WHILE tourists may well have heaved a sigh of relief as the Aussie dollar started to drop against other curriences in recent months, cities in Australia are still amongst the world’s most costly.
However they don’t always have to be. There are plenty of places where you can save your pennies and in Sydney these can range from coastal walks to swimming in beautiful ocean pools or touring the harbour. This list of seven activities are all free, and some can also be accessed by the 555 shuttle bus within the city centre – also free.
The sights don’t come more thick and fast than around Sydney’s beautiful blue harbour with the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Circular Quay, the Sydney Opera House and the historic Rocks district all peering out at you from around every corner. Let your feet do the walking around Circular Quay and take in all the iconic sights. You can cross the 502m long bridge by foot or car (small fee), sail under it, or even climb it (fee involved). It’s possible to go inside the Opera House for a performance, but you’ll get plenty of enjoyment from simply marvelling at the award-winning 1956 design from outside – possibly Australia’s most recognisable sight. And if you do feel compelled to spend some pennies, the best way to part with them would be to jump on a ferry going to Manly. This ferry crosses the harbour and goes out past the heads to Manly beach – a really cheap way of enjoying all the sights from the water.
Swim at Bondi
For a quintessential experience of Sydney, and one that doesn’t cost a penny, take a dip in the crystal clear waters of world-famous Bondi beach. While crowded at times, the experience is usually memorable, particularly if you can avoid the rips and holes and thus the services of the Bondi Lifeguards – made famous by the reality TV show Bondi Rescue. Learning to surf at Bondi is another popular experience for those visiting Sydney and only costs about $ 50 for a lesson. If that’s not quite your bent you may wish to have a more sedate water experience in either of the salt water sea baths at either end of the beach. You could even extend your stay in Bondi by undertaking the beautiful 6km coastal walk to Coogee beach – a 2-hour cliff top stroll.
Browse the markets
Sydney is liberally littered with markets selling everything from food to clothes, jewellery, hats and souvenirs. Spend what you will at places like Paddington, Bondi Junction, Kings Cross, Manly, Castle Hill and Parramatta or simply people watch, go with the crowds and enjoy the live music. Sydney also has an incredible array of “op shops” (opportunity/charity shops) that can be found in most suburbs seling used clothing, shoes and household gear, often with brand labels and price tags still attached at incredible prices.
Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens are a 30-hectare oasis and all free. There are lawns, ponds and shady trees offering plenty of views of the harbour and places to picnic – popular spots for the New Year’s Eve fireworks. Daily guided walks can take visitors around the gardens, or they can simply follow a self-guided, themed tour.
Bondi is the most famous beach in the city but it isn’t the only one and isn’t necessarily the best one either. The coastline around the city is dotted with gorgeous beaches, bays and sandy vistas. Some worth visiting include Maroubra, Chinaman’s, Manly, Coogee and Balmoral. There’s also Bronte, Tamarama and the list goes on and on. Sydney’s beaches are amongst the most beautiful in the world considering they are so close to a major city.
Sydney Olympic Park
The 2000 Olympics are long over, but you can still relive the experience by visiting the site of one of the best modern games. There are a lot of attractions here at this leisure, entertainment and sporting complex and many are free. There are picnics, water features, wetlands to cycle or walk and plenty of places to eat.
Play chess in Hyde Park
Not only is Hyde Park Australia’s oldest parkland, but it’s also located right in the heart of Sydney near the Supreme Court, St James Church and Sydney Hospital. This means its the centre of much activity, much like its namesake in London. One of the best ways to while away some hours in Sydney is the giant oudoor chess set in the park – just be prepared for an audience.