Our wordsmith Gabi has natural wanderlust. She moved all the way across the world to find herself penning words for Papier. And when she’s back from one of her regular chic city breaks, she’s planning the next one. It’s the little things that make a trip magic for her – good coffee, fresh seafood, sunrise swims. We know this tour of her hometown Sydney is going to be special.
WHAT IS SYDNEY TO YOU?
It’s important to acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Australians and traditional custodians of our land. In Sydney, the traditional owners of the land are the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation.
I grew up on Sydney’s Northern Beaches and lived there for most of my life. I moved to London in 2019, but still call Australia home.
WHEN TO GO
I think the most magical time to visit is the height of summer – December, January and February. There’s nothing like a Sydney New Year’s Eve, the atmosphere of the fireworks over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, starting your year with a sunrise swim, it’s just the best.
All you need is your swimming costume (Aussies may call them togs, bathers or cossies) for all the beautiful beaches and pools. But I’d also recommend plenty of sun cream for that sizzling Australian sun and maybe some insect repellent – we have a lot of creepy crawlies!
Make sure you take the iconic green and gold ferry at least once. I’d recommend taking it from Circular Quay, which is where the Opera House and Harbour Bridge are, and heading over to Manly Beach. In Manly, have a drink at Wharf Bar or walk around the cove to Shelly Beach and grab coffee from The Boat House.
WHERE TO STAY
An Airbnb in Bondi Beach or Manly Beach will give you the typical Aussie beach lifestyle. If you want something in the city, The Rocks has lovely cobbled streets, lots of hotels and is walking distance to Circular Quay.
WHAT TO EXPERIENCE
Bangarra Dance Theatre is an amazing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander performing arts group that’s worth checking out. The open air cinema and opera at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair has beautiful views. Check what’s on at The Sydney Opera House (which has gigs of all kinds) and have a drink at the alfresco Opera Bar. For art, the best galleries are the Museum of Contemporary Art, The Gallery of New South Wales and White Rabbit.
VIEWS TO NOTE
Walk across the pedestrian lane on The Sydney Harbour Bridge to Kirribilli – you can see the harbour without doing the Bridge Climb across the top.
The view from Bondi Icebergs pool is iconic, and it’s at the start of the Bondi to Bronte coastal walk. Swim at sunrise for the ultimate Sydney morning, or do the walk at sunset and get drinks at Coogee Pavilion afterwards.
Further north is Palm Beach, where you can walk up the headland to the Barrenjoey Lighthouse and a beautiful lookout over The Northern Beaches.
FOOD AND DRINK
For Italian, I love Totti’s in Bondi. Make sure you order the burrata and the wood-fired bread. Still in Bondi (but on the beach) is North Bondi Fish, which serves incredible seafood and has sweeping views of the ocean.
In the city, Chin Chin is my favourite – I still dream about the kingfish sashimi, beef pad seuw and crispy barramundi salad. For a special coffee, head to Celsius Coffee Co, which is on a wharf in Kirribilli.
Northern Beaches institution The Newport has the biggest beer garden in the Southern Hemisphere. You can get beers or cocktails, seafood or pizza, and it’s beautiful day and night. We used to go there every Christmas Eve, when you’d run into absolutely everyone you know.
THE LOCAL LINGO
Aussies love slang. If in doubt, you can assume that whatever strange word you’re hearing is probably just the shortened version of it, maybe with an “-o” on the end.
Goodbye: See ya later
How are you: How ya goin’
A passionate kiss: Pash
Bottle shop (where you can buy alcohol): Bottle-o
Everything will be ok: She’ll be right
IF YOU WERE TO WRITE A LOVE NOTE TO AUSTRALIA WHAT WOULD IT SAY?
To the place with the sunniest skies and the most beautiful beaches, I miss you every day. Thanks for healing me with so many swims, for looking after my family while I’m away, for always welcoming me back because there’s no place like home. Half of my heart will always be yours.
Craving sunshine and sand between your toes? Start planning an Aussie adventure in one of our travel journals.