What's to See and Buy On a Trip to Sydney

Credit: Tourism Australia

Credit: Tourism Australia

What are some of the iconic must-haves and must-dos while you are in Sydney? We’ve gathered a few here to get you started.

Gotta Have It


An Opal– an opal is a must-have when you’re in Sydney. These multi-coloured gems are mined in the Outback, in dry dusty places like Lightning Ridge and Quilpie. They glimmer with the blues of Australia’s oceans, the greens of the forests, and the red of the desert, all compressed into one tiny stone. Found in opal stores at Darling Harbour and Pitt Street, they start at around $20 for a tiny chunk through to $1000s for a prized black opal.


Some Aussie wine– southern hemisphere dwellers jump at Australia’s red wines. From Margaret River in Western Australia, to the wilds of the Murray River hinterland in South Australia and Victoria, and the forested valleys of New South Wales’ Hunter Valley, the options are endless. Top varieties are shiraz, pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon, but the whites are just as good. Find them all at the Australian Wine Centreat Circular Quay.


A Ken Done T-shirt– Ken Done’s artwork is as bright and brassy as the Australian culture. Strong clear yellows, blues and reds, simple line work and contemporary design jump right off his t-shirts, teatowels, handbags, calendars and artwork. Check out his gallery at The Rocks


An Akubra hat – this iconic item is a standard for any well-dressed Outback bloke, and his missus. Made from felted rabbit fur, they have now become a bit of a fashion statement on a grand Australian scale, and so have the R M Williams riding boots to match. They come boxed to travel, or wear them for the rest of your trip. There’s an R M Williams storein George Street, and you can buy an Akubra hat at The Rocks Centrein Sydney. 


Some aboriginal art– this unique form of indigenous art is finding favour around the world. Although each tribal group has its own particular style, the portrayal of native animals, landforms, legends and plant life is similar. Bright colours, dotted trails, Dreamtime stories and earthy tones combine to create some excellent art. Several good outlets in central Sydney – try the Aboriginal-owned Boomalli Galleryor the Kate Owen Gallery, both a little out of the city centre, or the Spirit Galleryin The Rocks.


Gotta Do It


The Rocks– One of Sydney’s earliest areas and first settled by Europeans in 1788, the Rocks is tucked in under the southern approaches to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Tiny streets lined with old brick buildings house excellent restaurants, galleries and an interesting information centre. The overseas cruise-ship terminal opens out towards the Museum of Contemporary Art, there’s a friendly weekend market, and the Bridge Walk that climbs to the top of the Harbour Bridge leaves from the Rocks.


Harbour Cruise and Circular Quay – to get a good overview of Sydney a harbour cruise is a must, whether it’s by ferry, tour service or sailboat. Circular Quay is the start point for many of these, with the Opera House and the Royal Botanic Gardens overlooking its sheltered waters. Harbour cruises stop off at Taronga Zoo, Manly Beach and Darling Harbour amongst others, and there are day passes available to hop off and on at will. Lots of good restaurants in nearby Double Bay and Woolloomooloo.


Bondi Beach – this is Sydney’s most famous beach, but it can be very busy in summer holiday times. There’s an easy but quite spectacular walk along the cliff tops from Bondi Beach to neighbouring Bronte and Coogee Beaches. Plenty of good shopping and restaurants to fill an afternoon in the sun.


Out West – two places within an easy side trip to the west of the city are the Hunter Valley, famous for its wines and gardens, and the Blue Mountains, known for its spectacular escarpment-slashed countryside and World Heritage rated environment. Hunter Valley wines include shiraz, semillon and chardonnay, and a day trip can include winery tours, tastings and the chance to buy lots of wine. Take a few days to make the most of these fascinating areas.

 Find out more here

Sue Farley