Need a quick fun fix? Take inspiration from our guide to what's on right now and never have a dull day. For an extra kick, sweat it out along these wild walks around Sydney, kick back and bliss out at our favourite Sydney spas, or hit the road toward these top day trips out of the city. Hungry? Find the very best slices of piping-hot pizza in Sydney.
RECOMMENDED: Indigenous-led walks and tours.
Free things to do in Sydney today
For two weeks every spring, hordes of Sydneysiders head to the beach for the annual Sculpture by the Sea exhibition, which covers two kilometres of the city's most exquisite coastline, from Bondi to Tamarama. But the crowds can be pretty intense, and even if you're willing to brave them, most Sydneysiders are pretty busy – two weeks isn't really long enough for us to catch anything. For almost nine months, Casula Parklands is playing host to a new sculpture walk, featuring eight works from Sculpture by the Sea. Visitors will be able to follow the sculptures along the banks of the Georges River, starting at Casula Powerhouse. One of the key works you'll encounter on the walk is Southern Highlands sculptor David Ball's 'Celest', which stood proud on Tamarama Beach at this year's Sculpture by the Sea. The imposing corten steel sculpture will be installed in Casula for the duration of the sculpture walk.
Budding horticulturalists who like plants with attitude should head to the Royal Botanical Gardens for a free exhibition of carnivorous greenery. The Calyx is filled with 25,000 of the world’s hungriest, most clever plants. Watch as the venus fly trap lures unsuspecting insects with nectar and snaps them up in its jaws, where they’ll spend their final days being slowly digested. Or meet the drosera, who use their sticky tentacles to attract and snatch their prey before devouring them. Then marvel at the simplicity of the pitcher plant’s hunting technique, which is to lure hapless bugs with honey and let them fall into the pool of digestive enzymes in their pitfall trap. The Plants with Bite display does sound a little like a horror film, but it’s really all bark and no bite (for humans, anyway) and families can expect a very kid-friendly experience. Plus, there is a range of themed education programs, workshops and a regular feeding display that will intrigue little greenthumbs and their grown-ups.
Every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday you can pick up a bag of crunchy carrots, loaf of warm sourdough and an armful of flowers at EQ’s Cambridge Markets. Entertainment Quarter has been home to a fresh produce and arts and crafts market for 20 years, and in 2018 market experts Madelienne Anderson and Rebecca Fox took over the show, adding EQ to their list of market spaces around Sydney, from Watsons Bay to Cronulla. There are about 40 stallholders at each market peddling gourmet cheeses, ripe cherry tomatoes and piping hot gozleme. It’s a broad mix of retailers, from fruit and veggie stalls to children’s clothing and French linen. No matter what day you visit, there are picnic benches all around the all-weather market where you can sip a coffee and soothe a hangover. Kids love the pony rides that are often available on weekends and there’s heaps of parking in Moore Park.
Ten leading contemporary artists from China and Australia are coming together for this free exhibition exploring Chinese mythology through a variety of forms. The exhibition is curated by Glenfield-based artist Guan Wei, who last year became the first Chinese-Australian artist to have a solo exhibition at the MCA, and Beijing-based performance artist Cang Xin. Traditional and contemporary forms come smashing together, with artists including Amy Fu, Gu Xiaoping, Jiang Zhe, Palla Jeroff, Yang Jinsong, Yang Xifa, Zhang Jin and Jin Sha.
Billionaire art collector Judith Neilson’s Chippendale haven for Chinese art is continuing its tenth anniversary celebrations this year with a new exhibition of works collected over the course of the last decade. You’ll be able to walk through Zhu Jinshi’s ‘The Ship of Time’, a huge tunnel crafted from 14,000 sheets of xuan rice paper and 1,800 pieces of bamboo, and see Ai Weiwei’s former studio assistant Zhao Zhao’s ‘Constellations’, a confronting seven-panel silk embroidery. For film fans, there’s an acclaimed three-channel video installation by Liu Chuang, which brings found and filmed footage smashing together with recognisable cinematic references to explore what it means to be displaced and alienated.
Artexpress has now been running for 36 years, showing the best works submitted by high school art students for their HSC. And let's face it – it's pretty much every serious HSC art student's dream to make it into this exhibition and have their work shown at our city's biggest gallery. The artworks on display this year include sculpture, drawing, painting, graphic design and photo media. It always comes as a surprise as to just how high the standard is; the extraordinary technical skill of some of the students will make plenty of adults jealous. And while there mightn't always be a fully formed artistic vision, the works that make it into the exhibition are usually appropriately bold.
When shattered lives are reduced to numbers on paper, it’s hard to grasp the scale of human misery in war zones and the resultant need to flee with family. It’s all too easy to demonise those whom you cannot see. But put a face to these people, to the shattered places they leave behind, listen to their stories and it’s much harder to turn a blind eye. Particularly if those faces belong to adorable kids just trying to make the most of what little they have. That’s what’s so powerful about Bow Echo, the new video installation from interdisciplinary artist Aziz Hazara. Exploring the relationship between young people and the sites of trauma that have become their playground, it’s searing stuff presented at the MCA. Based between Kabul, in his home country of Afghanistan, and the much more peaceful Ghent, Belgium, Hazara has an eye for what grasps you. Having recently completed residencies at the Embassy of Foreign Artists in Geneva (2018) and at the KHOJ International Artists’ Association in New Delhi (2017) he's a thrilling artist to keep an eye on.
Make do and mend takes on a new meaning for Ghanaian artist Ibrahim Mahama, who commandeers hessian sacks originally used by the Ghana Cocoa Board and then re-purposed by charcoal sellers, turning them into his canvas. With their textural brown surface traced by countless histories, marking out traders and trade routes to far-flung destinations, with colonial narratives contained within, they're an inherently fascinating medium that Mahama then supersizes by sewing them together. He'll perform a similar transformation with the towering interior of Cockatoo Island's Turbine Hall, adorning it with stitched sacks in a colossal work that brings his typically exterior work indoors. Enveloped by these rough and ready means of transporting goods, he asks us to think long and hard about how they came to be here, who did the hard yards for us and the histories wrapped up in our larger colonial narrative. For a slightly smaller scale but nonetheless big-picture work, Mahama will also show A Grain of Wheat at Artspace – an immersive installation of 400 first aid stretchers from the Second World War, collected from a site near a refugee camp outside Athens.
Wiradjuri artist Karla Dickens is an artistic force to be reckoned with, exploring themes of gender, sexuality and spirituality alongside race. Her collage-driven practice – which also extends to sculpture, painting and photography – tackles the essence of self at the intersection of these lines. Her rigorous process often sees her break up and re-use existing works, remaking them in inherently fascinating ways, also incorporating the abandoned bric-a-brac of everyday life she up-cycles. One of the highlights of our homegrown First Nations creatives showing work at the Biennale, the Lismore-based artist will inhabit the sandstone vestibule the Art Gallery of New South Wales. The colonial architecture will accommodate her new work A Dickensian Circus for the duration of the festival. Exposing the dark history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were forced to perform in masks under the big top, the piece also echoes of the sky-high rates of incarceration of our Indigenous peoples today.
Revered Aboriginal elder, artist and Pitjantjatjara man Kunmanara ‘Mumu Mike’ Williams, whose prolific work poured out of the Mimili Maku Arts Centre he helped found in the APY lands in South Australia, sadly passed away late last year. Renowned for his subversive messaging scrawled on Australia Post bags, as inspired by a pile left at Mimili Maku, challenging whitefella’s political status quo and treatment of Aboriginal Australians and creating more agency for Anangu artists was at the heart of his work. He was a tireless activist who fought long and hard in the APY Land Rights movement that ultimately led to the signing of the Pitjantjatjara Land Rights Act 1981. You might have caught his most recent masterpiece Kamantaku Tjukurpa wiya (The Government Doesn't have Tjukurpa) at the MCA recently as part of the National. Now a fitting tribute to his remarkable life and work, the Art Gallery of NSW will play host to this his final protest piece lighting the way with his words "Kulilaya munuya nintiriwa" (Listen and learn from us). The Mimili Maku Arts collective stepped in to complete it, following the vision he laid out, as led by his beloved widow Tuppy Ngintja Goodwin (Pitjantjatjara, Arrernte) and best friend and Sammy Dodd (Pitjantjatjara).
Using the expanses of Orange Grove primary school, these markets fill the playground with covetable goods on a weekly basis. Farm fresh fruit and veg is everywhere here and you’re spoilt for choice for truss tomatoes, plump berries, technicolour capsicums and leafy greens. There’s also a glut of small producers for all your smallgood and fancy condiment needs; grab a fragrant saucisson (an air-dried pork sausage); or rummage through bright yellow, ice-filled eskies for some juicy free-range steaks and nab a carton of free-range eggs.The popularity of the bacon and egg rolls from Bowen’s has reached celebrity status, with queues long enough to make you think Bieber is signing autographs at the end of the line. They’re undeniably delicious. But our breakfast of choice is a steaming carton of Eat Fuh pho, purveyors of one of the most fragrant broths in Sydney. Try their vegan option, too; the broth has a rich mushroom aroma that almost overshadows the meat version. And, if the crisp crunch of an organically grown carrot isn’t your thing on a Saturday morning, the market also has tables laden with top notch baked goods. Grab a slab of Flour and Stone’s popular lemon cake or a goat cheese and zucchini savoury tart from Croquembouche patisserie, or collect flavoured seed varieties at Brooklyn Boy Bagels.Food isn’t the only thing on the menu – there’s also a range of handmade and environmentally conscious clothing, second-hand records and jewellery. Find the best markets in Sydney.
From crowning the country’s top puppies, alpacas and pigs to overdosing on showbags and whirling through fairground rides – it can be difficult to know where to start with the Royal Easter Show. For two weeks over Easter, Sydney Showground is home to a country fair on an epic scale. Woodchopping becomes an unprecedented arena sport, sheep shearers are on show and you can see Australia’s best bull riders and BMX bandits in live performances. But there's also more relaxed recreation to be had at the Arts and Crafts Show, and heaps of cute critters to meet. Make the most of the sugar high from deep fried, toffee-injected carnival treats and hit the Sling Shot, Aviator and the Giant Wheel before the nightly fireworks. Feeling nauseous is part of the fun.
Multi-disciplinary Peruvian artist Fátima Rodrigo Gonzalez corrals sculpture, drawing and video work to examine the impact of modernism and colonialism on Latin American art, architecture and pop culture. Melding these ideas with an exploration of gender identity, she takes nothing for granted, subverting and queering the status quo. Interrogating violence against women and non-binary people, she also questions the cultural appropriation of consumer culture, including our fast fashions. What does modernity mean? And how does that relate to the relationship between the coloniser and the colonised? Gonzalez will get you thinking in this Artspace with a new exhibition of exciting work, which recreates the iconic set from beloved1960s Latin TV show Sabado Gigante (Gigantic Saturday).
Starting life as an art therapy program supporting Aboriginal men facing alcohol and substance addiction, run by the Anyinginyi Aboriginal Health Organisation, the Tennant Creek Brio (from the Italian word for vivacious life) has taken on a life of its own. Guided by artists Rupert Betheras, Fabian Brown, Joseph Williams, Jimmy Frank and David Duggie, many local men have embraced the healing positivity of the project, growing so popular that the Brio boys now live at Nyinkka Nyunyu, Tennant Creek’s dedicated art and culture centre. Fusing Aboriginal desert traditions with abstract expressionism, street art and art activism and a love of repurposing junk, a rebel streak underpins each artist’s work, and a desire to shake up the status quo.
South African filmmaker and photographer Zanele Muholi’s work is intrinsically wrapped up in the fight for the rights of the LGBTIQ+ people whose lives she documents. The challenges and injustices they still face are at stark odds with the dream of equality post-Apartheid. The MCA’s celebration of her proud and powerful visual art encompasses three bodies of ongoing work. Faces and Phases’ black-and-white portraits of lesbian, trans and gender non-conforming people kicked off months before the Civil Union Act legalised same-sex marriage in South Africa in 2006. She has captured some 500-plus people. Brave Beauties zooms in on a stunning series of trans women, particularly those who have competed in community-based beauty pageants. Marking South Africa’s 20th anniversary of democracy in 2014, it highlights the stark contrast for these women who are far too often the subject of violent crime. And pointing the camera at herself, Somnyama Ngonyama documents Muholi’s many travels across the globe in the line of duty. “I’m producing this photographic document to encourage people to be brave enough to occupy space, brave enough to create without fear of being vilified,” she says. “To teach people about our history, to re-think what history is all about, to re-claim it for ourselves, to encourage people to use artistic tools such as cameras as weapons to fight back.”
More events on right now
Takeaway isn’t a feasible option for many bars and restaurants at the pointier end of the spectrum, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t finding ways to share their wares in these challenging times. Monopole decided to shut up shop on March 23, but the Potts Point restaurant and wine bar has been hosting markets on the weekends in the time since and is opening for another one this coming Easter long weekend. On Saturday and Sunday, you’ll be able to enjoy a fresh cup of coffee while you browse the extensive range of bottles from the venue’s incredible wine collection and stock up on sourdough and liquorice bread from Yellow, the sister eatery down the road. A few rotating make-at-home meals – pork belly, perhaps, or vegetable curry – will also be available as well as produce boxes featuring the best of the season’s bounty. This weekend, they’re packing up pine mushrooms, zucchini, broad-bean shoots, cucamelons, Dutch cream potatoes, eggplants, apples and strawberries, as well as sourdough, soda bread, cheese and housemade pickles – all for $80. Entry is free, but if you’d like to lock-in a produce box ahead of time, send an email to email@example.com to place an order.
The Easter long weekend is certainly looking a little different this year, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t let your hair down and rip in to a boozy brunch. This Saturday, April 11, Panama House is bringing the party to your place and hosting Australia’s first-ever ‘Virtual Brunch’. It’ll be pretty much exactly the same as the bottomless bonanza that takes place at the Central American Bondi hotspot every weekend, but in your dining room. The restaurant will be delivering DIY meal kits in the morning (tortilla chips and guacamole to start, with your choice of eggs or enchiladas, as well as a salad) and live-streaming DJs from noon-3pm via Zoom. Are you encouraged to dress up and rope as many mates into joining in via FaceTime, Houseparty or the app of your choosing? Absolutely. As far as the drinks go, you get to pick between a Bloody Mary or a Paloma to get you started, and then select your main drink – a bottle of rosé, make-your-own Mimosas or eight beers. If you want to take it the extra mile, you can add more Bloody Marys, Margaritas or Espresso Martinis to your order (and since you’re not driving or spending the money on transport, why wouldn’t you?). The $99 price tag includes the three-course meal for two and the drinks (add-on cocktails cost $26 for two serves) as well as delivery to Bondi, Bondi Junction, Tamarama, Coogee, Rose Bay and Dover Heights (delivery to other areas can be arranged for an additional fee). Believe it or not, even the digital brunch world
What is one of the first things you're going to do after isolation is lifted? If your answer is along the lines of “going to the club”, we feel you. But you need not wait to cut some shapes and make some new mates on the hallowed grounds of the dance floor. Mildly Wet is a fully interactive “online quarantine club” fitted out with sick beats, chat windows and webcams. Somewhat cringey, moist-adjacent name aside, the club kicks off every Saturday night at 9pm AEDT promising an hour of boogies and a reminder that we are not alone. There's no dress code and no bouncers gatekeeping the fun at Mildly Wet. You want to bop along while eating pizza in bed? You do you. Want to pour yourself a homemade cocktail and shake your booty? You go, girlfriend. Need an excuse to paint your face and slap on some sparkle? Fabulous. Maybe you're keen to get your groove on with unbrushed hair and the same pyjamas you’ve been schlepping around in for a week? It’s a vibe. Strangers from across the country can get down with their bad selves on the virtual dancefloor every weekend for as long as we’re physical distancing. Check the Mildly Wet Instagram and Eventbrite pages for upcoming boogies. Club-goers can wait their turn to bust a move on the virtual dancefloor to curated playlists that vibe from R&B beats to 2000s hits, synthwave and pop. View this post on Instagram Check out some of the party from Saturday night!! These hotties really know how to move! 😍😉🤩 Make sure you join u
We’re all spending a lot more time at home, so it’s a great time to get your (garden) mitts on some new plants. Now that you're around, you're free to tend to the needs of your leafy companions and move them around the place to follow that one sliver of sun that penetrates your window. And without the freedom to invite over mates, a new succulent or flowering friend could sub in for the company you crave. Many green thumbs and admirers of fine foliage were devastated when the Collectors’ Plant Fair, due to run over the weekend of March 28-29, was postponed due to Covid-19 restrictions. However, in a move that's sure to please all you plant enthusiasts, the rare and unusual plants that were reared especially for the Fair have now moved online. The Collectors’ Plant Marketplace will open online for 12 days from Thursday, April 2, until April 14. During this time you can peruse hard to find plants to your heart's content and fill your trolley with green goodies. You’ll then be allotted a designated pick-up point and no-contact pick-up time to collect your new babies from Monday, April 20. Alternatively, there's a home delivery option. The Collectors’ Plant Fair’s main, in-person event will still be going ahead. We’re told the 15 year strong event fair will run later in the year with a distinctly springtime vibe. Plus, as many of the nurseries stocking Collectors’ this year are still in recovery from the bushfire crisis and have been affected by extreme drought, there’s never
Have you ever wondered what the inside of the majestic, multi-coloured dome of Sydney’s Queen Victoria Building looks like? You’re in luck. It'll re-open to the public exclusively for an ethereal, ghostly contemporary art piece by renowned performer Brian Fuata. Fuata will take over the space as part of the Biennale of Sydney, a multi-dimensional, vibrant celebration of all things art which is popping up in all sorts of unusual locations around the city. This spooky, interpretive piece has taken Fuata to international stages in the past, and this time it’ll tap into the heritage building’s own eerie history. Did you know there have been ghost sightings inside the QVB? Fuata’s performance is capped at just 15 people per show, so you'll get the intimacy to take in the brilliance of his art, and the space to appreciate the architecture of the magnificent dome. Free tickets are available now for the two sessions on Saturday, April 11, and the tickets to the performances on April 18 will go live on Monday, March 16.
Start your day at the trolleys
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.