You may have been born into this wonderful city or perhaps you moved yourself in search of sun and sea. Beyond the Harbour Bridge showing visitors, friends and newbies Sydney, can be tricky. Do you really want to give up your hidden gems? Well we’re putting it out there, here’s the local gems that are certainly not your tourist mainstays. Skip the Bondi to Coogee and take on these adventures instead, you may even stumble upon something better.
Tucked into the retail centre of Bondi Junction, Jam Gallery is about as eclectic as it gets. An underground haven for rowdy events and epic themes, you’ll want to bring your A-game. The crowd here takes the dress code seriously whether it’s Day of The Dead or UV.
The soothing sounds of jazz have never sounded better than bouncing around these walls. Venue 505 is an authentic lil’ slice of another time, saxophones were built to play at this venue, to this crowd. Hat and vest optional.
A pub crawl around Surry Hills isn’t complete without a little hole in the wall. The booze list is extensive and the bartenders knowledgeable but be prepared to fight for a seat. Our recommendation is whiskey.
About as New York as you can get on the seaside shores of Manly. The setting is dark, woody and the drinks delightful. Warning; you may want to take the light fittings home to achieve the loft look at home.
From the gang that brought you Nutella Milkshakes and waffle fries, Hattrick is offering that keeps on giving. This time they’ve upped their game and spike the drinks menu a little. Beans, bites and booze; everything you’ve ever wanted in one space. They’ve now got a mean looking ‘Acaiman’ cup with all the trimmings, perfect if you’re on a #healthkick.
A stroll down Chinatown is mandatory after gorging yourself on Yum Cha. But next time you walk it off stop by and test the emperors puffs. Little golden custard filled pockets, an absolute treasure. Come early and be prepared to wait, the line is almost always long (but worth it.)
Don’t let the wait at The Grounds ruin your weekend brunch plans, round the corner is a real gem. Tasty, organic, charming and homely, Cooh is a delightful substitute. Jen Hawkins frequents this one so you know it’s hip.
Ultimo plays home to a lot of great coffee but Local Mbassy serves up a top notch breakfast offering too. Red velvet pancakes are our pick for a decadent brekky. You won’t be able to resist the need to Instagram the beauty of it.
A secret door leads the war to this Scandi restaurant, your new fave. Lush greenery fills the space and an Ikea-esque decor. The food is beyond too, a cuisine that nails minimalism.
Carlingford Food Court
If you venture outside the city hub, you’ll be rewarded with authentic food for next to nothing. Carlingford plays home to the best Chinese food in Sydney from Yum Cha to takeaway. You’ll leave with a heavy wallet and full belly. Yep, we called it.
A space so intimate you feel as if you’ve been invited over for dinner with a friend. The only difference is this friend can cook, fine French fare no less. Bring a date worth impressing and conquer the endless drink list while you’re at it.
Ivor Rowe Pool
On the shores near Coogee this little rockpool pops up with the tide. Be careful and research the tide times, washed away to sea isn’t worth that insta money shot.
A beach where no one lays on the beach, instead the boardwalk is the venue of choice. Dip and sunbaked at a leisurely pace surrounded by harbour views, delightful.
Snorkel, walk, swim or explore. Bare Island is a little slice of heaven. It’s name may be a little lacklustre but the views are anything but.
Maccallum Pool, Cremorne Point
Catch the ferry, wander down and at the bottom freshen up with a swim. The best view to bob your head up to? Quite possibly, this side of the bridge doesn’t disappoint.
Murray Rose Pool
Not a waves person? Enjoy the still waters of Murray Rose Pool, before the weather gets cooler. Extra points if you manage to wrangle a spot on the floating deck, we’ll be impressed.
Dudley Page Reserve
A NYE hotspot but the views are almost as good day in and day out. Pack a picnic, plan a walk, whatever you please, just make sure to pause and take in the city from an all new perspective.
Winding around the laneways of Chinatown and you see a row of blue cupids. Neon lights strung high and delightful art covers the walls. Picture perfect really.
The walk from Bradley’s Head to Chowder Bay has it all. Lush bush, secret beaches and views abound. The stroll will take an hour or two, but bring your swimmers and dive in afterwards.
Balmain’s been hiding this picnic perfection from outsiders for years now. So packup your rug, your snacks and set up camp for the day.
Has any local Sydney sider ever climbed the bridge? I certainly don’t know many. But if you’re down to see the city from new heights, the pylons are an alternative. For $10 you can do a much more modest climb and get a pic at the top. No ugly grey jumpsuits either.
Addison Rd Markets
The inner west is a hub of flavours, none fresher than those sold at Addison Rd Markets. Take a basket and do you weekly shop here instead, taste the difference.
For the organisation aficionados or general lovers of stationary, Amazing Paper is your kind of place. Books bound in delightful prints, paper pressed in every shape colour and size. Time to start scrapbooking again!
Flemington Flower Markets
The early wakeup call (4am) and the drive out are worth the effort when visiting the flower markets. You’ll be rewarded with every blossoming petal you’ve ever imagined at bargain prices. No seriously, bargain your way for a bunch of peonies less than $30.
A curated tip of odd bits and scrap finds, Reverse Garbage is a makers and DIY heaven. It’s the Antiques Roadshow of clutter, you’ll find some absolute trash alongside some real treasures. Stock up for your next project or be inspired for another.
Auburn Botanic Gardens
Western Sydney often cops the brunt of hate but Auburn’s Botanic Gardens prove there’s some real beauty in it. Japanese themed spaces and cherry blossoms abundant. Just steer clear of the swans.
A waterside stroll down to a small patch of grass, your home for the afternoon. It’s about as close to the water you can physically get without owning a yacht, so soak it up.
Paddington Reservoir Gardens
Walking along Oxford St and you almost wouldn’t know it’s here. But the gardens are open to the public and it’s lush surrounds make it perfect for a pit stop. Read, sip or eat, but be sure to settle in.
Wendy’s Secret Garden
Wendy’s secret garden is just that, or at least it was. Tucked away in Lavender Bay, it offers peeks of the harbour and whimsical garden surrounds. Picnic perfect!
Image source: Concrete Playground, Big 4, Jam Gallery, Where To Tonight, EverydayHealthyDay, Hattrick, Sydney Food Lovers, Dee Sari, Broadsheet, Phoenix Restaurants, Flickr, Amazing Paper, Scuba Diver Life, Local Mbassy, Jam Gallery, Journey Jot, Sydney Expert, Postcard Sydney, Piccsr, True Local, Urban Walkabout, Alt Media.