Not the only tourist in the vil­lage

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - SU­SAN KUROSAWA

A RE­CENT weekend stay in Syd­ney’s in­ner east has forced me to ap­praise the city from a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive. My apart­ment is al­most in the CBD and rarely would I ven­ture out­side my com­fort zone for ear­ly­morn­ing walks, shop­ping or cafe loung­ing. They say big cities such as Syd­ney are made up of a se­ries of vil­lages, and that prob­a­bly is true. So there I was week­end­ing in chic and leafy Wool­lahra rather than the edgy laneways of Surry Hills. It felt like an ex­otic hol­i­day.

It is a good thing to play tourist in your city, al­though please don’t call it a stay­ca­tion, which has to be one of the worst of re­cent travel ne­ol­o­gisms. Hol­i­day­ing (al­most) at home is a mat­ter of ex­plor­ing with new eyes and walk­ing is the key to this kind of make-be­lieve or, don’t laugh, a hop-on-and-off tour on an open-topped bus. How of­ten do we re­ally look up at a city sky­line, when we are all so heads-down com­mut­ing or rac­ing about? Atop a dou­ble-decker is a ma­jes­tic po­si­tion from which to sur­vey pro­ceeed­ings and when you are a tourist, there are no is­sues with park­ing. What an un­ac­cus­tomed breeze it is to pause at Mrs Mac­quarie’s Chair over­look­ing the har­bour and not worry about where to put the car, jock­ey­ing for po­si­tion, pay­ing too much for the priv­i­lege.

Most city ho­tels have cheaper rates on week­ends and usu­ally pack­age up ex­tras such as late check-out; if there hap­pens to be a block­buster ex­hi­bi­tion, mu­si­cal or play, some­times there are deals with en­try tick­ets in­cluded.

It feels naughty some­how — not so much a dirty weekend but some­thing vaguely il­licit, know­ing that at home is laun­dry, piled-high iron­ing, stuff to do.

Be­fore I lived in the city, I used to treat my­self to a Christ­mas shop­ping weekend each year. The Swis­so­tel Syd­ney on Mar­ket Street was my usual choice; Myer is next door, David Jones looms nearby, and the her­itage ar­cades of the QVB across the way. When carry-bag lag would strike, I’d dump the fes­tive loot with the concierge.

MyWool­lahra stay was not about shop­ping but strolling and ob­serv­ing, and wan­der­ing down Ox­ford Street to bou­tiques, book­stores and the Matt Blatt fur­ni­ture shop to drool over a Noguchi cof­fee-ta­ble (a re­pro­duc­tion, but so af­ford­able . . .). Then back to my Queen Street digs to find a cafe. ‘‘East­ern Sub­urbs tossers,’’ yelled a merry car­load of New­cas­tle Knights sup­port­ers as they too­tled past. If I’d had it with me, I’d have fished out my South Syd­ney Rab­bitohs scarf and waved it high.

Syd­ney re­volves around its tribal vil­lages, af­ter all.


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