A day in the life of a Time Out Sydney editor
Go for a dawn dip at Bronte Baths. While its bigger neighbour often gets all the Insta-fame, these beautiful ocean baths are very deserving of a dip too, and will often be a more secluded early ocean bathing experience. Built into the rocky cliffside, stairs lead down to a shallow-ish pool area. There’s a small wooden barrier, which divides the pool up, so lap swimmers can do their thing. It’s not very long, making it more suited to a leisurely few laps rather than a serious swim, but we’ve got a big day ahead of us, so we’ll take the breather. The best part of the pools? That stunning sunrise, of course.
Photograph: Anna Kucera
Now, naturally, breakfast is on the agenda. Buckle up and make your way north to Shuk. This Israeli café in North Bondi is the answer to all your spicy hummus-filled dreams. They are open bright and early at 6am, dishing up skillets of their speciality, shakshuka. The garlicky spiced tomato and capsicum ragu is the happy home of gently poached eggs, with crusty sourdough finishing the plate. Throw in halloumi and chorizo for an extra kick to get you through till lunch.
You’ll be glad you loaded up, because the next adventure is the Hermitage Foreshore Walk, which is just a quick motor toward the harbour-facing side of Vaucluse. It’s only a leisurely 1.8km track starting at Nielsen Park, but you’ve been up since dawn, so take it easy. Along the walk you’ll catch views of Sydney’s beloved Coathanger and Shark Island, as well as historic Strickland House, a heritage-listed Victorian Italianate mansion built in the 1850s. You’ll pass by a number of idyllic small harbour beaches that can be all your own for a few minutes in the sun.
Photograph: Anna Kucera
Hungry again? Set your sights on the inner city and drive to Darlinghurst to find the famed South Dowling Sandwiches. You’ll regularly find a queue snaking out of this family-run shop, because locals know these fillings are the best things to put between sliced bread in Sydney. Get a takeaway chilli chicken on white – the warming Thai-style lemongrass marinade on the chook replaces a need for sauce, and white fluffy bread and lettuce pin things together nicely.
With your banging sanga in hand, scoot over to the nearby White Rabbit in Chippendale. Judith Neilson's extraordinary four-floor temple to 21st century Chinese art is known for avant-garde and provocative collections, and the next big show, Then, is a kind of greatest hits for the gallery. It brings together works from White Rabbit's earliest exhibitions alongside others from the collection that haven't been exhibited before. There'll be more than 60 works on display and, as always, entry is totally free.
Because we want our dollars to stretch through till the wee hours, we’re directing dinner toward Sydney’s favourite cheap eat: Ho Jiak Haymarket. This more centralised incarnation of the original outpost in Strathfield sees hordes of hungry flavour hounds every night – tables are bookable, so reserve a spot to avoid lines. These guys elevate Indomie noodles to lofty flavour ranks inaccessible to home cooks. The curly noodle strands are stained a glossy chestnut by the housemade black sauce (a potent mix of soy, caramel, kicap manis and oyster) and capped with a soft fried egg.
Photograph: Anna Kucera
Once you’ve enjoyed lashings of peanut sauce that hums with chilli and creamy seas of coconut, give your Malaysian feast a proper finale with a beer at the Lansdowne. Jake Smyth and Kenny Graham (the duo behind Mary's and the Unicorn) raised this rock’n’roll giant from the dead in 2017, two years after its closure. Now, the joint services the local live music scene with a 250-person venue for rowdy indie-rock gigs or more intimate folk music affairs.
As the witching hour draws nearer, you’ll want to set your sights and your wheels toward the debauched dancefloor of the Imperial Hotel. The music in the party basement of this LGBTQIA safe space is about as gaudy and naughties and you can get, and there’s the heady smell of feelgood sweat and grind drifting on the air. Take a breath at the revamped main bar on ground level and be bewitched by drag kings and queens sassing into the mic and strutting along tables, or head for the highest heights at the weatherproof rooftop bar. There’s also Priscillas – the venue’s veggie-heavy pub bistro – serving zucchini noods and woodfired pizza if you’re hankering for a dancefloor snack. Getting around the city all day has been easy and fun in the Subaru Impreza, and the car's great handling and safety features will see you home at the end of the night too, ready for more adventures tomorrow.