A Wayward Weekend in Sydney, Australia

A Wayward Weekend in Sydney, Australia

By Laura Fairbourn.

With its incredible harbour and iconic architecture, Sydney is one of the most scenic cities in the world. But this is only the tip of the iceberg.

Visitors will be welcomed by a vibrant, multicultural city with food and culture to match. Here you can start the day with an Italian coffee, try some local fish and chips on the beach for lunch, before ending the day with an incredible Thai meal.

Sydney Harbour, Australia. Photo by Zygmunt Spray.

Ecotourism is becoming more and more important to Sydney as the tourism industry seeks to protect the things that make Australia special – white sandy beaches, lush rainforests, and our unique (and sometimes weird) animals.

It is important that you visit the many different suburbs within Sydney as each has its own unique feel. There is Manly with its relaxed beach vibe, Surry Hills and Newtown with its alternative edge, and the Northern suburbs with their remarkable city-views.


Pasta Emilia, Surry Hills, Sydney Australia. Photo by Laura Fairbourn.

Check into your boutique eco-tent, Tandara, nestled in the heart of Lane Cove National Park. Just 10km north of the Sydney CBD, this secluded boutique tent includes luxurious features like a bathtub under the stars, while maintaining their award-winning sustainability initiatives.

After you check in, make sure you take a moment to sit on your balcony and enjoy the peace and quiet. As Tandara only has one tent, the only distractions will come from the sound of the kookaburra sitting in a nearby tree.

If you manage to tear yourself away from your own private sanctuary, drive into the busy city centre for a night out exploring one of the most vibrant areas in Sydney, Surry Hills, to eat some of the most incredible Italian food you will taste outside of Italy.

Pasta Emilia is a small family-owned restaurant that prides itself on quality organic, biodynamic food and strong connections with the local community. They source their produce from family farms and businesses to make sure they have a relationship with their products from farm to table. The restaurant is chic and attracts a varied crowd – anyone who loves good, quality food.

Sydney Observatory. Photo by Laura Fairbourn.

After all that delicious pasta it is time for a walk through the city streets on your way to the Sydney Observatory near the Harbour Bridge. The Observatory runs a few different night programs, but one of their most interesting has to be their Dreamtime astronomy sessions. During this talk you will hear Indigenous stories about the sky from one of their Aboriginal Astronomy guides. It is then time to get behind the telescope and see the sky for yourself.


EcoTreasure Tours Sydney Snorkeling Tours. Photo from Ecotreasures.com.au.

EcoTreasure Tours Sydney Snorkeling Tours. Photo from Ecotreasures.com.au.

Start your Saturday on a high with a fresh, locally produced breakfast at Sprout Wholefood Café in Naremburn, a short drive from your Sydney-home. Not only is the food organic, but Sprout also caters to a range of dietary requirements including vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, paleo and dairy-free.

Next it is time to hit the bush for one of the most scenic trails in Sydney, from Chowder Bay to Bradleys Head. This gentle bushwalk starts in the beautiful Clifton Gardens and weaves along the coastal headlands for 5 km to Taronga Zoo Wharf. Prepare yourself for the quintessential Sydney view—the Opera House and Harbour Bridge breaking up the city skyline as sailing boats and ferries glide through the harbour.

Your bushwalk ends at Taronga Zoo Wharf where you can jump on the next ferry heading towards Manly and take in Sydney Harbour from the water. Make sure you sit in one of the outside seats so you can take advantage of the Sydney sun while listening to the waves splash against the side of the boat.

A few minutes’ walk from the Manly wharf is Native, a chic vegan café serving fresh smoothies, pancakes, pizza and lasagne. They even have edible flowers!

After a healthy lunch, it is time to get into the ocean! Join a snorkelling tour and swim through underwater grass meadows as you try to spot the endangered Blue Groper. It might be hard to spot amongst the hundreds of other fish species, but you will have fun looking for it.

For dinner, head to Redfern for some of the most delicious vegetarian food in Sydney. It wouldn’t be surprising if you walked right past Nourishing Quarter, mistaking it for a kitsch second-hand store, but head inside and take a seat next to the display of Queen Victoria plates and you won’t be disappointed. From rice paper rolls, to salads and soups, the Nourishing Quarter serves generous portions of incredible, fresh Vietnamese vegan food.  

Young Henry's Sydney Australia. PHOTO BY LAURA FAIRBOURN.

Now it is time to sample some of Australia’s famous beer. No, not Fosters, but local microbrews. Young Henrys in Newtown is a sustainable microbrewery in an industrial warehouse with a tasting bar on site. Your beers are served straight from the tank, snacks are at the food trucks outside, and the music is always playing. This community hangout is a great place to meet local Sydney-siders and get some tips for your next visit.


Tread Lightly Eco Tour, Blue Mountains.  PHOTO BY LAURA FAIRBOURN.

Tread Lightly Eco Tour, Blue Mountains. PHOTO BY LAURA FAIRBOURN.

Celebrate the Australian wilderness by escaping the city and heading into the Blue Mountains. Have an early breakfast at one of the local coffee shops in Leura, a quaint town in the mountains filled with well-kept gardens and gorgeous houses with sweeping verandas. The Blue Mountains is known for serving organic food and fair trade coffee so the hardest thing will be deciding which café to visit first.

Join an expert local guide for a bushwalk through the Valley of the Water, through rainforests, eucalyptus forests, gorges, canyons and past spectacular waterfalls. As well as the unbelievable scenery, take the opportunity to learn about why Australia’s flora and fauna is so unique and special.

Ins and Outs

Sydney Airport is well-connected with local transport and taxi services into the city. It is a good option to hire a car, especially if you plan on visiting areas like the Blue Mountains, which are less accessible via public transport.

Published: 1/21/2016

Laura is a perpetual traveller, slowly wandering around the globe and making friends with locals and cats. She is currently on an indefinite trip that has already seen her tackle the sweltering heat of Petra, the never-ending meals of 2-minute noodles on the Trans-Mongolian, and fighting the crowds at the Great Wall of China. Her dream is to one day kayak with an orca and to sleep under the Northern Lights (not at the same time).