Author Denise Cullen Photography Geoff Lung
DAY ONE / Awaken to the sight and sound of water lapping at the edges of the marina outside your room at BLUE (formerly the W Sydney). This hip boutique hotel opened at The Finger Wharf at Woolloomooloo following the wharf’s redevelopment. In the wharf’s cavernous interior, goods conveyors and loading platforms bear testament to the structure’s original incarnation as a wool- and cargo-handling facility from the 1900s. Despite these relics, the hotel’s rooms decked out in chocolate and cobalt blue are pure modern luxury. It can get drafty in these high-ceilinged heritage buildings, so snuggle up under a brazier in the BLUE Café downstairs while you fortify yourself with ricotta pancakes or a tangy bircher muesli with apples and blueberries.
It’s time to get your walking boots on. With the imposing sight of naval battleships in the background, follow the boardwalk and climb the higgledy-piggledy sandstone steps toward Mrs Macquaries Road. Keep strolling until you reach the sandstone outcrop known as Mrs Macquaries Chair, and rest in the ample shade cast by a Moreton Bay fig. During times of strife in the fledgling convict settlement, the wife of one of the early governors used to retreat here, gazing over the sparkling waters in a bid to soothe her heavy heart.
You’re in tourist territory now, with the Harbour Bridge and Opera House sweeping into frame, so savour the view and press on around the headland to the Royal Botanic Gardens. Take in “Cadi Jam Ora: First Encounters,” a garden display that features the area’s Aboriginal history, or stroll through other gardens such as the rain forest walk, palm grove, or native rockery.
Don’t linger too long, as you’re heading for Taronga Zoo, about 12 minutes by ferry from nearby Circular Quay. When you arrive at the lower gates, take the Sky Safari aerial gondola to the top, and you’ll discover why real estate–obsessed Sydneysiders ruefully remark that giraffes enjoy the city’s best water views. Specialised tours led by animal keepers offer an intimate, behind-the-scenes experience. Don’t miss seeing native animals like wallabies, kangaroos, quolls, bilbies, and gliders.
You have reservations for lunch at Aria, so head back across the water and take a window seat for fine dining with a casual vibe. Enjoy house specialties by chef Matthew Moran that include sweet Bangalow pork belly crowned with the thinnest, crispiest wafer of apple.
Stroll back past the buskers plying Circular Quay to the Museum of Contemporary Art. Teetering on the brink of bankruptcy a few years ago, the museum has a new director and fresh sources of funding, including sponsors and the government, that have rejuvenated the only publicly funded venue dedicated to collecting and exhibiting contemporary art in Australia. View the museum’s works by rising Australian artists such as James Angus. The glossy white Manta Ray on display is one example of Angus’ three-dimensional art created using high-tech equipment and synthetic materials.
It’s time to enjoy a twilight Bridgeclimb. After you’ve been briefed, breath-tested, put through the paces on a climb simulator, and strapped into safety equipment, you’ll make your way across catwalks, ladders, and arches to the top of Sydney’s “old coat hanger,” the Harbour Bridge, 130 metres above sea level. As the sun dips below the horizon and the night sky turns to swirls of orange, pink, and purple, you’ll enjoy an unimpeded view of this picturesque city as it comes to life at night.
Cab it back to the wharf to Otto
Ristorante Italiano for a relaxing dinner overlooking the water. Sample the zucchini flowers stuffed with creamy salt cod or the baby pink snapper with fennel and mint salad. For dolci, try the excellent cheese selection or allow a light panna cotta, mousse, or gelato to dance across your tongue. It’s been an energetic day, so it’s fortunate your hotel room is just upstairs. Sink into the oversize bathtub for a luxurious soak before bed.
Comments are closed.