William Street Paddington

Small is beautiful.”

William Street in Paddington is considered Sydney’s most enjoyable shopping experience and not generally seen by visitors and tourists (unless you know about it). This little street, running off the main strip of Oxford Street is lined with beautiful little Victorian terraces that are converted into small independent shops of fashion, art, jewellery and antiques. Check out Just William a chocolate shop right at the start of your walk.

Today William Street stands as a monument to independent retailing. No big named stores here, they are all small little boutiques offering bespoke, unusual, one-offs and all things not found in big barn shopping centres.

There is also a terrific little deli (come cafe) at the lower end of the street. It is a little slice if Italy hidden in the heart of Paddington. Originally established as an authentic delicatessen, Paddington Alimentari has become a busy little cafe for locals, resident Italians and visitors lucky enough to stumble across it.

Sea Cliff Bridge

r0_208_4000_2458_w1200_h678_fmaxThe world famous Sea Cliff Bridge is more than a bridge – majestically sweeping over the waters of the Pacific as you head down Grand Pacific Drive.

To drive it is exhilarating, but take the bridgewalk and you’ll see deep into the aqua waters clear to the bottom, looking down on sealife like massive manta rays and every kind of water bird.

That’s the sea, but look the other way at the cliffs and find the eagles living there. The ancient layers of the eastern edge of this timeless land.

It truly is one of Australia’s most photogenic experiences

The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney

If you are a green thumb or just love gardens The Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney is “not to be missed” and it’s free. You can easily venture into the gardens from the city via the Opera House (just follow the harbour foreshore) or enter one of various gates further up off Macquarie Street.

If you don’t have the time or the inclination to do it yourself, we can include a brief tour as part of our Essential Sydney Tour.

Established in 1816, it is the oldest botanic garden and scientific institution in Australia. It is home to an outstanding collection of plants from around the world with a focus on Australia and the South Pacific.

Number of plant species in the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney and Domain: 8,900

Number of plant specimens in the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney and Domain: 67,100

Number of trees in the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney and Domain: 3,964

Number of preserved plant specimens in Herbarium of NSW: approx. 1.2 million

Source: The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney

Scenic World – Blue Mountains

We highly recommend you consider a visit to Scenic World as part of our Blue Mountains & Featherdale Private Tour. This is a privately owned tourist attraction located in Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. It hosts 4 main attractions, Katoomba Scenic Railway, Scenic Skyway, the Cableway and the Walkway.

Whilst theme parks or man made tourist attractions may not be your thing, I recommend you go to Scenic World as all the attractions are designed to give you a real experience in this rugged National Park.

Cabbage Tree Aquatic Reserve

We get to visit the beautiful Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve in both our Essential Sydney Private Tour and our North Shore & Beaches Private Tour. 

This reserve is a Sydney treasure, as it contains more than 160 species of fish and includes sandy beaches (Shelly beach), rocky reefs, seagrass beds, and open water. It also has a very good cafe/restaurant at Shelly Beach called The Boathouse.

There is a fantastic promenade walk from Manly beach to Shelly Beach which takes approx 15-20 minutes but you will not regret it.

This location is one of my personal favourites in Sydney and is not to be missed.

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Luna Park @ Milson Point.

Luna Park Sydney is an amusement park located on the north side just beside the bridge and the North Sydney Olympic Pool. It was opened in 1935 but prior to that this location was very important during the construction of the bridge.

Most of the rides were brought from South Australia after Luna Park Glenelg South Australia went into liquidation.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

You can walk over it (BridgeClimbSydney), walk across it, walk up it (Pylon Lookout), walk under it and even catch a ferry beneath it. Each experience gives you a different perspective of this iconic Sydney structure. So I suggest you try as many as you can while you are here.

Featured in our North Shore & Beaches private tour “ The Coathanger” is perhaps Sydney’s most iconic structure (it fights it out with the Sydney Opera House).

It was opened in 1932, and holds a very important place in Sydney’s history as it opened up the north shore and northern beaches to development.

The roadway across the bridge is known as the Bradfield Highway named after Dr John Bradfield a controversial figure who is largely attributed with the construction of the bridge.

The bridge’s design is often said to be influenced by the Hell Gate Bridge in New York City.

A brief history of the Sydney Harbour Bridge – Courtesy of Pylon Lookout website

The Sydney Harbour Bridge is the world’s largest (but not longest) steel arch bridge, and, in its beautiful harbour location, has become a renowned international symbol of Australia. A brief history follows:-

The contractors, under Director of Construction, Lawrence Ennis, set up two workshops at Milsons Point on the North Shore. Here, the steel (79% imported from England, 21% from Australian sources) was fabricated into girders etc.

The foundations for the four main bearings, which carry the full weight of the main span were dug to a depth of 12.2 metres and filled with special reinforced high-grade concrete laid in hexagonal formations.

The four impressive, decorative 89 metre high pylons are made of concrete, faced with granite, quarried near Moruya, where about 250 Australian, Scottish and Italian stonemasons and their families lived in a temporary settlement. Three ships were specifically built to carry the 18,000 cubic metres of cut, dressed and numbered granite blocks, 300km north to Sydney.

After the approach spans were erected, work began on the main arch. Two half-arches were built out progressively from each shore, each held back by 128 cables anchored underground through U-shaped tunnels. Steel members were fabricated in the workshops, placed onto barges, towed into position on the harbour and lifted up by two 580 tonne electrically operated creeper cranes, which erected the half-arches before them as they travelled forward.

Joining of the Arches
There was great excitement on 20 August 1930 after the arch was successfully joined at 10pm the night before. The steel decking was then hung from the arch and was all in place within nine months, being built from the centre outwards to save time moving the cranes.

As the project neared completion, the last of approximately six million Australian made rivets were driven through the deck on 21 January 1932. In February 1932 the Bridge was test loaded using up to 96 steam locomotives placed in various configurations.

Opening Celebrations
The official opening day on Saturday 19 March 1932 was a momentous occasion, drawing remarkable crowds (estimated between 300,000 and one million people) to the city and around the harbour foreshores. The NSW Premier, the Hon. John T. Lang, officially declared the Bridge open. However, the Premier enlivened proceedings when Captain Francis De Groot of the para-military group, the New Guard, slashed the ribbon prematurely with his sword, prior to the official cutting. The captain was arrested, the ribbon was tied together, and the ceremony went ahead.

The opening celebrations included a vast cavalcade of decorated floats, marching groups and bands proceeding through the city streets and across the deck in a pageant of surprising size and quality, considering the economic depression.

The celebrations continued with a gun-salute, a procession of passenger ships under the Bridge, a ‘venetian’ carnival, a fly-past, fireworks, sports carnivals and exhibitions. After the pageant the public was allowed to walk across the deck…an event not repeated until the 50th anniversary of the Bridge in 1982.

Gehry UTS Building

We visit this amazing building in both our Essential Sydney and Sydney Neighbourhoods Private Tours

Officially known as the Dr Chau Chak Wing Building at UTS (the University of Technology Sydney) it is colloquially known as “the brown paper bag building”. Designed by the Canadian world renowned architect, Frank Gehry it is his only Australian building.

The buildings facade is made of 320,000 custom designed bricks and a fascinating yet tedious construction process was employed. You have to feel for the bricklayers. Do not miss this.

Echo Point The Three Sisters

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Blue Mountains

The Three Sisters is the Blue Mountains’ most spectacular landmark.

The Three Sisters is essentially an unusual rock formation representing three sisters who according to Aboriginal legend were turned to stone. The character of the Three Sisters changes throughout the day and throughout the seasons as the sunlight brings out the magnificent colours. The Three Sisters is also floodlit until around 11pm each evening looking simply spectacular set against the black background of the night sky.

Each of the Three Sisters stand at 922, 918 & 906 metres tall, respectively. That’s over 3000 feet above sea level! The Aboriginal dream-time legend has it that three sisters, ‘Meehni’, ‘Wimlah’ and Gunnedoo’ lived in the Jamison Valley as members of the Katoomba tribe. These beautiful young ladies had fallen in love with three brothers from the Nepean tribe, yet tribal law forbade them to marry. The brothers were not happy to accept this law and so decided to use force to capture the three sisters causing a major tribal battle. As the lives of the three sisters were seriously in danger, a witchdoctor from the Katoomba tribe took it upon himself to turn the three sisters into stone to protect them from any harm. While he had intended to reverse the spell when the battle was over, the witchdoctor himself was killed. As only he could reverse the spell to return the ladies to their former beauty, the sisters remain in their magnificent rock formation as a reminder of this battle for generations to come.

Probably the most famous of attractions in the Blue Mountains and not to be missed.

Macleay Street Potts Point

On any private tour of Sydney Macleay Street Potts Point is a must and we cover it on our Essential Sydney Tour. A wonderful inner suburban street (described as Sydney’s Little Manhattan) and a unique shopping experience with some fantastic shops and boutiques.

My Recommendations are as follows:

Potts Point Galleries – fantastic array of antiquities to gaze at and or buy.

Manning on Macleay -(Cnr Manning and Macleay) A unique boutique full of homewares, artwork etc.

Planet – at the lower (city end) of Macleay Street, a beautiful little shop with some wonderful furniture, textiles, pottery and homewares etc.

Minty & Becker in Tasculum Street – a beautiful boutique full of clothing, homewares, jewellery selectively sourced from all over the world.

Antiques.Art.Design – a small antiques boutique located in Orwell Street is worth a visit.

There are also some of Sydney’s best restaurants in Potts Point.

We recommend:

The Fish Shop, Billy Kwong (modern Malaysian inspired Chinese), Fratellis (Italian) Metropole and The Apollo (Greek) and for coffee, a little bolt hole called Coffee Tea and Me.

 

 

Manly Ferry

Catching the Manly ferry has been “ a thing” in Sydney for as long as there has been ferries. Whilst a great trip and you should do it, I encourage any visitor to Sydney to catch any of the public ferry trips from Circular Quay to any destination and back. They are fair value and you will explore a new part of Sydney that may not be in the guide books.

Suggest the following trips:

Watsons Bay

Mosman Bay

Cockatoo Island

Parramatta

North Head Manly

The view from North Head is a “must see” for any visitor to Sydney.

As part of our Essential Sydney and our North Shore & Beaches private tours we travel up from Manly to the very end of North Head to the “Fairfax Lookout” This is one of the great panoramas of Sydney and Port Jackson. There is no better vantage point in Sydney to see how the sailors of the first fleet and everyone else who has subsequently arrived in Australia by ship, would have experienced the great Sydney Harbour and the towering sandstone cliffs on either side.

While you are there, there are a lot of other points of interest to explore such as the ANZAC Avenue of Honour.