Moving to a new city can be overwhelming (something I know a bit about). You have to find a new doctor, hairdresser and grocer you like; you have no clue where the good restaurants are; when people talk about different suburbs they could potentially be taking about an area in Kazakhstan; and don’t get me started on knowing what to wear.
So, for anyone who’s just moved to Sydney, I thought I’d take the heavy-lifting out of this awkward getting to know you stage.
Here’s everything you need to tick off in order to feel like a true Sydneysider:
1. Familiarise yourself with the art of day drinking. With 236 days of sunshine a year, it’s no surprise that Sydneysiders have turned drinking during the day into an Olympic sport, and the city is its stadium. Here’s my favourite places in Sydney for a daytime tipple.
2. Host a beach BBQ at Bronte (or any Sydney beach with picnic facilities will do). To truly assimilate, pump Spotify’s Monster Dance Hits through your portable speaker, play some Vortex and pretend that’s cordial in your plastic cup.
3. Walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It’s an absolute sin how many Sydneysiders haven’t done this – it should be a requirement for your Sydney passport. For sublime harbour views, go one better and climb the extra 200 steps to the top of the Pylon Lookout (adult, $15). Or if you’re a real show-off, do the Bridge Climb.
4. Throw out your wardrobe and start again because Sydney has a dress code entirely of its own. You’ll need to invest in a truckload of playsuits, dresses and shorts. The frillier, whiter and more floral the better.
5. Battle the crowds at The Grounds of Alexandria, and fill your Instagram story with pics of the market stalls, flower shop, brunch food and grounds. #sydneylife
6. Catch the ferry to Taronga Zoo and meet the locals. Make sure you remind the giraffes not to be all braggy about the f-off view from their living room.
7. Eat and drink your way around Potts Point – it’s a sapphire in Sydney’s dining crown. My favourite restaurants are Ms. Gs, The Butler and Cho Cho San.
8. Spend some time in Surry Hills – it’s vibrant, delicious and has a duck-tonne of personality. And, you’re not a true Sydneysider until you have a favourite Surry Hills restaurant, bar and pub on speed dial.
9. Admire the weird, wacky and wonderful art installations that adorn the stretch of coastline between Bondi and Tamarama during Sculpture by the Sea.
10. Catch the ferry to Manly and spend the day roaming the famous beachside suburb.
11. Walk around Darling Harbour, take it in and then never go back. It’s a total tourist trap.
12. Do the Spit Bridge to Manly walking trail – all 10 kilometres. Weaving through rainforest and bushland, past secluded beaches and bays, the walking track captures everything that’s beautiful about Sydney. The Bondi to Coogee walk should also be a priority for Sydney freshmen.
13. Invest in a good quality umbrella because it rains in Sydney on average 144 days a year – that’s a third of the year it’s raining. A mini Cloud Nine hair straightner and anti-frizz spray also wouldn’t go astray.
14. Join an I’m Free Sydney Sights Walking Tour to learn all the history and quirky facts you need to know to feel like an informed local.
15. Go for a swim in an ocean pool – it’s a quintessentially Sydney experience. Some of the most beautiful (and photographed) ocean pools in Sydney are Bronte Baths, Coogee’s Giles Baths and Bondi’s Icebergs.
16. Speaking of Icebergs, you’re not a true Sydneysider until you’ve had lunch, a cocktail, a swim and a sunbake at Bondi’s iconic swimming pool and restaurant/bar complex.
17. Once you’ve done some backstroke in an ocean pool, you need to do the same at a harbour beach – preferably one with a shark net (if you value your life). My picks are Shark Beach in Vaucluse, Clifton Gardens in Mosman and Murray Rose Pool in Double Bay.
18. Visit the Sydney Fish Market and come home with way too much seafood for one person. Just keep an eye on the seagulls – the chip-stealers are everywhere.
19. Make the trek up to Palm Beach – Sydney’s most northern suburb and where Home and Away is filmed. If you’re lucky you’ll bump into Alf Stewart. If you’re not, you can console yourself with a lunch of prawns, oysters and champagne at The Boathouse.
20. Learn to drive like a Sydneysider. This means becoming mates with the horn, driving with aggression and having blind faith you can squeeze through any gap.
21. Get caught up in the excitement, colour and glitter of Mardi Gras. It’s the one time of year you can wear sequins, a tutu and eyelashes the size of butterflies without anyone looking twice. Plus, it’s a hoot.
22. Once you feel your relationship with Sydney is pretty tight, you need to hit the road. Weekend trips to the South Coast, Blue Mountains, Hunter Valley and Central Coast should all be a priority.
23. Have your mind blown by the lights of Vivid Sydney. The annual festival of lights, music and ideas is an absolute show-stopper.
24. Learn the rules of Rugby League and pick a team to cheer for. Go Rabbitohs!
25. Take stock of Sydney’s history at one of the city’s many museums. My favourite is the Hyde Park Barracks Museum, filled to the rafters with Sydney convict history.
26. Have drinks at Opera Bar – the ultimate Sydney drinkery. Then lace up your drinking boots and explore some of Sydney’s other bars. These are the best city bars.
27. Jump on a train and head about an hour out west to Cabramatta. It’s only then that you’ll be able to vouch you’ve had the best Vietnamese food in Sydney.
28. Eat eggs on toast for a week so you can afford to splash out at one of Sydney’s top restaurants. Sepia, Quay and Bennelong, they’re all worth being poor for.
29. Head to the top of The Sydney Tower Eye for 360-degree views so beautiful you might cry. On the way down, it would be rude not to stop for cocktails at the tower’s 360 Bar and Dining.
30. Discover great eats, music and theatre in Sydney’s hipster heartland, Newtown. Life in Sydney is not complete until you’ve had a cheese board from The Stinking Bishops and a burger from Marys.
31. Walk the Golden Mile of Kings Cross. All the way from the iconic Coca-Cola billboard, down Darlinghurst Road, past strip clubs and brothels, and then head to Macleay Street in Potts Point for classier fun.
32. Eat and shop your way around Barangaroo – Sydney’s newest place to hang.
33. Walk the cobblestone laneways of The Rocks and familiarise yourself with the area’s convict history. Ideally this should be done by partaking in a ghost tour, and then having a beer at the haunted pub, The Hero of Waterloo.
34. Browse some of Sydney’s markets. Pick up a pre-loved treasure at Rozelle Markets, splurge on lunch at The Rocks Markets and score some original designer wares at Bondi Markets.
35. Experience the magic of Sydney Harbour. This means jumping aboard a boat, kayak or seaplane.
36. Explore Kensington Street in Chippendale. This ultra cute eat street is seriously delicious with restaurants including Kensington Street Social, Koi Dessert Bar and Automata. Then there’s Spice Alley serving hawker-style street food from six different vendors. Yum, yum, yum.
37. Eat gelato until you’re sick. Gelato Messina is an institution in Sydney and to be a true Sydneysider you need to be fluent in gelato flavours.
38. Have a picnic in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden. You don’t get much prettier picnic grounds than these.
39. Invest in some serious deodorant because you’ll be sweating so much you’ll be tempted to go see a doctor and make sure your sweat glands haven’t broken.
40. Spend some quality time at Bondi Beach and see why it holds celebrity status. This includes partaking in some ocean swimming, surfing and esplanade drinking.
Share below any other experiences that make you a full blood Sydneysider.