GIRLS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN
COMBINING THE BEST OF BEACH AND CITY ATTRACTIONS, SYDNEY SETS THE SCENE FOR A WHIRLWIND WEEKEND
Most of us have travelled to Sydney, but if you’re anything like me, every trip has been for a purpose — work or an event.
The cosmopolitan capital isn’t somewhere I would usually go for a holiday, yet there are so many things on my bucket list that I never seem to find the time to tick off.
So, with the help of some friends, I headed off on a girls’ weekend to find some hidden gems in a city that has been Instagrammed, photographed and written about countless times. I’m talking about a bunch of girls, leaving husbands, partners, pets and kids behind and taking off on an easy escape. With Sydney just a short and fairly cheap flight away, it’s as viable a plan as any road trip.
My favourite thing about Sydney is the beachside suburbs, so our first stop had to be Bondi Beach.
Hotel and Airbnb options abound, but with traffic and parking so hectic, finding somewhere central should be a priority.
My top pick is QT Bondi on Beach Road, with a Woolworths and liquor store beneath high-end hotel apartments. In true QT style, the service is first class and the venue quirky and fun.
From here, you can explore without any need for a car — for extra pedal power, the hotel has bikes.
As for that bucket list I mentioned, I’ve always wanted to do the iconic Bondi to Bronte walk.
Starting at Bondi Beach, you stroll along tall sandstone clifftops with spectacular panoramic views of the ocean and luxurious homes that fringe the track.
The walk is about 1.5km and takes — very conservatively — about an hour, including plenty of stops to snap photos along the way.
Tamarama Beach is a great coffee stop, with a cute little cafe on the beach.
Bronte is home to one of the most famous beach baths in Sydney, but there are actually 44 in total, so plenty to choose from.
Almost every beach in Sydney has a natural rock pool for those who want a more protected ocean swim and most of them don’t cost a thing. While a dip in an ocean pool is a calming experience, the waves crashing over the rock walls make for dramatic images.
Another option for walkers is Hornby Lighthouse. Take the 15 minute drive via the exclusive Sydney suburb of Vaucluse and park at the pretty beach at Camp Cove.
This track is loved by locals but not overrun by tourists. Hornby Lighthouse is charmingly painted in red and white stripes making it a striking landmark on the entry to Sydney Harbour and Watsons Bay.
After our fill of fresh air, it’s time to hit the streets of Bondi for cafes, restaurants and boutique shopping. The markets held at Campbell Parade every Sunday from 10am to 4pm offer fresh flowers, food, fashion and local crafts.
But you shouldn’t visit Sydney without a sojourn at the heart of the action.
One of the delights of a city escape is
exploring historic and heritage buildings — it’s even better if you can stay at the scene.
The old Sydney Water building in Pitt Street has been converted to the luxurious Primus Hotel.
Primus has stayed true to the site’s heritage, which is obvious as soon as you step inside the building. Opting for the wow factor over maximising use of space, a huge voided entry with impressive 8m-high columns of red scagliola marble greet you on entry.
Guests are treated to beautifully appointed, opulent rooms and a great rooftop pool and bar. While it’s central to Sydney attractions, it’s also a great place to just stay in-house and soak up the ambience of a true hidden gem.
To find more of these treasures, there’s no need for a map or guide — just get lost discovering this great city with friends and no set plans.
I have one more tip for travelling with friends and it avoids all the messing around about who pays for what.
At the start of the trip, ask everyone to put a set amount into a kitty. Every time you have to pay for a taxi, Uber, coffee or meal, it comes out of the kitty. Top it up equally as necessary and split the remainder evenly at the end of your trip (or like us, buy a lotto ticket to share and keep your fingers crossed).