Whether you’re restricted by border closures or ran out of time to book a getaway, there’s actually a lot to like about staying home for a long weekend. And there’s no time like the present to get to know your own state! Here, journalist Hannah-Rose Yee shares the places to go and know in Sydney – plus some easy day trips. Don’t expect run-of-the-mill recommendations, but rather spots you’ve never heard of, and will soon wish you had: secret beaches, bath houses, drive-in films, fruit-picking… And pies, lots of pies.
Jump in the car and drive two hours up the cool side of the Blue Mountains into Bilpin, where Sean Moran – of Sean’s Panorama in Bondi fame – has turned a side-of-the-highway truckstop into a cosy little restaurant you’ll want to hunker down in. Get the apple pie. And the slow pork roast. And the cider. Mmmm, the cider.
You’ll never experience a movie quite like you will at Blacktown’s beloved Skyline Drive In theatre. Grab a friend and park the car in a good spot, before heading to the diner for some movie snacks – a thickshake and fries – then settle in to watch a blockbuster from the comfort of your vehicle. Old school!
Congwong Beach, Botany Bay
There are secret beaches and there are secret beaches, and this is the latter. Everyone seems to forget about this little spot, hidden in the Kamay Botany Bay National Park, which means you can enjoy the sparkly sand and pristine waters in relative privacy.
If your idea of a staycation is ultimate relaxation, book yourself into this day spa. The pricing can’t be beat, and with hot pools, cold pools and steam rooms a-plenty, you’ll be super relaxed before you know it. Get yourself an add-on scrub for some serious rejuvenation.
You can pick fresh fruit nearly all year round at this orchard, located barely an hour outside of the Sydney CBD. In summer, it’s stone fruit galore – peaches, nectarines, persimmons and more – before moving into apple season. Grab as much as you can carry and hurry home to make a pie.
Speaking of pies, get on the pie trail in the Southern Highlands. It’s a proper day trip, but we promise you won’t go hungry: there are close to 30 pies up for the feasting on this self-guided tour, all made by local bakeries in Mittagong, Robertson, Berrima and beyond. Come early and come hungry.
This celebration of growers, artisans and farmers, and all of the incredible produce that they make, feels like it’s been transported to North Sydney from a quaint French village. No wonder it’s one of Sydney’s favourite markets, held on Saturdays twice a month.
Small, but perfectly formed, this gallery in Paddington is the place for browsing up-and-coming artists before they break big. Exhibitions change regularly and there’s a back catalogue that you can browse online too. After you have a viewing, walk around the corner for coffee at a sun-drenched local spot.
New Yen Yen Supermarket, Haymarket
The fun is all in the browsing at the sprawling New Yen Yen Supermarket, spread across a basement in the heart of Haymarket. There is something for everyone here, whether you’re in the market for pantry staples, delicious snacks, cooking equipment and beyond. But be warned: go after feasting on dumplings at Chinese Noodle House or on Hainan chicken rice at Ho Jiak. This is not the place to spend hours on an empty stomach.
A fun fact about this bountiful green space is that it houses more than 90 different varieties of camellias. More than 90 different varieties of camellias! Not even Coco Chanel herself could be outdone by that. Take a trip to this verdant paradise and experience the peace and tranquility for yourself.