It's best to approach your time in Sydney with goggles and floaties in hand, writes Lauren McGroder.
Say the word ‘Sydney’ and what
comes to mind? Perhaps it’s
multicoloured fireworks as they
crackle and fizz over the harbour on
New Year’s Eve, or the Sydney to
Hobart Yacht Race that draws thousands to the
water’s edge. Whatever it may be, the New
South Wales capital is invariably connected to
the water and everything that comes with it.
This city is one of sun-worshippers and home
to some of the world’s very best water-based
experiences and adventures.
Of course, the centre of the action is Sydney
Harbour where the endless activities are only
improved by the scene-stealing ‘coat hanger’.
If you’re catching the train, alight at Circular
Quay, where a stroll along the foreshore is
essential. Allow yourself the time to watch
buskers impress the hordes of families and locals that bask in the sunshine and choose
from the dozens of ice-cream and gelato
flavours that tempt passers by.
The Museum of Contemporary Art is a
wonderful stop for families, with regular school
holiday programmes that challenge and inspire
creative kids. If you’re feeling energetic, make
the 1149-metre walk over the Bridge to visit
Luna Park for all the upside-down action little
ones can handle. The Wild Mouse teases
thrill-seekers with its brief but effective airtime
over the waters of the harbour below.
A short ferry ride from Circular Quay will carry
you to Darling Harbour, a rapidly developing
hub that’s made for families.
Cockle Bay Wharf is Sydney’s version of The
Sunset Strip, albeit a more humble, familyfriendly
one. With a collection of energetic
waterfront restaurants, the cosmopolitan
appeal of this promenade is undeniable. Stroll
to the Chinese Garden of Friendship from
here and you’ll find tranquillity in an entirely
new setting, where lakes and trickling waterfalls
take pride of place and children can learn of
the garden’s cultural heritage on a short
guided tour with an Interpretation Officer.
Over the Pyrmont Bridge, the kids can dive
into history at the Australian National
Maritime Museum. On now until late May
2016, Horrible Histories is making its interactive
Australian debut with a pirate exhibition stuffed
to the hull with facts about these buccaneering
rascals. The new Mini Mariners space is
perfect for those under five who aren’t quite
ready to command their own vessel yet, and is
free with museum entry.
Eight kilometres from Sydney’s CBD is
Australia’s most famous stretch of sand. Bondi
is a Sydney non-negotiable, and if there’s one
thing you need to do here it’s the four-kilometre
cliff-top walk that extends to the southern end
of Waverley Cemetery and on to Coogee.
This treasured local ritual gives you the best
of Sydney’s coastal views in a concentrated
dose. If possible, allow yourself the time to
drop by Bondi Icebergs Club, a local
institution that delivers relaxed dining with
panoramic views, before you continue.
Next on the Bondi bucket list is, of course, a
dip between the red and yellow flags. You’ll
likely be sharing the sand with thousands on
Bondi Beach, so make sure little ones are kept
close here and in the water to avoid any
unwanted run-ins with the cheeky lifeguards
that have earned themselves a handful of
Logies since their television debut.
When planning your Bondi excursion, be
sure to check for any events that may coincide
with your visit. The Bondi Markets trade most
Sundays of the year while annual occasions
like Sculpture by the Sea are worth working
your holiday around. You’ll have to wait until the
last quarter of 2016 for the next one, but there’s
plenty to tide you over until then. Ben & Jerry’s
Openair Cinema will take place again this
summer and the Festival of the Winds, a
kite-flying spectacular, will be held in
The relaxed pace of Manly feels a world away
from the city, despite being only a pleasant
40-minute ferry ride from Circular Quay. With a
peaceful inner-harbour beach on one side and
a popular surf beach on the other, visitors are
truly spoiled for choice here.
Begin at the ferry wharf, where casual yet
chic dining options, including the popular
Hugos Manly, are plentiful, all with tranquil
views of the cove. The scene is dotted with
kayakers and stand-up paddle boarders and
before long you’ll want to join in, too. The
Manly Kayak Centre located on the East
Esplanade has kayaks and stand-up paddle
boards for hire from one to eight hours and
self-drive leisure boats for up to four. Make your
way along the Corso to Manly Beach where the
action is taken up a notch. If there’s a little
grom in training in the family this is the ideal
location to acquaint them with a board, with
The Kids Academy of Surf running lessons
for children throughout the NSW school
holidays. From here, you can also wander to
Shelley Beach, a children’s paradise.