Staycations. They’re a thing, right? Well, being travel addicts, we try to enjoy the best of our own city in the weeks in between our getaways.
Yes. Sydney has a load of manmade tourist attractions (zoos, theme parks and the like) and landmarks to check out if that’s your thing. However, if you’re coming to the New South Wales capital and looking for a taste of the local’s life too – here’s a summation of how we got out and about to enjoy our baby’s first year. There’s plenty of good stuff here.
WALK IT, BABY
We are keen hikers and were working through Sydney’s best walks well before our little adventurer dropped in to join our travel party. With plenty of green spaces, spectacular coastal paths, and the world’s most spectacular natural harbour, the city really is bursting with places to go for a wander on foot. With the baby strapped into her carrier, whether to see the world or to take a little nap, everybody in the family has a good time on one of the city’s walks.
Whether you choose to complete the full stretch, or just take on a section, we really enjoy getting out to hike the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk (pictured), the Manly to Spit Bridge Walk, the Barangaroo to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair path (it’s pram friendly too), and the Kirribilli Foreshore. The former boast gorgeous coastal views and the latter are littered with icons – something for anyone.
GET THE BEST START ON YOUR DAY … WITH BREAKFAST
Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Maybe it’s just me that has this run across my brain as soon as I open my eyes in the morning. But if not, and you share my (new found) enthusiasm for a caffeinated drink to kickstart your parenting day, heading out for a delicious breakfast is a must in Sydney. For us, it’s the easiest meal to dine out with a baby (whether you’re at the ‘sleep under the table’ stage; ‘high chair novelty’ stage or ‘food, food, food, food’ stage) as they are fresh for a new day and you’re in good company (other families are there right beside you!).
True, going out for breakfast is a bit of an institution in Australia. From all-day breakfasts (can I get a high five?!) to varied and interesting adaptions of the usual breakfast suspects, Sydney is dotted with a myriad of cafes that dish up your first meal of the day in an interesting way. For the out-of-towners: Concrete Playground, Broadsheet and The Urban List are great sources for the latest and greatest.
Life as a local in Sydney can feel a bit like a holiday – I mean, at the end of an ordinary day (whether it’s the daily office grind, or the regular school run) you can jump into your cosies (swimmers. togs. costume. whatever you wanna call it) and head to a myriad of popular beaches by the harbour or the open water. Remembering to swim between the flags, and that heading to the beach with a baby requires some sun safe thought (your health professional can give you advice, but if you’re from outside Australia bear in mind the Aussie sun is a a burnin’, stingin’, unrelenting thing), here’s a few that we (not the baby – she was too young to try the ocean’s temperature during her first summer) enjoyed hitting up with the celsius soared:
- Balmoral Beach (Lower North Shore): Lined with huge fig trees, a few cafes and some grassy areas, pancake-flat Balmoral is pretty popular with families. The actual sand itself has very limited areas of shade, so we set ourselves up at the southern end of the beach where shade is available on the grass. We take turns to head into the flat harbour waters for a dip. (pictured)
- Camp Cove (Eastern Suburbs): Accessed between a couple of houses in Vaucluse, Camp Cove is a peaceful little paradise. A harbourside beach, it is calm and quiet, with a lovely little stretch of sand. There is limited shade on the beach, so be sure to pack your own. Parsley Bay Reserve & Beach, also in Vaucluse, is often listed as a good kid friendly option too that is nearby.
- Clifton Gardens/Chowder Bay Beach (Lower North Shore): Another harbour beach (catching the drift?), Clifton Gardens is just one of many little spots in the vicinity that are suitable to head to with kiddies. With a car park, a wide grassy area with tables and a nice stretch of protected beach, it’s a top spot to cool off on a summer’s day. We rate it.
- Shelly Beach (Manly): Tucked into the peninsular on the ocean side of Manly, Shelly Beach is a lovely little spot for a dip if you’re in the Northern Beaches. There’s a grassy patch back from the beach which is fringed with trees – nab a shady spot if you beat all the other families there on a weekend.
LIFE’S A PICNIC
Hands up if you regularly spend a lot more time in parks since you added a little member to your tribe? We do. The outdoor world is easy entertainment and can be a welcome refresh for the whole family. Our little adventurer has always enjoyed watching the world so we try to head out for a picnic or walk in one of the city’s green spaces as much as possible. Some of the prettiest we’ve enjoyed are:
- Centennial Park: Located just 4kms from the city’s CBD (on the non-Central station side of Surry Hills), this is a whopping big urban park that Sydneysiders jog in, walk in, cycle in and horse ride in. It’s also a great spot for a picnic and a pram stroll – there’s food trucks too if you don’t pack your own.
- Bradfield Park (north side under the Bridge): Apart from boasting views of Sydney Harbour with all its iconic trimmings, this park is a really handy one to consider during inclement weather – it’s underneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge! There’s a little playground there, a bunch of cafes up the hill in Kirribilli for a food run; or meander along the harbourside walk that goes from Kirribilli around to McMahon’s Point. (pictured)
- Hyde Park: Handy if you’re in the CBD, this inner city park stretches from Museum to St James’ train stations and is home to the ANZAC War Memorial and Archibald Fountain. Often this is a spot I stop in with the little one when we require a stretch, a crawl, or just a change of scenery from the city buzz during CBD excursions.
- Watson’s Bay: A bit further afield, heading to Watson’s Bay for a picnic of Doyle’s fish n’ chips is a day well spent. Accessible by car or ferry, there’s a large patch of grass, playground, and is just across the road from The Gap which offers a nice big view back to the city if you fancy.
TO MARKET, TO MARKET
When we lived in London, we loved nothing more than wandering up to our local high street on a Sunday to fulfil our weekly shopping list. There’s something about this ritual, whether it’s nostalgia or freshness, that we attempt to continue since relocating back to Sydney. With the baby strapped into our baby carrier (you could try to navigate the crowds with a pram, but we find it stressless to opt to having the baby riding with one of us) we head out to our favourite markets as regularly as we can muster: market food, fresh coffee, perusing local artisans’ wares, it’s such my thing. Mr Travel Tales puts up with the wares so he can linger over the fruit and vegetable stalls …
Many of Sydney’s markets are anchored to some of the city’s coolest nooks (suburbs); so if you’re not a local you might find that visiting one of these markets encourages you to see another side to the city you love. Of those we’ve visited (not all!) we rate the Kirribilli and Paddington markets for fashion, arts & crafts; and Marrickville Organic (pictured), Bondi School, and Carriageworks markets for delicious food (incl. farmer’s produce). We often head to the Sydney Fish Market (it’s dying for that rumoured and confirmed make over!) for our seafood too.
LOOKING FOR USUAL TOURIST TIPS?
There’s plenty more to see and do in Sydney – if you’d like to know the ‘top 10’ landmarks to see and other tourist attractions, head to www.sydney.com.