nsw Travel Guide - Page 2
In the Hunter Valley region less than two hours north of Sydney, eating out isn't a matter of finding a great pub meal or a corner cafe. If you're looking for a decent meal, you'll soon find that, as in much of the rest of New South Wales, it's all about the clubs.
These people love to belong somewhere, whether it's a workers' club, bowling club, veterans' club or the upmarket country club. We stepped out one night to the Halekulani Bowling Club in the town of Budgewoi and discovered getting a meal wasn't as simple as you'd think.
Most of these clubs have a bunch of rules and showing your ID, filling out a visitor's form and wearing the right clothes is only the start. But in exchange for your trouble you get cheap (and delicious) seafood, the chance to gamble (these clubs are allowed to have poker machines) and an insight into the Hunter Valley social scene. And of course a very full stomach.
Cruising Sydney Harbour is chicken feed compared to floating around on Lake Macquarie, less than two hours north of Sydney. The largest coastal lake in Australia, Lake Macquarie is more than four times bigger than Sydney's famous harbor and at least as beautiful.
Being so close to the big smoke, yet a whole lot more relaxing, rumor has it that celebrities pop up to the lake for a getaway. Locals can tell you scandals dating back to the King Edward and Wallis Simpson era, but there's no celebrity map tour going just yet.
Getting out on the water for a day is surprisingly cheap, with four-hour lunch cruises going for A$39 ($27). Take your binoculars to see how the rich people sunbathe on their lakeside lawns, in the hope that you might spot an escaping celebrity, too. You can take public transit there (two trains and a bus) or take the F3 highway from Sydney.
Everyone knows that Rockefeller Center’s Christmas tree has a trademark on the holiday season, but this week we’re ferreting out spruces and firs that might be even better.
If you’re looking to spend your Christmas somewhere a little warmer this year, there’s always Australia. The city of Sydney is dressed up in elaborate holiday projections with everything from giant presents to a gingerbread house on the side of Town Hall.
Since Thanksgiving is only days away, we might as well begin to plan our trip for New Year’s Eve, right? If you’re thinking about heading down under to ring in 2009, then you may want to consider one of New South Wales’ national parks.
Starting on December 1, the park service is opening ticket sales for Shark, Clark and Goat Islands within Sydney Harbor National Park. Obviously, these locations are going to offer the premier location for taking in the holiday celebration--especially the fireworks.
Passes will cost you, with each adult ticket going for A$160 ($104). Thankfully, your admission includes a ferry ride out to your island of choice. You’ll sort of be roughing it on the islands, so make sure to bring your own food and (adult?) beverages. Act quickly, as there are fewer than 2,000 tickets available in total across the three islands.
· NSW National Parks To Release Tickets for This New Year's Eve [e-Travel Blackboard]
· Shark, Clark and Rodd Islands, Sydney Harbor [Official Site]
· National Parks coverage [Jaunted]
[Photo from Shark Island: Julius!]
Apparently the National Parks in Australia are the happening place to be when the weekend rolls around. Officials are investigating a "rave" that took place a couple weekends ago in Bongil Bongil National Park in New South Wales.
Partygoers, at least 100 of them, were enjoying loud music until the wee hours of the morning and also left a few souvenirs in their wake. Park rangers have been cleaning up the beer bottles, cans and other party supplies all week.
Not only did the organizers have a good time but they also charged an admission fee--quite the entrepreneurs! If your weekend plans involve a ripper in your local park, just remember to at least pick up after yourself.
[Photo of a different mess: terry6082 Books]
We're not recommending that you get really close to a shark, but a new ride at the Sydney Aquarium seems like a good way to try it without feeling too threatened. The Shark Explorer is a glass-bottomed boat which takes you on a journey over the surface of the Aquarium's Great Barrier Reef exhibition, with a perfect view of all the marine life below.
The ride costs an extra A$10 on your entrance cost, and only lasts ten minutes, but it's a lot cheaper than heading up to the Great Barrier Reef yourself. And with ten or so sharks swimming around underneath you, this is a good place to get close up to sharks that are around the same size as your boat. Just don't be tempted to jump in with them: They're probably not as friendly as other Australians.
We've got a lot of love for Sydney--we even agreed when Condé Nast readers voted it the number one city in the world. The UK Times is showing even more love, with a recent feature on 100 different ways to check out Sydney, with but a few major tourist attractions on the list.
The wide-ranging guide touches on many different aspects of Australian culture: Eating tips involve Italian pizzerias, seafood by the beach and plenty of Chinese and Thai restaurants. To quench your thirst, there are tips like the Bubble Lounge champagne bar (30 different kinds stocked), flashy De Nom with allegedly the most spectacular bathrooms in the city and the Hopetoun Hotel, a bar with a reputation for great live music.
And finally, amidst worthwhile art galleries and some of the usual suspects for sightseeing, the Times also put together a great bunch of shopping suggestions where you can get original clothing from Australian designers, plus some vintage clothing shops. We love the sound of Grandma Takes a Trip, a store full of 1950s to 1980s clothing. Guess it takes longer for fashion to get all the way Down Under.
We don't wanna get all political, but quite frankly, we're not that keen on the idea of the Japanese catching too many whales. That's why we're quite pleased to hear that a Sydney cruise company has come up with a very friendly plan to try to dissuade them from doing so.
Whale Watching Sydney offers a couple of hundred trips every year to Australians and tourists who want to see humpback whales migrate along the coast between May and December. From next season, any tourist showing a Japanese passport will be able to take a whale watching cruise for free.
The company is basing this huge giveaway on the premise that "very few tourists favored whale hunting once they saw the mammals in the wild", so giving Japanese visitors a free trip should help some of them change their minds about Japan's policy. If you're not Japanese can you still get a free cruise just by turning up and saying you're pro-whaling?
For those planning to spend the coming New Year's Eve Down Under, one of the best spots for watching the Sydney Harbour fireworks will be on top of the Sydney Tower, high above the ground.
There are several packages available for revelers who want to get high above Sydney: You can get tickets for the Observation Deck at the tower itself, or head up to the Skywalk, made up of glass-floored platforms suspended over the city. A local radio station will broadcast live from the deck and play the fireworks soundtrack up there, too.
Tickets include an OzTrek virtual reality ride plus a glass of sparkling wine or soft drink, but you'd better stop at one sparkling wine: Party-goers heading out to the Skywalk will have to pass an alcohol test (and measure below 0.05%) before they can hang out above Sydney.
[Photo: Peter Konnecke]
The latest season of MTV's "The Real World" promises seven strangers in one amazing house in Sydney, Australia (but zero Australians are in residence). As in most seasons of the hit show, producers stuck these seven, apple-cheeked, bright-eyed youngsters in the middle of the action -- at 19 Darling Point, near Rushcutter's Bay Park and not far from King's Cross. That way, should Isaac, Kelly Anne, Parisa, Shauvon, Trisha, Cohutta and Dunbar don't have to go far for world class debauchery.
The Midnight Shift is a nearby Darlighurst bar that attracts all sorts of gay archetypes. Also popular with Asian Sydneysiders looking for new friends. Trisha Cummings better keep her guard up if the seven strangers saunter into Midnight shift.
So far in the first two episodes, the gang has sampled the nightlife, called their (understandably) worried other halves and hit the waves on Bondi Beach. Also, Kelly Anne and Trisha went to that Australian purveyor of fine foods, McDonalds. Cast members have also been spotted at Sydney's Bungalow 8 club (unrelated to the Manhattan club of the same name) and the Cargo Bar and beer garden.
The crown of Sydney, the 305-meter Sydney Tower, is doing everything it can to attract visitors. When it opened in 1981 it was the fourth tallest building in the world; these days that status is long lost and it's finding other strengths.
Take the Sydney Skywalk that opened in 2005--you can strap on a harness, head out onto a moving, glass-floored viewing platform and see Sydney literally beneath you. The walk "over" Sydney takes an hour and a half.
And if you get your timing right, you can take up Sydney Tower's Travellers' Tuesdays deal. You can get views from the observation deck, dinner and a drink, and a ride in OzTrek, the virtual tour of Australia. You'll need that if the weather's too foggy to see anything.
We nearly got a massive shopping complex built at Sydney's International Airport, until too many people freaked out at the possibility it could get hit by a plane. Now building enthusiasts are getting ready to start a new A$65 million car park instead.
With 10 million people flying through Sydney International a year, it's a busy place, and that's why they've now got 3000 additional parking places coming. Travelators and lifts will connect the car park directly to the Terminal 1 Departure Lounge. For international visitors who don't really need this car park, it might seem a far cry from the previously proposed shopping mall, but there are still plenty of duty-free shops (complete with grotesque anti-smoking ads) where you can hand over your last Aussie dollars.
· Airport's $65m Car Park Plan [Daily Telegraph]
· Australia's Grotesque Anti-Smoking Ads [Jaunted]