Hyde Park, Manly and Bondi, The Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, the Botanical Gardens…you’d be forgiven for thinking that even by just focusing on the major tourist attractions there is a glut of things to see and do in Sydney. But this article isn’t about those things. This is a list of hidden gems that only in-the-know locals are aware of. Impress your visiting friends by taking them to one of these 10 secret spots and get to know your own city even better in the process.
1. Shark Island, Sydney Harbour
Accessible only by ferry from Circular Quay or Darling Harbour (or kayak if you’re up for some not-so-light exercise), this tiny landmass has 360-degree views of the Harbour, beautifully manicured lawns, hidden grottos, and rock pools teeming with marine life. It’s the ultimate secluded spot for a picnic or just an opportunity to get away from all the noise.
3. Milk Beach, Vaucluse
Raise your hand if you’ve rocked up to Bondi or Manly with some tourist friends and remarked “wow it’s busy today.” Keep it up if you think Manly or Bondi aren’t even worth having to deal with the crowds. Well, here’s your trade-up. Milk Beach in Vaucluse is a small, secluded strip of sand and crystal-clear water with views of the entire Harbour and plenty of epic Eastern Suburbs real estate to ogle in the process.
3. Sydney Tank Stream Tours
File this one under “exclusive AF.” Taking place twice a year with the only way to gain access being winning a ticket lottery, this dark and dank tour through what was the main source of fresh water for Indigenous Australians and the First Settlers (but is now a stormwater drain because it became too polluted) is as fascinating as it is musky.
4. C’s Flashback, Paddington/Surry Hills
If you’re after some truly unique vintage clothing, C’s Flashback is a must. With everything from recycled designer boots to what can only be described as the “Australiana on Acid” version of Hawaiian shirts, you’re guaranteed to find something original to make you stand out from the rest of the vintage shopper crowd.
5. Braza Churrascaria, Darling Harbour
Okay, this one is probably the most well-known location on the list, but it’s so damn good it needs a mention. Get ready for a serious meat coma at this Brazilian barbecue restaurant, which keeps bringing out skewers of tender beef, chicken, and lamb until you specifically ask them to stop. If you’re there on a Saturday night you can also enjoy a samba show with your meal.
6. May Lane, St. Peters
Sydney’s walls are coated with colourful street art, but nowhere is it in as high concentration as May Lane in St. Peters. Everything from complex, sophisticated tags to beautiful (and at times satirical) murals can found here (and in the surrounding streets), including work from Mexican-Australian legend Peque VRS.
7. Tan Viet Noodle House, Cabramatta
While it’s quite a trek from the CBD (around 50 minutes), a visit to Cabramatta should be on everyone’s to-do list. The Vietnamese capital of Sydney is full of amazing restaurants serving traditional dishes like pho and banh mi, and the one most locals recommend is Tan Viet Noodle House. The pho is cheap and delicious, and it’s right on the main strip, so you can also do a little thrift shopping after you digest your lunch.
8. The Record Store, Surry Hills
Get your flicking fingers nice and nimble, because The Record Store has an absolute stack of new and used house, techno, breakbeat, hip-hop, funk, and soul (and a few crates of oddities for good measure) crammed into its relatively small store space. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable, and you’re very likely to find some serious gems in the used vinyl crates.
9. FREAK VR, Penrith
This recently opened Virtual Reality (VR) playground is perfect for those of us who are young at heart. With a variety of reasonably priced experiences that range from VR escape rooms to taking down hordes of zombies, it’s the most fun you can have with a headset on your face.
10. Papa Gede’s, CBD
Experience some good voodoo at this tiki-themed small bar that serves all manner of creative cocktails and delicious, salty snacks. Monday nights even have a speed dating night, which makes perfect sense given the venue is named after the voodoo spirit of lust and after. Oh, and it’s dog friendly (if you don’t have a dog, hang out with the resident therapy pooch Bella on Thursday and Friday nights).
Written By Andrew Wowk