By Susmita Abani:
Fifteen years ago, at the age of 9, I migrated to Sydney from Auckland, New Zealand. Life here was more dynamic than what I was accustomed to, but I immediately fell in love with this aspect and never looked back. This beautiful, bustling city is capable of hosting both intimate and special moments, as well as communal celebrations that unite its multicultural population. Despite being quite detached from Sydney’s night scene, there’s an abundance of notes that I’d like to share through a list of carefully selected places I’ve been repeatedly drawn to over the years.
Parks, Beaches and Bays: Brighton Le Sands, Coogee, La Perouse, Royal National Park and More
What could be more Australian than spending your warm summer afternoons at the beach on the best paddle boards brands or laying in a park? Even if you’re not a strong swimmer like myself, the beaches and bays in Sydney are just as pleasant for a gentle stroll along the shoreline, for dipping your feet in their shallow pools and for watching the calming stillness of their moist rocks, being endlessly lapped by undulating water.
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Encircled by the Royal Botanic Gardens, away from the city humdrum, this gallery was first introduced to me by a beloved high school visual arts teacher on an educational class excursion. Since then I’ve held it quite close to my heart. In addition to the usual Indigenous and European pieces, it exhibits collections of contemporary and interactive artworks, imported artefacts from around the world, and a yearly showcase of the best final projects submitted by Year 12 Visual Arts students.
What’s so special about a bookshop? This Japanese store stocks a splendid collection of Manga and graphic novels that I’ve grown to love. Browsing through its shelves of vibrant comics filled with an infusion of cartooning styles and genres often has me transfixed for hours, flicking through the stories or images.
Spit Bridge to Manly – And then Returning by Ferry!
Last year I triumphantly trekked the 10 kilometres from Spit Bridge to Manly, albeit with a struggle, and the photos below provide a glimpse of why each minute of the 3.5 hours it took me, was worthwhile.
When there’s nothing on elsewhere in town, Darling Harbour is a celebration of its own. Fireworks string its skyline on the evenings of Valentine’s Day, Australia Day and on every Saturday leading up to New Year’s Eve – and in the absence of such airborne sparkles, there are plenty of restaurants and activities to keep you busy. Visit celebrities made of wax at Madame Tussauds, immerse yourself in an underwater sea life at Sydney Aquarium, meditate in tranquillity at the Chinese Garden of Friendship, watch your children frolic in a giant interactive playground or soak in the views of the shimmering harbour ripples. Darling Harbour simply never fails to please.
An artistic display of dancing lights, luminous sculptures and projected images that decorate the city every year, attracting large crowds of over a million viewers in total. Although all the creative pieces at the festival aren’t equally spectacular, the picturesque slideshow on the Opera House made famous by many postcards of Sydney is always worth a visit for even the most moderate photography enthusiasts!
Crave Sydney International Food Festival – Night Noodle Markets
Rows and rows of stalls, a canopy of Chinese lanterns and Asian food galore – need I say more? Every October, Sydney city brings us a culinary ride to die for. The biggest downside to this event is the unbelievably long queues of people waiting hungrily at nearly every stall, but by being intelligently picky about the timing of your attendance, you can beat the crowds and enjoy the tasty food without delay!
Newtown and its Annual Festival
Newtown is our hipster suburb with unique and exclusive stores. Whether you’re after art equipments, antiques, hilarious and offensive gifts, retro attire or vegan dining, Newtown owns all the quirks. Walking through the main street of this town gives me a liberating sensation from witnessing the diversity of personalities represented in its inhabitants and guests, and in particular it’s large and proud LBGT community. Attending Newtown Festival is also a tradition for my friends and me, an annual outdoor marketplace selling all things Newtown from live music and entertainment, to incredible food, fervent political views, and a mixture of crafts.
Circular Quay – New Year Fireworks
The Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House fireworks on New Year’s Day are beyond words.
Lal Quila Pakistani and Indian Restaurant
A taste of home against a foreign backdrop, dimly-lit with red walls adorned in Islamic inspired ornaments; by now I’ve returned so often that the friendly staff members miss me when I’m not visiting!
Menya Noodle Bar
Due to my Muslim upbringing, learning that most ramen dishes consist of a pork-based broth was a huge disappointment for me – until I discovered Menya! Their spicy beef ramen is my default order, featuring a light, flavoursome; chilli flecked chicken-based soup – unlike the thicker ramen broths I’ve previously come across.
Hilltop Phoenix Yum Cha
Tinkering tea cups and the sound of steamers full of dumplings rattling atop rolling trolleys – yum cha has become one of my preferred lunchtime choices. I mostly enjoy the suspense of not knowing what the next trolley passing by my table will hold – and the surge of delight that results from finding what I want (usually some flaky egg tarts!)
Chinatown’s Emperor Puffs
Food and culture are an explosive combination in Sydney’s Chinatown, and one of its major allures is its tiny, but delicious cream puffs – globules of creamy custard encased in soft golden pastry.