Summer in Sydney can be expensive. Nice bars with nice cocktails and wine cost a pretty penny, or a few thousand, give or take the area you’re in. Nice restaurants with nice views also don’t come cheaply.
But it can be easy to forget about the cheap or free activities that Sydney offers when the weather warms up.
In October, Sydney held the Good Food Festival and Art and About (recognisable for the enormous coloured snails peppered through Sydney’s CBD.
In November, Sydney held Corroboree Sydney (a new, Indigenous cultural festival) and Sculpture By The Sea (Australia’s largest annual outdoor sculpture exhibition held in Perth and Sydney).
But what do you do on a weekend or afternoon after work when there’s no special event on? My favourite thing to do when I lived in Sydney, and when I visit, is to walk around the coast and harbour. It’s free, and if you don’t mind a drive in from the suburbs on the weekend, beautiful coastal walks are accessible to most people, no matter where you live in Sydney. I have a few favourite walks I never get tired of doing:
Eastern Suburbs beaches
Bondi to Bronte is the one of the most popular Sydney coastal walks, particularly during late October to early November, when Sculpture By the Sea is held (another free event). Having lived at Clovelly, my main walk used to be either from Clovelly Beach to the north end of Coogee, having quick dips at Gordon’s Bay and Coogee Women’s baths when the heat got to me. This walk is also far less crowded than the Bondi to Bronte walk, which resembles Pitt Street in peak hour when Sculpture By the Sea is on. And if you get hungry, my favourite stop for food was Beach Burrito Co (formerly Bondi Burrito Co, until the Californian duo became so popular they had to expand to Coogee, and then to Newtown) at Coogee Beach.
Inner East/Inner City walks
There’s nothing quite like walking through the inner east and inner city on a warm, sunny Sunday morning. On my most recent morning walk through this area, I felt fresh and happy, the gay men holding hands and looking very in love were giving me a warm, fuzzy glow, and then I got “Nice tits!” yelled at me from Mansions Hotel (it’s 9.30am, and the guys seem to be rather excited about their night still kicking on, and invite me up for breakfast beers. I politely decline, have a giggle, and keep walking.) It’s the latter that reminds me that I’m in Kings Cross. For people starting a walk near the trains or buses in the city, I would suggest doing the opposite route to me: start down at Woolloomooloo, consider a beer at the Tilbury or a pie at Harry’s Café by the pier, depending on the time of day, hike up McElhone stairs (these are steep, you may need a break half way if you don’t get regular cardio-vascular exercise) and walk through Potts Point down Elizabeth Bay Road in Elizabeth Bay, to Ithaca Road. At the end of Ithaca sits Elizabeth Bay Marina. It’s a beautiful spot on Sydney Harbour, where I’ve seen a couple of small stingrays sitting on the rocks around the edge of the marina near the cafe.
The Royal Botanic Gardens, NSW Art Gallery, and Mrs. Macquarie’s chair
This was one of my favourite walks when I worked in Sydney’s CBD. My team at my last company knew I was blowing off steam when I’d disappear for an hour at lunch (I usually ate lunch at my desk and tried to catch up on emails I didn’t get a chance to answer during the day), and go walkabout to calm down. So I spent a few good hour long walks with my iPod in, storming around to music by Fear Factory and Cradle of Filth, exploring different sections of the Botanic Gardens. My favourites were the rose gardens, eel spotting in the pond, the hot house pyramid, checking out the harbour view from Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair, and walking through the gardens directly from Macquarie Street to the Art Gallery and back, stopping to admire the 22,000 large flying fox colony in the middle of the gardens. Apparently this fruitbat colony kills trees and they’ve tried to relocated the colony, but they keep coming back.
Talking to my friends who live in or near Sydney, they’ve also suggested the historic walks around the Rocks starting from the base of the harbour bridge stairs and stopping in at the Lord Nelson Brewery for a beer, and walking around the north shore harbour front starting at Luna Park and going around to Kirribilli.
What are your favourite walks around Sydney?