The Crowd Pleasers Without The Crowd!o
This is the first New Year’s Eve I will be spending in Sydney after 15 years of being away. For the last four months I’ve reacquainted myself with the city I’ve forgotten but have rediscovered through fresh eyes. I’ve come to realize that I’ve taken Sydney for granted years ago and so made it a point to explore off-the-beaten locations around the metro. Quite frankly, it’s like returning to a former love. Hugot much.
If you are new to Sydney, the festivities in the city center can be energetic but daunting at the same time. For those of you who have done this, you know this all too well:
I warn you now, there will be a lot of people in the city on NYE.
Here are alternative locations to bid 2016 goodbye and could be a good metaphor for our need to decongest. The main features on this list are its accessibility, as you can easily get to these places via public transport; its uniqueness: they’re not your usual etonanamans; and its social media appeal: I made this one up.
Although I cannot promise that these vantage points will not be as congested as inner city locations, I promise that the views will be one-of-a kind and beautiful.
So let’s get right to it! Here are four highly-instagrammable Sydney gems to welcome 2017 at, with a bang!
As of this writing, these places are still accessible but may change during the NYE festivities without further notice.
Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair
This is probably one of the easiest places to get to as it is very near Circular Quay Station. You can either go through Albert Street, or do what I did which is to head towards the Opera House and up the Moore Steps near Buckley’s. Cross to the other side of Macquarie Street and head to the nearest entrance to the Government House. Get your day “ruined” as you pass by faux-rubble at an obscure park as you head towards the gate. Once in, simply follow the clearly marked signs to Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair leading you to Farm Cove which in itself is an awesome view! The short 20-minute walk passes through the Sydney Botanical Gardens so if you want to make a day of it, you can spend time in both.
Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair is really just a sandstone bench cut into shape by early settlers (convicts, actually!). If you must know, Mrs. Macquarie’s name is Elizabeth and she used to sit and watch ships go by in the very same rocks (insert, It Might Be You lyrics here). Well, to live up to this, you can and will still see the ships come and go or docked along the Royal Australian Navy gangway in Potts Point. Totally IG-worthy!
Even at dusk, you will appreciate the play of lights from the buildings and the boats that pass by the area. However, be aware that the Sydney Botanical Gardens close approximately at 7:30PM in the summer so if you don’t want to go the long way, that is, through The Domain on the far end of the park, exit well before closing time.
Extra Tip: In Spring, a magnificent Jacaranda in full bloom makes for a good selfie!
You may also head to the north towards the little known suburb of McMahons Point. No apostrophes. It is pretty spacious which is ideal for mid-summer barbies and offers 180 degrees of unadulterated views of Sydney Harbour. It is usually quiet and away from the hustle and bustle.
To get there the scenic way, get off at Miltons Point station and walk towards Luna Park. In the day time, the park is usually open for rides but I prefer the night when it is all lit up and pretty. Walk along the boardwalk of the theme park where you eventually end up at Lavender Bay. You can spend an hour or two here just soaking in the sun or watching the numerous yachts bob in the water. You get the relief of the sea breeze here quite often so it is ideal to just relax with your favourite book and coffee. One time, I brought my pizza to Quibaree Park where it was caught by the wind and fed to the sea, but that’s a different story.
From the park you can directly take the stairs to Bay View Street, but I love going through Watt Park with its gigantic balete trees (strangler figs) along the shady path. Once on Bay View Street, head to Lloyd Reserve Lookout or to the local restaurant, Sails. You can walk further through to Blues Point Reserve or stay in the vicinity. This vantage point is ideal for time-lapse enthusiasts as Luna Park comes to life at sunset.
Alternatively, you can simply catch a ferry from Circular Quay to McMahons Point but don’t be boring, fam.
Bradley’s Head is definitely a view worth capturing. To be honest, I didn’t even know this place existed until I chanced upon it with my friends. In fact, if you’ve done a cruise in the city, you are most likely to have seen the headland. It features an active lighthouse, aptly named Bradley’s Head Light and a small monument for all Australian ships and sailors lost at sea.
To get here, just head to Taronga Zoo by bus from Wynyard Station (Stand A, Bus 247) or ferry from both Circular Quay or Darling Harbour via the Zoo Express (Link). It’s then a short downhill walk to this seemingly secret location from the zoo entrance. There’s a small park here as well and if you’re lucky, you’ll get to see the horizon ablaze with one of the most beautiful sunsets you will ever see in your life.
Dudley Page Reserve
This has gotta be my favourite out of the bunch. I recently discovered Dudley Page Reserve and underestimated how beautiful it is. It’s picturesque and located in the upscale suburb of Vaucluse. Its location offers you a higher vantage than most and would be perfect to view the firework spectacle that the Sydney skyline is known for on NYE.
Head there at dusk for your dose of Mother Nature’s blush, space yourself out on the grass and enjoy a cold beer in your hand. For photographers, it will be a visual treat as planes go by their usual routes in the sky.
The easiest way to get here is to catch a train to Bondi Junction and then a bus to Dover Heights or Watsons Bay (Stand A, 380). Get off at the Weonga Road stop along Military Road and then a short walk to the reserve.