A snapshot of Sydney Harbour, including its iconic opera house and bridge.
Getting there: 15.5-hour flight from Vancouver
Good to know: 15 hours ahead of CDT, Sydney has more than 100 beaches and the world’s largest natural harbour
As I sit in a corner table at the Dining Room bistro on Sydney’s Circular Quay, my senses spring to life after a long flight. A glass of Sémillon—an Old World varietal flourishing in this new world—features a light honeysuckle aroma and soft flavours of peach and pear. I paired my chilled libation with an unbeatable view: the incomparable Sydney Opera House, gleaming in the midday sunshine, while my soundtrack is the welcome chatter of chic crowd. I toast the world-renowned performing arts centre, a year shy of celebrating 50 years since its opening.
Sydney revels in its seaside culture and makes the ideal starting point for a two-week Aussie adventure. Desperate for a dose of surf and sun, this beach girl makes tracks to Bondi Beach—the famed kilometre-long curved expanse of soft white sand luring surfers to the South Pacific’s endless waves. Less than a half-hour from the city’s CBD (central business district), the laid-back enclave is a people-watching paradise: teen skateboarders rolling to the Bondi Skate Park, sunseekers flowing from seaside lounging to alfresco dining, and visitors like me snapping selfies at the Bondi Beach Sea Wall, an everchanging mix of street art dating to the early 1970s.
Blending in like a Sydneysider means emulating the local obsession with outdoor fitness. So, I head toward Tamarama on the Bondi-to-Cogee Walk, a six-km trail hugging the coastal cliffs of Sydney’s eastern suburbs. I’m quickly distracted by the ocean’s blue hues and rhythmic movements of swimmers at Bondi Icebergs Pool. I stop to peruse Hunter Park’s modern sculptures, sourced from the annual Sculpture by the Sea festival, when the trail transforms into an outdoor gallery featuring over 100 artists.
In the late afternoon, I wander Woolloomooloo’s Finger Wharf, a working port reinvented into a lively district including the Old Fitz Theatre, five-star eateries and home to actor Russell Crowe (who I sadly don’t see at one of several pubs). Date-night couples and singles ready to mingle stream past as I stroll onwards to Potts Point, an eclectic mix of fashionable shops and restaurants.
I happily stop at Sydney’s latest sweet obsession, Black Star Pastry, choosing a slice of signature rose-scented strawberry watermelon cake, before joining the animated after-work crowd at wine bar Dear Sainte Eloise. Sumptuous pecorino and rosemary croquettes drizzled with hot honey are followed by freshly shucked oysters with yuzu mignonette and a glass of Little Reddie Chardonnay. Heading back to the hotel, my taxi cuts through Kings Cross, where neon lights spotlight clubgoers just kicking off their evening as mine ends.
The next day, I’m southwest of Sydney in the Southern Highlands, where city folk plan weekend escapes to hike eucalyptus forests and spot koala and kangaroo. I’m visiting cellar doors (Aussie speak for wine tasting rooms) along the Highlands Wine Trail, and have rapidly become a cool-climate wine aficionado. As I swirl samples of Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, I wonder much wine will actually fit in my suitcase?