The drawcards of Australia’s world-class cities are unmistakable; Sydney has the coastline and Melbourne has the restaurant scene, while Adelaide enjoys a deserved rep for real-deal wine and the Gold Coast shines bright as a beacon of beachside glitz.
But these aren’t your one-trick-pony kind of places. Here are some of the best ways to discover a new side to Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and the Gold Coast once lockdown restrictions are eased…
Discover a new side of… the Gold Coast
Sun, surf and a whole lotta shine; the Gold Coast does glitz like no other city. If you’d prefer to swap the sparkling for the subdued, check out some of these must-dos.
Stay in vintage digs
You could take your pick of the high-rise hotels or you could bunk in a restored retro beauty reminiscent of Palm Springs. There are neon signs and breezeblocks aplenty at The Mysa Motel, a Gold Coast Highway gem anchored around a kidney-shaped pool. A little further south, at The Pink Hotel Coolangatta, you’ll get a similar Mid-century Modern feel, with a pastel-pink exterior and killer room service brekkie options from a nearby cafe to boot.
Discover the “it” neighbourhood
The chill suburb of Burleigh Heads is quickly gaining ground as the neighbourhood to hit when the sparkling strip feels a little too bright. Rosella’s, a cute day-to-night dining spot with booth seating and a twinge of Australiana, deals in faves but not as you know them. We’re talking XXXX damper with macadamia butter, and barbecued king prawns in chilli, lemon gum and rainforest honey sauce. Really want to get into the spirit of the place? Hit up the namesake whitewashed, cactus-dotted Palm Springs Burleigh café. The SoCal-feel menu stays true to its visual style, too; expect pulled-pork burritos, buttermilk fried chicken and burgers draped with American cheese.
Plan your next getaway. Fly from Sydney to the Gold Coast from 16,000 Qantas Points, plus $83 taxes, fees and carrier charges.~
Discover a new side of… Sydney
Skimming the coast and straddling a vast namesake harbour, Sydney is a water city through and through. But you don’t need to cram onto popular strips of sand. Explore these secret beaches, pairing them with a nearby eatery, and you’ll experience classic Sydney without the crowds.
Afternoon swim at Kutti Beach, Vaucluse, followed by dinner at Ikaria, Bondi Beach
Part of Kutti’s secluded charm is that you might have trouble finding it (it’s at the bottom of a hidden staircase at the end of Vaucluse’s Hopetoun Avenue, about 15 minutes’ drive from the Sydney CBD). The glittering, calm waters and swaying palms of this flat harbour beach have garnered comparisons to the Mediterranean; why not continue the European feel by stopping in for a sandside dinner at Bondi Beach’s new Greek eatery, Ikaria? All the classics are here – saganaki, slow-cooked lamb shoulder and gelato laced with olive oil – but the interiors are pure Bondi chic.
Morning walk to Reef Beach, Balgowlah Heights, followed by a long lunch at Ormeggio at The Spit
Good things come to those who bushwalk, especially where the secluded coves of Reef Beach are concerned. Reached by trekking through part of Sydney Harbour National Park from Balgowlah’s Forty Baskets Beach – about 25 minutes’ drive from the city – it’s a charmingly small, sheltered stretch of sand with wonderful views of harbourside Manly. It’s also a gloriously close drive from breezy Ormeggio at The Spit, where the modern Italian menu is a wonderful ode to seafood (picked spanner crab, yellowfin tuna) finished with excellent cocktails and attentive service.
Dip at Frenchmans Bay, La Perouse, followed by drinks and snacks at Una Más, Coogee
The grass-fringed Frenchmans Bay, 25 minutes south of Sydney’s CBD, is a peaceful choice for a dip – sheltered from Botany Bay by its perfect C-curve sweep and short, rocky groyne. Once you’re sufficiently sunned, shake the sand from your towel and take a 15-minute drive north to another Merivale triumph: Coogee’s Una Más, the tapas bar du jour. The menu is unmistakably Spanish (bullhorn peppers, patatas bravas and sardines escabeche) but the feel is all Sydney.
Plan your next getaway. Fly from Brisbane to Sydney from 16,000 Qantas Points, plus $86 taxes, fees and carrier charges.~
Discover a new side of… Melbourne
Victoria’s cosmopolitan capital is a city of iconic wining and dining experiences. Not sure your budget will stretch to the top-notch spots? Try these up-and-comers on for size.
Poodle Bar & Bistro, Fitzroy
There’s nothing wrong with a classic – but resisting a fresh take is futile, especially when it involves the tastebuds of former Cumulus Inc. chef Josh Fry. Expect a menu of new-world favourites at this moody little Art Deco bistro, including a mortadella-patty burger from the bar and a tamarind- and pancetta-laced duck heart skewer from the bistro selection. It’ll be a Melbourne icon in no time.
Tres a Cinco, CBD
Venture down Hosier, one of the CBD’s most famous laneways, and you’ll find this bright little Mexican eatery. Chef Sarai Castillo is a Movida alum so you know the food has punch. But the childhood favourites that punctuate the menu guarantee a personal touch, too (the inimitable brekkie fave of chilaquiles rojo, a satisfying mess of crispy tortilla chips showered in red chilli sauce, is an all-day, all-night affair). Also, who can resist a place with an extensive drinks list? Our money’s on the Espresso Mexcalini – a concoction with Pelotón mescal, coffee and white chocolate.
Riso Diner, Fitzroy
This all-day Italian diner is run by an ex-Vue de Monde chef so you know you’re in good culinary hands. The fully vegetarian menu changes daily – a dish of smoked risotto with black truffle and balsamic has been spotted on the blackboard – according to what’s good and fresh but the homemade pasta and minimal intervention wines are constant.
Discover a new side of… Adelaide
Adelaide’s reputation as an exemplary wine scene is no surprise given it’s at the centre of some of the country’s leading wine regions. You don’t have to head out to the Barossa or McLaren Vale to sample it, however – here’s where to concentrate your efforts.
The Fruitful Pursuit
Think wine-tasting is a stuffy affair? The Fruitful Pursuit has flipped the switch. Its MO is hosting wine-centric events, from tastings to maker meet-and-greets, always with seriously delicious results. In a moving cellar-door-like experience, attendees will get a taste of the work of experimental local producers from around the state, as well their beloved drops, of course.
Super Bueno, CBD
A super-casual take on the sometimes-serious wine bar concept, the ambience and attitude at Super Bueno are as light as a Beaujolais. The menu is Italian- and Spanish-inspired but the wines – which are practically art, as they populate the walls – are from all over.
LOC Bottle Bar, CBD
The humble bottle shop has had quite the revamp of late and this very chic example is no exception. There are more than 100 low-intervention drops on these jammed shelves and once you’ve made a selection, you can pop the cork right on site and take a seat. The bar menu serves anything (and everything), from slurp-worthy noodles to fresh oysters, depending on the day.
The Moseley Beach Club, Glenelg
When the weather heats up, buzzy Glenelg gets a European refurb. The Moseley Beach Club, a sprawling set-up of striped umbrellas and sun loungers right on the sand, is the place to sip a McLaren Flat sav blanc (oh yes, the wine menu is rammed with local faves). Pair with a charcuterie board and a sunset setting and you’ve got a real taste of summer in the city.
Image credits: Destination NSW (Spit Manly Walk); Sharmonie Cockayne (LOC Bottle Bar)
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