Exploring- Kogarah

14 Km South of Sydney CBD…… But boy did it feel further than that!

I’m born and bred in Sydney but I’ve never, ever set foot in Kogarah before. Never! But this Saturday I had it in my mind to explore what is out there, largely due to Pino’s Dolce Vita Fine Foods!

It was last week, my wife and I were watching Channel 7’s Sunrise, and as their Weather segment gets out-and-about, their weather person was broadcasting live from Pino’s Dolce Vita – an  Italian Deli located in Kogarah; interviewing the patriarch and founder Pino’s, Tomini Foresti. And as they crossed over to the 45 President Ave store every half hour, for the next week I just couldn’t stop thinking about paying the Italian deli a visit at our latest opportunity!

So come noon time today, we headed out on our day-trip to explore Kogarah!

Getting there – by train on a good day, it is probably a half hour direct train trip from Town Hall? But weekend track work….. made the trip much longer than that, which included an initial detour to Museum station (trains were not departing from Town Hall), which kick-started the first leg to Wolli Creek where we had to change trains and endure a 14 minute wait, before the final leg from Wolli Creek to Kogarah train station.

I don’t know what I was expecting but after a short walk from the station and around a corner, it was already residential- the short commercial strip consisted of the usual suburban restaurants and small businesses.

Then it was a 1.1Km (15 minute) walk from the station to Pino’s Dolce Vita, located on a pretty busy stretch of road.

As soon as the doors were pushed open, the sounds of many happy chatting people came rushing out, along with the toasty warm air. To your right is the deli and butcher portion of the single structure store (I’ve read that they sell over 100 different types of sausages, and many unique cheeses), and to your left was the café and patisserie. At first it didn’t seem like there were going to be any available seats for us, and I had that horrible sinking feeling….. After all this way!? But when we were approached and asked how many were in our party, fortunately there were still two tables out back which were vacant for us! Woohoo! Of recent times I’ve stopped my obsession with reporting back to you a blow-by-blow of a restaurant’s tables and chairs and table setting……but for Pino’s Dolce Vita, I do have to pause and tell you all about their chairs! They were made from heavy wood, and stretched taut across its beams was a thick hide of leather, like dining furniture found at someone’s home, which all added to the homely vibe.

We studied the menus and there were daily lunch specials, pastas, sandwiches/burgers, salads and items cooked for you from the butcher.

I couldn’t go past the Gnocchi beef ragu ($26.00) and my wife ordered the Italian steak sandwich ($24), and a large flat white coffee ($4.50).

As we waited for our food, the last and final table behind us was filled and it was a packed house in the newly re-opened Pino’s Dolce Vita Deli, after a devastating fire in 2016 which saw a Kogarah (and Sydney) institution closed for over 2 years (only re-opening in Dec 2018) – and the reason why Sunrise had featured them. With so many diners (who seemed to all know each other by name), who needed a music playlist? From our back-seats, we were still able to hear what was going on in the kitchen, and had a line of sight to the deli/butcher.

In a few minutes the coffee arrived, and we were speculating, how strong would the coffee be? And it was real nice and strong, borderline needing sugar, but we did resist from adding the white crystals.

But there was a bit of a wait for our food to arrive. Hey! They were super busy and we were waiting (or soon to be) waiting all day long, so what was the difference? But when our food did arrive, we were so ready to tuck in!

My Gnocchi was served on a rectangular plate, and starting my spoon and fork from right to left, I carefully pierced each gnocchi one at a time, savouring each mouthful of food! I’d never had fresh hand-made gnocchi before, and each pillow-soft ball of potato/flour almost dissolved in the mouth without much need to chew. It was coated in the flavoursome ragu sauce, although the stewed beef was a little sparse, with shreds of meat when I was hoping for chunks. Though there were squares of parmesan cheese scattered across the plate, and getting a square with the gnocchi?- Heavenly! But as the gnocchi was only a single layer across my plate (not piled on), I had to eat slowly to make my meal last.

While my wife’s Italian steak sandwich was a different story! It was filling to the 9s! Shaped like a short baguette, inside its crispy outer shell were oven-baked capsicums, fried onions, slow cooked potatoes, fried tomatoes, and a melty cheese! And under all of that, was an entire piece of steak, fresh from the butcher side of the store! The medium-rare chargrilled steak was probably half a centimetre thick, and was so tender and flavourful that I couldn’t recall having a steak this good in recent times. It was that good! My wife granted me a couple of bites and I was having bad cases of food-envy. Haaha.

So as I was leaning back in my chair, finished with my yummy but oh so moreish gnocchi, all I heard was my wife still crunching into her sandwich. *Drool*.

When we were done with our meals, we did a little circuit of their store, checking out the packaged goods and the fresh items they had on offer. And we couldn’t pass-up on the cannoli, the large were all sold out by then ($4 each) so we had to settle on the small ($2 each). We bid farewell to Pino’s Dolce Vita and rounded out back to a small park, where we found a park bench on which we sat and had our cannolis in the sun.

Then it was retracing our steps back to the train station; we had intended to explore more of Kogarah, but there isn’t all that much out there to see or do (especially compared to Da City). So we waited 17 mins for our return train to Wolli Creek, ran for our connecting train (as we had missed the connecting train the first time by 10 secs), but looked rather sheepish when the train sat there for several more minutes, waiting for the slowest and the most leisurely of connectors to stroll on-board.

Summary:

There isn’t much to see in Kogarah, but if you want to try an Aussie-Italian institution, with great coffee, fresh and unique deli meats, cheeses, awesome café food, pastries and a friendly homely atmosphere? The visit alone to Pino’s Dolce Vita is worth your while! If you’re time poor, we’d probably advise to drive there? But if it’s a nice day and you’re not in a hurry, you can still definitely get there by public transport.

Pino’s Dolce Vita- Saturday 20 July

https://www.pinosdolcevita.com.au/

PH: (02) 9587 4818

45 President Avenue, Kogarah

Tues-Fri (Café/Kitchen) 8am – 4pm

Tues-Fri (Deli/Butcher) 8am – 5pm

Sat-Sun (Café/Kitchen) 7am – 3pm

Sat-Sun (Deli/Butcher) 7am – 3pm

Mon- Closed

Exploring Sydney- ‘I’m Free Walking Tours’

It’s fun being a tourist in your own city! I have to admit it gave me a great sense of pride, and I’m sure it’s this same sense of pride which motivates young people to become a ‘I’m Free Walking Tour’ guide – tours departing from Town Hall Square twice a day at 10.30am and 2.30pm, rain, hail, or shine.

Today we joined our first Sydney City walking tour, as my wife’s uncle was visiting from the States and what better way to see Sydney – but by foot! On this somewhat warm winter’s afternoon, at 2.15pm we found the guides in their light green ‘I’m free’ T-shirts, and we hung about until 2.35pm when the group was adequately large enough to set out walking.

The tours are in theory free, but in practice you’re encourage to pay what you deem the tour is worth to you at the conclusion of the 2 hour 30 minute walk. Once you arrive at the meeting point, you’re provided with a free colour map which marks out the stops along the way, and on the flip side there are handy tips which would enhance any tourist’s stay in Sydney.

At the time when we set-out, our tour group ended up being around 30 people in size. First we walked past the Town Hall – then into the QVB – before snaking our way down to Pitt Street Mall – and then onto Hyde park.

Then from the Park we walked to Macquarie Street and checked out the old Rum Hospital – before crossing back over to Martin Place where we  followed the mall down to George Street – ducking down some alleyways – to pop-up back on Pitt Street where we walked to the Gateway precinct for the half-point toilet break (it was 4pm by then).

We continued on to Circular Quay via Customs House, then Cadman’s cottage – and following the guide’s expert footsteps, we got to see the Harbour Bridge and Opera House from a vantage point which we’ve never seen our iconic landmarks from before (a lookout in the Overseas Passanger Terminal). And the tour ends in the Rocks, the time being 5pm by this stage.

And if you enjoy the Sydney City walking tour, at 6pm departing from Cadman’s Cottage every night (for an hour) you can join The Rocks walking tour offered by the same company.

The highlights:

One. The guide – he had an absolute passion for his city and an enthusiasm in re-telling all of his historic tales of Sydney. I learnt a number of stories which I was previously unaware of, and had a better sense of the limits of old Sydney township, i.e. that where the Town Hall sits today, was actually the Western outer limit of Old Sydney Town. Which emphasizes to me, how much we’ve grown as a city/nation in the past 200 odd years.

Two. Discovering unknown parts of our city- another highlight was walking down Angels Place, and experiencing the “Forgotten Songs” art installation for the first time. I was completely unaware of this place’s existence! It’s quite tranquil and relaxing, hearing all of those bird songs, I’d imagine it would be a nice way to de-stress if things are getting a bit too much at work.

Three. Random facts- And along with the handful of random facts which we learnt, the most handy random fact we learnt was that Opal card fares are capped at $2.70 for unlimited travel on Sundays! This is a random fact we ought to have known, but didn’t.

Four. Smiles- And it was a joy to hear my wife’s uncle laugh at some of the guide’s better antidotes; and seeing him enjoy himself as he saw our famous Sydney landmarks for the very first time.

Ideal time:

If you’re just a Sydney-sider who wants to better understand your city, you have the luxury to pick the perfect time to take this walking tour. As you know Sydney, it could either be too hot or too cold to be walking around for 150 minutes. Autumn or spring would be my best guess for the ideal time to take the tour. Or in the winter months it wasn’t that bad, just make sure you have a nice warm jacket and comfortable shoes. I personally think it’ll be a bit unpleasant to do the tour in the summer months.

In the end, the walking tour should be re-named as:

“I’m Actually Not Free Walking Tours”

As it’s not really free, at the beginning of the tour they hint that other similar tours which last half the length of their’s cost $30 pp, but don’t be influenced by this. In the end just give the guide how much you think the experience was worth to you. Before the  tour we had in mind just giving the guide $10, but after the tour we felt that it was worth more than that and we  ended up giving our guide $20 (which seemed like the going rate as each representative from their respective groups came forward and handed him $20).

If you’d like to learn more about the Sydney ‘I’m Free Walking Tours’, click HERE!

Exploring Springwood

Springwood is a Sydney suburb located on the foothills of the Blue Mountains- 73Km West of the Sydney CBD. You can get to Springwood by train via the Blue Mountains line (1hr 18 mins), $10-$15 using your Opal card, or you can get there by car (57 mins according to Google maps) but it definitely feels longer and ends up being longer (it actually took 1hr 10 mins).

On this glorious autumn’s day, we headed West to a friend’s home located in Springwood for a gathering over lunch. Since having the car modified, I’ve been looking forward to any opportunity to take it out for a bit of a drive, and this was going to be its longest trip to stretch its legs! I think if you’re not used to doing long car commutes, getting to Springwood may feel like a trek, and although traffic wasn’t bad and the M4 has become a much better run as part of Westconnex works, it still felt like a long car trip to get there. But boy! The car drives so much better after the ECU flash!

And when we arrived in Springwood and got out of the car for the first time – “Ah! Breathe in that fresh air!” It’s definitely nice to get out of Sydney, the climate is cooler and the air is definitely crisper up there (Springwood being located 371m above sea level).

At our friend’s home we had a real nice lunch spread, each person/family bringing a dish each, and I think this is a sign of the changing times- 3-4 years ago when we last organised a similar catch-up most of us brought meat which could be cooked on the BBQ, but with the universal shift in people’s dietary habits, today we had a selection of 4-5 different salads and roast veggies, and everyone was happier and healthier because of it!

After lunch we ventured down to the Foundation Day celebrations – an annual street market which shuts down the main commercial strip in Springwood (Macquarie Road) to motorised traffic, turning the town centre into a festive atmosphere! For a good 20 min stroll in either direction, you’d find yourself in the midst of the markets- lining both sides of Macquarie Road were stalls selling trinkets; stalls promoting local interest groups; stalls cooking up fragrant food to feed the masses; and 3 stages were set up for live music acts to entertain the crowds (each stage set up far enough apart to be out-of-ear-shot of each other.

And after soaking up enough rays and atmosphere, we headed back to our friend’s home for dessert and coffees, before we eventually had to head back down the mountain, back to life, back to reality in the big-smoke.

If you would like to check out Springwood and Foundation Day for next year, do it now! Grab your phone and schedule in a reminder into your Google calendar for early March- to alert your future self to look-up the date of the 2020 Springwood Foundation Day celebrations. Foundation Day is usually held between early March and late April- methinks the variation of dates is dependent on where Easter lands each year. I highly recommend Springwood, it’s definitely worth your while to head part-way up the mountain to experience another part of Sydney! And time your visit to coincide with the Foundation Day celebrations- it was all very festive and full of community atmosphere!

Exploring- Picton

A perfect weekend escape for Sydney-siders who want a change of pace after a busy week of go, go, and go of the Sydney rat-race.

Picton is a town located 91Km South-West of Sydney CBD via the Hume Motorway, the most common way to get out  to the sprawling expanses of P-town is by car (roughly an hour and 10 minute drive using the Hume Motorway). But for us, we used a more circuitous route today to get to Picton.

Aside from my interests of Food & Drink, audio entertainment, and exploring our fair city, an enduring interest of mine are cars. Not all shapes and sizes, not all makes and models, not all vehicles 4 wheeled or two-ed, but specifically…sports cars! So to meet other like-minded individuals, naturally my mate and I are involved with a sports car club and today was the first gathering for 2019- a cruise from Penrith to Picton for Go Karts, before a nice pub lunch at the historic George IV Inn.

What I personally love about this sports car club, is the fact that the start and end of each cruise is book-ended by food & drink! *Thumbs-up*. To jump-start the morning, the club met-up at the once bustling Krispy Kreme Sydney HQ store located in Penrith. Remember those days of late night drives with mates to Penrith KK? At the time, the one and only KK store which was open for like 24 hours a day (at least it felt like it) serving up their glazed melt-in-your-mouth original donuts. Mmmm. Remember lining-up for upwards of 45 minutes at midnight, shuffling past the glass wall where you could see the donuts being made, smelling all the sweet aromas of melting sugar…….. OMG! And when you finally reached the head of the line, ordering 1 or 2 boxes of the 12 original donuts, and another box or 2 of the assorted mixed donuts, justifying your purchases because your roommates/parents/siblings/grandparents would need to eat as well! Right? Do you remember those days? When we were more innocent, when we knew that donuts were probably bad for us, but we’d still consumed them. Well, that was all before we decided that we were too healthy for soft-drinks, fast-food, full sugar bubble tea, and of course too healthy for the Krispy  Kreme donut. Boo! So as unbelievable as this sounds, but that original Krispy Kreme store in Penrith is still trading, but it’s a far cry from what it used to be, today there were only a few patrons- a couple of mum’s catching-up over coffee (pretty sure no donuts in front of them) and then a group of guys with their sports cars rocked-up. Haaha. But as our fellow car club members rolled in, after saying our ‘hi, how ya doin’, they too went next door for a more healthy breakfast option- McDonalds. *Shrugs*.

But after hanging-out at a long table for more than a dozen, with our Krispy Kreme coffees and giving adequate time for those who always rock-up late – in a convoy of 9 sports cars we headed off on a 60 minute south-bound cruise to Picton, where we had a date with an open air track, an unlimited speed limit, but with a kart that didn’t go beyond 70km/h.

62 Km down Silverdale Road connects the West to the South-West, (on paved, not the smoothest of roads), which at points reached speeds which you’d never dream to reach in Sydney suburbia; we had a chance to stretch our sports cars legs, allow our engines to breathe in the fresh country air and clear their  throaty exhausts. We cruised past bushland, farms, and with only 1 speed bump, and 2 roundabouts along the way to encourage us to slow down, all too soon we had reached Picton, the outer limits of sprawling Sydney.

A characteristic of this particular sports car club, is the fact that a number of members are keen Go Karters! So when the opportunity arises, we incorporate a car cruise in-line with track and Go Kart availability.

Picton Karting Track- 200 Picton Road Illawarra

We elected ‘Arrive and Drive’, where you just show-up and you and your group are assigned to the next available group of people who are going out on track. Today’s wait was only 20 mins long and after paying $70 for 2x 15 minute sessions (+$10 License fee which is valid for 12 months) we were on-track and pushing the little Go karts as hard as they could go on little 6 inch tyres- the chassis, engine, human combo  reaching up-to 70Km/h on the back straight.

After expending enough adrenaline to leave us worn-out, muscles aching, sweaty and hungry, we came in after our cool down lap and compared lap times. The quickness of a Karter is dependent on the inter-play between 3 variables – the height/weight of the individual; the set-up and maintenance history of the kart; and the Driver’s natural feel for manoeuvring a 4 wheeled vehicle around curves and corners.  So understandably lap-times were varied and reflected these critical attributes, the fast will always be fast, while the slower guys will ……. Well, putting it nicely, could benefit from more practice laps and the jettison of any excess weight? Jks Jks. But everyone enjoyed themselves regardless of their standings, and with the need for speed and excitement met, the next need to be met on Maslow’s pyramid of needs, was drink and food! In that order!

George IV Inn- 180 Argyle Street, Picton

And heading back to the town’s centre, we located the historical George IV Inn-  and parked our pride and joys in a spacious car park (parking is hard to come by along the main drag of Picton), but this lot was a short short walk from the Inn. The big George is a rambling single story estate, said to be one of the oldest hotels in Australia (built in 1819- Wow! It’s 200 years old this year!); but it definitely didn’t look its age- methinks an extensive renovation occurred recently as everything looked and felt new, the place was gloriously cool, AC blowing out strong to keep diners comfortable (rainy in Sydney today, but sunny with some clouds and top of 23 in Picton). The Bistro had an extensive menu, with the usual pub favourites, but on-top of those staples, there was an extensive grill menu, a more gourmet listing, Chef’s recommendations, and a list of pizzas. I think since we’ve started this blog, we still haven’t had pizzas, so craving something cheesy, I ordered the ‘Big George Pizza’, while the others ordered all different sorts of stuff, from steaks to seafood pastas, vegetarian dishes to burgers. And way before putting in our food orders, we grabbed our drinks (as I had mentioned it was higher on the priority list than the food), so as we chatted with the guys and their partners (sports cars and go karts isn’t just a dude’s thing, but    many guys bring their significant others), we sipped on our refreshing IPAs (surprisingly bitter though).

When the food arrived (all at the same time- pretty impressive considering there were 10 of us with food with wide ranging cook-times), we all tucked in, and my Big George wasn’t just big by name, it was BIG! It had 3 types of meat on it from spicy salami to grilled chicken pieces, with a nice thick, yet thin pizza crust. And you know when it’s just the right thickness when the centre of the pizza isn’t all limp and soggy, but soft while still able to keep its pointy tip when picked-up. And since we had an early start and had skipped breakfast- oh yeah! The pizza hit the spot! But like I said, it was a Big boy, so after 2 slices I was already offering to others to take a slice if they wanted; and after 4 slices I was done, really done  (and there were still another 4 slices left!). So for $24 (not bad for country-town pub prices) I was filled and I even had pizza to go (fed us tonight as well!).

And after chatting for another 30 mins, sadly all good things must come to an end and we said our farewells in the car park (dudes checking out each other’s rides), and we made the trek back to Sydney- up the Hume Motorway and didn’t stop at a single traffic light until we reached Zetland! Which is 50 mins into a 70 min drive, not a bad run hey?

This time we didn’t get much of a chance to check-out all that Picton has to offer, but if you came out here with the family, there is so much to see and do! Picton is a well preserved historic town. There is a 29 stop self-guided walking tour which can guide your visit; pick-up a map from the Wollondilly Visitor Information Centre (look for the old Post Office with the clock-tower).  Allow the self-guided tour to take you on a stroll to the original Picton Court House (built in 1864); Post Office with historic clock tower (1892); Commercial Banking Company of Sydney Building (1885); St Marks Anglican Church (1857); and of course the historic George IV Inn (1819), to name a few stops along the way.

If you’re an active soul, you’ll love the Picton Botanical Gardens with 9Km of cycling and walking tracks through the landscape gardens- giving visitors a brilliant view of the surrounding vistas and there is an amusing bottlebrush maze for the kids to get lost in.

And if your kids love Thomas and trains in general, a bit further out from Picton is Trainworks, located in Thirlmere. Claiming to be the oldest and the largest train museum, (yes you read right, the oldest and the largest!) it boasts of many historic trains, and it marries the old with the new- the exhibits come to life with 3D holograms of people who used to work on the trains, telling their story and explaining the workings of the locomotives. Pretty cool hey!? Open 7 days a week, 9am – 5pm on the weekends.

For more information about the area and things to see and do in Picton visit this great web-site!

And of course there is Picton’s main street, including a variety of gift shops, cafes, restaurants, pubs and clubs. For a listing of all the things to see and do in the Wollondilly shire, check out this link:

Can you spend an entire day in Picton and surrounds? Heck yeah! There is so much to see and do! You could stay the night and spend an entire weekend out here! Or alternatively, come back on several different weekend day trips, for kids who fall asleep as soon as they get into the car, the 70 min car trip is idyllic!! I can’t recommend more highly the virtues of the W-shire!! Like most outdoor heavy destinations, visiting either in early autumn or late spring would be ideal. And if you’re into cars like me, replicating our cruise from Penrith to Picton via Silverdale Rd is also an idea which you can add to your list of potential weekend activities. Not to mention, as it’s becoming more and more popular to have ‘Walking’ meetings with colleagues, a ‘Driving’ catch-up with mates is pretty cool as well! In each of our hour-long point to point stretches from CBD to Penrith; Penrith to Picton; Picton back to the city, the time passed so quickly as my mate and I chatted all the way.

P.S. Apologies for the lack of photos, today was a spousal free-day, so unfortunately my wife’s photography prowess wasn’t on hand to add colour to this otherwise drab post.

4 Days in Sydney- Day 4: Saturday

Itinerary:

Morning: Breakfast at Bondi Beach

Afternoon: Lunch in Manly

Evening: Dinner in Cronulla

So it’s the last full day in Sydney, we’ll miss you guys! So you’ll have to jam everything in and make the most of your last hours in Sydney! Obviously, if  you’re in Sydney for a wedding, you’ll have to do what you need to do today; however if you’re free as a bird, thus far there has been gaping holes in your visit to Sydney, that being the lack of time at Sydney’s famous gold sanded beaches and time on the Harbour! But today we’ll change all that!

9.00am Breakfast at Bondi Beach

Sydney CBD to Bondi Beach: 33 minutes by bus

It’s going to be a long day today (it’s 8.10am now), but not a particularly active one; so there will be many opportunities to just sit back and relax. First things first you’ve got a Bondi bound bus to catch, the 380 bus departs from Elizabeth Street near Hyde Park (a short 5-7 minute walk). **Note: There’s a packing list for today, in a bag bring with you a towel, hat (if you have one), and sunscreen.

Once the bus drops you off at Bondi beach, you’re there! The world famous Bondi beach is   just across the road! Along this main strip of Bondi (Campbell Parade) locate a café for breakfast.

Trio

56 Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach

And if you still trust my restaurant/café recommendations, dine at Trio- which overlooks the beach. Elect alfresco, and as you breathe in the salty air, have a breakfast inspired by Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines!

After you’ve eaten your fill and feeling the caffeine coursing through your veins, get on down to the beach- roll up your pants, slip off your shoes and socks, and let your tootsies sink into the soft sand of Bondi beach. For those who have come prepared, slip off your outer-wear (assuming your bathers are underneath) and take a dip in the Pacific Ocean! Bondi is a relatively small beach, but at this early hour hopefully the crowds haven’t descended upon the sand yet, so take this opportunity to enjoy a frolic in the surf and see what all the hype is all about!

For those who aren’t likely to de-frock and run laughing into the surf, you can try a uniquely Bondi special, the Deep fried Mars Bar at Bondi Surf Seafood (128 Campbell Parade). If you haven’t heard of the Deep Fried Mars Bar before, picture a regular full-sized Mars bar dipped in coconut batter, then lightly cooked, before being dropped into a deep fryer! When asked what does it taste like, well……. “Tastes like a fried Mars bar.” *Shrug*. So you can have one each…. Or best is to share one between two. And as enticing as the fresh seafood looks at Bondi Surf Seafood, be patient as you’ll be grabbing something similar at your next destination- Manly Beach!

1pm Manly Beach

When you’ve gotten enough of the sun, surf and sand of Bondi (it’ll be around 11.45am now), catch the 333 bus from Bondi Beach Campbell Parade to Circular Quay where you have a Ferry to hop onto! This leg of the trip will take approx. 38 minutes, when the bus drops you off at Circular Quay look for Wharf 3.

Circular Quay to Manly: 30 min by Ferry (Route F1)

You can use your Opal cards on the ferry as well, so it is pretty hassle free to transition from land to sea. As you board the ferry (there are ferries coming in once every 15 minutes) elect to sit outside and make your way to the back of the boat. Back of the boat everyone! As the ferry peels away from the wharf, get your cameras out as you’ll get a perfect photo opp of the Opera house as the ferry leaves Circular Quay. And coming up, there will also be a real nice photo opp of the Harbour Bridge! You’ve been to the top, now here is a view of the bridge from sea level. I personally love the fact that everyone can enjoy Sydney Harbour without paying big bucks to a charter boat tour company, and the harbour ride isn’t just a pointless circle, but actually getting you from point A to point B! To reach Manly, the ferry will be entering open waters but the swells are pretty small on most days so don’t worry about sea sickness. *Slaps hand over mouth*. And after a half hour at sea (there are restrooms on board if you’re curious to know), the ferry’s engines will start to power down and then reverse as it pulls into Manly wharf.

Manly is a northern beach-side suburb which has seen a recent spike of new restaurants opening up along the main commercial strip (the Corso), so you  shouldn’t have any problems trying to find a good place for lunch.

Where the ferry pulls in is the Harbour side of Manly, where you want to be is the beach end of Manly; you can get to the beach by walking along the pedestrianised foot mall, lined with restaurants and retail stores on both sides and after a number of blocks you’ll reach the beach/ocean end of Manly. But before checking out the sand and sea, grab some lunch.

Fishmongers Manly

Shop 4 Rialto Square, 11-15 Wentworth Street, Manly

Set a block back from the beach in a café, is a well-known Fish & Chip shop- Fishmonger Manly. After purchasing your F&Cs, go and take them to the beach to enjoy! **Note: At this point it is advisable to re-apply your sunscreen.

Manly is known for having a long beach, unlike Bondi, so you can keep walking in either direction until you find a nice spot to set-out your towels, kick off your shoes and sink your toes back into some sand as you enjoy your fresh seafood and chippies.

And after you’ve had your fill, you can have a nice post meal snooze, just lower your hat, close your eyes and lie down, enjoying the rhythmic sounds of the waves crashing on the sand.

And after a relaxing hour, if you need to kick-start your alertness again, you can grab your second coffee of the day from Havana Beach.

Havana Beach

14 South Steyne, Manly

And sitting at their outdoor alfresco seating, you can people watch while getting your afternoon caffeine fix, before collecting yourselves and head on back to the city on the ferry (It’ll be around 4pm now).

6pm Cronulla Beach

And as the Ferry pulls in to Manly, hopefully you had a chance to close your eyes and allow the gentle rocking of the ferry lull you to sleep? So you’re re-charged for the final leg of the day! After disembarking from the ferry, make your way to Circular Quay train station.

Circular Quay to Cronulla: 1 hour 12 mins by Train

First catch the train which will take you to Martin Place station where you’ll get off and change to the T4 Eastern Suburbs Illawarra line. And on your third mode of public transport of the day, head southerly to the Sutherland shire, a chance for you to see another aspect of Sydney. You’ll notice that the speed of life will slow down even further as you get further south of the CBD, and when the train pulls in to Cronulla at the end of the line, disembark and walk over to the commercial precinct of Cronulla for a few sneaky cocktails before dinner. **Comment: Cronulla is a beach side suburb 30Km south of the CBD, the only beach side suburb accessible by train.

Low and Lofty’s

51A Cronulla Street, Cronulla   

And with cocktails in hand, enjoy the up-tempo vibe of L&L’s, as you enjoy your last hours in Sydney overlooking your third beach vista for the day. *Sigh*. When you feel adequately relaxed, you can kick on and grab some food here or elsewhere, it’s up to you! But if you’d like to move on, I’ve got a great place in mind.

Zimzala

The Esplanade, Cronulla

To this point you still haven’t properly tried a restaurant serving Modern Australian (although they have been options along the way, which you may not have taken-up), Modern Australian cuisine is a ‘Western’ knife and fork meal, but what will be served up has been influenced by all the cultures who now call Australia home. Picture Asian influences, French techniques, Mediterranean/Middle eastern sauces, Latin spices etc. etc. and there you’ll have Modern Australian! And pair that with a nice local wine, while watching the sky darken over the ocean….. It can’t really get much better than this?!

And when you’re all beached-out for a day, head back to the train station. **Note: Trains continue to depart from Cronulla to Town Hall station until midnight. But I’m sure you guys are getting tired, look at you rubbing your eyes. Haaha. And tomorrow you’ve got a long trip ahead of you, be that a flight back home, or to another stop along the way on your epic Southern hemisphere holiday! But either way, I hope you’ve enjoyed your time in our fair city of Sydney, it’s been a pleasure showing you and sharing with you all of my favourite spots in our hometown.

Just remember to set your phone alarm, and getting to the airport can be done via the airport Train-link, or you can schedule an Uber to pick you up. Have a safe trip, and hit us up below on the comments section below when you’ve arrived home safely. As I’d like to know that you’ve gotten home OK, and enjoyed your time in Sydney! *Waves*.

NB: If you’re staying more than 4 days in Sydney, or if you prefer to spend less time exploring the CBD and more time exploring the great Aussie outdoors, you might like to visit Katoomba/The Blue Mountains in the west (around 2 hours from the city by train), do a coastal walk (e.g. Bondi to Bronte), or take another scenic ferry ride to spend a day at the famous Taronga Zoo.

4 Days in Sydney- Day 3: Friday

Itinerary:

Morning: Brunch in Surry Hills

Afternoon: Shopping and free City Walking Tour

Evening: One of six dining and entertainment options 

So you’ve earned yourself a bit of a sleep in today, after all the walking you’ve done thus far and the lavish dinner last night. Therefore today’s wake-up call is a little bit later, with the itinerary starting off with brunch in Surry Hills.

10.30am Joe Black

27 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills

I hope you’ve got your walking shoes on again as installed for you is another day where you’ll get your step-count right up there! Your first destination for a late breakfast (or brunch) will be in the neighbouring suburb of Surry Hills. Surry Hills is a trendy inner city suburb which starts to resemble a conventional neighbourhood i.e. one to two story terraces, tree lined streets, and the lucky few might even have a front-yard (albeit a 1m by 2m rectangle of concrete). To get to Surry Hills, head up Liverpool street in a easterly direction and as soon as you cross Elizabeth Street (a busy north-south street which has taken-up much of the motor traffic after George street was closed), you’ll noticeably feel the change in pace. It’s a more relaxed vibe in Surry Hills and where you’ve entered it, you’ll see a large expanse of grass (Hyde Park on the left (you’ll get a chance to enter the park later today) but for now keep walking until you reach Commonwealth Street, the location for brunch.

From all accounts Joe Black hits on all three criterias- good food (check), friendly service (check), and reasonably priced (check)! And their coffees are also good too! So depending on your hunger levels after last night, you can choose to have a lighter breakfast or throw caution to the wind as ‘you only live once’, and go all out on a big breakfast! And when you’re done with brekkie, surprise surprise! There is more walking to be done! **Comment: At least you’re probably burning a good portion of the calories as you consume them. 

12 noon Shopping

For those whose eyes lit-up at the sight of the sub-heading, you’ll be pleased to know that you’ll be let loose for a couple of hours to self-medicate with retail therapy! On your first day in Sydney, you spent a short amount of time walking past these locations, but this afternoon you can properly go back and check-out what’s on offer! From Surry Hills to the shopping precinct which starts around George and Druitt streets, you can get there by walking down any north-south running street (either Elizabeth, Castlereagh or Pitt). Which street you end up choosing, keep walking northwards until you reach Park street and then turn to the left and keep walking until you reach George street (Park street eventually turns into Druitt street). As a quick re-cap of what shopping hubs you can visit, there is the historic Queen Victoria Building- great for shoppers and non-shoppers alike as it’s a grand old building inside; there are the stores inside Galleries Victoria where you had coffee on the very first morning (which probably feels like a life-time ago); when you head towards Pitt Street Mall you’ll come across Myer- a 9+ levelled department store which sells everything; or cross onto the opposite side of Market street and check-out their rival- David Jones (another 9+ level department store); or stroll up and down Pitt Street Mall, where there are a handful of shopping malls lining both sides of the foot mall trying to entice you to ‘come in, come in’; there is ‘The Strand’ arcade, a miniature version of the QVB with niche one-of-a-kind stores; and if you can’t find what you’re looking for, your best bet will be Westfield Sydney- the benchmark for shopping malls across all of Australia.

For those who aren’t here in Sydney to buy stuff, spend this time just walking the streets of downtown as you might find something which interests you, down one of the smaller lesser-known streets. But if historic landmarks is what interests you, don’t spend too much time tracking them down as I have something installed for you which will satisfy that need! 

At 2.30pm, assuming that some people went their own way, re-group at Sydney’s most popular meeting spot ‘Town Hall steps’, where I’m going to hand you over to the professionals who will take you on a proper Sydney Walking tour, and the brilliant thing is that it’s FREE! (**Note: If you’re heavy laden with shopping bags, you’d probably want to rush back and drop them off at the hotel first.)

2.30pm Sydney Town Hall & ‘I’m Free Walking Tours’

And for the next 2.5 to 3 hours you’ll be guided by proper tour guides who will take you to all the ‘must see’ spots in the city and beguile you with tales about the history and significance of each landmark. Look-out for your guides in green shirts stating that ‘I’m free walking tour’ on their backs. Their meeting spot is slightly off to the side from Town Hall steps at Town Hall Square. These tours only run twice a day so the numbers will swell, so serge on in and make sure you’re close enough to the guide to hear them clearly. The tours will proceed rain, hail or shine and will cover:

Sydney Opera House, Circular Quay, the Harbour Bridge, The Rocks, Cadman’s cottage, Customs House, Hyde Park Barracks, the Rum Hospital, Reserve Bank of Australia, Parliament House, St Mary’s Cathedral, Australia Museum,  Macquarie Street, and Martin Place. 

Before continuing onto Hyde Park, Pitt Street Mall, Sydney Tower, Queen Victoria Building, Town Hall, Sydney’s oldest cemetery, Hilton bombing, underground tunnels, St Andrew’s Cathedral, and along the way guides will point out Sydney’s hidden bar culture, laneway art, and free things to do in Sydney.

**Note: I’ve bolded all locations and features you haven’t seen yet in your own travels thus far. And those locations you have seen? It’s still worthwhile to re-see, as you’ll observe them in a different light now that you know more of the history and interesting facts about the place.

At the conclusion of the tour at 5pm – 5.30pm (back at Town Hall Square), return back to your hotel to rest and freshen up before the evening’s activity, where you can choose your own adventure!

6.30pm Evening options

Depending on what interests you, you can elect one from six options:

  1. Remain in the heart of the city and have dinner at Mr. Wong (Modern Chinese) and then kick on to the Ivy Bar- specifically the Ivy Pool Club, where it’s literally a party by the pool! (a huge rooftop swimming pool). Be sure to dress nice for this option!
  1. If you want to experience a different kind of night-life outside of the CBD, you can elect dinner in Potts Point– specifically ACME (Modern Italian). And after dinner, kick on to the ‘Red light’ district of Sydney- Kings Cross – for a few drinks at a bar or club (perhaps at The Roosevelt) for some beers and whisky. **Note: Potts Point is a short 5 minute train trip from Town Hall (get off at Kings Cross station). Please make sure that everyone in your party is 18 or older and has a form of ID/Proof of age on them.
  1. If you want something a little bit more high-brow, head to Paddington, another Inner city suburb. Catch an Uber to Fred’s for a Modern Australian meal with an ever changing menu due to only serving in-season fresh produce. And afterwards hit-up a wine bar, or alternatively just head downstairs from Freds to Charlie Parker’s for some cocktails and be transported back to the 1920s-30s, the era of speakeasies in the States.      
  1. With some pre-planning this option might work-out! If you’re into musicals and live stage productions keep checking the Lyric Theatre site for upcoming shows and dates. If a show of interest aligns to your stay in Sydney- book some tickets to the theatre located at The Star Casino precinct (a short light-rail ride away- departing from Paddy’s Market light-rail stop). And after the show you can grab a bite to eat at one of many restaurants located at the Casino. If you can fit in another night of Japanese, check-out Sokyo for delicate yet inventive takes on Japanese food. 
  1. If you’d like to get completely out of the CBD/Inner city area, you can catch a train across the Harbour Bridge to the Northern suburbs of Sydney (approx. 20 min train trip), namely Chatswood, a mini CBD in it’s own right. If you get there early enough you can check out the stores and shopping malls along Victoria Avenue, then settle on a restaurant for dinner. There are heaps of options to choose from, but to narrow down your search you may like Japanese (Manpuku), Korean BBQ (San Ma Ru); or Malaysian (Mamak Chatswood). After dinner you can walk around Chatswood a bit more before settling on dessert at either Celsius Dessert Bar or Passion Tree.            
  1. Or alternatively you can stay local and take a night stroll around Darling Harbour, and elect to have dinner at one of the many restaurants on either the Cockle Bay side or the Harbourside side. Your dining options may end-up being Braza (Brazilian BBQ); Hurricanes (Ribs & Grill); or Steersons (Steakhouse). And afterwards you can chill out at one of a number of Cockle Bay bars with live music like Tokyo Hotel, enjoy the music and views while sipping on some cocktails.

But whatever option you end up choosing, don’t stay out too too late (1am curfew); as you’ll have a pretty big day installed for you tomorrow, on your last full day in Sydney!