The Sydney Summer Guide

The iconic Sydney Opera House.

The iconic Sydney Opera House.

Australia’s always-appealing harbor city shines brightest in the southern summer, and especially so this year, with a host of new venues and attractions awaiting discovery.

Overlooking the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Overlooking the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Park Place

Sydney’s newest parkland, Barangaroo Reserve offers unparalleled access to one of the world’s most beautiful harbors. Linking the western foreshore with historic Walsh Bay and Millers Point, the six-hectare park was inspired by the original geological headland, before the landscape changed with settlement and industrial use. Foreshore track Wulugul Walk hugs the water and terraced gardens planted with all-native flora, while blocks of weathered sandstone lead right to the water’s edge, permitting you to dip your toes in while gazing at the boats gliding by. Diversions range from guided tours and food festivals to indigenous-heritage workshops and alfresco art exhibitions; the Reserve is also a short walk from Barangaroo’s growing cache of eateries and bars, with a roster that already includes seafood restaurants Anason and Cirrus, Japanese burger joint Ume Burger, and botanical-minded Banksii.

Keeping Track

Originally built in 1904 as a dock for Sydney’s electric-tram network, the Tramsheds in inner-west Rozelle fell into disrepair after the tramway system was shut down in 1961. For years, the site was little more than a base for street photographers and graffiti artists; today, however, it’s the city’s most buzzed-about dining precinct, home to more than 12 eateries, bars, and specialty shops. Inside the European-inspired hall you’ll find outlets from some of Australia’s most recognized names: tapas restaurant Bodega 1904, Egyptian-fusion joint Bekya, and bistro-brewery Sir Chapel, among others. With Jubilee Station on its doorstep, this pretty pocket of Sydney is well and truly back on the rails.

The newly restored Tramsheds now boasts more than a dozen eateries and bars.

The newly restored Tramsheds now boasts more than a dozen eateries and bars.



Major headlining acts—PJ Harvey, Nick Cave—aside, the 2017 installment of Sydney’s premier arts festival is set to dazzle with more than 100 events and attractions. Expect everything from contemporary and classical music to dance, drama, visual arts, and artist talks.

FLICKERFEST: January 6-15

Held steps from the sand at Bondi Beach, Australia’s premier international short film festival screens the best short films from home and abroad in competitions and special showcases.

GAY & LESBIAN MARDI GRAS: February 19-March 5

Celebrating Australia’s LGBT community, the Mardi Gras draws huge crowds with its spectrum of colorful events. There are “drag” races on Bondi Beach, a film festival, and a fair day, culminating with a street parade that sees Sydney party into the wee hours.


Sydney’s most exciting restaurants and bars open up their doors (and cellars) at this alfresco food event, held in the beautiful Centennial Parklands. Savor plates from dozens of stallholders, attend cooking workshops, and enjoy live music and entertainment—it’s the ultimate way to get a taste for Australia’s harbor city.

OPERA ON THE HARBOUR: March 24–April 23

There’s nothing quite as spectacular as watching the world’s best opera singers belt out Bizet with the Sydney Harbour Bridge as your backdrop. This year’s edition of Opera on the Harbour at Mrs Macquaries Point brings back crowd favorite Carmen, replete with drama, jaw-dropping costumes, and fireworks.

Taking Sides

You could visit Sydney’s major attractions on a touristy open-top bus, but much more enjoyable—not to mention high-octane—is taking in sweeping views of the harbor city from the sidecar of an (antique looking) new model Ural Motorcycle. Shelby’s Sidecar Tours now offers custom and set itineraries that range from one-hour jaunts over the Harbour Bridge to six-hour excursions from Manly to Palm Beach—on the latter, you’ll cruise along windswept coastal headlands and stop to stroll up often-deserted beaches. Add on a picnic package and your driver will spread out a rug and pour the wine while you feel the sand between your toes.

Touring the city in a Shelby's sidecar.

Touring the city in a Shelby’s sidecar.

Local Take

Almira Armstrong, founder of luxury candle and fragrance house Lumira

As you can imagine, I am a homewares obsessive, so I always pop past Charing Cross (part of the eastern suburb of Waverley). There are some gorgeous boutiques along Bronte Road, including one of my absolute favorites, The Design Hunter; I love their curated collection of covetable pieces. In-the-know shoppers head to Pond and Pond Home, with boutiques in a couple of locations across the city. They have the most beautiful homewares and furniture—really pared-back, Scandinavian styles that reflect how I love my own home to look. I often go in for homewares and leave with homewares plus fashion: Pond stocks some incredible Australian fashion designers, including Jac+Jack. And I can’t go past the Scanlan Theodore store in Paddington without taking a look inside. Collection after collection, I never fail to find something I “need” from this homegrown fashion label.

The Design Hunter also provides in-home decoration services.

The Design Hunter also provides in-home decoration services.

This article originally appeared in the December 2016/January 2017 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Sydney in the Spotlight”).

Find out how to make the most of a day in Sydney’s Chippendale here.

To see our picks for Sydney’s best bars, click here.

For a list of Sydney’s best new restaurants, click here.

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