesting exhibit of Louise Hearman’s paintings. She plays with light and shadows creating these surreal dreamlike images sort of based in reality. If you look, you see people, animals, and unknowns hidden in the shadows.
The museum leads right into The Rocks – Sydney’s original settlement. The whole vibe of the city changes down here. First, the buildings have the old Victorian design, no skyscrapers or office buildings. Second, the pace is way more relaxed and the streets less congested. Lots of great little pubs and restaurants.
I made my way through Darling Harbour on my way to Glebe. The harbour was much smaller and came off very touristy so I passed through pretty quickly.
I did find another great little bookstore in Glebe – Sappho Books, Cafe and Wine Bar. An unassuming shop with dark wood shelves and un-matching furniture. The front room is lined with used books on pretty much anything you can think of. As you make your way back you enter the cafe, which flows out onto the garden courtyard. Plants hang over the courtyard protecting you from a light rain. It was just a really layed-back communal vibe they had going on.
I do have to mention my dinner at Bodhi – AMAZING. A vegan asian-fusion restaurant, that even a carnivore would love. The staff was super nice and were able to fit me in though they were booked. They have a great outdoor garden with fig trees and lanterns, but it was pouring rain, so missed on that. I have no idea how they prepared the Peking “duck” with hoisin sauce, cucumber, and pancakes, but I swear it tasted as close as it could to the real thing. So good!
I was able to walk almost everywhere in Sydney. Most everything was within a 30 minute walk of the apartment. I found the smaller scale of the city (compared to a New York) suprising yet welcoming.
I know this post is long, but my internet has been shoddy the past few days so I’m putting three days into one while writing on my iPhone. I’ll make it a little prettier when I get wifi to work on my computer.