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How much do you know about Sydney and its islands?

By Anna Sarjeant ​- House of Travel



> Discover the “new” in New South Wales

Oh how you love Sydney for its beautiful setting, salary-sucking shops and creative culinary scene. But it’s dangerously easy to repeat your favourite Sydney activities in this city... How about punching the F5 button for once? Let’s refresh your Sydney agenda.

Here are a few cool and quirky new things to try on the Sydney harbour and its startling surrounding islands.   

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Rooftop bars needn’t be glitzy to be great
Glenmore Hotel - 96 Cumberland Street, The Rocks
Unassuming from the outside, a flitting backpacker vibe as you enter and a glorious rooftop terrace to lift your spirits and shroud you in sun, the Glenmore Hotel offers unbelievable harbour views as well as wallet-friendly bevvies and a decent plate of fish and chips. Ditching glitz and glamour in favour of happy punters and comfortable surroundings, this welcoming watering hole boasts 180-degree harbour views and a loud, wonderfully Aussie atmosphere. It may enjoy an address just off The Rocks, but it attracts an equal amount of locals as it does tourists.

 

Glamping or camping on Cockatoo Island
Cockatoo Island
Commandeer a kayak, or simply jump on the ferry from Circular Quay, and take your tent to Cockatoo Island. Boasting some of the most jaw dropping views over the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, you’re only minutes away from the CBD, but come nightfall, you’ll be sleeping under a blanket of stars. Glampers can opt for the package that includes a tent, mattresses and camping chairs already set up for you. Other options include a simple 4m x 4m site – bring your own tent! Wake up for stunning dawn scenery and then descend on the island’s only café for brunch. Fully loaded, embark on a self-guided tour across the island, or pack a few sarnies and spend an afternoon having a picnic in the formidable shadow of Sydney’s epic harbour. 


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Talking of picnics…
Clark Island
For a AUD$7 landing fee, you can spend the entire day on Clark Island; one of the most picture perfect settings out of the city. Especially for avid pic-nickers. Offering little more than a grassy knoll, picnic tables and a toilet, its simplicity is what makes it so darn stunning. You'll have to take the water taxi as no ferries dock here, but it's well worth the added expense for the lush vegetation and beautiful city views - all from a delightfully small 0.9 hectare plot of land.

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Harbour side fine dining
Waterfront Restaurant, The Rocks
If you like hanging out in the main hub of the city, the aptly named Waterfront Restaurant enjoys both a fine setting and a fine dining menu. Located in Sydney's funky Rocks district with a backdrop of stunning views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House, this eatery serves Australian cuisine, with decor inspired by the country's seafaring past.

 

Alfresco harbour dining
Front Restaurant and Bar, 11 Hickson Rd
This little beaute dishes up fantastic panoramas of Walsh Bay and the Sydney Harbour along with a mouth-watering menu. Don’t leave without trying a delicious fruit cocktail, or if you visit in warmer months, eat alfresco enjoying the harbour breeze on the pier.

 

Harbour backdrops to drool over
Opera Kitchen at the Sydney Opera House
For a real Sydney experience, head to the Opera Kitchen at the Sydney Opera House, which boasts magnificent views along with a delicious range of meals. Whether it's a burger you're craving or a tantalising Asian-inspired dish, you'll find it here, all the while gazing upon some stunning vistas beneath the sunshine.

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Rich history
Goat Island
The one with lots of weird and wonderful history, Goat Island has been both a navy arsenal and a quarry manned by convicts. It was here that Charles Anderson, an 'inmate' also known as 'the tattooed seaman' (cripes!) was chained to a Goat Island rock for two whole years. And somewhat bizarrely, only fed with a pole (yikes!) Goat Island has also housed a police station, an ammunition artillery and a laboratory. My my, if this island could talk! Book in for one of Goat Islands' historical tours which depart on irregular Sundays from Circular Quay.


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Insta-worthy dining establishments
Quay Restaurant, Upper Level, Overseas Passenger Terminal, The Rocks
Slap bang in front of Sydney’s iconic harbour, floor-to-ceiling windows bring the Sydney Opera House so close to your eye view, it’s practically in your lap. As elegant as the panorama, the menu is a beautiful fusion of modern Australian cuisine and an ambitious reworking of old classics. Food is art and the attention to detail is impeccable.

 

Iconic sights and harbour heights
Sydney Harbour

The Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb is the worth the puff for the panoramic view. One of the world’s most famous bridges The Sydney Harbour Bridge is an absolutely stunning piece of architecture. In daylight, nightfall or even at sunset, ascend the arches to the summit 134 metres above the harbour for unspoilt views over the iconic city skyline. Your Climb Leader will entertain you with stories about the bridge’s history dating back to the 1920s.

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Luxury views
The Park Hyatt, 7 Hickson Road
The Park Hyatt is blessed with arguably the best location of any Sydney hotel, directly opposite the Sydney Opera House and underneath the Harbour Bridge. The super luxury hotel has only 155 rooms, some with balconies and private terraces to enjoy the views from.

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Touch the Opera House from your window
The InterContinental, 117 Macquarie Street
The InterCon is built around a gorgeous heritage building, over 160 years old. The location can’t be beat, any closer to the Opera House and you would be in it! Plus there’s beautiful Hyde Park and the botanic gardens just across the road too. The building may be old, but the rooms are anything but. All have modern furnishings and of course, wonderful Opera House and harbour views.

 

Shopping with scenery
The Rocks Markets, George Street:
Saturday & Sunday: 10am - 5pm
Boasting the most jaw-dropping backdrop in the world, The Rocks is framed by the sails of the iconic Sydney Opera House to the right, and the dazzling Sydney Harbour Bridge just slightly to the left. But we’re here for the shopping, right? Held every Saturday and Sunday under a vibrant arrangement of orange sails, the market sits atop Sydney’s birthplace, a former 1788 convict settlement where history is etched into every crooked pavestone. Between the artisans and craftisans (and ghostly whispers of bygone thieves) you’ll find trinkets, prints and other pieces of interest, with freshly cooked food also available on Argyle Street every Friday from 9am to 3pm.


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