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City secrets: Sydney

March 2012

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Insider tips from the people who really know — the locals. Compiled by Michael Peschardt
Sydney Harbour Bridge skyline and Lavender Bay yachts
Chad Ehlers/Getty Images

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BREAKFAST
BILLS, 118 Queen Street, Woollahra
'TV chef Bill Granger has three café/restaurants in the Eastern Suburbs and they are all superb. The one in Woollahra is probably best for breakfast but take your pick. If you want to check out all three, go to bills.com.au.' Stephen David, entrepreneur

NIELSEN PARK CAFE, Greycliffe Avenue, Vaucluse
'A gem tucked away in the National Park. Watch the yachts sail by on the harbour in this wonderfully stylish and totally relaxed café. The terrace area is particularly good.' Jan Mitchell, fashion consultant (+61 29337 7333; nielsenpark.com.au)

LUNCH
ICEBERGS DINING ROOM AND BAR, 1 Notts Avenue, Bondi Beach
'An absolute Sydney institution, with one of the best views in the world overlooking Bondi Beach, and the famous outdoor pool, where intrepid regulars come to swim every day of the year. There's a good bar, too.' Lisa Bullen, radio producer (+61 2 9365 9000; idrb.com)

NORTH BONDI ITALIAN FOOD, 118-120 Ramsgate Avenue, Bondi Beach
'Very much the place of the moment to be seen having late lunch and Sunday drinks.' Tricia Lodge, communications manager (+61 2 9300 4400; idrb.com)

GRAPPA RISTORANTE E BAR, Norton Street, Leichhardt
'Sydney is about much more than the harbour, it's a thriving multicultural city, so be sure to visit the suburb of Leichhardt - Australia's own Little Italy'. Caroline Furlong, fashion designer (+61 2 9560 6090); grappa.com.au)

DINNER
ARIA, 1 Macquarie Street, East Circular Quay
'There's a Sydney saying: "The better the view, the worse the menu." Aria disproves that for all time. Perfect view of the Opera House and fine dining on a grand scale. Ideal for a special occasion.' David Thrum, television producer (+61 2 9252 2555; ariarestaurant.com)

BOTTOM OF THE HARBOUR, 21 The Esplanade, Balmoral Beach
'You don't need to spend a fortune to enjoy Sydney harbour and its sublime views. Stroll down to Balmoral beach in the late afternoon and sit on the sand with a serving of great fresh fish and chips. There's a bottle shop handily located close by.'MP (+61 2 9969 7911)

CULTURE
SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE, Bennelong Point
'Not quite as impressive on the inside, but it is a living, working building and not a monument. Catch a performance if you can and enjoy a stroll along the concourse as you arrive.' Dave Oliver, cameraman (+61 2 9250 7777; sydneyoperahouse.com)

THE WHARF, Walsh Bay
'Home of the Sydney Theatre Company and located in a truly spectacular location. Most plays have a "Night with the Actors" where the cast and creative team host a post-show discussion with the audience. STC alumni include Mel Gibson, Geoffrey Rush and Toni Collette.'MP (+61 2 9250 1777; sydneytheatre.com.au)

BEST BEACH
BONDI BEACH
'The nearest surf beach to the city centre and a place you have to visit to see and be seen. It can be crowded at peak times but that's half the fun. Best to arrive by public transport — parking can be a nightmare.' Ainsley Maddock, medical student

SHELLY BEACH, MANLY
'Hop on the ferry and head to Manly. Shelley is tucked away. It's sheltered and safe and there's a great little kiosk there for food and drinks, too.' Sarah Vaughan, film location manager

PALM BEACH
'A beautiful beach on the northernmost shore of Sydney, surrounded by the houses of the city's high society. It's also home to the set of the soap opera Home and Away.'MP

DAY OUT
PITTWATER
'One of the most spectacular waterways in the world. Charter a boat yourself or hire a skippered vessel to explore the pristine deserted bays and beaches. The best bit is that Pittwater is only half an hour's drive from the city centre. Highly recommended.' MP

BROOKVALE OVAL
'Rugby League is the most popular winter sport in Sydney and matches here have a unique feel and atmosphere. The Hill at Brookvale Oval in Manly is a great place to start.' Mike Bullen, film and television scriptwriter

SHOPPING
OXFORD STREET
'You'll find all the big stores in the centre of the city, and the standard souvenir shops in the Rocks, but to shop where Sydneysiders like to go, head towards Oxford Street where it runs through Paddington. It's fun to walk and take in the latest local designs.' Cloudia Elder, dance student

QUEEN VICTORIA BUILDING, 455 George Street
'An example of Victorian architecture housing small boutiques, positioned alongside Sydney's contrasting modern cityscape. It's been called "the most beautiful shopping centre in the world".' TL (qvb.com.au)

BARS AND NIGHTCLUBS
PIANO ROOM, Corner of Darlinghurst Road and Kings Cross
'Hyper trendy and enormously popular, Piano Room pays homage to the New York cocktail lounge.' Tania Rees, yoga instructor (+61 2 9360 8778; pianoroom.com.au)

IVY BAR, 330 George Street
'Floor upon floor of bars, plus dining and a nightclub. It is the biggest place of its kind by far in the city and for many Sydneysiders it is where a night out begins — and often ends.' Finn Crutch, yacht broker (+61 2 9254 8100; merivale.com.au/ivybar)

WHAT TO BRING HOME
UGG BOOTS
'This is the best (and cheapest) place to pick up the locally made, luxuriously soft and ever fashionable sheepskin boots.' MP (uggaustralia.co.uk)

Compiled by Michael Peschardt, broadcaster and foreign correspondent. His series, Peschardt's People, can be seen on BBC World News.

This article was updated in March 2012 by Lucy Thackray.

Posted by Michael Peschardt

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city-secrets, Sydney, Australia

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