We Aussies get up very early. At the beach it’s not unusual to see people surfing and running along the sand at 6am. That’s why breakfast is a big deal in Australia and coffee is huge. You’ll find loads of places for breakfast, serving everything from eggs Benedict to green eggs [with spinach] and ham, to wonderful breads. I’d order a long black, a bowl of fruit and yogurt with granola on top, and then a couple of poached eggs with crispy bacon on the side… and maybe a detox juice.
Walk it off
For the best view of the Opera House, turn right from Circular Quay – where the ships dock – into the cobbled lanes of the Rocks, where the convicts transported from Britain first built their shanty town. From there, head up George Street to the QVB, a beautiful old shopping centre named after Queen Victoria (below). After another cup of excellent coffee, I’d walk back to Circular Quay and around to the Royal Botanic Gardens, then past Government House, where the governors of New South Wales lived and ruled. Look for Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, a sandstone rock hand-carved into a bench where the governor Lachlan Macquarie’s homesick wife, Elizabeth, would sit, look out at the water and think of home.
Wander around the corner to Finger Wharf at Woolloomooloo Bay, where ships used to pull in to unload wool. The timber sheds have been converted into a hotel and flats – it’s where Russell Crowe lives – and at the end of that pier, there are five very good restaurants. Pick any one!
Swim it off
Of course, you would have made sure you’ve got your swimmers because you never know when you might need them. While you’re having lunch and a glass of wine at Finger Wharf, look up at the cliff and you’ll see a public pool that juts out across Sydney harbour. I suggest you go for a swim in the sunshine to work off lunch – and catch a great view of the harbour.
It’s mid-afternoon, so it’s time for a cocktail. Go to the rooftop Café Sydney at the Customs House or sit in the Opera Bar (above) at the bottom of the Opera House, looking out over the bridge as the sun goes down – it sets around 5pm at this time of year. I’d order a bourbon sour or a pisco sour.
Supper in Surry
Jump in a cab to the buzzy suburb of Surry Hills where there are loads of great places, from Vietnamese to Thai, whatever you like. And then it’s time for bed, because tomorrow you’re going to be up early…
A ferry ride. Go west from Circular Quay up the Parramatta River, the setting of the great Peter Carey novel Oscar and Lucinda. Or go east to Rose Bay, Vaucluse and Watsons Bay, which has amazing beaches and harbour views.
As told to Claire Webb
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