I love insider travel tips on where to go, what to skip and where to eat. They always make me feel like a local even when I’m obviously not, like in Japan or Thailand.
This is one of the reasons I encourage every expat to start a blog because, speaking as one, I know that expats have done all the touristy stuff and have sorted out what’s completely overrated, where the best cheap eats are and how to avoid the crowds.
They also have access to locals only info about all the secret spots yet to be discovered by the guide books.
After a few years of living abroad, most expats have their top five list ready and waiting for when friends and family visit.
I figured it’s now my turn to share my favourite spots around Sydney and give you a few insider travel tips that will, not just save you money and time, but you’ll see more of Sydney.
This is the my first post in the series of Sydney travel tips.
I was going to publish one large article of ten tips but I kept thinking of more tips so thought a shorter post of each would be best.
Two Sydney Harbour Cruises for $11.60
This one is more of a sneaky travel hack then a tip.
From Wharf 4 at Circular Quay you have a choice of three different final destinations: Kurraba Point, Mosman Bay and Watsons Bay.
“Yeah, ok, so what’s the travel hack?”
You only pay when you enter and/or exit Wharf 4 at Circular Quay, not at the wharfs within the harbour. (For these ferry routes.)
Still not with me?
Here’s what I suggest. Sometime before lunch, catch the ferry to Mosman. It’s the last stop the ferry will make before it heads back to Circular Quay. They call out the stops along the way so you won’t miss it.
Then take the very nicely paved trail around Mosman Bay to the Mosman Rowers Club to stop for lunch. It’s not that far.
Don’t shy away from RSL and other member’s clubs in Australia.
Even though Mosman Rowers is a member’s club don’t worry, you don’t have to be a member to eat at the upper level bistro.
It won’t be the best food you’ll have in Sydney but the location is excellent and it’s reasonable priced.
It’s also locals only, so don’t be surprised if you get a few surprised looks. It has a very friendly and relaxed setting. Chances are you will even get a couple of questions. Just the usual, wanting to know where you’re from and how are you liking Sydney.
Tell whom ever is at the front desk that you’re there to have lunch. There’s no chance of them turning you away. Why? They want your business. I’ve eaten there more than a few times and have never had a problem. It just seems odd if you’re not use to it but once you’re inside it’s fine. (The only chance they would turn you away is if there is a wedding reception or something event happening at the club. Other than that you’re good.)
The front desk person will point you towards a small binder that appears to be full of 3×5 cards. You’ll have to fill out one with your address and contact number, hotel details are fine, then tear off either the bottom or top part and keep it with you while dining inside the bistro. The front desk person is always very friendly and chatty, ready to answer any questions you have.
After you sign in just head upstairs. There’s no table service, you’ll have to order at the food counter. I would recommend something pretty standard like fish and chips or grilled fish with salad. Prices are decent, definitely fair for what you get.
When you’re done with lunch, continue along the same path towards Cremorne Point.
Cremorne Point is a beautiful spot not seen by tourists.
Cremorne Point Reserve along Mosman Bay has a beautiful garden with several small paths that lead down to the water. It’s one of my favourite spots in Sydney.
You can continue along the path towards the Cremorne ferry wharf then climb down to the lighthouse at Robertson Point or, if it’s warm out and you got your swim suit with you, head past the ferry wharf and take a dip in the Maccallum Pool.
Once you’re done exploring catch the ferry back to Circular Quay at Cremorne Wharf. Get a good seat outside on the way back to take advantage of the spectacular harbour views. You’ll see why Cremorne Point is one of the most popular locations to watch the New Year’s Eve fireworks.
Here’s the travel hack.
Instead of exiting the wharf, sit and wait for the Eastern Suburbs ferry to show up and then hop on that and head to Watsons Bay.
Cruise Sydney Harbour’s Southern Shoreline.
Taking the ferry to Watsons Bay is a pretty standard touristy thing to do but for a good reason. It’s a cheap way to see the southern shore of the Sydney Harbour.
The ferry has four stops before reaching Watsons Bay: Garden Island, Darling Point, Rose Bay and Double Bay.
Try to get a seat outside if you can, along the right side to get the best view of the southern shore. I personal like to shop for my next home when on the Eastern Suburbs ferry. Some of the world’s most expensive real estate is long that ferry route. To give you an idea, the large property to the left of the Double Bay wharf use to belong to Nicole Kidman.
When you get off the ferry at Watsons Bay you’ll see Doyles On The Beach. Every guidebook published about Sydney suggests stoping here for the fish and chips. Don’t. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice place, great location but the fish and chips are not the best. Certainly not the best in Sydney. Besides, you’ve already eaten at the Mosman Rowers Club.
Instead, let’s work up an appetite before thinking about getting something at Doyles.
The Inner South Head Bush Walk
The bush walk around the Inner South Head is about 5 kilometres, not too far and very scenic. It’s an easy walk and again, paved the whole way.
If it’s hot out and you’ve got your swimmers then take a dip in the harbour at Camp Cove, not Lady Bay. Lady Bay is a clothing optional beach and, no, not a popular hang out for supermodels or Aussie celebrities. Nudist beaches never are.
When you’re done walking around and feel like it’s time for a cold beer and a snack then head back to Doyles. Try and get a table outside. Now I’ve already mention that the fish and chips at Doyles are not the best in Sydney but they are also not the worse. I know you’ve probably already read about them in Lonely Planet so go ahead and order them if you want. But, might I suggest, if you’re really hungry the Wagyu Burger, if not then try one of the salads or for a snack the salt and pepper calamari. The prices are expensive so brace yourself.
Try to catch the sunset on the way back.
The perfect time to take the ferry back to Circular Quay is just before sunset. On the way back you’ll get a great view of the city with the Opera House lined up with the Harbour Bridge. If you can plan it right and get a nice sunset, it’s gold.
Here’s a link for when the sunset is in Sydney to help you plan the trip back to Circular Quay: http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/astronomy.html?n=240