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27 things you only learn in Sydney the hard way

A dancefloor with a no entry symbol over the top and a glowing clock saying 3:01am
Photograph: Anna Kucera

Make no mistake, living in Sydney can be glorious, especially when you’re by the water, with a drink and the sun is setting on a perfect blue day. But everyone – even those who’ve lived here all their lives – has had to face some shocking realisations about this fine city. Some make you mad and some make you sad, but rest assured every single one of us has been there too. We have all learned...


1. Shelling out on expensive tickets does not guarantee a good time on NYE.

2. You won’t get a 7pm reservation for dinner.

3. A cheap, excellent, BYO restaurant for big groups by the water does not exist.

4. The gozleme queue is always the longest: market, festival, get comfy because your spinach and cheese is a while away.

5. Front row is way too close at the State Theatre.

6. Back row at the Capitol dress circle is too far away.

7. If your rent is cheap there’s a good reason: the toilet is carpeted, the bedrooms are tiled, the walls are made of crepe paper, there’s a couple of randos who live in the shed and you have to share the garden with them. There’s always a reason.

8. You can’t find coffee on Christmas Day, but you can get yum cha.

9. You can’t buy booze on Good Friday. Gets us every damn year.

10. Kicking on is hard. You will leave the bar at midnight ready to dance. You and your crew will argue about where to get in. Tokyo Sing Song, Goros, Soda Factory, Palms have lines. The Imperial is packed. You are not extra enough for Marquee. You will argue for 15 minutes and then go home.

11.  You have six Opal cards. They all have less than $1.16 on them.

12. There’s always traffic, in every direction, at all times of day.

13. Newport is a lot further than you remember. It’s still 40 minutes drive past Manly.

14. On weekends the Bondi to Coogee walk is more crowded than the Devonshire Street Tunnel at peak hour. Go early during the week.

15.  There are 90,000 people between you and the City to Surf finish line.

16.  Cycle lanes stop randomly. One minute: safety, the next: welcome to the thunderdome of Sydney traffic.

17.  We treat breakfast like a competitive sport, with prizes for table spotting, FOMO-inducing food and greatest quantities of different beverages consumed in a single sitting.

18.  Often it’s faster to walk, especially in the city.

19.  BYO milk crate to Mardi Gras if you actually want to see the parade.

20. Your Insta feed is 20 per cent beach, 30 per cent Vivid, and 60 per cent dogs you don’t own.

21. Parking at the beach is not worth it. While the thought of bus seats on a sweaty day is awful, trying to find a park near the beach will cause a nervous breakdown.

22. The Opera House is further from the station than you think. Allow 10-15 minutes. If you’re in heels, allow more for the cobblestones.

23. Sydney loves a queue. We join them for snacks, tickets, sales, markets, festivals and toilets. But mostly snacks.

24. When it comes to the Bondi Icebergs sauna, get in quick and shut the door behind you or people will genuinely start screaming.

25. Good cocktails under $20 are rare treasures to be loved and cherished (Spritz don’t count).

26. Ferries will not wait for you. They shut those gates a few minutes before launch so be early for your Manly connection.

27. We are suspicious of anyone who gets chatty on public transport.

 

Call yourself a true Sydneysider? How many of the 50 things to do in Sydney at least once in your life have you checked off your bucket list?

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