Short-break, long-weekend, city-break, mini-break… It goes by many names, but whatever you want to call it, that was what The Poolboy, Queenie and I had last weekend in Sydney. With a wedding to attend on the Saturday afternoon and evening, we travelled up to Sydney on Friday evening, and came back to Melbourne on Sunday evening.
Whenever I do a short stay somewhere, I’m always struck by how much you can actually see and accomplish in a brief period of time. For example, we had only 24 hours in Philadelphia in April, but I felt like we gave that city a good go.
And although we’ve been to Sydney many times before, I never tire of seeing some of the ‘big ticket’ sights.
So what did we manage to do in less than 48 hours?
Dinner at Sake Restaurant in The Rocks. We had an 8.15pm booking, and the place was packed when we arrived. Modern Japanese cuisine in a very chi-chi designer space.
And on our walk back to the hotel, we came across the birdcages in Angel Place. It’s an artwork by Michael Thomas Hill called Forgotten Songs, and it remembers the birdsong of the fifty birds that once lived in the centre of Sydney before European settlement. The recorded calls are played from birdcages suspended above Angel Place. Apparently they change from daytime songs to those of nocturnal birds at night. It was hard to tell, as there was a lot of other noise in Angel Place at night (but during the day we did hear the birdsong – see the later pic.)
I was so excited to find out that Le Pain Quotidien had opened in Sydney. We first came across this chain of bakery/cafes in the United States and thought that they offered great (mostly organic) food and coffee at very reasonable prices. The one in Sydney Westfield was right near our hotel, so was our location of choice for breakfast each morning.
Paddington Markets is a fun stop for a bit of stall-browsing. Over 150 Australian fashion, art, jewellery, homeware & food stalls every Saturday. Plus there’s a few sidewalk psychics ready to predict your future.
And because one market is never enough, we also visited The Rocks Markets which are open both Saturday and Sunday. Again, a mix of fashion, handcrafted jewellery, textiles, souvenirs and gifts, homewares, art, beauty products and photography.
The Queen Victoria Building, known mostly as the QVB, was completed in 1898 as a monument to Queen Victoria. It was built during a Sydney recession and was planned to employ out-of-work craftsmen in a worthwhile project. Back then it housed a concert hall, cafes, offices, shops, warehouse and various tradespeople (tailors, hairdressers, florists etc). Nowadays it houses a huge range of retailers and services ranging from the very upmarket through to some of the regular High St stores. A recent renovation has not only restored this amazing building to its former glory, but has also modernised and updated it with additions such as escalators.
The Art Gallery of New South Wales houses modern and contemporary works in very grand spaces, while also having stunning views of Sydney and the harbour. It is just a 15 minute walk from the city centre, and is open every day except Christmas Day and Good Friday. Entry to the gallery is free. I was particularly taken with this Antony Gormley sculpture (Haft, 2007).
In the photo above, the Manly Ferry ‘cuts its way to Circular Quay’. We took the ferry to Manly, and ever since I haven’t been able to get that particular song out of my head (Australian Crawl, Reckless). The Manly Ferry, in addition to being an excellent way to get to Manly, offers a spectacular hour out on the Harbour (30 minutes each way) all for the price of the return ferry ticket ($14.80, adult return). My tip? Sit outside on the lower level and swap to the other side for the return trip.
At Manly, we visited the Manly Art Gallery and Museum, specifically to see the current exhibition, Surrender by contemporary artists Joshua Yeldham. In my view, Joshua is one of Australia’s finest contemporary artists, and this exhibition traces his creative and spiritual journey through the Australian landscape. The exhibition is a knock-out and we were so glad we squeezed in the time to get across to Manly to see it.
On the way back, we experienced the swell of the Heads. Water spraying over the side of the Ferry, and a definite rocking motion.
The views from out on the Harbour are unparalleled. I never tire of seeing The Bridge, or the Opera House, or The Bridge AND the Opera House. From any angle.
It was sheer genius to locate such an unusual looking performing arts venue right out on the edge of the Harbour like that.
If you read my last post, you know I like restaurants to have a view. Well, at least in cities that have such stunning views. But with the Sydney Marathon on around The Rocks and Circular Quay, we knew we’d be battling the crowds to get a table at the last minute at a restaurant at one of those locations. So we ducked around Dawes Point to Walsh Bay, and had a most enjoyable Sunday lunch at Dedes on the Wharf (which is on Pier 2). Long-time readers of this blog will recognise that Walsh Bay is where the Sydney Writers Festival is held each year, so I felt right at home there.
And I can’t finish up my Sydney mini-break roundup without including a day-time pic of those birdcages. This time the laneway reverberated with the sounds of birdsong. It was a lovely experience.
So, what did you do on your weekend?