The Ultimate Sydney Day Out
It’s crazy to think that, as of September, I’ll have lived in Sydney for two years. But for as much as I’ve seen of this Australian city, I’ve barely scratched the surface of all there is to see and do here, so this weekend called for some exploring with a little help from PARKROYAL Darling Harbour.
Eager to discover a new side of Sydney, I jumped onto PARKROYAL Darling Harbour’s nifty Ultimate Sydney Day Out planner. Take a quick personality quiz, answering questions like “What’s your style of drinking den?”, and the tool puts together a personalized guide for what to see, eat, drink, and do during a day in Sydney. Armed with my results, I set off to see more of the city I currently call home. First stop: Parsley Bay.
Parsley Bay is a secluded beach in Sydney’s suburb of Vaucluse. For as beautiful as it looked in photos, I hadn’t yet had a chance to visit, so I took a cue from the planner and began my Ultimate Sydney Day Out with a morning in the Eastern Suburbs. It’s been a chilly winter here in Sydney (well, “chilly” as far as Sydney goes), so we were lucky to wake up to a sunny and uncharacteristically warm day, the perfect day to explore.
We wandered down to the bay, having the turquoise water and quiet beach almost all to ourselves. A footbridge crosses the bay, so we followed it and found our way to nearby Vaucluse House, a nineteenth century estate featuring a museum, tearooms, and tranquil gardens.
Vaucluse is a beautiful area (I would not mind owning a mansion there!), near some of Sydney’s best walks, and I’d love to return to spend longer enjoying its hidden bays, but, alas, we were off to our next destination.
Stomachs growling, we headed to Newtown, the artsy suburb just up the road from where I live, for lunch at Bloodwood. The restaurant offers exquisite share plates unlike any you’ll see elsewhere, as well as a large selection of unique beverages.
I ordered an organic cider as my boyfriend ordered scallops for his first dish – no seafood for me, but I’ll take his word that they were amazing. We then tried their deliciously tender miso fried chicken, followed by socca, a chickpea pancake topped with quinoa, pumpkin, summer seeds, and Persian feta. We finished the meal with a pecan and Jerusalem artichoke pie with eggplant, broccoli, and mustard. All was absolutely divine. My only regret is that we didn’t save enough room for dessert.
The Australian Museum
Next, we headed into the CBD (central Sydney) to the Australian Museum, Sydney’s answer to a natural history museum. I had passed it many a time but had never actually entered, so I was keen to check out what it had to offer. We began with a bit of aboriginal history in their First Australians gallery and their Garrigarrang: Sea Country exhibit, and then we were off to meet some of the species that have inhabited Australia over the millenia.
After paying a visit to the life-sized giant wombats, fanged kangaroos, and thylacines (Tasmanian tigers, which became extinct in the early 20th century), we traveled further back in time to greet the dinosaurs that reside within the Australian Museum. For someone who was completely enamored with Jurassic Park as a five-year-old, this was the exhibit I was most looking forward to. I mean, who doesn’t love dinosaurs?
Other exhibits featured contemporary Australian fauna, Pacific culture, minerals, and animal skeletons, all in all making for an educational museum visit that took me back to elementary school field trips.
Susannah Place Museum
Next up was another journey to the past at the Susannah Place Museum. The Rocks is Sydney’s harborside area that was established soon after the colony was formed in 1788, history preserved in its sandstone buildings and cobblestone streets. Susannah Place is a group of terrace houses in The Rocks that was built in 1844 and has been preserved to show what life was like over the various periods during which it was inhabited.
Our passionate guide led us on an hour-long tour detailing the lives of the working class families that called Susannah Place home between 1844 and 1990, sharing stories of how they cooked, slept, did laundry, and even used the toilet (let me just say I’m very glad we have plumbing now!). One of the things I miss most about living in Europe is having history on every corner, so I love finding the bits of fascinating history that Sydney does have to offer, and Susannah Place provided just that.
After our long day of exploring, a drink was in order. Shady Pines Saloon is one of my favorite bars in Sydney, so I knew I had to include it in my Ultimate Sydney Day Out. Decorated like an old western saloon, with moose heads, American flags, and grungy, antique signs lining the walls, this place has a magnificent ambiance. I love themed bars, and Shady Pines is the perfect combination of kitschy yet classy.
The menu includes a variety of beers, wines, and cocktails, but the best Shady Pines secret is their freshly juiced apple with whiskey. Simple yet oh so delicious. Peanuts on each table and live country/folk/bluegrass music further contribute to the atmosphere to make it one of my favorite spots in town.
Also cool? Shady Pines is a well-hidden secret, with an unmarked white door serving as the entrance to this underground bar. Only the coolest of the cool can come here…or at least those with decent Googling skills.
PARKROYAL Darling Harbour
Our final destination on our Ultimate Sydney Day Out was the hotel that made the day possible, PARKROYAL Darling Harbour. I’ll go into more details about the hotel in another post, but the highlight was having access to the Club Lounge, where we were treated to relaxing drinks and canapes overlooking the twinkling harbor.
Is it possible that the Ultimate Sydney Day Out guide knows me better than I know myself? Perhaps, considering it planned an utterly perfect day for me to explore new parts of Sydney. Finishing the day with a luxurious stay at the PARKROYAL Darling Harbour was the icing on the cake.
So, what would your ultimate Sydney day out be? Give the guide a try and let me know!
Bonus: here’s a nifty little map of my day so you can visualize exactly where I went, courtesy of Travelabulous.