City Guide: Sydney

All text and photography by Tess McLennan ©


Sydney Harbour Bridge. 

Sydney is one of the most vibrant cities in the world, a hub of culture, fashion, art, entertainment and history. Whether you’re an overseas visitor, or an Aussie on a mini break, there’s so much to see and do in Australia’s oldest city.

Walk… Mrs Macquarie’s Point to Circular Quay.

 I’m not great when it comes to directions, but I know a good walk when I see (do?) one.

We started at the Art of Gallery of NSW, and kept on the path past the Finger Wharf (where the likes of Russell Crowe have property). Stop for a moment to take in the view of the fancy yachts and multi million dollar apartments, before continuing along the same path. You’ll eventually come to a point with a chair carved out of sandstone, aptly named Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. However, if you turn around from the chair, you’ll get a stunning panoramic view of Sydney Harbour and the Opera House. Afternoon is the best time for photographs, and it’s easy to climb down onto the rocks if you want to be closer to the water. Once you’re done taking in the sun and the sea, continue again along the walking path. Your next stop will be the steps of the Opera House, which always results in some amazing photographs (I’m a sucker for landmarks, I don’t care how overdone they are). Stop for a drink in the Opera Bar next (if you can get a seat!), and then finish your walk at Circular Quay. You might want to grab an ice cream from the ferry terminal, or dinner at a pub in The Rocks, Sydney’s oldest suburb.

Tip: Pack good walking shoes and water, this one is quite a long hike… but totally worth it for the exercise, and the stunning views!


The Finger Wharf. Dreaming. 


Totally worth the hike. 

Do … The Rocks Ghost Tour.

Lasting about two hours, this walking tour will take you to the sites of Sydney’s most infamous crimes, and places where people have regularly reported supernatural occurrences. Under the veil of night, a tour guide will tell you stories of murder, bizarre disappearances, ghostly apparitions and unexplained phenomenon. You’ll be given access to places in the city that aren’t on display to the public, and gain a real insight into the history of Australia from settlement, right up to the present. I was pleased that the tour didn’t include any scare tactics, figures jumping out at you, crashes in the night, things going boo etc.… it gave the whole experience more credibility, and that in itself was enough to make shivers go down your spine. A must do for anyone who is a keen history buff, and open to the idea of the spiritual world connecting with our own.


Capturing ghosts on camera. 


See… a theatre show.

You can’t go to Sydney and not go to the theatre, at least once (unless you’re absolutely averted to the idea, and in that case, we might not get along so well). The city is literally a smorgasbord of shows, the New York of Australia. We saw Fiddler on the Roof at the Capitol Theatre in Haymarket (absolutely brilliant), however there are a number of other companies running fantastic shows at the same time. Research, and ye shall find.


Love the theatre!

 Visit… Manly Beach.

Just a short ferry ride from Circular Quay, Manly Beach will offer stunning views, a beach too beautiful to believe, and plenty of places to eat and shop. There are art galleries, boutiques, bookstores, ice cream parlours and breweries galore. Just make sure you leave enough time to explore everything Manly has to offer!

And if you have time, visit the Q Station, which was used in the 1800s to isolate people suspected of having contagious (and fatal) diseases, nasty stuff such as cholera, Spanish Influenza and TB. It now acts as a hotel, conference and wedding centre, while also conducting paranormal and ghost tours on the side.


Manly Beach… Does it get any better than this? 

Eat… Thai Food. 

Ironically, some of the best Thai food I’ve had is in Sydney. Last time, we ate in Kings Cross, however this time I ordered food from a smaller place in the CBD, Abb Air Thai Cuisine. The curry was deliciously hot and spicy, and the servings generous (I couldn’t even finish mine, it was so big!) The staff were kind and takeaway is an option. I ate my order in our hotel room on a particularly rainy afternoon, and it went down a treat. Perfection.

 Shop… Pitt Street Mall.


My shopping companion ❤


So if you’re like me, you probably can’t afford anything in the Chanel, Dior, or Prada stores that Sydney has to offer (a girl can dream!). Never fear, Pitt Street Mall still has your fashion needs, but at a fraction of the cost. I think of my outfits like constructing art. They have to be put together accordingly, piece by piece… so I often make a list of the clothing items I need to buy in order to create this artwork, burgundy tights here, mustard skirt there… you get the idea. Usually these lists take months to materialize in my wardrobe, however I managed to find every item I needed in one day, all while shopping at Pitt Street. Perhaps it was dumb luck, or Sydney really does have it all. Either way, my shopping trip was overwhelmingly successful. Another big tick for this beautiful city!


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