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The talesofasia guide to Sydney

Updated August 23, 2005


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The Modified Dutch Walking Tour of Sydney

Credit for most of this tour has to go to my mate Chuck, which came up during a discussion about how expensive Sydney can be to visit as a tourist. Chuck, being of the ‘Orange Order’ is always keen to save a dollar or two, and devised this tour as a means of showing some of his ‘thriftier’ mates some of Sydney’s attractions without breaking the bank.

This walking tour takes in a number of Sydney attractions including Hyde Park, The Art Gallery of New South Wales, The Hyde Park Barracks, The Botanical Gardens, Lady Macquarie’s Chair, The Opera House, The Museum of Contemporary Art and The Harbour Bridge Pylon Museum. Depending on how quickly you walk, how long you spend in each attraction, at lunch and at the various pub ‘pit stops’ you could complete this tour in 5 hours, a day or split it over several days. As there is a fair amount of unprotected walking to do this tour is probably not a great idea for rainy days (of which there are about 3 each year in Sydney) and Chuck advises that you wear comfortable walking clogs. The tour is arranged sequentially so you can skip over attractions and move on to the next should you wish.

Start : Jet Café, Ground Floor of The Queen Victoria Building (455 George Street), Opposite Town Hall.

  • Lay in provisions for the tour at Jet Café, which during my time in Sydney has consistently done some of the best coffee and snacks around. After, take a stroll through the Queen Victoria Building and see if you can locate Islay the talking terrier.
  • From The QVB walk down George Street towards Circular Quay until you hit Market Street and turn right. Continue up Market Street for three blocks until you come to Hyde Park. Enter the park and walk up to the Archibald Fountain. If you are feeling energetic you may cross Park Street (which bisects Hyde Park) and walk the length of Hyde Park up to the Pool of Remembrance and the Anzac Monument before rejoining the tour back at the Archibald Fountain.
  • From the Archibald Fountain cross Hyde Park towards St Mary’s Cathedral. St Mary’s Cathedral (Corner of College Street) was opened in 1882 but had the final spires added to it in 2000. It boasts striking architecture and crypt tours are available on Sundays from noon onwards. Entry to the Cathedral is free.
  • From St Mary’s continue towards Circular Quay along Prince Albert Road and turn onto Macquarie Street. Continue along Macquarie Street until you reach the Hyde Park Barracks Museum. Originally built as a workhouse and asylum, this impressive building now serves as a museum detailing the conditions of early convict life in Sydney. Entry to the Museum is $7 for adults and $3 for concession card holders.
  • After leaving the Hyde Park Barracks Museum, continue along Macquarie Street until you come to Martin Place. Here turn right into the grounds of Sydney Hospital and proceed through the grounds until you come to Hospital Road which borders the Domain. Walking through the domain away from the CBD will take you to Art Gallery Road and the NSW Art Gallery. Be Sure to turn around and admire the city skyline set against the open parkland of the Domain. The NSW Art Gallery is a classically inspired building housing extensive collections of Australian, Asian and Aboriginal Art. The gallery is open between 10am and 5pm daily and entry is free.
  • After leaving the NSW Art Gallery by the main entrance turn left and walk along the side of the Gallery past the bronze statue until you get to a pathway. Follow the pathway past the large sculptures of the match sticks and across the pedestrian bridge over the Cahill Expressway which will deposit you on Bourke Street. Walk up Bourke Street until you hit Nicholson Street and turn right. Ahead of you on the corner of Nicholson and Forbes Street is the Tilbury Hotel, which is the first ‘pub pitstop’ of the tour. The upstairs open air seating is an excellent place to have a cold Asahi and a snack for lunch.
  • Leaving the Tilbury by the front door walk straight ahead to Wollomooloo Bay and Cowper Wharf Road. If you are still feeling a little hungry and like pies you may wish to check out Harry’s Café de Wheels which is to the immediate right of the finger wharf. Otherwise cross Cowper Wharf Road and walk around the bay to the left in-front of the apartments. Take the stairs up to hillside onto the track that runs parallel to Mrs Macquarie’s Road. This track will lead you past the Andrew (Boy) Charlton Pool, and along the waterfront past Mrs Macquarie’s Chair and into the Botanical Gardens in Farm Cove. Depending on how much time you have you can either choose to explore the Botanical Gardens before returning to the paved walkway, or continue on to the next phase of the tour.
  • Having continued around Farm Cove, exit the Botanical Gardens via the Queen Elizabeth II gate and proceed towards the Opera House. Here, you can either proceed directly to the Opera House, or make a diversion to Government House which sits on the point overlooking the Opera House. Access is via the stairs directly opposite the Opera House. The house itself is open to the public from 10am - 3pm of Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The gardens are open to the public seven days a week between 10am and 4pm. Admission to both the house and the gardens is free.
  • The Sydney Opera House is easily the city’s most recognisable monument. Wandering around the outside of the Opera House is free, but inside tours cost about $24 per person. Once you have had a look around the Opera House, the Opera Bar on the lower promenade facing the Harbour Bridge is a good place to relax with a coffee or beer.
  • The next stop on the tour is the Museum of Contemporary Art (or MCA). The MCA, a large square building with banners is on the opposite side of Circular Quay from the Opera House. Walk around the ferry terminal past the various busking acts until you reach the main entrance of the museum. The gallery is open from 10am to 5pm daily and entry is free.
  • The final stop on the walking tour is the Pylon Lookout in the South East Pylon of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The major tourist attraction on the harbour bridge is the ’Bridge Climb’ operation which, for a minimum of $165 will take you on a walking tour over the large span of the bridge. If you don’t want to shell out that sort of money, have to wear a grey nylon jump suit or buy photographs at $16 a pop then the Pylon Lookout is an excellent alternative. The viewing deck of the Pylon Lookout is 87m above sea level. Climbing 200 odd stairs you get stunning views of the city, access to the museum exhibits and will pay only $8.50 for adults and less for children. To get to the Pylon Lookout from the MCA walk around the back of the gallery onto George Street then turn up Argyle Street and take the Argyle Stairs of the right hand side of the road up to Cumberland Street. Turn left and cross Cumberland Street then take the bridge stairs to gain access to the eastern pedestrian pathway of the bridge. The Pylon Lookout is open from 10am to 7pm seven days a week.

After you have completed the tour go an grab a pint at one of the nearby bars in the rocks (see the Tales of Asia Sydney Pub Guide). A large Moroccan Lamb pizza and a pint of Little Creatures Pale Ale at the Australian Hotel is an excellent way to finish off a day that will have cost you as little as $15.50 (good stuff like beer and pizza not included).

Sydney index page
Getting there
Getting Around
Staying there
Things to See and Do
Walking Tour
Matt Kemp's monthly column on life in Sydney

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