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The Sydney Experience

The smallest big city in the world, Sydney is a treasure throve of excitement. Sure, almost everyone with a Lonely Planet guidebook can pinpoint the must-sees of Sydney such as the Opera House, Darling Harbour and Paddington Market.  But there’s more to Sydney beyond all that jazz. While your wanderlust takes you through Sydney’s major tourist hotspots, pace down your journey and make a stop at one of these lesser known yet equally exciting places to visit as well! :)

By: Irvin Hanni

1. See Sydney sightings on canvas at The Ken Done Gallery

It’s pretty hard to meet a Sydneysider who doesn’t know who Ken Done is. An advertising creative and master painter, this beloved local artist has been rendering Sydney’s sights and landmarks onto canvas for more than 30 years.

     Capturing the heart and soul of Sydney, the works of Ken Done found admirers and collectors from all over the world. Whether you’re an art connoisseur or not, the soft strokes and vibrant colours of his artworks will pull you in a deep appreciation of this Land Down Under’s most thriving city.

     If you have the money to spend, why not pick up an original? Alternatively, you can shop for prints at the gift shop where they also sell clothing items, calendars and more – perfect for souvenirs!

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How to get there: Take a train and stop at Circular Quay, walk 10 mins to Hickson Road


2. Shop for vintage at Surry Hills

While there is plenty of action going around the CBD (central business district), it’s good to venture out to the surrounding suburbs too for a taste of day-to-day Sydney.  Just a short distance down south is the laidback yet lively neighbourhood of Surry Hills, more recently gaining popularity as a vintage heaven.

     Enjoy a stroll along the blocks where vintage stores’ colourful fronts catching the passers-by’s eyes. There’s no promise of what you’ll find here but that the fun part! Faux fur coats sold from as low as AUD 20, up to AUD 100-200 for an authentic fox fur coat. Boots, handbags, dresses and menswear are all in abundance, so take your time to browse through the collections. Kitschy stationary and eccentric bookshops are scattered across the rows, with the occasional dentist, costume shops, bookshops and music stores selling CDs and even vinyl.

     Take some time in between boutique hopping to enjoy al fresco dining, with cafes like The Book Kitchen and Four Ate Five serving delicious gourmet food best enjoyed with a glass of wine (as the Sydneysiders do).

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How to get there: From Elizabeth St, take bus #939 and get down at Cleveland St


3. Chill out at Manly Beach

Named by Captain Arthur Phillip (the first governor of New South Wales) after the courageous and manly behaviour of the indigenous people that lived there during the 1850s, Manly was developed as a seaside resort town due to its beautiful coastal sceneries and close proximity to Sydney CBD. A nice place for a chill out day away from the city centre, you can explore the vicinity on foot or rent a bicycle.

     Plenty of activities can be done in Manly. Budding surfers, take note. Along with the usual beach activities, there are killer waves ready to be conquered at Manly Beach. Opposite the main beach, plenty of al fresco bars and restaurants line up the street for great meals and even greater views. Those with kids may want to visit the Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary to check out the penguins, turtles, giant stingrays and other sea creatures.

     Manly is reachable by road, but it is recommended that you take the ferry from Circular Quay and back as you’ll get to soak up pretty Sydney coastal sights along the way.

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How to get there: From Circular Quay, take a ferry to Manly Wharf.


4. Capture yourself in Sydney at night

Looking for a different kind of photo memento to bring home? Why not capture yourself in a different light with surreal photographs at Sydney’s famous landmarks with ‘Understand Down Under’ (UDU).

     On this night walk cum photography tour, you’ll be set up with a guide who will bring you around some of the best locations to photograph Sydney after dark. Learn how to play with lights, write your names or messages, and draw icons while the your “art” is captured at slow shutter speed, creating a photograph that is all purely your own. How cool is that?

     Among the many locations for you to choose from include Lady Macquarie’s Chair (with an amazing view of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge), Darling Harbour (a vibrant night spot with plenty of lights and action), and Bondi Beach (Sydney’s thriving beach strip). The UDU guide will also share with you the brief history and fun facts of the places.

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How to do that: Contact Understand Down Under at http://www.udu.com.au/


5. Indulge in some chocolate-y goodness at Max Brenner Chocolate Bar

While the coffee culture is all the rage now, we should also remember that (almost!) all the problems in the world can be solved with a sweet chocolate fix. Welcome to the Max Brenner Chocolate Bar, where the menu itself can make your mouth salivate with excitement.

     Some of the truly tantalising drink options are the Forever Young, Forever Fun Bubblegum Milkshake (a frothy bubblegum and vanilla flavoured milkshake), The Fantastic Popsicle Chocolate Fondue (creamy vanilla popsicles dipped in pure melted chocolate, caramelised pecans and sprinkles), or simply have a go at their range of hot chocolates. If you fell like walking on the wild side, try the Mexican Spicy Chocolate. Sounds indulgent, doesn’t it? And we haven’t even touched on the food selection!

     There are 15 outlets in New South Wales, and within the Sydney CBD area itself, there are outlets at Elizabeth St, George St and at the Westfield Shopping Centre. Safe to conclude, wherever you are staying at it’d be hard to miss out on Max Brenner. 😉

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How to get there: From Circular Quay, take the T2 train to Wynyard Station (platform 5) and walk 4 mins to Max Brenner George St.


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