Sydney Summer Time

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Tight economic times are making many families reassess vacationing overseas. But an exotic holiday at budget prices is easily had, right on our own doorstep.

Sydney in Summer is a tourist’s delight, with plenty of free and budget-priced attractions: sipping bubbles under the stars at the harbourside open-air cinema with the Opera House and Bridge on the skyline … opera, jazz and carols in the Domain … ferry races, night markets, the annual Sydney Festival, and Abba concerts at twilight at Taronga Zoo.

Petrol is expensive, avgas more so – and tourism authorities expect many more Australians to be holidaying at home in the future. Curiously, we often overlook Sydney in favour of seaside spots to the north – yet it’s one of the world’s most desirable destinations for international visitors. We assume the cost of accommodation can be daunting, yet straightened times in the tourism industry generally mean there’s plenty of good value to be had. All it takes is a keen eye for advertised packages or a close search on the internet.

STAR WARS: An extravaganza for kids, and parents too. This sensational exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum in central Sydney features 80 models from all six Star Wars movies. You can take a ride in a hovercraft, build a levitating vehicle or your own android, create virtual cyborgs and program a robot. Entry fees are modest and it’s a full day experience. The Powerhouse – and Sydney Aquarium and Wildlife World, with 6000 animals – are an easy walk from Novotel, Ibis or Grand Mercure Apartments at Darling Harbour – and just a few days in the city can offer a week’s worth of enjoyment. Countrylink has packages via www.countrylink.info or 132829 that also offer discounts on entry fees to other attractions. For excellent value, book direct with Novotel at www.novoteldarlingharbour.com.au/specials for family packages for two adults and two children including Star Wars entry from $247 a night. Rooms at Novotel are terrific, with cable TV and great views of Darling Harbour and the city. There’s a great breakfast that serves as lunch as well, a swimming pool, free day-night tennis court, gym, parking and a business centre. There’s always plenty of safe, free entertainment and sightseeing in the Darling Harbour precinct.

> CHRISTMAS WINDOWS: David Jones seasonal window displays are renowned as Australia’s best. This year, Santa’s elves have gone all high-tech and can be seen working with computers preparing their Christmas deliveries.

> MONET EXHIBITION: No need to travel to Paris, Florence or Boston so see some of the world’s greatest Impressionist paintings, including Claude Monet’s famous Water Lilies, and Haystacks. This superb exhibition is at the Art Gallery of NSW, its only showing in Australia. Novotel also has twin-share packages for his event, including entry tickets, starting from $259. Other works by artists including Degas, Renoir and Cezanne are included. A stroll across picturesque Pyrmont Bridge takes you though the city to the gallery – on the way home a visit to the Botanical Gardens, Opera House markets and though Hyde Park lead on to the sales that run pretty much year-round at the city’s department stores. Runs until January 26.

 

DINING OUT: If budget permits, Sydney offers the chance of a world-class dining experience, surely a worthy once-a-year treat. We dined at al fresco Universal, named one of the world’s “10 Best New Restaurants” at this year’s New York Food & Wine Awards. Owned by one of Australia’s top chefs, Christine Manfield, it’s easily reached by bus, short taxi trip or on foot in inner-city Darlinghurst; the food here is like nothing else you’ve experienced. Although it’s described as a tapas or tasting menu, each mini dish defies that humble description and is served with some stunning and exclusive matching wines. We chose to enjoy just a single bottle of wine with the entire dinner; menu prices are reduced accordingly. However, this is one of Australia’s best wine lists, and worth trying; exotic cocktails are also on offer. Select as few or as many dishes as you wish and be treated to service that respects every diner. No need for stuffy suits; neat casual wear is fine. If you have just one formal meal in Sydney, this is the one to choose. Universal Restaurant, in the courtyard, Palmer Street, between Burton and Liverpool. Tel: 9931 0709 or see www.universalrestaurant.com. Equally, however, there are plenty of places to enjoy budget meals. One of my favourites is Double Bay’s Courtyard Café at 37 Bay Street, serving a fabulous breakfast-brunch for $7.90 and always a wonderful welcome from owner Yanni Tsilimos. Take the ferry there. Another unique venue is Sydney Cove Oyster Bar, open-air tables next to the water and boating action at Circular Quay

KATHRYN’S ON QUEEN: If a hotel is not your style and you want to use your car to get around, the country-style hospitality at this near-city boutique B&B is worth enjoying. A terrace house in leafy Woollahra, it boasts just three stunning, luxury bedrooms and bathrooms, super breakfasts and the wonderful Kathryn herself as your host. An immensely relaxing spot to stay amid the trendy eastern suburbs. From $180 a room a night including a sumptuous breakfast; see www.kathryns.com.au.

ENTERTAINMENT QUARTER: A safe self-contained enclave in the old Showground complex where you can enjoy the latest movies in comfy, luxury seats and also enjoy shopping and modestly-priced dining. Pub food, dine-in, takeaways and markets food mid-week. Travel by public transport or park free for two hours, $8 for up to four hours. An Imax screen opens here soon.

FREE DOMAIN CONCERTS: Carols by Candlelight, Saturday, December 20. Jazz in the Domain with The Gypsy Kings & Queens, Saturday, January 17 at 8pm. Symphony in the Domain, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Saturday, January 24. Opera Australia’s opera in the Domain; food stalls, Saturday, January 31 from 8pm. Food, drinks, wine and beer stalls operate at all events.

BOXING DAY & NEW YEAR’S EVE: There are plenty of picnic vantage points around the harbour to watch the jockeying for position and start of the annual Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race. The same goes for New Year’s Eve, with the fabulous harbour fireworks displays a truly exciting event to see first-hand.

SYDNEY FESTIVAL: On Saturday January 10, the annual three-week festival opens with the free Festival First Night, 2-11pm. Streets are cleared of cars and open air stages across the city feature international artists, including Grace Jones. From 2-6pm Hyde Park is given over to families, with concerts by Dan Zanes & Friends, the Australian Youth Choir, and Sydney Youth Orchestra. Among other free activities during the month are around 40 concert gigs; and Dawn Chorus on January Saturdays 10, 17, 24 and 31 when Sydney Philharmonia Choirs sing at Sydney beaches. A quirky new addition this year is Play Me, I’m Yours, when 30 pianos will be placed around the city from January 11 to 31 with an open invitation for the public to play them. Free films will be shown under the stars at Sydney Olympic Stadium’s overflow park on January 3 and 4, 7-11 and 14-18. Films Afloat at Darling Harbour: free cult-classic films on a floating screen, with musicians playing dynamic live soundtracks.

TWILIGHT AT TARONGA: Be quick to secure sell-out tickets to this annual event featuring music under the stars with the city skyline as a backdrop. Marcia Hines opens the program in January, followed by Bjorn Again, Beatlemania, Big Band Tribute, Gershwin, Best of the Beach Boys, Eagles and Classic Rock with Glenn Shorrock, ’60s Night, and James Morrison. Call 1800 675 875 for information, brochure.

ALSO: the Australian Open at Royal Sydney from Thursday, December 11; Chinese New Year celebrations from Friday, January 23; Australia Day celebrations and ferry races; Tropfest, free film festival on Sunday, February 22.

DISCOUNTS: Be sure to pick up a copy of Tourism NSW’s free guide to Sydney, widely available. As well as a digest of

Tight economic times are making many families reassess vacationing overseas. But an exotic holiday at budget prices is easily had, right on our own doorstep.
Sydney in Summer is a tourist’s delight, with plenty of free and budget-priced attractions: sipping bubbles under the stars at the harbourside open-air cinema with the Opera House and Bridge on the skyline … opera, jazz and carols in the Domain … ferry races, night markets, the annual Sydney Festival, and Abba concerts at twilight at Taronga Zoo.

Petrol is expensive, avgas more so – and tourism authorities expect many more Australians to be holidaying at home in the future. Curiously, we often overlook Sydney in favour of seaside spots to the north – yet it’s one of the world’s most desirable destinations for international visitors. We assume the cost of accommodation can be daunting, yet straightened times in the tourism industry generally mean there’s plenty of good value to be had. All it takes is a keen eye for advertised packages or a close search on the internet.

> STAR WARS: An extravaganza for kids, and parents too. This sensational exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum in central Sydney features 80 models from all six Star Wars movies. You can take a ride in a hovercraft, build a levitating vehicle or your own android, create virtual cyborgs and program a robot. Entry fees are modest and it’s a full day experience. The Powerhouse – and Sydney Aquarium and Wildlife World, with 6000 animals – are an easy walk from Novotel, Ibis or Grand Mercure Apartments at Darling Harbour – and just a few days in the city can offer a week’s worth of enjoyment. Countrylink has packages via www.countrylink.info or 132829 that also offer discounts on entry fees to other attractions. For excellent value, book direct with Novotel at www.novoteldarlingharbour.com.au/specials for family packages for two adults and two children including Star Wars entry from $247 a night. Rooms at Novotel are terrific, with cable TV and great views of Darling Harbour and the city. There’s a great breakfast that serves as lunch as well, a swimming pool, free day-night tennis court, gym, parking and a business centre. There’s always plenty of safe, free entertainment and sightseeing in the Darling Harbour precinct.

> CHRISTMAS WINDOWS: David Jones seasonal window displays are renowned as Australia’s best. This year, Santa’s elves have gone all high-tech and can be seen working with computers preparing their Christmas deliveries.

> MONET EXHIBITION: No need to travel to Paris, Florence or Boston so see some of the world’s greatest Impressionist paintings, including Claude Monet’s famous Water Lilies, and Haystacks. This superb exhibition is at the Art Gallery of NSW, its only showing in Australia. Novotel also has twin-share packages for his event, including entry tickets, starting from $259. Other works by artists including Degas, Renoir and Cezanne are included. A stroll across picturesque Pyrmont Bridge takes you though the city to the gallery – on the way home a visit to the Botanical Gardens, Opera House markets and though Hyde Park lead on to the sales that run pretty much year-round at the city’s department stores. Runs until January 26.

> DINING OUT: If budget permits, Sydney offers the chance of a world-class dining experience, surely a worthy once-a-year treat. We dined at al fresco Universal, named one of the world’s “10 Best New Restaurants” at this year’s New York Food & Wine Awards. Owned by one of Australia’s top chefs, Christine Manfield, it’s easily reached by bus, short taxi trip or on foot in inner-city Darlinghurst; the food here is like nothing else you’ve experienced. Although it’s described as a tapas or tasting menu, each mini dish defies that humble description and is served with some stunning and exclusive matching wines. We chose to enjoy just a single bottle of wine with the entire dinner; menu prices are reduced accordingly. However, this is one of Australia’s best wine lists, and worth trying; exotic cocktails are also on offer. Select as few or as many dishes as you wish and be treated to service that respects every diner. No need for stuffy suits; neat casual wear is fine. If you have just one formal meal in Sydney, this is the one to choose. Universal Restaurant, in the courtyard, Palmer Street, between Burton and Liverpool. Tel: 9931 0709 or see www.universalrestaurant.com. Equally, however, there are plenty of places to enjoy budget meals. One of my favourites is Double Bay’s Courtyard Café at 37 Bay Street, serving a fabulous breakfast-brunch for $7.90 and always a wonderful welcome from owner Yanni Tsilimos. Take the ferry there. Another unique venue is Sydney Cove Oyster Bar, open-air tables next to the water and boating action at Circular Quay

> KATHRYN’S ON QUEEN: If a hotel is not your style and you want to use your car to get around, the country-style hospitality at this near-city boutique B&B is worth enjoying. A terrace house in leafy Woollahra, it boasts just three stunning, luxury bedrooms and bathrooms, super breakfasts and the wonderful Kathryn herself as your host. An immensely relaxing spot to stay amid the trendy eastern suburbs. From $180 a room a night including a sumptuous breakfast; see www.kathryns.com.au.

> ENTERTAINMENT QUARTER: A safe self-contained enclave in the old Showground complex where you can enjoy the latest movies in comfy, luxury seats and also enjoy shopping and modestly-priced dining. Pub food, dine-in, takeaways and markets food mid-week. Travel by public transport or park free for two hours, $8 for up to four hours. An Imax screen opens here soon.

> FREE DOMAIN CONCERTS: Carols by Candlelight, Saturday, December 20. Jazz in the Domain with The Gypsy Kings & Queens, Saturday, January 17 at 8pm. Symphony in the Domain, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Saturday, January 24. Opera Australia’s opera in the Domain; food stalls, Saturday, January 31 from 8pm. Food, drinks, wine and beer stalls operate at all events.

> BOXING DAY & NEW YEAR’S EVE: There are plenty of picnic vantage points around the harbour to watch the jockeying for position and start of the annual Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race. The same goes for New Year’s Eve, with the fabulous harbour fireworks displays a truly exciting event to see first-hand.

SYDNEY FESTIVAL: On Saturday January 10, the annual three-week festival opens with the free Festival First Night, 2-11pm. Streets are cleared of cars and open air stages across the city feature international artists, including Grace Jones. From 2-6pm Hyde Park is given over to families, with concerts by Dan Zanes & Friends, the Australian Youth Choir, and Sydney Youth Orchestra. Among other free activities during the month are around 40 concert gigs; and Dawn Chorus on January Saturdays 10, 17, 24 and 31 when Sydney Philharmonia Choirs sing at Sydney beaches. A quirky new addition this year is Play Me, I’m Yours, when 30 pianos will be placed around the city from January 11 to 31 with an open invitation for the public to play them. Free films will be shown under the stars at Sydney Olympic Stadium’s overflow park on January 3 and 4, 7-11 and 14-18. Films Afloat at Darling Harbour: free cult-classic films on a floating screen, with musicians playing dynamic live soundtracks.

TWILIGHT AT TARONGA: Be quick to secure sell-out tickets to this annual event featuring music under the stars with the city skyline as a backdrop. Marcia Hines opens the program in January, followed by Bjorn Again, Beatlemania, Big Band Tribute, Gershwin, Best of the Beach Boys, Eagles and Classic Rock with Glenn Shorrock, ’60s Night, and James Morrison. Call 1800 675 875 for information, brochure.

ALSO: the Australian Open at Royal Sydney from Thursday, December 11; Chinese New Year celebrations from Friday, January 23; Australia Day celebrations and ferry races; Tropfest, free film festival on Sunday, February 22.

DISCOUNTS: Be sure to pick up a copy of Tourism NSW’s free guide to Sydney, widely available. As well as a digest of everything to see and do, it includes vouchers for up to 20 per cent off the price of entry to major attractions. The same goes for other tourist brochures at your hotel or The Rocks information centre, with tips for transport discounts.

See www.visitnsw.com and select Sydney Events.

Susie Boswell was a guest of Tourism NSW.

everything to see and do, it includes vouchers for up to 20 per cent off the price of entry to major attractions. The same goes for other tourist brochures at your hotel or The Rocks information centre, with tips for transport discounts.

See www.visitnsw.com and select Sydney Events.

Susie Boswell was a guest of Tourism NSW.


 

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