When I first arrived in Sydney I was lucky enough to have my host family’s previous au pair to show me around the city. I arrived on a Friday so I had the entire weekend to explore. The previous au pair had a friend who had reached the end of her au pair experience, so to send her off we went to all of her favorite places around the city. This meant, two full days of tons of walking and all of the classic Sydney sights. I walked the Harbour Bridge, spent heaps of time on the Rocks, near the Opera House, and in the CBD in general. I saw all of the things that would normally come to a foreigner’s mind when thinking about Sydney.
Little did I know there was so much more to this city, and I’ve absolutely fallen in love with it since. I’ve been in Sydney for just about three months now, and still I haven’t seen it all. I think this city has something for everybody. There are loads of museums, constant events and festivals at different parks, food markets, heaps of dining options that cater to every allergy or craving, and all sorts of people to befriend.
The friends I’ve made have had a great impact on how I perceive Sydney. I feel like I’ve gotten a true, local experience by having the opportunity to explore suburban areas that I wouldn’t have any knowledge of or reason to go to had it not been where my friends grew up. It helps having mates who spent all of their lives in the city and know all of the best spots. On Christmas Eve I got the best of both worlds: started out in the Bondi and Coogee area for classic Silly Season festivities with other travelers, and then ended up just north of the Parramatta River at a mate’s local bar with all of his friends and family. The “backpackers scene” is surely a fun time, but it’s those moments with a solid group of friends that makes me feel like I too am a local. I really appreciate that environment, especially around the holiday time.
I personally love to beach it up, so I’ve hit a bunch of the beaches in both the Eastern Suburbs and up north. While it is the most popular and touristy beach, Bondi is actually one of my least favorite beaches in Sydney. I’d much prefer to pop over to Tamarama or head north to Balmoral or even go as far as Palm Beach. There’s a beach for every kind of person depending on if you’re looking for calm wading water, big surf, swimming waves, or somewhere with a beach pool. It does help to have a car or a friend who drives, though I manage the public transportation pretty well.
While I’m not a party animal, I appreciate the variety in nightlife here. I’ve spent my Friday nights at both fancier, more upscale bars and crazy dance clubs. I’ve caught live music at venues in a few different neighborhoods and enjoyed a few beers at a local brewery (Young Henry’s in Newtown is one of my favorites). And of course, kicking back at a mate’s house for some beers and a barbie is always a great move, especially on a Sunday.
Sydney is what you make of it. There’s endless options of things to do— it really just depends what interests you the most and how much of an effort you make to see and do the things you love. I recently look a weeklong trip on the south coast, and as much as I enjoyed it, I was SO pumped to get back to Sydney, my new home :)