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Mov'in Car Drive-in Cinema
Photograph: Supplied Mov'in Car Drive-in Cinema

June events in Sydney

Face the frost and enjoy wonderful winter events both at home and around town

By Maxim Boon, Divya Venkataraman and Alannah Maher
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June 2020 is a big month for Sydney. Many of the social restrictions that have upended everyday life across NSW since mid-March are being gradually eased, which means galleries, museums, visitor attractions, parks, campgrounds, and eateries are all welcoming back punters.

Of course, there are still limitations and physical distancing rules in place, so you may choose to play it safe and stay home a little longer. Whether you're chomping at the bit to get out and about or you're happy to lay low at your own place, here are the best events – IRL and virtual – to keep you occupied through June.

Find the biggest events in June

An installation of traditional garments hanging from scaffolding in a gallery.
Photograph: Supplied

1. The Biennale of Sydney 2020

Things to do

Every other year, the magnificent Biennale of Sydney transforms the city’s major creative institutions and harbour highlight Cockatoo Island into an exhilarating showcase of the world's most exciting artists, and after a brief hiatus, many of the shows that were installed ahead of the shutdown are now welcoming back visitors. Wiradjuri man Brook Andrew took the reins as the Biennale’s first Indigenous Australian artistic director this year. His theme for the 22nd iteration is the Wiradjuri word “Nirin”, meaning edge. Of course, things got a little unexpectedly waylaid as restrictions on mass gatherings meant venues closed their doors ten days in, but that didn’t stop the creative spirit. Nirin successfully went digital. And now the doors have re-opened with an extended run. Championing First Nations artists from near and far, there’s a big focus on further decolonising Western art’s traditionally hallowed spaces, ensuring we all get to touch the edge of the sky and understand one another through new cultural lenses. With a staggering spread of 700 works led by 101 artists, it can be overwhelming figuring out just what to see. Here’s our insider’s guide to the Biennale of Sydney.

2. Sydney Film Festival

Film Film festivals Your place, Sydney

The Sydney Film Festival’s virtual edition is a lean, mean awards machine, focusing on its awards program for Australian filmmakers and helping to support an impacted industry. The full program of 33 films will be accessible from the Sydney Film Festival website, where single-screening tickets and package deals alike will be available, including the entire festival for $199. The festival comprises four strands: Documentary Australia Award Foundation for Australian Documentaries (ten feature-length films); Dendy Awards for Australian Short Films (ten short films); Europe! Voices of Women in Film (ten features and documentaries); and Screenability, supported by Create NSW (three short films). Awards will be given out in a virtual ceremony on Thursday June 18. Documentary Australia Foundation Awards Price: $14 per film or all ten for $99 Ten new local documentary features will compete for the $10,000 cash prize. The theme of identity is central to most of the finalists. Tom Murray’s The Skin of Others is the story of Douglas Grant, an Indigenous man who fought in the First World War and went on to become an advocate for Indigenous rights. This is the final film to feature the great Australian actor Tom E Lewis (The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith). Cornel Ozies’ Our Law follows two police officers working in Australia's only entirely-Indigenous police station, in a town that is 330km west of Uluru. The film offers solutions to the racism endemic to Australian policing. A prizewinner

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Mov'in Car Drive-in Cinema
Photograph: Supplied

3. Mov'in Car Drive-in Cinema

Film Outdoor cinema The Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park

Sponsored: Drive-in cinemas are nearly as old as the movies themselves: the first one opened in New Mexico way back in 1915, well before the arrival of the talkies and when you could have any colour of Model T Ford you liked so long as it was black. Drive-ins came into their own in the 1950s as they were cheaper to build than regular cinemas, parents of baby boomers could bring their offspring along in the back seat without having to get a babysitter, and the newly invented class of 'teenagers' could canoodle in relative privacy on dates. Grindhouse movies kept drive-ins going in the 1960s and '70s but home video struck them a mortal blow in the 1980s. By 2019 they were an extremely rare novelty around the world.Then came Covid. The need for social distancing and our collective desperation to get out of the house and experience movies with a crowd set off a ping! in the minds of the creative folks behind Mov'in Bed Outdoor Bed Cinema, and Mov'in Car Drive-in Cinema was born. Taking place on the roof of the car park at the Entertainment Quarter, Mov'in Car Drive-in Cinema is now screening a season of blockbusters, family movies and drive-in classics. The concept is simple: drive in, park, tune your car radio or use a digitally tuned radio to listen in, grab a drink from the bar (sorry, no BYO) and order a New York-style pizza that will be delivered to your vehicle. To keep everything pandemic-safe, customers are asked to stay in their cars unless heading to the bar or the toilet. And don

4. Finders Keepers

Shopping Your place, Sydney

It’s about this time every year that east coast Australians can look forward to the Finders Keepers autumn and winter markets. These indie designer markets have been running twice a year since 2008, filling locations like Melbourne’s Royal Exhibition Building and the Cutaway in Sydney with beautiful, community conscious products. The regular autumn and winter markets can’t run this year due to current event restrictions but the Finders Keepers is heading online so you can still support local businesses. Finders Keepers at Home is a four-day online market that allows you to buy from Australian artists, makers and creatives who were lined up to exhibit their wares with the Finders Keepers this season. The event kicks off on Thursday, June 18 with a VIP shopping showcase. The market will then run until Sunday, June 21, with special deals, crafty demonstrations, studio tours, virtual fashion runways and workshops. You can engage with the market at any time over the weekend.  Finders Keepers at Home runs from June 18 to 21.

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A beautifully plated burrata cheese.
Photograph: Unsplash/Sebastian Coman

5. Bubbles, Burrata & Bocconcini Cheesemaking Class

Things to do Food and drink Omnom Cheese Making, Rosebery

If there’s one cheese out there that’s captured everyone’s hearts and minds, and clogged up everyone’s Instagram feeds, it’s got to be burrata. The semi-soft, fresh Italian cow’s milk cheese – mozzarella on the outside, super creamy stracciatella within – has pretty much found its way on to every restaurant menu in town. The only thing more rewarding than slicing open one of these beautiful blobs and spooning it up, is slicing open and spooning up one you’ve made yourself. In just 90 minutes, the experts at Omnom Cheese will teach you how to do just that at this intimate, hands-on class at their Rosebery HQ. After taking a break during the strictest of the physical distancing measures, these curd masters are back and ready to re-launch their new, smaller classes designed for ultimate health and safety. The team have made adjustments including limiting class numbers to 10 people, a physically distanced class layout, daily disinfection and cleaning of surfaces, and keeping soap and sanitizer handy for everyone.  They’re keeping it fancy, you’ll still be able to sip on a glass of sparkling wine while you're taught the basics. Then you'll dive right in, heating, stretching and folding your very own burrata to perfection. Best of all, you’ll walk away with a kilo of your hand-made burrata and bocconcini by the time you're done, as well as a recipe booklet and bragging rights. We suggest you clear out the fridge to make room beforehand. Head to the website to check out upcoming ses

Cars lined up for drive through
Photograph: Supplied/Bella Vista Hotel

6. Food Truck Drive-Through

Things to do Food and drink Bella Vista Hotel, Bella Vista

We hope you're hungry. The Bella Vista Hotel has brought a new on-the-go dining concept to the Hills, rounding up a bunch of its favourite food purveyors for a food truck bonanza featuring all your favourite off-road eats. You can get all sorts of nosh, from smoked-then-fried chicken wings from Fire and Brimstone Barbecue, loaded burgers from Burger Head, and perfectly piped cannoli from Pasticceria Caruso. Swoosh it all on down with the Bella Vista Hotel's famed ‘shake and serve' cocktails. So how does it work? You just drive over and join the queue (there'll be plenty of signage around), and await a member of the food truck drive-through's staff to come and collect your order via QR code. Once you've ordered, you'll be moved along, and the staff will deliver your order to your car window. Contactless and no-fuss. Remember, though, that this means no cash payments – so make sure you've got a card or phone payment method handy.  The drive-through will be operational Thursday to Saturday 5-9pm and Sundays from 5-8pm. Drive by hungry – the food trucks will be parked at 17 Lexington Drive, Bella Vista, right next to the Bella Vista Hotel. 

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A person with bright makeup, orange lipstick and a floral dress holds up a salad full of sweet potato crisps.
Photograph: Supplied

7. Drag 'n' Dine

5 out of 5 stars
Bars Erskineville

The Imperial Hotel will reopen for food and drink service from Friday June 5, 2020, with adjusted trading hours. Priscilla’s bistro will be open for bookings for dinner and drag ‘n’ dine from Friday-Sunday from 5pm-10pm, and the main bar and upstairs will be open on Friday from 4pm-midnight and Saturday and Sunday from noon-midnight.

The Imperial was first ordained a safe space for the LGBTQIA community when Dawn O’Donnell, the mother of gay Sydney, bought it in the '80s. It has opened and shut with many different faces in the years since then, but at its heart it has always been a place for queer identities to thrive on the sticky carpet of the much loved pub. So it follows that punters who have been sashaying into the Imperial since 1983 might be a little shell shocked at the latest edition: the pool table in the front bar is gone, the gilded Venus statue has been moved to the roof and downstairs is clean as a whistle. But unlike so many refurbished institutions, the team here obviously care for the building’s storied history. The first level is like walking into Liberace’s first bachelor pad out of home – it’s opulent, but with an accessible warmth and some comforting rough edges. The front bar gleams with posh touches but any night of the week you’re likely to find a drag queen sassing into a mic, with stilettos stomping among the schooners of New. Head through to the back and you’ll find Priscilla’s, a pub bistro with a veggie-heavy menu – there’s vegan ceviche

Catherine Alcorn and Rodger Corser host stars at the Reservoir Room
Photograph: Phil Erbacher

8. The Reservoir Room livestreams

News Theatre & Performance

From next weekend, the likes of iOTA, Ursula Yovich, Tim Draxl, Erika Heynatz and more will beam live into your living room live from a secret location buried deep in the bosom of Paddington Town Hall. Award-winning entertainer Catherine Alcorn and Gold Logie nominee Rodger Corser have joined forces with film and TV producer Brian Cobb to present Australia’s newest virtual variety show live from the Reservoir Room. As part of City of Sydney’s Creative Spaces Initiative, every Friday night, Alcorn and Corser will gather a galaxy of stars to shine their brightest from a suitable social distance in this secret glamorous nook. Expect top-notch entertainment and slick production values thanks to a four-camera set-up that brings the bravo to you via social media platforms. Saturday nights will slink into cabaret mode. Alcorn says the Reservoir Room is all about championing local talent. “We are leading with acts that have lost their work due to Covid-19. This means the artists have no income. We live by the mandate that no one is working for free, and audiences will view for a fee. This is our industry’s new normal, and we need to ensure it can survive these times with light at the end of the tunnel that isn’t an oncoming train.” Co-presenter Corser shared his passion for live entertainment. “We’ve all been missing getting out to gigs, going to see theatre, cabaret and comedy. As we still can’t get to shows, we’ve devised a plan where we bring the show to you.” He adds that the Res

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a woman in a tshirt and track pants dances
Photograph: Forest Simon/Unsplash

9. Mildly Wet

Things to do Your place, Sydney

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

Diner with people inside
Photograph: Supplied/Blacktown Skyline Drive In

10. Sky Line Drive In

News City Life

OK, so the '50s weren't exactly great in terms of oppressive gender norms and racial inequality – but boy, do we feel a little nostalgic for the absolute bounty of drive-in movie theatres there were back in the day.Today, Thursday May 28, Sydney's own Sky Line Drive In in Blacktown opens again to the public, with a whole season's worth of cinematic programming to keep you coming back for more. You too can channel John and Olivia in Grease – it's the perfect date night. Feel free to wear tight black leather pants, or, you know, don't. Although the releases of many new films have been delayed – what with the world coming to a basic standstill these last few months – Blacktown's drive-in cinema will be screening a wonderful mish-mash of the best blockbusters, cult classics and throwback family flicks – including Frozen II, Ford v Ferrari, The Goonies, Dolittle, The Invisible Man, Angry Birds, Birds of Prey, Bad Boys for Life, Grease, Spies in Disguise, It Chapter Two, Knives Out, The Gentlemen and so many more. For those wanting to indulge Happy Days-style, there's a retro diner serving classic feeds like burgers, hot chips and the humble choc top.  The drive-in cinema will be open Thursday through to Sunday each week, as well as Monday, June 8 for the Queen’s birthday long weekend. You'll have your pick of four films each night. For the full program, check online – and book ahead so you don't miss out.   What's for dinner? Well, a bunch of Rockpool's restaurants have opened aga

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Donney Benet poses in brown tweed coat
Photograph: Supplied

11. At Home with Amaysim

Things to do Your place, Sydney

Do you fancy watching charismatic hosts, the hip-est of musical performances, interesting and informative guests, all wrapped up in a distinctly Australian humour and funky flair? Get around this new online venture hosted by the strangely charming, post-disco smooth talker, Donny Benèt, and Western Sydney’s own thick-beat slinging R’n’B star, Kymie.  At Home with Amaysim is a variety show operated by Aussie telecommunications company Amaysim (known for their mobile plans). It's providing comedic relief and entertainment to Aussies at home in unusual times, putting the spotlight on and supporting the local arts and hospitality industries who have been hit hard by lockdown restrictions. Get your heart racing and work up a nostalgic sweat with speedy workouts from Retrosweat’s Shannon Dooley, nail the perfect iso-loaf with Crummies Sourdough School, navitage getting sensual at home alone or with your partner with sexologist Laura Miano, and make your own delicious gnocchi with chef James Eddy from Melbourne’s Good Gnocchi. Get into a classic stitch up with comedian and online pioneer Aaron Gocs, bliss out to the eclectic sounds of Sydney solo artist and producer Rainbow Chan, or allow astrology queen Holi Dae Knight to drag your sign. The episodes are all turned around in a tight 15 minutes and streaming live from Amaysim’s Facebook page on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 6pm. This web series is the perfect antidote to the news cycle. It’s a little bit like a fever dream of a stra

A smiling quokka poses with a piece of carrot
Photograph: Supplied/Wild Life Sydney Zoo

12. Sea Life Sydney Aquarium and Wild Life Sydney Zoo Livestreams

Things to do

One day, when the next generation asks us how we made it through the iso era of 2020, our unanimous answer will be: “livestreams of animals”. From parades of penguins waddling through empty walkways that would normally be bustling with people to tortoises trudging along, there’s no denying the comfort of creatures. Zoos and aquariums around the world are providing animal enrichment for us stay-at-home captives and our own Wild Life Sydney Zoo and Sea Life Sydney Aquarium are dishing out the goods. Every week these Darling Harbour attractions are beaming their finest ambassadors to our devices. To celebrate the fact that very soon zoos, aquariums and wildlife centres will be able to open their doors to visitors again, Wild Life Sydney Zoo let out their cheekiest resident, Davey the quokka, for a tour on the weekend where he hopped around and met his fellow zoo residents with keeper Renee. This week over on the Wild Life Sydney Zoo Facebook page you can hop to it like Davey and learn what it is like to spend a day in the life of a zookeeper caring for a Tasmanian devil (Tuesday, May 26, 10.30am); then later in the week you can learn what it is like to care for one of the world's most dangerous birds, Princess the cassowary (Thursday, May 28, 10.30am); and join keeper Justine for a storytime with Wombat Jumped Over the Moon by Lachlan Creagh (Friday, May 29, 10.30am).Over at the Aquarium, you can get up close and personal with their adorable penguins as you learn all about thei

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an abstracted torso contorts in a yoga pose
Photograph: Supplied

13. You, Me & We: yoga and acupressure workshop

Things to do Your place, Sydney

If the adjustment to your recently more couchbound lifestyle has left you a little sore and creaky, it could be time to show your body some tender loving care, gentle stretching, and maybe even some self-acupressure. Two self-care practices meet in one online workshop with You, Me & We, a “wellness DJ set” led by Sydney based yoga instructor Tara D’Cruz-Noble and massage and acupressure therapist Jessie Whittaker of The Calmm, an intuitive massage therapy clinic offering treatments in Bondi, Surry Hills and the Northern Beaches. With similar principles to acupuncture, acupressure is an alternative medicine technique that applies pressure to acupuncture points to clear blockages in the body.  The one and a half hour class involves a guided yoga flow designed to open those closed off places that will warm you up for some guided self-acupressure, wrapping up with a savasana and a sacred meditative practice known as yoga nidra. You’ll even receive a curated playlist to play during your practice if you wish. This fortnightly Sunday morning class is open to all, the next edition is a Mother’s Day special (that isn’t just for mothers) from 9.30 – 11am on Sunday, May 10, that's all about grounding yourself in these upside-down times.  The class is $25 a session, and you can choose to participate every fortnight or on a casual basis. All you need is access to Zoom, a mat or towel, an uncluttered space, and pillows and blankets. Head to Tara’s website to book in and check out her other

And Now White Rabbit Gallery 2020 supplied
Zhu Jinshi, 'The Ship of Time' 2018. Photograph: Supplied.

14. And Now

Art White Rabbit, Chippendale

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.

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A plate of grilled halloumi slices sprinkled with pomegranite.
Photograph: Supplied/Omnom Cheese Making

15. Holy-loumi! Express Halloumi Making with Bubbles

Things to do Food and drink Omnom Cheese Making, Rosebery

Trends in popular cheeses may come and go, but a salty slab of halloumi will always win our hearts. There’s nothing like hearing that perfect ‘squeak’ as you bite into a fresh chunk of halloumi and the salty, gooey core spreads across your tongue. When it comes to texture and taste, halloumi is at the top of the cheese game. The only way that first bite could get any better? If you made that block of cheese with your own hands, of course.  With physical distancing restrictions starting to ease, the curd masters from Omnom Cheese Making are bringing back classes to their HQ in Rosebery, with smaller numbers and more one-on-one attention. In just two hours, they’ll teach you how to become a halloumi making pro with common kitchen equipment you have at home.  In this beginner-friendly class you’ll gain expert theoretical knowledge, hands-on experience, and you’ll bring home about 250 grams of your own halloumi. The secret ingredient is liquid courage – they’ll keep your glass topped up with bubbles throughout.  The team has made some adjustments to their ever-popular culinary classes to align with the times and keep everyone safe; limiting class numbers to 10 people, a physically distanced class layout, daily disinfection and cleaning of surfaces, and keeping soap and sanitizer handy for everyone. If there was ever a good reason to leave the house and pick-up a last-minute iso-skill, handmade halloumi is that reason. Head to the website to check out upcoming session times and ma

Girls dancing
Photograph: Supplied/Warami

16. Warami

Things to do Fairs and festivals Your place, Sydney

The Burramattagal people are an inextricable part of Parramatta's history, and have been so for 60,000 years. Warami, an annual celebration of the region's longstanding Indigenous culture, looks to pay homage to that fascinating history, while looking towards the cultural vibrancy of the community today.Warami, a Darug word meaning “good to see you”, is a festival which aims to bring local communities together in the spirit of inclusivity, positivity and cultural understanding. This year, all the festival's offerings have been relegated to a virtual format, making the festival even more accessible to viewers from around Sydney and beyond. Kicking off with a range of educational resources and online stories from Stolen Generations survivors in honour of National Sorry Day, Warami comprises a range of activities and virtual events taking place over Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week – all accessible from home, in an online format, between May 26 to July 5.  The Reconciliation Week activities will run from May 27 to June 3, focussed around this year's theme: ‘In this together’, in honour of the 20th anniversary of Australia's journey as a reconciling nation. The week is packed with activities, like storytelling sessions and sessions on Torres Strait Islander culture – both educational and featuring song and dance – which aim to educate and energise.  Next up is NAIDOC Week, and there's a whole set of online events centred around arts, culture and language. You can learn Darug w

How to explore the chilly city solo

Staying in?

Eating out?

Interior seating at Barbetta
Photograph: Katje Ford

Where to dine out in Sydney right now

Restaurants

Restaurants can now serve up to 50 people at a time, with a minimum of four metres squared allocated for each patron.  We've collated a rolling list of the Sydney restaurants and cafés which have restarted dine-in operations.

Planning a trip?

Bubbletent, Capertee Valley
Photograph: Supplied/Destination NSW

The best winter getaways from Sydney

Travel

From the majestic, crisp peaks of the Blue Mountains to the bucolic vineyards of Mudgee, we've rounded up some of our favourite cold-weather destinations to travel to from Sydney.  

Car driving over bridge aerial view
Photograph: Dee Kramer

The best road trips around New South Wales

Travel

 Take a ride on one of these gorgeous scenic road trips around New South Wales. Pack the boot, roll down your windows and let gorgeous scenery whizz past you – be that soaring coastal cliffs, native bushland, or towering alpine forests. Trust us, no one will be asking if you're nearly there yet.

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Colo River camping
Photograph: Supplied

The best camping near Sydney

Travel Short getaways

Whether you're hoping to wake up next to the Harbour, to the sound of crashing waves, or deep within unspoilt national parkland, these picture-perfect camping spots have got you (quite literally) pegged.

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