Juliana is Time Out Sydney's editorial assistant. The worst moment in her life is when an ibis made off with a whole wheel of brie she'd freshly unwrapped on the front lawn of the MCA. She spends most of her spare time trying to figure out which brand of soy milk will curdle in her tea.
The best yum cha in Sydney
Is there a better way to start the day than a torrent of fluffy pork buns, sea-sweet prawn har gow, chewy siu mai, slippery cheong fun, silken tofu, hearty beef tendon, braised chicken feet, mango pancakes and custard tarts? Absolutely not. Here's our definitive list of the best spots in Sydney to relish this morning ritual. Bring your strongest hangovers, a whole bunch of mates and an appetite for destruction and gallons of tea. Still hungry? These are the best restaurants in Sydney.
The best toasties in Melbourne
Whether your hankering looks like white bread tuckshop jaffles or highbrow ingredients layered over the finest artisan sourdough, you’ll find hot pockets of joy in the five-star sarnies we’ve gathered below. Don't like your bread crunchy? Here are Melbourne's best sandwiches. Or for a hot liquid lunch, try one of Melbourne's best noodle soups. Recommended: The 50 best restaurants in Melbourne right now.
A guide to Macquarie Park
Each day, thousands commute from all over Sydney to Macquarie Park to work, shop and study. The high-tech commercial hub has been growing rapidly since the 1960s establishment of Macquarie University, with dozens of major corporate businesses moving their operations here since. It’s not all work and no play though – bound on the north by Lane Cove River, the suburb is rich with parkland as well as diverse options for entertainment, dining and leisure. Recommended: A local's guide to Chatswood.
Five tours and workshops in Newcastle worth planning a weekend away for
A place with glittering beaches, a thriving café culture, captivating street art and zany small bars – that’s Newy. Just two hours north of Sydney is a coastal paradise worth acquainting (or reacquainting) yourself with, and these fun tours are the way to do it. Whether on foot, on two wheels or by boat, delving into gin making or beekeeping, they’ll show you the spots loved by locals, the hidden gems and the curious backstories you won’t find yourself. Planning a trip north? Read our complete guide to what's great in Newcastle.
A local's guide to Eastwood
While Eastwood’s original claim to fame is as the home of the Granny Smith apple, these days the north-west Sydney suburb is better known for being a dense hub for Asian dining. Eastwood’s town centre is split right down the middle by its train line – on the eastern side, you’ll find a proliferation of Korean barbecue joints and cosy cafés, while on the western side there’s strong coverage of China’s many cuisines, from spicy Sichuan soup and Chongqing stir fries to Hong Kong-style canteen snacks and rich Shanghainese delicacies. Recommended: A local's guide to Redfern.
A local's guide to Parramatta
Parramatta sits at the intersection of rich history and rapid development. The ‘place of eels’ is home to one of the earliest sites of ancient Aboriginal communities in Sydney, with the Burramattagal people, a clan of the Darug, having first settled along the upper reaches of the Parramatta River around 60,000 years ago. It’s also the site of Sydney’s second European settlement. In search of fertile farming land, colonists arrived here just two months after landing in Sydney Cove in 1788, and as a result, the area is thick with significant heritage buildings and vital archaeological sites. Jump to a section EAT DRINK COFFEE THINGS TO DO SHOPPING What’s Parramatta known for? These days, it’s the booming geographical centre of Greater Sydney and has become a city in its own right. In the space of a few decades, it’s gone from a typical suburb to a commercial hub, with high-rise residential developments now shooting up faster than you can say ‘DA’. However, despite rapid growth, the suburb has retained plenty of local character. Parramatta has long been one of the most diverse areas in NSW, with over 70% of the population speaking a language other than English, and that diversity is well reflected in the local economy and cultural calendar – there are few places where annual events like Diwali and Lunar New Year are celebrated in as much an official capacity as Christmas. Why do the locals love it? Because it embodies “live, work and play”. The suburb is home to high-tech sta
Where to go fruit picking near Sydney
Thanks to the magic of refrigeration, we can easily bag and buy all the fruit we need with a quick trip to the local grocer, any day of the week. But there’s something irresistibly romantic about getting outside and gathering nature’s bounty with your own bare hands. Work up your hunger first by swinging by one of the best national parks near Sydney beforehand. The fruit is guaranteed to be fresher and sweeter, and the journey will be more gratifying with the knowledge that you’re supporting our region’s hardworking farmers. Add it to your list of the things to do at least once in your life. In order to manage crowds, farms and orchards have implemented booking systems – so just make sure to reserve a place online before you head out with wicker baskets in tow. RECOMMENDED: The best road trips in New South Wales.
The best regional Chinese food in Sydney
For a long time, “Chinese food” in Australia didn’t venture far beyond shiny fried noodles, sticky char siu pork and dumplings, dumplings, dumplings. Delicious as they are, reducing the wildly varyied cuisine eaten by 1.3 billion people from 56 ethnicities to a few usual suspects was selling us all short. Fortunately, lately we've seen an exponential boom in the depth and diversity of what’s available, with myriad options for both cheap eats and sprawling banquet feasts now on the table. Cumin-dusted lamb skewers from Xinjiang, dazzlingly spicy hot pots from Sichuan, and steamy breakfast baos from Tianjin – here's how you can eat your way around China (and neighbouring Taiwan) with nothing but a loaded Opal card. If your tastebuds need a change of region, why not try Sydney's best Malaysian restaurants, or our best Korean fare? Or tick off something from the list of the 50 best restaurants in Sydney.
Seven unusual museums to visit in Sydney
Sydney’s larger museums and art galleries are where you can experience a well-rounded dose of arts and culture. However, for something a little offbeat (and sometimes more fun), we’ve found the most quirky, niche museums in Sydney; they’ll have you laughing, gagging and wondering in awe at vintage vehicles, magic tricks and the human body – all in the name of education. RECOMMENDED: Explore Sydney's best public art and these Sydney harbour islands.
Hot Talent Award: Time Out Melbourne Bar Awards
Winner: Jessica Clayfield, Gin Palace “I realised that I needed to be able to talk to people and see their reactions to the things I made,” says Gin Palace’s Jessica Clayfield. She’s explaining the light-bulb moment that caused her to switch aspirations from fine dining to bartending, and it encapsulates both her desire to connect with customers and her devotion to craft. After trying “about 30 times” to get a job in a bar, Clayfield worked festivals and hosted at Adelaide’s Hains & Co, cadging occasional shifts behind the bar and rustling up enough skills to impress Teandra Moroney, Gin Palace’s former assistant manager. The rest is (recent) history. In 18 short months she’s gone from fresh face to old hand, developing her palate at preternatural speed, while an eye for detail has resulted in some of the most delightfully creative garnishes around. Taste is what drives her, whether it’s serving up a high-end gin neat or dreaming up a wild new cocktail. The end goal is to create a special experience for whoever’s on the other side of the bar, which has made her a firm favourite with the Palace’s regulars. “There’s a lot of mischief and excitement to be had with customers, if you know how to bring it out in everyone,” she says. We're also watching... Lachlan Bentley, The EverleighIn six short months he’s charmed colleagues and customers alike. Chelsea Catherine, Black PearlPeers praise her positive impact. Brandon Jo, Eau De Vie Talent, enthusiasm and humility have won him
The best noodle dishes in Sydney
Noodles are the perfect meal foundation and flavour vehicle (sorry rice, but the battle lines are drawn here). The process of rolling, stretching, pulling and cutting them is an art form in itself – though we won’t turn our nose up at a plate of well dressed instant noodles either. Because sometimes you're after chewy glass noodles swimming in a fiery tom yum soup, and other times it's slippery flat noodles, straight from a red hot wok, we've rounded up the 18 best noodle dishes in Sydney to satisfy every craving Want more noodles? Get around Sydney's best ramen or visit one of Sydney’s best Chinese restaurants. Recommended: The 50 best cheap east in Sydney.
Souvenirs that don't suck
You've sipped the best coffee in Sydney, visited its most inspiring art galleries and conquered our favourite tourist attractions. Now you want to share some of that experience with everyone back home, and we're here to help. Relegate plasticky keychains and knockoff boomerangs to the graveyard of bad souvenirs past. With a little guidance, you’ll find that Australia has plenty of distinctive gifts your family and friends will love.
Listings and reviews (78)
Mr Ramen San
Increasingly enveloped by glassy ‘dining precincts’ and international players, we can’t help but wonder if the CBD’s remaining old-school arcades and food courts are living on borrowed time. We hope not. The hardy, usually family-run eateries within have long filled the bellies of CBD workers for minimal coin, from steamy boat noodles and sour pork fried rice in the ‘90s chic Paramount Food Court to bain-maries full of legit Padang cuisine at Tivoli Arcade. Bourke Street’s MidCity Arcade is another stalwart, best known for dumpling institution Shandong Mama but also home to the peppily named Mr Ramen San, a homey joint banging down some of the most dependable noodles in town. Compared to hyped tonkotsu joints like Hakata Gensuke and Ippudo that sell themselves on ultra-concentrated, rich soups, the bowls at Mr Ramen San are flavourful while being restrained enough for everyday consumption. The 10-hour pork bone broth is soft and creamy without being heavy, sporting a level of gelatinousness that slips rather than sticks. Thin and bitey wheat noodles, made in house, are just the right vehicle for this lower viscosity tonkotsu, while sliced spring onion, pickled bamboo shoots, seaweed and a jammy soy egg tick the customary topping boxes. From there you can steer traditional with thinly sliced chashu that’s a half-and-half swirl of supple fat and char-blushed meat, or switch out for miso-simmered beef, spicy chicken mince, prawns and even a “vegan chashu” that mostly invokes
Update: We attended this venue in December 2019 and some details may have altered since then. It’s not hard in knock-off-loving Melbourne for a wine bar to shine on a Friday evening, as the work week eases into the rearview, or on a Saturday night, when limitless folly beckons ahead. But how many bars, much less ones tucked away on quiet residential streets, are also brimming at 3pm on a blustery Sunday afternoon, or on steamy Tuesday evenings with no rooftop or courtyard to speak of? Fitzroy North’s Neighbourhood Wine is. Matt Denman, Simon Denman and chef Almay Jordaan’s genre-bending wine bar has solidified itself as a local drinking and dining institution. The trio also opened Lygon Street’s slick Old Palm Liquor in 2019, but it’s their original baby that has burrowed deep into the DNA of the inner north. With heavy red curtains at half-wink and disco on the turntable, sessions stretch long in this low-lit cocoon from reality, famously fashioned from the plush remains of an illicit ‘80s gambling den. Kick off balmy evenings with frosty nips of Maidenii classic vermouth or branch out with Mac Forbes’ 2017 ‘Tasty Locals’ vermouth, which transitions from an oaky, musky aperitif to a fresh, tart sipper as ice and lemon fuse in. Unlike the sprawling, ambitious wine list, the food at Neighbourhood is a compact, daily updated offering of pared-back, pan-European dishes that’s less about cheffing than arranging and enhancing lovely produce. Snacks sing, from pin-thin seed cracke
Parramatta Farmers’ Markets
‘Farmers’ market’ is a bit of a misnomer at the moment, as there isn’t much in the way of fresh produce at these weekly Friday markets. The massive $2 billion development underway at Parramatta Square has truncated the area; stalls no longer line Church Street, instead they’ve settled into the middle of Centenary Square, alongside the Square’s colourful street furniture and ping pong tables.When we visited there were only two stores flogging fruit and veg, however there’s plenty of food to take home. From lengthy flat beans, exotic looking chillies and trays of fresh berries and eggs to Shepherd’s Artisan Bakehouse’s traditional, crusty Italian, spelt and rye and Patisserie Bruni’s family sized quiches and Burgundy beef pies. One of the market’s most popular stalls is Zerrin’s Evergreen, who sell succulents, hanger plants and aloe vera to greenify your home with, plus flower pots for as little as $2.20.The Square is a busy thoroughfare located between the train station and the CBD’s office buildings, which means the market is busiest at lunchtime. Looking for a quick bite? Opt for street food dishes like paella with mussels and calamari, kimchi burritos, pork and chive dumplings or currywurst hot dogs.
Marrickville Organic Markets
These dog-friendly markets aren’t just a ritual for locals – loyal visitors from all over Sydney trek to Addison Road Community Centre for organic groceries and a wander around Reverse Garbage. You can find pretty much anything here; vintage clothes, books, rugs, eco food wraps to healing crystals, rice bread and tarot reading. There are plenty of stalls selling seasonal fruit and veg, plus Asian greens, honey and fresh seafood. Pick up a paper lunch bag filled with sweet, mini plums and stop by Brooklyn Boy Bagels for a poppy seed dough with cream cheese, lox, dill and caper schmear. If you visit on the first or fourth Sunday of the month, the longest lines will be found at La Casa Latina – a pop-up diner where you can eat authentic Mexican food. It’s a major drawcard for tamales, chilaquiles, tacos al pastor and pazole. Wash it all down with a Michelada – a popular Mexican drink that combines beer, lime, tomato juice, Worcestershire and hot sauce. If the picnic tables are full, there’s plenty of grass behind the community hall to throw down a rug – just watch out for the pony rides passing through. Find the best markets in Sydney.
It seems like just yesterday that our options for shopping centre sustenance extended from Maccas to Muffin Break. Thanks to the retail apocalypse, however, we’re now expected to spend via the stomach. Rubrical food courts (fast food, self-serve Chinese, salad and wrap counter, sushi rolls, repeat) have made way for “dining precincts”, with centre operators splashing the cash to lure big-name chefs and overseas chains that become a destination in and of themselves. As it were, the capstone in the final stage of the Glen’s half-billion-dollar redevelopment is a leafy, open-air pavilion of flash casual eateries, with drawcards including Korean imports Massizim and Gami Chicken and Beer, plus Dainty Sichuan spinoff Tina’s Noodle Kitchen. Esteemed Annam chef Jerry Mai has thrown her hat in the ring too with Bia Hoi, a big and bright eatery inspired by the laidback beer halls of Vietnam. While there are quick pho or bùn bowls to power grocery runs, Bia Hoi’s really pitching for diners to stick around for convivial rounds of beer, street snacks and DIY barbecue. There are even cocktails for the most devoted of the ‘treat yourself’ crowd, consisting mainly of peppy twists on the familiar – lychee-sweet caprioskas and Vietnamese coffee martinis swirled with condensed milk. For the rest of us it’s frosty glasses of Bia Hanoi and 333 along with an impressive selection of craft beers (we’re in Glen Waverley, after all), going beyond pale ale with sours, IPAs and flavoured stouts from Vi
Chinatown Night Market
Every Friday from 4pm, the main strip of Chinatown along Dixon Street transforms into a vibrant night market selling Asian street food, desserts and gifts. It attracts a wide mix of visitors, from tourists and homesick international students to the post-work crowd, who you’ll find wisely padding their stomachs with cumin lamb skewers before hitting the next bar. During peak times the narrow walkway can get a bit squishy, but the hustle and bustle is also what makes it fun. A number of Chinatown stalwarts run stalls each week, which means you’ll find yum cha favourites like har gow and mango pancakes from East Ocean, or have the joy of pulling apart Mamak’s fluffy roti canai without waiting 40 minutes in line outside their permanent eateries. As tempting as those options might be, ration stomach space for the takoyaki – a Japanese savoury doughnut hole snack filled with seafood – or dragon beard candy and potato chips on a stick. You’ll also find stalls selling clothes and sunglasses to jewellery and phone cases – on some weeks, there’s even a Scientology stall offering ‘free stress tests’ to the curious. There are no artisanal goods, but more mass-produced, imported products à la Paddy’s Markets downstream. Read more about Sydney's best markets.
Eating here feels like being a guest at a very nice, intimate dinner party. The slender space comprises a single 20-seat communal table, buttressed at the end by head chef Josep Espuga cooking on a simple domestic cooktop. This means you might have to sidle past a fridge or two on your way to your seat, or let owner Michael Byard reach over your shoulder to grab a wine from the table’s in-built cooler. You’ll definitely notice the rangehood whirring softly away throughout your meal, and diners hitting it off with their table neighbours is not an uncommon sight. But instead of suffering through ill-fated attempts at Ottolenghi and panic-bought cab sav, here you’re getting thoughtful, creative food and wine that’s top return for your dollar. The local-heavy wine list is an entirely sub-$100 affair, yet rich in interest and enjoyment among the 30 bottles and five going by the glass. For maximum fun, shoot for Tassie winery Ghost Town’s Supernatural sparkling pinot, a chewy, lively, wild ferment that’s strawberry pie in a glass. If you prefer your wines not to bite you back, there’s gluggable Dominique Piron Beaujolais that’s as refreshing as a red gets, a quick dance of cherry juice before it’s gone from the palate. Spanish-born Espuga, who’s spent time at two-Michelin-starred Mugaritz in Spain and New York’s Degustation, does the experimental cheffy thing you’d expect from someone with his CV, but it rarely feels like he’s forcing it. The à-la-carte and $70 seven-course tasting
Winter’s tightening grip turns our yearnings to comfort food. Landlords across Melbourne may refuse to install double glazing, but at least we can warm ourselves from the inside out with steamy stews and starches, summertime ideals of virtuous eating be damned. But what if belly-warming food could be also wholesome and healthy, satisfying without tasting soporific? Leave it to the Japanese. Down the city end of Smith Street is Neko Neko, a cosy little eatery cooking homestyle vegan and pescatarian Japanese for which it has amassed a loyal following. Forgoing dairy and red meat – staff instead pack dishes with vegetables cooked, raw and pickled while working in plenty of seeds and whole grains, elevating dishes that would usually leave you feeling comatose into lighter but no less satiating weeknight dinners. Vegan Japanese curry fills gaping winter appetites, arriving via boat-shaped vessel in which shore of bitey purple rice meets thick, earthy curry. Unlike its south Asian counterparts, Japanese curry is light on spice, made by cooking down root veggies including onion and carrot into a curry powder roux that becomes gently sweet and starchy. Plopped on top are couple of panko-coated potato and bean croquettes drizzled in tangy coriander and bulldog sauce. The veritable carb fest is balanced by an assortment of veggies, from a perky floret of blanched cauliflower to a tangle of pickled daikon ribbons. Packing in your RDI of fibre has never been so enjoyable. And while we l
Issan Thai Street Food
From the moment you step inside Issan Thai, you know you’re onto something good. The air hits you like a wave, warm and thick with sugar, fish sauce and lively chatter. Chirpy Thai-pop and ‘sawadeeka’s sing out, while immediately to your left is a bain-marie that houses not gloopy chicken cashews and orange pad Thais, but a rotating fiesta of Issan delights, like spicy and sour catfish stew, rubbles of fiery larb, and brow-mopping jungle curry.Hailing from Thailand’s northeast, Issan cuisine is characterised by simple preparations (think grilled meats and soups eaten with sticky rice) and flavours that are punchy yet clean – you won’t see coconut cream cushioning curries, but rather a tendency to dial up with chillies and pickles. With Issan food still pretty hard to find in Melbourne (the ever-popular Dodee Paidang offers a CBD fix), to get best mileage here you’ll want to order adventurously. Coast past the pick-your-protein stir fries that prop up their roaring takeaway trade and head straight for som tum. It’s a powerful addition to the salad canon, a mountain of shredded green papaya dressed with dried shrimp, crushed peanuts, lime, garlic, chilli and fish sauce. For the full experience get the pla ra version, which invites the salty funk of fermented crab to the party.At the heart of the menu are grilled meats ready to be bundled up with a leaf or tacky ball of rice, so if you like ssam, you’ll love this too. Here, it’s less about top-shelf cuts or exacting sear times b
You have to love the audaciousness of a carb-on-carb dish, which defies convention to give us gems from the culinary canon like potato pizza, red bean mochi, and the glorious chip butty. The latest to straddle that fine line between crazy and genius is all-day CBD eatery Goldie Canteen, which has created a macro-busting frankensandwich that stuffs instant ramen and peking duck between its bready borders. With crunchy, toasted sourdough couching the slip of noodles and hoisin sauce, bolstered by a layer of juicy shredded duck meat, it may sound like the brainwave of a stoner or a child, but there’s no denying it strikes those pleasure receptors square on. A second punt on the format is a take on jianbing, a Chinese breakfast street food. Thin, crisp crepes are given a wash of egg and earthy fermented soybean paste before being wrapped around a hot baton of youtiao, deep-fried dough crullers with an oily crunch. True jianbing fans will find Goldie’s take a lightweight cousin of the real thing, which is traditionally packed with scallions, sesame, wonton crisps and pork floss, but context forgives. After all, you couldn’t get much further from a Shanghainese pavement than the lobby of the Novotel Melbourne Central. It’s an unexpected move for a hotel chain to open a bright Asian-inspired café, one that sports cute cartoon graphics and neon lights while spinning bing, bao and bubble tea. As could be expected, in the process of giving street food a hotel-ready polish they’ve also
Whether you like to eat at hip cafes or homey ones, sleek wine bars or spenny fine diners, you’ve probably noticed that the katsu sando – panko-crumbed, deep-fried meat in crustless white bread – is defying the laws of our attention deficit dining scene. You'll see versions of the humble sarnie of convenience stores and train station bentos in Japan everywhere across Melbourne, with Cutler and Co’s abalone katsu sandwich and Congress’s pigs head sanga still two of the most coveted bites in the city.The sandwich's interminable rise finds its latest launch pad at Saint Dreux, a standalone coffee and sandwich bar inside the high end St Collins Lane mall. Its futuristic, Blade Runneresque aesthetic has kindled a torrent of images of the pitch black storefront, punctuated only by perfectly prismatic sandwiches that seem birthed by 3D printer rather the hand of common man.Yes, you could lean into largesse and go for the $28 wagyu number, served medium rare with 7+ marble score beef, but without the offer of a big brassy glass of red and the rest of the afternoon off, a more lunch-appropriate indulgence lies in the $15 kurobuta pork. It’s a well constructed beast, the all-important panko coating is super flaky and audibly crunchy even after minutes steaming under tangy bull dog sauce and mayo. The thumb-thick cutlet inside, while juicy, is a jaw workout in parts to get that intense, unmistakeable ‘pork but more’ flavour of kurobuta. It’s the prawn sando we’ll be returning for. Its m
Have you ever tried to style your hair into a ‘messy bob’, or attempted to cook paella at home? As it turns out, looking effortless requires a lot of work. With Agostino, about four years’ worth has resulted in a restaurant that’s breezily confident from the outset, ready to elbow its way into Melbourne’s Italian canon. The place has barely opened, but the linen-clad staff are already gliding around buzzing rooms, pouring wines from a towering backlit cellar and swooping down plate after plate of sophisticated regional fare. Agostino is the final, crowning jewel in the Valmorbida family’s epic complex of Italian drinking and dining, which also includes the revived King & Godfree Deli and rooftop spritz bar Johnny’s Green Room. But where the other two are more casual affairs, this upscale wine bar is here to make an impression. The space is a study in relaxed, discerning luxury, pale woods and dusty greens soothing as shiny terrazzo and marble bars adding a moneyed weight. Meanwhile, that glowing cellar holds a small town’s economy in triple digit European wines, sure to be given high rotation by the long lunchers and Carlton’s comfortable retirees. Smaller budgets are kept intact by the glass, with interest-piquing options like a buttery moschofilero from Greece and a deliciously unfussy red on tap – a tannin-light field blend of Italian varietals including lagrein and nero d’Avola that’s fat with dark fruits and yours for only $10. The menu, meanwhile, is a clear-eyed explo
A Harry Potter-themed brunch is coming to Melbourne
UPDATE: Tickets for Melbourne's Harry Potter-themed brunch are now on sale. Drop everything and hitch a ride via the nearest broomstick, enchanted vehicle or flying horse-drawn carriage, because there’s a Harry Potter-themed mega brunch coming to Melbourne this May and it sounds downright magical. They’re calling it the Wizard Brunch, to be held in May at a secret city location that will be transformed into the Hogwarts Great Hall. Organisers are shy on the details for the moment, promising only that it’ll be an immersive entertaining and dining experience that’ll make you forget the existence of the drab muggle world outside. Guests will feast on dishes inspired by the series, drink ‘magic potions’, and be invited to glug as much butter beer as their bellies can hold. There’ll also be Quidditch, sorting ceremonies and wand lessons as side entertainment on the day. More details are set to follow, but if you’re happy to hand over your email deets, you can sign up for pre-release tickets on their website. We have to say though, we’ve noticed a raft of novel pop-up bars being announced recently, from ‘ball-pit playground bars’ in December to the (definitely not affiliated with Lego) building block bars hyped last week. With none of these great ideas yet to materialise, we’re starting to wonder if they might all just be a bit of marketing wizardry? After looking into the Wizard Brunch, it's our understanding that the event is being organised by the same people as the ball bit p
This booze company is offering tinnie deliveries for Valentine’s Day
Less than a month out from Valentine’s Day, the more diligent partners out there are likely beginning to consider their gifting options. Something sentimental? Something sweet? Something sparkly? If none of those criteria really sing out to you, you might like to consider the ‘Valen-Tinnies Gift Box’ instead. Created by alcohol delivery company BoozeBud, it’s a box of 16 craft beer cans in a variety of styles, from pale and summer ales to lagers and IPAs. They’ve sourced tins from across Australia, including a Sorachi Kolsch from Mornington Peninsula and an IPA from Last Rites in Tassie, as well a handful of foreign imports from breweries like Kona in Hawaii and BrewDog in Scotland. And because romance isn’t dead, the box costs $69.69 (yep, you read right), for which they’ll chuck in a personalised card too. While we don’t have plans to ‘accidentally’ leave the tab for this particular gift open on our partners’ web browsers, there’s definitely an audience for this out there – perhaps if you have the kind of partner who, when referring to ‘perle’, ‘crystal’, and ‘golding’ isn’t talking about jewellery, hates sweets, or simply has really bad hayfever.
A Harry Potter-themed brunch is coming to Sydney
Drop everything and hitch a ride via the nearest broomstick, enchanted vehicle or flying horse-drawn carriage, because there’s a Harry Potter-themed mega brunch coming to Sydney this April and it sounds downright magical. They’re calling it the Wizard Brunch, to be held in April at a secret CBD location that will be transformed into the Hogwarts Great Hall. Organisers are shy on detail for the moment, promising only that it’ll be an immersive entertaining and dining experience that’ll make you forget the existence of the drab muggle world outside. Guests will feast on dishes inspired by the series, drink ‘magic potions’, and be invited to glug as much butter beer as their bellies can hold. There’ll also be Quidditch, sorting ceremonies and wand lessons as side entertainment on the day. More details are set to follow, but if you’re happy to hand over your email deets, you can sign up for pre-release tickets on their website. We have to say though, we’ve noticed a raft of novel pop-up bars being announced recently, from ‘ball-pit playground bars’ in December to the (definitely not affiliated with Lego) building block bars hyped last week. With none of these great ideas yet to materialise, we’re starting to wonder if they might all just be a bit of marketing wizardry? Stay tuned. Looking for something fun to do this weekend? Break your way out of one the best escape rooms in Sydney.
Sam Smith is touring Australia this November
If you missed out on tickets to his intimate Opera House gig tomorrow night, you can wipe those tears: Sam Smith is returning to Australia in November and he’ll be playing five whole arena shows. It’ll be the soulful UK singer’s first tour of Australia in three years. During that time he’s accumulated a colossal cache of metalware from ARIA, the Golden Globes, the Brits and the Grammys, selling over 12 million albums in the process to become one of the world’s most successful contemporary artists. He’ll grace the Qudos Bank Arena stage on November 16, singing tracks from his latest record The Thrill of It All, including hit single ‘Too Good at Goodbyes’. General release tickets go on sale at 2pm on Monday January 22 – if you want to save yourself the heartbreak of missing out on seeing the wildly popular balladeer twice in a year, you’d better set those lunch hour alarms now. Sam Smith's not the only megastar coming to Sydney this year – Mariah's also on her way.
Sam Smith is touring Australia this November
If you weren't able to jet up to Sydney for his intimate Opera House gig tomorrow night, you can wipe those tears: Sam Smith is returning to Australia in November and he’ll be playing five whole arena shows. It’ll be the soulful UK singer’s first tour of Australia in three years. During that time he’s accumulated a colossal cache of metalware from ARIA, the Golden Globes, the Brits and the Grammys, selling over 12 million albums in the process to become one of the world’s most successful contemporary artists. He’ll grace Rod Laver Arena on November 6, singing tracks from his latest record The Thrill of It All, including hit single ‘Too Good at Goodbyes’. General release tickets go on sale at 2pm on Monday January 22 – if you want to save yourself the heartbreak of missing out on seeing the wildly popular balladeer twice in a year, you’d better set those lunch hour alarms now. Sam Smith's not the only megastar coming to Melbourne this year – Mariah's also on her way. Can't wait till October? There's plenty of Laneway sideshows to check out.
Gross alert: authorities warn of bacterial contamination at your favourite beaches
Hold the togs – before you jump in for a post-work swim today, be warned that for a number of major Sydney beaches the Office of Environment & Heritage is forecasting cloudy with a chance of BACTERIA. Due to heavy rainfall over the past few days, they’re predicting stormwater pollution to have washed into the sea potentially anything from litter and chemical detergents to ‘natural pollution’, which includes leaves, soil and – horror! – animal droppings. Today’s report advises swimmers to avoid the waters at Bronte, Tamarama and Coogee completely, citing “likely” pollution. For now, Bondi, Clovelly and Maroubra are still good to go, although they recommend keeping an eye out for water discoloration and debris on the tide line. Stay updated by checking the Office’s daily beach pollution forecast, but if you really want to make sure you don’t catch something nasty while taking a dip, head to one of Sydney’s many outdoor pools, or go north – according to the report, Avalon is looking peachy. Need something to do outside of the water? Check out our Coogee area guide for the suburb's best bars, restaurants and activities.
Sydney Festival is hosting a giant rainbow wedding reception tomorrow
Ditch your dinner plans and don your dancing shoes, because Sydney Festival is hosting a giant rainbow wedding reception tomorrow night and everyone’s invited. The Meriton Festival Village in Hyde Park will be awash in cake, Champagne, and that wonderful little thing called love as the city celebrates the first day that same-sex couples can legally marry in Australia. For the reception, Black Star Pastry will be unveiling a five-tier rainbow pavlova cake (prepare for your Instagram feed to be flooded), while My Little Panda Kitchen will be baking a vegan wedding cake for all the plant-based lovers. The folks from Gelato Messina will also be scooping a special ‘Equality Time’ flavour on the night featuring salted caramel and fior di latte coated in biscuit crumb, while the bubbles will get those joints greased for a boogie as DJ Charlie Villas plays a set packed with wedding classics. Many of the village’s installations will transform into reception-ready activities – step up to the Karaoke Carousel for a shot at playing wedding singer, throw mad shapes in the name of love at 10 Minute Dance Parties, or go for a dip in the village’s pop-up swimming pools, which will turn pink for the night. Head down from 6pm to join in on what’s sure to be one of the most joyous nights in the summer calendar. You’re unlikely to find another wedding as good as this – cake, equality and true love under the stars, all without being forced to sit next to your annoying aunt.
Free public Wi-Fi is finally coming to the CBD
Tired of sheepishly asking baristas for the Wi-Fi password, or spending the last week of every month staring into the void on commutes because your phone data’s run out? Here’s some good news – free public Wi-Fi is finally on the way. The City of Sydney is currently seeking service providers to run free public Wi-Fi, estimating a roll-out within the next two years. Similar programs have been running successfully for years everywhere from Bondi Beach to Manly Beach and the Corso, Parramatta (from Church Street to Riverside Theatre), central Penrith and Campbelltown, but until now there hasn’t been a move to do the same in the CBD. It’s a big win for tourists and people who like to work outside of the office, who’ll be able to stay connected no matter where they are. Freelancers: 1, wanky cafés that don’t have Wi-Fi because they want to encourage “real human connections”: 0. Sydney’s streets will also start to look a little different with a city-wide overhaul of its ‘street furniture’ from 2019. Bus shelters, kiosks, automatic toilets, benches and bins will progressively be replaced with a new suite equipped with ‘smart’ technology. What that means exactly is yet to be seen, but it’ll comprise things like bus shelters showing real-time travel information, event and emergency updates. Better late than never, but shout out to anyone living out west, who’ll recall that the T-Way had real-time data on their bus shelters in 2003, long before TripView existed. In the meantime, here's
You can catch a London black cab in Sydney for free
On Wednesday December 20, you can cart yourself between the office, lunch and meetings in a shiny London black cab, but without the London prices (a moment of silence for everyone who’s unwittingly copped a $200 fare from Heathrow). Head down to Exchange Place in Barangaroo from 8am to nab a free ride. If walking’s more your speed, they’re also offering free shoe shining, grooming and styling sessions by an onsite barber so you can look extra swish for your Christmas lunch. It’s all to promote the release of Kingsman: The Golden Circle on Blu-ray, and there’ll be an artist recreating artwork from the comics, mural-style, to keep visitors entertained. Note: the freebies wrap up when the live painting finishes, so head down early to secure a seat in the cab or on the barber’s chair. Need a new suit? Get one custom made by one of the best tailors in Sydney.
Guide Dogs NSW needs your help raising 40 puppies
These days the media always seems to be going on about a boom of some sort: housing booms, commodities booms, the Bitcoin boom. Well we’re here to tell you about the only boom that matters right now – a bona fide guide dog PUPPY BOOM. Guide Dogs NSW have around 40 little woofers that need to be placed just after Christmas in a loving home for their first year. While this is surely the cutest contribution to society you can sign up for, it’s a big responsibility as well – in addition all the cuddles and fetch, you’ll be introducing them to the sights, sounds and smells they’ll encounter as a guide dog, taking them to puppy pre-school and helping to train and socialise them. The association will provide all food, vet care and plenty of guidance to puppy raisers over the year, and are looking for people who will be home most of the time (only away for less than four hours at a time), have a fully-fenced yard and access to a car. Despite all the work that goes into raising a guide dog puppy, the hardest part is surely saying goodbye to these floofy angels at the end of the year – but knowing that they’ll grow up to become invaluable support for a blind or vision impaired person is something you can always feel good about. If you’re interested in becoming a puppy raiser for Guide Dogs NSW, you can apply here. Find more ways to volunteer in Sydney.
Messina, the Little Marionette and Chargrill Charlies are feeding the homeless this Christmas
This weekend, some of Sydney’s favourite cafés and eateries are teaming up to put on the Big Christmas Feed, a hearty festive dinner for 200 men and women from the homeless community. Chargrill Charlies, Oregano Bakery and Seagrass Hospitality (who run the Meat & Wine Co) will be providing meals, with tea and coffee from Inner West roastery the Little Marionette and Messina gelato for dessert. The Passion Project’s Simone Azzi, who created the event, has rounded up the support of other local businesses to supply some extra Christmas cheer – Harris Farm is donating 100kg of fresh fruit and sportswear label P.E. Nation is giving 200 baseball caps as gifts. If you want to show your support, you can donate to this event here.
Take home a Centennial Park plant for as little as $2
Set your alarms now folks, because if there’s one thing Sydney loves it’s a plant sale, and Centennial Parklands have just announced a big one. Next Saturday, they’ll be hawking a wide variety of greenery at their Christmas plant sale, with pots that cater for everyone from the laziest gardener to the budding horticulturalist. They’ll have low maintenance succulents, indoor plants, bird and bee-attracting natives, colourful perennials, and intriguingly, they’re also promising a number of plants that are “exclusively seen” throughout the Parklands. Forget high-end fashion sample sales, lovingly-grown herbage flogged for a gold coin are the only exclusives we’re lining up for. The December 16 sale comes at a most advantageous time as well – with office kris kringles breathing down our necks, this is the perfect opportunity to pick up a cute little succulent for your plant-loving desk neighbour or your picky sister-in-law. Because while some people might hate your artisanal soap or home-fermented kombucha, no one hates plants. Everything is grown by volunteers who nurture these species throughout the year, creating a stock of plants that keep the park self-sustaining. The sale runs from 9am to noon, but we suggest getting there early, because like at that other Saturday morning queue forming at Iggy’s Bread – they WILL sell out. Turning the backyard into your summer project? Stock up at the best plant nurseries in Sydney. Always up early on the weekend? Here are 90 things to do