Insider's Guide to Sydney

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Sydney travel guide

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  • TRAVEL

    The Insiders Guide To:

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  • What to eatDoes Australia have a national dish?Not as such, although Aussies do eat the animals on the national coat of arms kangaroo and emu are both high in protein, low in fat and delicious. Australia is a multicultural society and nowhere is this more apparent than on the menus of Sydneys restaurants. From polenta to pizza, sushi to samosas, Australias largest city caters to the cosmopolitan palate. One staple of the Sydney diet is Thai food and Newtowns King Street has Thai restaurants in abundance as well as a host of other flavours. Try Thai Pothong or for something a bit different the Paju BBQ Korean Restaurant. Newtowns caf culture also lends itself to a late brunch and serendipitous wanderings through its many shops. Stanley Street in East Sydney is another stand-out treat for foodies. Bar Reggio (Italian) and La Mint (French fusion Vietnamese), a stones throw from the main strip, are both worth a nibble. On Monday night you can grab a $5 steak at The Foresters in Surry Hills or if youve got cash to burn and fancy a high-end meal at an iconic Australian landmark, head to Guillaume at Bennelong its inside the Sydney Opera House. Guillaumes is fine dining but his mashed potato is heavenly.Thai Pothong: thaipothong.com.auPaju BBQ Korean Restaurant: urbanspoon.comBar Reggio: barreggio.com.auLa Mint: lamint.com.auThe Forresters: foresters.com.auGuillame: guillaumeatbennelong.com.au

    What to drinkWhats Sydneys speciality? What do the locals enjoy?Aussies like to drink. In fact, its something of a national pastime from the cold climate vineyards of the Adelaide Hills with their sumptuous sauvignon blancs, to dark Bundaberg rum from Queensland. In Sydney, its not only what you drink, but where you drink it. From sipping a stubby-clad coldie at the quintessential Sunday-arvo barbie, to harbour-side cocktails, youre almost spoilt for choice.

    You may be surprised to learn that Australians dont drink Fosters its an export beer only. In pubs, beer on tap comes in a pint (big glass) schooner (medium-sized glass) or a middy (small). Most pubs have a wide range of bottled beer, both domestic and imported. The Beauchamp Hotel (pronounced Beechum) midway up Oxford Street has a mixed crowd and provides nice surrounds for carousing. Australia produces heaps of great wine, so check out a wine bar like Love, Tilly Devine on Crown Street, or Timbah in Glebe. Darlinghurst has many small bars worth discovering like Pocket, Sticky, Shady Pines and Ching-a-ling. These are not strictly gay bars but are full of gay people.The Beauchamp Hotel: thebeauchamp.com.auLove, Tilly Devine: lovetillydevine.comTimbah: urbanspoon.com

    Where to stay?What are the high-end hotels? Are there boutique options?

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  • The Shangri-La is central and sophisticated. Its five-star, has a great cocktail bar and amazing harbour views. If your tastes lean towards the boutique, check out Establishment Hotel. The Oaks Hyde Park Plaza and Pullman Sydney Hyde Park are both on College Street, metres from Oxford Street; both are convenient options for Mardi Gras and most nocturnal activities. The Travelodge on Wentworth Avenue is more affordable and only a short walk to the gay strip. For something completely different, stay overnight at Taronga Zoo. Wake to the roar of lions after a night in an architecturally designed tent, a sumptuous roast feast, drinks in the main tent and up-close animal encounters.The Shangri-La: shangri-la.com/sydneyEstablishment: merivale.com.au/accommodation/establishmenthotelOaks Hyde Park Plaza: oakshotelsresorts.com/oaks-hyde-park-plazaPullman Sydney Hyde Park: accorhotels.comThe Travelodge: travelodge.com.auTaronga Zoo: taronga.org.au/roarandsnore

    What to WearWhats appropriate for the climate, local convention, and importantly, beachwear?The laidback Aussie attitude extends to attire. Shorts and singlets or T-shirts are the national costume for most Aussies during summertime. Dont forget your sunnies and hat! If you visit during the cooler months (April to October)

    bring something warm. Winter is cold. Closed-toe shoes are a must in nightclubs and throw a collared shirt and pants in your suitcase for fine dining. Beachwear? AussieBum, of course, but other local faves to check out include Marcuse, 2eros, Tribe and 2wink.

    What should i Pack?What should I bring from home and what should I pick up when Im there.Sunscreen. In summer, dont go anywhere without sunscreen. The sun Down Under is intense. No matter what your skin type and previous experience in other hot countries you will burn if youre not wearing SPF 15+. Bring plenty of shorts and T-Shirts Sydney is pretty humid. The strength of the Aussie dollar makes shopping a little exy in Sydney right now, but if you like to hit the stores while youre away, head to the city centre. A $1.2 billion revamping of Sydneys CBD shopping centre off Pitt Street Mall means its now brimming with designer shops.

    Where should i go out?Where are the gay venues, or gay-friendly straight venues? Whats the protocol?Like most large cities, Sydney has a diverse nightlife, which caters to varied tastes. Oxford Street is the main drag for gay clubs, while Kings Cross a few blocks away is mainly straight. Gay Sydney can get quite sleepy >>

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  • >> midweek, so head to Stonewall on Oxford St. Its usually busy most nights, with a friendly crowd. The Colombian, just down the road, is also popular mid-week. On weekends, your options swell considerably. The Oxford attracts an older, beary crowd pretty much all week. You can try Arq, Midnight Shift or Nevermind. On Sunday, and something of an institution is the Beresford. Its definitely the place to be seen on a Sunday arvo/evening. If you prefer the more hirsute gentleman, head to the Lord Roberts Hotel in East Sydney for Bears night.

    Sydney has plenty of circuit parties throughout the year. Jump online to see whats happening during your stay. Check out samesame.com.au its a great resource for all things gay in Sydney.Stonewall: stonewallhotel.comColombian: colombian.com.auOxford: oxfordhotel.com.auArq: arqsydney.com.auMidnight Shift: themidnightshift.com.auNevermind: nevermindclub.com.auThe Beresford: merivale.com.au/theberesfordhotel.com.auThe Lord Roberts: lordrobertshotel.com.au

    mardi gras 2013Whats the best way to enjoy it? If you really want to see the parade and youre not lucky enough to be invited to a private party, limited tickets are available to VIP viewing areas check out the Mardi Gras website for details. Or you can try your luck for a free spot on the parade route along with a couple of hundred thousand other people. Crowds start gathering early in the morning and by parade time theyre at least 10-15 people deep. Theres much more to Mardi Gras than just the parade, which is on 2 March 2013. Theres Fair Day (10

    February), Harbour Party (23 February) and the Mardi Gras Drag Races (1 March). Check out the Mardi Gras website for details and plan your activities well in advance. Buy your post-parade party tickets online before you get here. It can sell out.Mardi Gras: www.mardigras.org.au

    What other cities should i go to?Definitely Darwin in the Northern Territory. (Full story page 66 this issue).

    The Gold Coast in Queensland. Q1 is the tallest hotel in the Southern Hemisphere and also has an amazing day spa. Broadbeach is less touristy, and has lots of lovely cafs and bars. Palazzo Versace is a must stay hotel for luxury label lovers and next door the Marina Mirage boasts high-end boutiques, beautiful restaurants and is situated right on the water.

    Melbourne in Victoria. Its Australias second city and equals Sydney for restaurants, bars and clubs. Melbourne is slightly more bohemian than Sydney but no less sophisticated. Fly from Sydney in around one hour or drive in 10 hours.

    Byron Bay is a popular destination for gay travellers and Sydneysiders alike. Its very gay friendly with beautiful beaches and lush tropical hinterlands.

    Top tip: remember that Australia is very big geographically about the same as the USA. So if you want to go to another city you will need to fly there.

    am i saFe? Australia has a very low crime rate. Pickpockets are virtually unknown, even in the big cities. Muggings and physical attacks are rare. However, acts of violence against gay men do happen from time to time. Youll see plenty of guys holding hands in the city centre, but not so much in outer suburbs and definitely not in country areas. To avoid becoming one of the few exceptions, common sense is your best ally against mishap. As with any large city, avoid walking alone at