Sydney – Woollahra, Paddington, City Centre
Ch. 6 Sydney – Woollahra, Paddington, and City Center
We were sad to leave Cairns, but glad to be back in Sydney. We needed to find our way to Paddington from the airport, so rented a GPS. Thanks to our GPS, we were able to navigate to Oxford and Queen Streets and The Hughenden Hotel. We strongly suggest that a GPS be rented if you are in a strange city and need to find your way around. The Hughenden is an Italianate Victorian building that was once the home of a prominent Sydney doctor. It is a comfortable and pretty place with gracious old world touches. Our room fee is $238 A per night, or about $190 USA. It has an electric kettle, mini fridge, flat screen TV, central heat and A/C, occasional Wi-Fi, and a view of the street. There is a shower, but no tub, and no lift. There is a small restaurant and bar downstairs. On Sundays, high tea is served. Murder mystery dinners are everyday at 4:00 p.m. Gated, secure parking is a plus. Staff is very helpful! Shops, buses, pubs, buses, galleries, antique stores, and eateries are in easy walking distance. A pharmacy is around the corner. http://www.thehughenden.com.au/home/
Paddington Market was on when we arrived, so we hurried down to look around. Clothing, toys, plants, crafts, art, books, CDs, a flea market, and food were offered. Quite interesting and entertaining!
Browsing made us hungry, so we hiked back to the hotel for lunch. We both ordered the Antipasto Plate, a delectable combination of bread, chorizo, olives, pickled onions, feta cheese, artichoke hearts, sundried tomato, roasted red peppers, and olive tapenade with a glass of house champagne, for a total of $40 A or abou$32 USA.
We got the bus to Bondi Junction and the Westfield Mall. It only took a few minutes, and the shopping was astonishing. We have never seen a mall so large! It was six stories high, with four major department stores, a myriad of smaller boutiques, and a grocery store. We had a coffee at Border’s Bookstore. There is an outdoor mall in front of Westfield, which makes it a shopping heaven! We decided to walk back to The Hughenden, a nice way to rev up our appetite for dinner. We passed some interesting stores along the way, including one that had unique paint themes on bikes. http://westfield.com.au/bondijunction/
Dinner at The Hughenden was a bottle of house champagne for only $28 A or about $22 USA, Lamb Shank Pie and chicken wrapped in bacon with green beans and roasted potatoes. Mouth watering! Total is $74 A or about $ 60 USA.
Breakfast at The Hughenden – coffee/tea, pastries, toasts, a variety of fruits, yogurt, oatmeal, cold cereals, juices. Hot menu items are also available.
Time for discoveries. A stroll in Centennial Park, right across the street, was pretty and peaceful. The park was built in 1888 to celebrate Australia’s 100th birthday. Jogging, walking, and bicycling are popular. Playgrounds are there for children. There are plenty of picnic tables. A restaurant is in the center of the park. http://www.centennialparklands.com.au/
Up Oxford Street to the Victoria Barracks we went. A museum inside the working military base shows early British Australian-new Zealand military history. Informative and interesting, we think it was time well spent. The cost was only $2 A each. On Thursday, there is a guided tour of the barracks. http://www.awm.gov.au/units/place_1101.asp We passed by Reservoir Park, the site of the city’s first reservoir, and the original Town Hall. While there are many shops and boutiques in Paddington, Oxford St. is the shopping central of this area of Sydney.
We had High Tea reservations, so back to the Hughenden we went. High Tea is composed of three courses: sandwiches and savories, scones with jam and cream, and sweets. Yum! There are several tea choices. It is a full meal!
It was still early in the day, so we hopped on a bus and rode to Hyde Park and Chinatown. Hyde Park was small but pretty, and there are many interesting sites across the streets: St Mary’s Cathedral, the Aquatic Center, the Australian Museum, Hyde Park Barracks, statues of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, the Supreme Court Building, and a Jewish Synagogue. A short walk leads to Chinatown, where many shops and restaurants are waiting. Along the way are many places to shop, eat, or find a cold drink. Back on the bus, and a short ride later we were at our hotel. Bus tickets are $3.20 A per person or about $2.60 USA. http://www.discoversydney.com.au/parks/hydepark.html
Bistro Moncour was recommended for dinner. About a five minute walk away, its décor is contemporary, the food was very good, and the presentation is appealing. The prices, however, reflect its upscale image. Two main dishes, salmon and veal medallions, without entrees or sides, and two glasses of wine were $98 A or about $80 USA. http://www.woollahrahotel.com.au/
Another great day in Sydney! We bought a 10 ride bus ticket for just $15 A or about $12 USA. What a good deal! We rode to Hyde Park and toured to the Australian Museum. We saw so much! There were minerals, insects, birds, and skeletons! We liked looking at the skeletons displays. One showed the skeleton of a human sitting in a chair reading, and the skeletons of a dog, cat, bird, and rat, in position around the room – very amusing! There is a huge mineral display, and a history of mining in Australia. Some of the minerals are exceptionally beautiful. There was also a large display of Aborigine Culture and History. Some of the most interesting to us were the church, the children’s toys, original artwork, and the storytelling cave. Museum admission is $12A or about $10 USA. Give yourself about 3 hours to see the entire museum, especially if you see the special display, which is an extra charge. At present, it’s When the Mammoths Roamed. http://www.australianmuseum.net.au/
After seeing some history, we decided to make some of our own by going up the Sydney Tower and taking the Skywalk! The Sydney Tower was built in the 1970s to entice people back from the suburbs. It housed a shopping mall and restaurants as well as the Skywalk. It is the tallest building in Sydney. After riding the elevator to the top, we put on our special all weather suits and harnesses, and stepped out on the walkway with our guide. What an unbelievable view! We could see all of Sydney as far as the Blue Mountains! All 600 square miles! We walked out on a glass platform and see look down below! It was an unforgettable experience, and worth the $65 A or about $52 USA per person. There are a 360 degree enclosed observation deck and restaurants just below the Skywalk that are available for a $25 A admission. Our price is inclusive of those. Binoculars are positioned around the observation deck. The views are unlike anything you can anywhere else! Pictures of the adventure are available for purchase: about 10 pictures on a DVD are $39. 95 A or about $32 USA. Lunch with a view – two meat pies and drinks- was $32 A or about $26 USA. We’ll be back! http://sydneytower.myfun.com.au/ http://sydneytower.myfun.com.au/The-Tower/Sydney-Tower-History.htm
The quiet beauty and feeling of tranquility of the Chinese Friendship Garden was a contrast to the thrill of the Skywalk, but a pleasant one. It was the bargain of the day! For only 46 A or about $4.80 USA per person, we were able to wander at our leisure. Waterfalls, ponds, flowers, bonsai, rock gardens, and pavilions in the center of the city give the illusion of being far from the noise and bustle. A Teahouse offers refreshments, and a costume hire lets guests dress up and have a picture taken. This is one of Sydney’s best kept secrets, but they should let it out.
Max Brenner’s Chocolate Bar was calling our name! Two cups of Mexican Hot Chocolate were completely satisfying. A hint of cinnamon and ancho gave a surprise heat with the sweet. http://www.maxbrenner.com.au/
When it was dinnertime, we went up Oxford St, towards Bondi Junction and discovered Wa, a Japanese restaurant. We were led to the pretty courtyard in the back and seated near the heater on this cool night. The food was delicious and the presentation delightful. Greg’s dinner was a salmon sushi meal (13 pieces) while MaryJo’s was Ginger Chicken. We both started with Miso Soup. For desert, we shared triple flavor ice creams – green tea, black sesame, and lychee and cup of green tea. For entertainment, the movie “Casablanca” was playing on a 60 inch TV. $57 A or about $45 USA was our bill. It’s BYO, with a bottle shop next door. This secret should be shared.
Another last day.
An early morning walk brought us to the Sydney Jewish Museum in Darlinghurst. This museum traced the history of Judaism, and in particular how Jewish people helped to shape the culture of Australia. Most of us don’t think about Judaism connecting to Australia, but there were 16 convicts in the First Fleet in 1788. George Street in the 1840s was the main Jewish neighborhood. The exhibit also focused on the Holocaust and Liberation, using photos, original documents, and taped remembrances by survivors. There is a special Children’s Memorial. We noticed small pebbles on plaques commemorating the dead, and asked about them. We were told that in the Jewish tradition, when someone visits the dead, they leave a marker instead of flowers. A special exhibit on South Africa is housed in the museum, too. We learned much on this visit. Admission is $10 A per person, or about $8 USA. http://www.sydneyjewishmuseum.com.au/
The Old Darlinghurst Gaol is just across the street. Today it is the National Art School. The old chapel is open for tourists. It’s a round structure that still has the stained glass window designed by convicts. There are some old leg chains, cat-o-nine tails, handcuffs, and so on in display cases. The building has been a theatre, art studio, and ceramic studio. Ask at Building 22 before taking pictures. http://policensw.com/info/history/darlgaol.html
An exploratory walk around Paddington Village was next. It was interesting and fun looking at the different architectures and front gardens. Many of the homes had decorative grillwork on balconies and porches. We reached 5 Ways, a local point of interest surrounded by shops, pubs, and restaurants. The Royal Hotel Pub has retained its Victorian flavor.
Lunch today was a picnic in Centennial Park. We picked up some cheese, crackers, wine, steamed prawns, and sweets. In the shade of a magnolia tree, we enjoyed our food and the birds. It was a quiet oasis in the midst of the day.
The remainder of the day was spent wandering around our neighborhood and just exploring. Shops selling foods, clothing, books, flowers, ice creams, baked goods, etc. were interesting to browse. We noticed that many of the clothing stores are sparsely stocked, showing only one or two of each style. Lemons were marked in one greengrocer at $6.99! Pharmacies sell mostly health and first aid items, not clothes, cameras, toys, etc.
By dinner time, we were ready to try Sven’s, a Bondi pizzeria with a twist. Sven’s is furnished as a Viking Lodge, and the pizzas are Viking themed. For example, Heimdall is smoked ham, fresh mushrooms, artichokes and kalamata olives, named for the fire god. We chose Thor pizza, with chicken, mushrooms, tomatoes, and basil and Njord with garlic and chili prawns, tomatoes, and rocket and bocconcini salad, each $20 A or about $16 USA. http://svens.com.au/
A bus ride brought us back to the hotel in no time, for very little. We had bought the 10 ride ticket for only $15 and used the last two.