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Penguin parent nests with chick.
Foto: Supplied/Sea Life Sydney Aquarium

All the good Sydney news you might have missed in 2020

End the year on a sunny note with these little kernels of hope and positivity

Written by
Divya Venkataraman
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The headlines have been mostly portents of doom this past year, but there are definitely some sunny stories that you might have missed, too. We've rounded them up for you: from gay penguin dads to international accolades for warmth and hospitality to not one but two First Nations winners of the most prestigious art awards in the country. 

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  • Things to do
  • City Life

It didn't get a lot of fanfare, but NSW Parliament passed a pretty important piece of legislation this year which will essentially change the face of the city we love. The Liquor Amendment (24-hour Economy) Bill 2020 removes red tape and unnecessary costs from venues, making it easier for venues to have live music and allowing minors into small bars in certain circumstances, thus making them a more welcoming environment for families. We're on board with any moves that help to renergise the city – especially after the year we've all had. 

  • Museums
  • Darlinghurst

After closing its doors for some 15 months to undergo a $57.5 million facelift, Sydney’s landmark natural history museum reopened to the public in November. In celebration of the grand reopening, general admission is now completely free. The extensive renovation the 190-year-old Australian Museum has opened a bunch of space including the new Grand Hall, which is the length of three tennis courts.

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  • Art
  • Art

In a history-making moment in late September, Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands artist and Western Arrernte man Vincent Namatjira took out the coveted Archibald Prize for his portrait of community leader and sportsman Adam Goodes and himself, titled 'Stand strong for who you are'. It was the first time the award went to a First Nations artist in its 99-year history. Not only that, but earlier in the month, First Nations artist and advocate Meyne Wyatt won the Packing Room prize –  an accolade awarded by the gallery staff who unpack and hang the artworks prior to judging for the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman prizes.   

  • Things to do
  • City Life

You were probably already aware that Marrickville was cool, but do you know just how cool? According to Time Out’s official global ranking of the 40 coolest neighbourhoods on the planet, Marrickville was deemed the tenth coolest place in the world right now, praised for its multicultural community, its wealth of great eateries and bars, and its excellent levels of livability. Check out our local’s guide to the suburb, packed with everything you need to know about where to eat, drink, shop, and hang out. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Bars & Pubs

Despite the lockouts and the lockdowns, Sydney’s CBD has become one of the most talent-rich destinations in NSW when it comes to small bars. And you don’t have to take our word for it. Three of the inner-city’s best watering holes were just named among the annual rankings of the 50 best bars in the world, judged by an international panel of 500 industry experts. Oh, and it’s the second year that the highest-ranking Sydney bar, Maybe Sammy, has made the list.  

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  • Things to do
  • City Life

This year, the building of a new, sustainable building near Central Station was proposed – and when it's complete, it's set to form the heart of a creative new tech precinct in Sydney which aims to drive innovation and business to the area. It's also set to be the tallest hybrid-timber structure in the world, and arguably one of the most beautiful new buildings in Sydney since the completion of Jørn Utzon’s iconic Opera House in 1973. The operation of the building, where 4000 Atlassian employees will work, will require 50 per cent less energy than its steel and concrete counterparts.

  • Things to do
  • Weird & Wonderful

It's not there just yet – don't go rainbow hunting yet – but a bright new fixture will take over the naturally rainbow-shaped form of the Coogee Beach steps just in time for Mardi Gras in February 2021. The installation of the 50-metre long walkway was unanimously supported by Randwick City Council, and it's meant to be a statement in support of diversity, inclusivity and equality with the local LGBT+ community. We truly love to see it. 

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  • Things to do
  • Weird & Wonderful

This year Sea Life Sydney Aquarium welcomed a brand new brood of freshly hatched Gentoo Penguin chicks. Amongst the proud new parents, the aquarium’s gay penguin power couple, Sphen and Magic, have become dads all over again, adopting and hatching their second egg. The fabulous pair first made headlines internationally in 2018 when they became the aquarium’s first same-sex Gentoo penguins to successfully incubate an egg to raise a chick.

  • Travel
  • Transport & Travel

Curse Sydney's buses if you will, for their meandering routes and their (kinda reliable) lateness, but they're the only mode of transport that connects many parts of the city to others. In December of 2020, the NSW government proposed a major sustainable switch for the city's entire fleet of buses: they're all set to be electric by 2030. Andrew Constance, the NSW minister for transport, made the announcement earlier in December, saying that the rollout would mark the first step in the state's transition to zero-emission transport.

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  • Things to do
  • City Life

Surfing is a national obsession, and perhaps nowhere more so than in the Harbour City. Sydney boasts oodles of beachfronts where you can paddle your board out and ride a wave. But because you can never have too much of a good thing, a vast new 45-acre resort with a huge artificial surfing pool will soon begin construction close to the Hawkesbury River in Sydney's north. The massive leisure development, Wisemans Surf Lodge, was approved by the Hills Shire Council on November 25, paving the way for breaking ground to commence next year.

  • Things to do
  • Weird & Wonderful

It seems an age ago, but four koalas and one new joey were released back into their native eucalyptus forests in April of this year, after they were rescued from the path of approaching bushfires over the summer. As the fires tore through the Blue Mountains and destroyed around 80 per cent of the world heritage area, scientists were concerned about the long-term survival of the species. So, they jumped in to rescue 12 koalas from harm's way before the fires arrived. After their rescue, the koalas were then cared for and rehabilitated in Taronga Zoo, until it was deemed safe for them to return to their homes. Downright adorable.   

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