Sydney’s best parks, reserves and outdoor spots.

Standard

One of the nicest things about Sydney is the amount of green space everywhere, little spaces of calm amongst the city. With so many nice views and a great climate it makes for a good way to spend an afternoon reading a book, or like a lot of sydneysiders a quiet place to hang out and eat lunch.

These are our favourite spots.

Observatory Hill

My absolute favourite place in Sydney to kill time. Sat on the opposite side of the harbour bridge to the opera house it offers a differing view of the Sydney Bay. The view takes in Balls Head, Blues Point, Lavender Bay, Luna Park, ‘That Bridge’, and all the lovely rooftops of the old terraces in The Rocks.

I discovered this space the first time I came to Sydney, and have been coming back ever since. I never get bored of the view, it’s just beautiful with enough background noise from the Harbour Bridge traffic. It’s also close by to lots of lovely old buildings in The Rocks, one of the nicer places to wander around.

Accesible from Kent Street, next to the tennis courts; Watson road (off Argyle Street) or the footpath under the Harbour Bridge from Cumberland Street.

Botanical Gardens

OK, so it’s always full of people whatever the weather but for a good reason! Dating back to 1816, and on the site of the first colonial farm in Australia, It’s full of plant species from all over the world, beautifully manicured gardens, some great sculptures, and wedding parties. There’s also plenty of wildlife including Ibis and Flying Foxes who sleep hanging from the trees in large numbers.

Several Entrances, most accesible from The Sydney Opera House.

Clark Park sercret gardens

Hidden away between Lavender Bay and Clark Park, lies a little green field of calm. Regenerated  by Wendy Whiteley, wife of the prominent and now deceased Australian artist Brett Whiteley. The land belongs to the railway company and was a dumping ground until transformed into a communal garden.  Superb harbour views from the top (as usual) and a secret grotto down the stairs with sculpture art, beautifully designed gardens and picnic tables.

Take a walk along lavender bay past Luna Park, and go up the stairs nearest the toilet block.

Paddington Reservoir

A tiny little space lies in the remains of an old reservoir, a sunken garden. It’s a clever design concept in trendy Paddington, with a tranquil space in the lower, sunken gardens and a grassy reserve on top of the remaining chamber. A great example of modern regeneration and clever, urban architecture.

It’s not a big reserve, but well worth a look if you’re headed to the Paddington Markets, or the Australian Centre for Photography which are all on Oxford street and within minutes of each other.

Nearest the junction of Oatley Road & Oxford Street, known as ‘The Walter Read Reserve’ on Googlemaps.

Blues point

Blues point is on the northern side of the harbour. Nice big green spaces overlook the Harbour Bridge & parts of the rocks including the Walsh Bay Wharfs. It’s a nice spot to sit in the sunshine and relax, or take a picnic. It’s also the home of one of Sydneys more controversial buildings. The Harry Seidler designed Blues Point Tower. Loathed by many locals, it was the first building in a plan of many tower blocks for the area that were never built; it now stands alone, and seemingly out of place on the harbour front.

It’s a nice walk from Milsons point, through lavender bay and onto Blues point.

Most accesible by driving. Can walk from Milsons Point train station, through Lavender bay. one hour (ish)

*

Others good spots include…

Hyde park – A favourite with the backpackers and the city workforce. Lunchtimes are busy on a nice day. Also home to the Anzac memorial, giant chess and lots of Ibis.

Bradfield Park – underneath the northern end of the Sydney Harbour bridge, near Milsons point station with nice views of the city at dusk, often busy on nice days.

Shark Island – Ideally located in the middle of the harbour, with no city ferry service. Access via private ferry, kayak or water taxi! See more Shark Island pictures from NYE here!

What’s Your favourite? Have I missed anything?

*

Interested in Sydney? Check out some more culture, tips and articles here.

If you liked this, please share it with your Facebook friends, or via Twitter. You can also ‘follow us’ using box at the top of the page or join us on Facebook.

Vietnamese street food : banh mi thit nuong (Vietnamese pork roll)

Standard

If there were an Olympics based on sandwiches, I’m pretty sure Vietnam would win.

Sure, a BLT is a great choice and a fish finger sandwich definitely has its merits (ketchup or mayo?) but the bánh mì conquers all. The champion of sandwich lovers!

Bánh mì is one of the go to street foods of Vietnam and it’s eaten all over the country.

The pictures are taken from Flickr using a Creative Commons License, no modifications were made – thanks to wEnDy & Khánh Hmoong.

The ingredients and ratios are often different, depending on each creators preference and available ingredients. All bánh mì start with a crusty, but light and airy French style baguette with a good smothering of mayonnaise and pâté. Cold cuts of pork are added along with pickled carrots and diakon, fresh chilli, coriander, and sometimes cucumber. Tofu can be added as well, or as a replacement for pork.

It is Vietnamese past, and present all wrapped up in one of the tastiest sandwiches ever created. The bread, mayonnaise and pâté are references to the French colonial rule of parts of South East Asia, which was known as French Indochina, chilli and coriander are some of the more well known flavours of South East Asia, and pork just makes everything taste awesome.

 

Bánh mì thit nướng simply refers to the two key components – bread (bánh mì) & grilled meat (thit nướng). The word bánh mì is a the generic term for bread, in Vietnamese but just asking for that should usually get you a Vietnamese sandwich and not just a dry roll.
Vietnamese often eat bánh mì for breakfast and a lot of the stalls are only open in the mornings to cater for this. other tourist-centric stalls are usually open most of, If not all day but generally are more expensive.
Some vendors will have experience with tourists and speak enough English to ask if you want egg, or chilli sauce or pâté. If you’re wary about the open, unrefridgerated jar of pâté sitting on the counter top don’t be, it’s rich, creamy meaty and absolutely essential ingredient along with fresh chilli and coriander on top. Expect to pay around 15’000 to 30’000VND.

Due to the popularity of these sandwiches with tourists and the migration of Vietnamese communities it’s often quite easy to find these in other big cities around the world. Sydney (and Australia in general) has a large Vietnamese population. If you’re in need of a Vietnamese food fix, get yourself out to Cabramatta in Sydney’s west, the largest Vietnamese population in Australia. You can buy a  Bánh mì all over though, usually sold as ‘Vietnamese pork rolls’ or just ‘pork rolls’.

*

If you liked this, please share it with your Facebook friends, or via Twitter. You can also ‘follow us’ using box at the top of the page or join us on Facebook.

 

Sydney : Bondi Graffiti.

Standard

Bondi is another area of Sydney with a great street art scene, the promenade all along the famous beach is painted with bright, vibrant images.

*

Interested in Sydney? Check out some more culture, tips and articles here.

If you liked this, please share it with your Facebook friends, or via Twitter. You can also ‘follow us’ using box at the top of the page or join us on Facebook.

Chiang Mai : Muay Thai experience.

Standard

I had been to Thailand before, but never gotten around to seeing any Muay Thai. It’s a particularly touristy thing to do, especially in the bigger cities but nonetheless I wanted to experience a Thai boxing event.

As expected it was a tourist heavy crowd, the air thick with cigarette smoke and humidity. Promotions girls teetered around selling beer, and Thai men stood ringside in the betting area.

The fighters enter the ring, and begin their pre-fight rituals involving Wai Khru Ram Muay and this fantastically hypnotic music. The fighters will bow and pray in respect to their teachers and Buddha.

It’s quite an experience to see the Wai Khru Ram Muay, when you think how many centuries it’s been performed and is still being performed in modern times. To the untrained eye it looks a bit like showboating and flexing, but after a quick read up it’s an entirely respectful traditional dance.

Muay Thai is brutal, it’s not like boxing where big guys can just smash down their opponents, it’s incredibly technical, involving a range of techniques. Fighters use, elbows, knees, kicks, punches and grapples to land hits on their opponents and they all seem to be incredibly lean, muscular men.

It’s a really enjoyable, if slightly violent spectator sport. It doesn’t have the gaudy fanfare of boxing, The fighters seem very respectful of each other and their sport.

One small, but quite essentially Thai thing to point out is to be aware of ‘toilet massages’. A quick Google search has informed me it’s fairly commonplace in Thai nightclubs and sporting events, but as a westerner it’s a bit strange that one, possibly even two or three teenage Thai boys will start massaging your legs, back and neck whilst you’re relieving yourself. Most peculiar.

Please feel free to share your ‘toilet massage’ based anecdotes!

*

If you liked this, please share it with your Facebook friends, or via Twitter. You can also ‘follow us’ using box at the top of the page. We also have a brand new Facebook page which we would love you to join us on!  

Sydney : May Lane Graffiti

Standard

I’ve always been pretty keen on graffiti, it’s generally a controversial subject, what is art? what is vandalism? what helps to regenerate an area? There’s loads of questions and no right answers, it’s just one of those things that people will always disagree about.

May Lane, like Newtown and Bondi is a Spraypaint mecca. 

 

 

*

If you liked this, please share it with your Facebook friends, or via Twitter. You can also ‘follow us’ using box at the top of the page or join us on Facebook.