Located in the heart of Darling Harbour, this boozy joint was originally built as a pumping station in 1890 to supply water across city as a power source. It was saved from demolition in 1975 by the Heritage Council of NSW and is now leading the craft beer revolution and pumping beers into our pint glasses. Enjoy a Little Creatures pale ale with some beer battered flathead or some beer braised pork ribs on the balcony at the re-vamped Pumphouse Restaurant.
The Hero was built in a no frills era, and they haven’t added any in the intervening 170 years. Timber floors, convict-hewn sandstone walls and lantern light create the shell in which beer is to be drunk and songs sung by the fireside. Little Creatures Pale Ale is on tap, so grab a glass and hatch a plan to get into the Hero’s cellars where they keep the tunnel to the Harbour that was once used for smuggling rum and drunken patrons to waiting clippers.
The Clock is an institution in the Sydney pub scene and the place to be for balcony beers on Crown Street. The regal two-storey hotel occupies a commanding position on Surry Hills’ Crown Street, and while times change and slight décor adjustments are made over the years, the Clock essentially remains the same. An oldie but a goodie. Pick up a whole case of Little Creatures from their bottle shop on your way home!
Holy moly Bangladesh, your food is a revelation! Enjoy a dish you’ve never heard of before that’s inspired by the streets of Dhaka in this Surry Hills flavour haunt. Besides the food, one of the best things about this place is the dynamic atmosphere. Maybe it’s the on-trend, industrial-meets-designer interior, the jazzy neon lights, boldly monogrammed crockery, or friendly staff in their vibrant, tiger-themed T-shirts. Maybe it’s the playlist – think Cyndi Lauper, Shaggy, the Backstreet Boys and the always-entertaining ‘Hungry Eyes’ from Dirty Dancing.
You might have seen the graphic on the corner of Broadway and City Road lately – the heads of two wolves facing each other, lit up in neon yellow. It’s hard to miss. So what the heck is it? It’s a restaurant, actually. And not only that, it’s a restaurant where all the staff are volunteers, and all the money goes to charity specifically the Cardoner Project, a Jesuit organisation which sends youths overseas to work with developing nations. The cuisine is inspired by these countries, so you’ll be tasting Mexican, Vietnamese, Thai and more. The food is cheap as chips and will make you nostalgic for your uni days as you watch the students roll in for the 5-7pm $5 happy hour.
Is the Oxford Art Factory Australia’s answer to New York’s CBGB? It’s not that outrageous a suggestion when you consider the calibre of acts that have graced the 500-person band room over its ten years of operation. Did you know that Lady Gaga played her first Australian show there in 2008? Or that Dave Grohl still wears his Oxford Art Factory shirt that he got playing a gig here in his covers band, Chevy Metal?
Nestled comfortably in the middle of Sydney's historic district, the Rocks, Sydney Harbour YHA has all the modern trimmings of metropolitan accommodation and is on budget. But the thing to really write home about is the view from the rooftop terrace of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House – wow barely covers it. The hostel is surrounded by colonial pubs and is only a short trip via public transport to the city's premier nightlife areas.
The newest James Squire Brewhouse is located at the very spot where a convict called James Squire first stepped ashore as part of the First Fleet. Raise a glass to the colony's first brewer at this venue within the Overseas Passenger Terminal at the Rocks. Beers served include the entire James Squire range, limited releases from Malt Shovel Brewery, and beers brewed on the premises. Enjoy pub fare or more refined dining, catch a live music performance, and take in the views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.
Start the day drifting 300m above farmyards, mansions and pretty country towns. The longstanding Camden-based company Balloon Aloft were the first people to offer commercial balloon flights in Australia, over 35 years ago, and it’s still a spectacular way to spend a morning.
You can't help but feel like James Bond when you climb into the compact helicopter that is set to ferry you up over the Sydney CBD. You'll hover over Darling Harbour before hooking out towards Goat Island to make a majestic run at the Harbour Bridge. A loop around the harbour takes in Kirribilli House, Taronga Zoo, Bradleys Head, Rose Bay, Woolloomooloo, and Fort Denison. From here you'll head out towards the heads before taking a sharp right to track the Sydney coastline and making whisper soft landing back at the base.