‘The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands, but in seeing with new eyes’
We travel to explore, to get lost, to find adventure, to find ourselves, for new experiences, to meet people…. and the list goes on.
We travel because we crave something more!
I know this is a strange post, coming from someone who arranges travel for a living, but it’s something that I wanted to share…
When we discuss travel, we tend to let our minds wander to faraway places and exotic destinations. We often get so lost in the idea that travel has to take us somewhere physically, that we forget that one of the best rewards of travel, and that is being moved emotionally… somewhere deep in our hearts and souls.
Why can’t this be something new here at home? Why is it so easy to forget about some of the magical experiences to be had, right on our door step?
I’ve been thinking more and more of this lately, as I have seen that for some people it isn’t always possible to travel far and wide. Work, family and financial commitments tend to restrict our plans for travel and even health limitations mean that a lot of us can’t travel as far as we’d like, so I feel that it’s important for all of us to remember that there is always something new to discover, right where we are… and it’s as simple as taking a moment to look at things a little differently and to open your eyes to what’s around you.
To highlight this within my own lifestyle, I’ve made an effort this summer to explore a little closer to home. For me it was as simple as seeing Sydney with new eyes, and the sights, rewards and ‘moments’ have been just as rewarding as many of those experienced on the other side of the world.
While I’ve spent past years working in Sydney, and visiting friends who live around various parts of the city, I’ve never truly opened my eyes to all the possibilities that Sydney holds. It was only recently when I moved to the Northern Beaches, that I found the time to explore a little deeper, and what I’ve found has been truly beautiful…. and not all of the sights are what you would imagine.
Yes, there is there are our stunning beaches and Sydney Harbour, with the iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera house which are all unmissable, but it’s about experiencing it all a little differently.
Here are my top 3 Sydney discoveries from this summer, and while I thought I’d seen and done most of Sydney, it just goes to show that no matter where you are there are always new things to discover that will move you as much as an experience on the other side of the globe.
1. Discovering the urban art of Sydney
In November/December 2013 I took a DSLR ‘Camera Craft’ photography workshop, in the hope of developing my photography skills, and for the final project I chose Sydney’s urban art scene as my subject.
While I’d never heard much about Sydney’s Urban art scene, this style of art had caught my attention from recent visits to Paris and London. After taking a walking photography tour through Brick lane in London I discovered how much talent can be found in the most unexpected places, so I thought Sydney must have a similar art culture somewhere… I’d just never thought to look.
Urban art evolved from the roots of street art, graffiti & stencilling, but can now be much more than that, so I took the time to do some research, and I was right… Sydney had some amazing street art pieces and legal walls, where artists could exhibit their work. So from Bondi Beach, to the lane ways of St Peters I took to the streets to photograph some of Sydney’s street art, and what I discovered was a whole new element to a city that is normally all sunny beaches and harbour cruises.
On my travels I discovered some amazing little café’s, restaurants and boutiques, which I never would have found otherwise, and got to talking to some of the artists themselves who we’re so so grateful (and surprised) that I was wandering the streets in search of their work… so if you’re into art, street culture, photography or just want to get off the beaten track, exploring the back streets of Sydney opens up a whole new world of things to discover.
If you want to check it out for yourself, I took to the streets of Surry Hills, Bondi Beach, St Peters, Newtown & Glebe on foot… but there is so much more out there to see.
I’m yet to find any particular guided tours, although I know they spring up through galleries and art groups every now and then… otherwise keep an eye out for an urban art exhibition, through the following links which will keep you up to date on what’s on in the art world in Sydney:
2. Simple pleasures in Balmoral
When travelling, it seems as though you are always on the lookout for your next meal. Finding a great restaurant and a beautiful or unique dining experience will almost always get a mention upon returning from a holiday…. So why can’t it be the same at home?
One such experience for me this summer has been the Balmoral Boatshed, and always stunning & delicious ‘Boat house café’.
Set on Balmoral Beach, in Mossman the Boat House café is living up to its mission statement of being all about a beachside setting, fresh modern Australian cuisine, rustic furnishings + interiors + an abundance of flowers + plants.
As you enter the café you’re greeted with the smell of their beautifully arranged fresh flowers, and produce at the front door. As you take your seat, you are settled at a table on the boarded pier, under their ‘nautical’ blue and white striped umbrellas, with gorgeous views over the beach. You have the sea breeze gently touching your skin to keep you cool, and there is a buzz of activity as staff whisk orders out, and clear tables to keep up with the very high demand of patrons.
While it’s a popular spot, and very busy on weekends, the staff are always pleasant and smiling, with no sign of the pressures no doubt going on behind the scenes and the food comes out surprisingly fast!
The food is fresh, and designed around the available local produce, and the menu is ever changing. There is the perfect variety of food, so whether it’s a lazy Sunday morning with Eggs Bennie & a coffee, or a Saturday afternoon by the seaside with a bucket of prawns and a glass of vino … The Boat house café has something for everyone.
Oh, and did I mention you can grab a stand up Paddle board and explore Balmoral Beach & the moorings? The perfect way to work up an appetite, or to work off those homemade macaroons.
The next time you’re in Sydney check it out, as it’s one of those complete dining experiences that could transport you to a beachside setting on the Isle of Capri, Italy. http://theboathousebb.com.au/
3. Let music whisk you away, under the sails of the Opera House!
I have to say, Sydney Harbour is absolutely spectacular, and it’s such a shame that it is SO easy to take it for granted as a local. Like anything I suppose, you do become a little desensitised to it if you see it too often, but standing there and taking a moment to breathe it in, you are reminded of just how beautiful it is.
Imagine the iconic Harbour Bridge by night, with the lights of the city as her backdrop. When you look up, you see the sails of the Opera House bathed in blue and yellow lights. Now add the feeling of a warm summers night, and the sounds of a live band with slow, rhythmic, deep tones that wash over you…. THAT is the Sydney Harbour experience I’m talking about, and why you should discover the iconic Sydney Harbour in a new light.
Not since 1996 and the ‘Crowded House’ farewell tour, had I attended a live music concert on the forecourt at the steps of the Sydney Opera House. I’ve attended Ballet and other performances inside the theatre since, and I have enjoyed a drink (or three) at the famous Opera Bar … but I’d forgotten what a spectacular music venue the forecourt is, so I was beyond grateful that my boyfriend Scott and I got to see ‘The National’ as a part of the Opera House ‘Music at the House’ concert series. A live music program over summer that showcases everything from Rock to Reggae, outside under the stars.
For the whole concert not only was I blown away by the music (If you haven’t listened to the National, you should!) but I was in absolute awe of the setting and I kept catching myself looking back into the sails of the Opera House and over to the bridge, as I allowed the spine tingling music engulf me. It’s a music venue like no other, and a wonderful way to experience the destination.
If you are in Sydney and enjoy live music, check out the upcoming shows still available for the series, otherwise there will be more live music opportunities at the Opera House forecourt over the annual ‘Vivid Live’ festival, which showcases music, light, art and ideas.
Another great resource is NSW Tourism, who list loads of ‘what’s on’ on the below site:
So there you have it… Just a few of the moments I’ve had this summer while exploring parts of a city that I’ve been around my whole life. All it took was for me to open my eyes a little, step off the well-worn path and dive a little deeper.
If you’re craving the sense of accomplishment that travelling offers, or you’re looking for something new or a little piece of adventure, but can’t jump on the next flight out of here, just find a new way to look at the things right where you are.
We are all guilty of taking the things in front of us for granted… but I can assure you that when you look, there will be something there to capture you and whisk you away to that moment and that place in your heart that is looking for something more.
What have you discovered close to home this summer? (Or winter if you’re from the Northern Hemisphere?) I’d love ideas, and perhaps you can inspire others to get out and open their eyes to what’s right in front of them too.