Good lord, what a find. Stumbling upon Athol Bay is like uncovering secret treasure, only with more sand and less gold.
I've lived i this area all my life and yet I've only just discovered this gorgeous secret beach, which gives you some indication as to its preference for anonymity.
Wedding planners are a canny and secretive lot. If they weren't, we'd have known about this ages ago. As it is I only discovered Athol Bay when at a wedding at Athol Hall. I saw a path into the bush. Followed it. Emerged at a glorious small stretch of sand with the ocean behind it and the widest, cleanest, clearest view of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge I've seen since that time I hijacked that police helicopter and went joyriding. Spectacular.
There are AT-ATs in the window!
Plus an X-Wing Fighter complete with a certain whiny little farm boy, and snowspeeders, and something from Battlestar Galactica, and . . . and . . . and it's hard not to go fanboy when you see things that were so definitive from your childhood. And people do. When you're hanging out inside the basement level of Spooning Goats you see passersby - grown men and women! - on York St above stopping and losing their shit in gleeful nostalgia.
Proprietor Jason has crafted something special here: an intimate retro lounge where you can hang out and have a good time without any of the crap pretensions of other Look At Me bars where nobody relaxes because they're too worried about who's looking at them or what they're wearing. Forget that. This is real local stylez. And even better, he's committed to only using recycled fit out materials ... which means kick-ass retro couches from your lounge room circa 1988, blew me away with their old skool cool.
They got a whole buncha great beers on offer, and a menu that focuses on gourmet pies. Give the 5xmini pie tasting flight a crack. I also hear rumours of a signature Pop Rock cocktail in the works . . .
. . . and look, I got through that whole review without mentioning the original Atari they have set up for people to play, or the plans for a Sega Master System. Um, can you say Sonic and Altered Beast?!
There are locals only spots, and then there are locals only spots. This is a locals only spot.
Clear as mud, I know, but stick with me. Tamarama ain't exactly a secret, being one of Sydney's prettiest and kinda well-known beaches, not to mention its prime possie on the Bondi to Bronte coastal walk. Hell, you've probably walked past the dip a hunnerd times without knowing what you were looking at. Hiding in plain sight is the best hiding place of all, it seems. Just ask . . . I don't know, Harry Potter or someone. I really needed a better example there.
BUT. As you hit Tama from Bondi way, cut down off the pavement and down the dirt path towards the rocks. Here's a cracking little sunbathing area and a big, clean rock pool that's great for a swim and normally has some great little dogs going for a paddle, sometimes a couple of little pugs if you're really lucky. As you face out to see there's rocks awash with water for about 20 or 30 metres, then waves and open ocean. Look hard at the rocks ahead and you'll see a blue bit out near the far end. This, friends, is The Dip, a medium-sized crevasse with a sandy bottom that's like a hidden bath on calm days and a washing machine on big days. It's rad, scary fun to pick your way out to The Dip when the swell is massive (while trying not to get bowled over by the waist-high whitewater) and hanging out in the crevasse, ducking under when the waves crash and getting churned about against the moss.
Not for the faint-hearted, but you'll get mad local cred and feel like a big man on campus in front of the inevitable crowd when you emerge.
Has this always been down here? If yes, how did I not know about it? I demand answers! Someone? Anyone? Bueller?
The depths of Potts Point has always felt like a dark crowded, lightless inner-city pocket - not that there's anything wrong with that - but I suppose it's called Elizabeth Bay for a reason, right? Right.
We actually came down here to try Bird & Bear Boathouse (thanks, Yelp!) and emerged into a tranquil little bay area comforted by the surrounds of apartment buildings with a sweet small-village vibe that enchanted us from the get-go. A park. A marina. A jetty. A fountain. Picnics. Families. Frisbees. Lovers. Tanners. Coffees. And one tank of a man who swam into the bay from what I can only assume was New Zealand.
This is the very definition of a genteel inner-suburban idyll. Brilliant.
I've never set foot in this church, but I have partied like a bandit beneath it.
Now, hold on, hold on. Avert your accusatory stares. Put away those stink-eyes, people. This was legit. There was a gig on in the crypt beneath the church (side note: how freaking sweet is it not only that there's a subterranean crypt, but that they open it up for gigs? Go clergy!)
You stoop to go through this little tunnel and there's a long, kind of cramped sandstone hallway with a bunch of side passages running off it every 15 metres or so, it's super cool. The reverb was immense! And the bathrooms were a revelation, modern and spotless. I didn't want to leave. The bathrooms, or the crypt.
If you ever get a chance to see a gig here (mine was Kirin J Callinan, btw) jump at it.
Back alley yadda yadda . . . small bar yadda yadda . . . prohibition yadda yadda . . .
Old story by now but one that (ironically) never gets old for LTD because this joint is just a damned delight, it really is. Urrtime I come here the staff are happy and congenial, helpful and smiley, and sashay about finding you seats and bringing you drinks like it's the easiest, most casual thing in the world. No pretence. No awkwardness. No horrid, earnest over-helpfulness.
Riesling, the menu declares, is the best drink on the planet and the best drink at this bar, so I went with the Pyramid ($9) which was slightly fizzy and grassy up the wazoo. From there we moved onto Aperol Fizz, rounds of them, because who doesn't like happy sparkly light refreshing alcoholic drinks with two juicy olives riding shotgun? Nobody, that's who.
I'd just smashed a monster meal elsewhere and regretted it, because the bar snack menu is super affordable (different varieties of gourmet bruschetta for $5? Bitch puh-leaz!) and interesting enough that I wanted all of it in my face hole. Next time, Gadget. Next time.
It only took me 34 years to get here.
But hot damn, was it worth the wait. Better than finding a Mr Whippy van at the end of a 40 degree day, Gordons Bay is damned sure going on my Secret Sydney / Great for Tourists lists.
There's no beach as such, and you access the bay by walking over a bunch of rocks, which lends just getting here a sense of adventure. I felt like one of the freaking Goonies man, in search of One Eyed Willie's treasure. Ce the truffle shuffle.
Cliff face above, tons of giant sloped boulders to make like a lounge lizard on, and a stunning bay filled with the clearest water this side of a bath tub full of Evian. A cracking place to read a book, sunbake, then slip into the bay for dip, float, paddle, whatever takes your fancy. There are submerged rocks to stand on, and smart people will bring snorkel masks to check out the marine life and giant inflatables to loll about and drink beer on.
Very easy to kill a summers day. Don't forget to look around the cliffs at the million-dollar houses and play "which house would you live in if you could choose one?"
Why did I put this off for so long?
Actually I know why. I've been to Auschwitz and Dachau, to the Jewish memorial in Berlin, and tons of other museums, and I guess I thought the Sydney Jewish Museum would be kinda poxy compared to the real deals over at ground zero. Boy howdy, was I a moron.
It's free on Sundays and the guided tour was great, and punctuated with a little bit of off-piste discovery during some of the longer monologues (there's tons to see and read) this was all great in itself, but then - THEN - we met Lotte, a Holocaust survivor who talks about her experiences. And Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the stories she tells. The number of times she avoided death by fate, by luck, by the skin of her teeth while in the camps. The loved ones she lost, who were taken and never seen again. The ugly grey camp numbers tattooed on her forearm, a forever reminder of what she went through and survived.
These are experiences you can't put a price on. I've since recommended talking to Lotte to a whole bunch of my friends, there is nothing else like it in Sydney to reaffirm our common humanity and give you some idea (to we, a generation removed) of the absolute and utter worst the people are capable of.
Pretty much everyone in here died from syphilis except this one guy who got struck by lightning.
This is the oldest cemetery north of the bridge, and it shows: elaborate headstones, archaic inscriptions, and lots and lots of children who dies under the age of, like, eight. To clarify, it *was* a cemetery, and was creatively re-purposed (possibly by early hipsters) into a "rest park", because that's a thing now.
But really, this is one of my favourite parks anywhere. It's serene, with sun-dappled glades and a big open area at the back where local dog owners bring their dogs, let them off the leash and watch them romp, happy as anything, drool flying. People picnic on the hill and watch the dog show on weekends and early evenings, it's All Time.
I'm here at least 4 times a week, 5 if I'm lucky. But remember kids: not picking up your dogs poop is not okay. The rest of us have to do it. So should you.
If by some weird twist of fate Batman was born in Sydney instead of Gotham this is where he'd hang out, both as Batman and as Bruce Wayne.
By day he'd be all done up in corporate gear and he'd come down from the Wayne Enterprises offices on York St and drink an Old Fashioned (complimentary cocktail comes with your cut, and hey, you don't get to be a billionaire industrialist by turning down a free drink, do you?) while the boys got the straight razor all up in his face business.
And when night fell he'd be spooking about inside the bar out back, it's so dark and moody in there he'd fit right in. If people even noticed him at all. Hell, he'd probably be hitting on girls at the bar, it's a pretty sexy kind of place, in that classy, money-to-burn kind of way. I mean, there's no way he'd be hanging out at Ryans Bar with all the jerks in their penguin suits, is there? Nuh uh.
Cocktails'll run you $18/19 here, and there's some awesome beers (like White Rabbit) around the $8/9 mark.
First time I tried to get to this place I ended up in an English language school. A guy with glasses ran up to me to say hullo and goes "Ah! You're English is very good." I'm like thank you, what a polite barman. Where's the beer? And he just smiled at me and looked confused.
And that's how I worked out not to get off at level 6, but to press the big R for Roof and that's where the lobsters and onion rings and cocktails and beers are, plus a little something called orgeat which was in my gin cocktail and which I wanted to pretend I had knowledge of but really, what could that possibly be? Almond liqueur, as it turns out. But of course. Woulda been my first guess, sweetheart.
My drink also had Yuzu in it. I did know what that was at one point in my life. Still might. Just, right now the knowledge has fled to the dark side of my brain, won't have access to it for another 12 hours.
It's spendy, there's some damn food times to be had here.
Big ol' disclaimer here: I was ten - no, fifteen - sheets to the wind when we hit Brooklyn after an engagement party with an open bar that I kept getting dragged to by people that may or may not have been me.
I couldn't find my way back here if you paid me, it was down a few sets of stairs, in the dark, and pretty sure it was inside another bar. Maybe. Anyway it had rusted stairs, I remember that, but faux rusted, like, designer rust, and there was a big ol' pool table and a Street Fighter 2 machine (although some weird 'new' version of SF2 and Ryu's hadokens are really hard to do and a lot of the special moves have changed) and the bartenders were in jorts and had enormous boobs very small tops and the tumbler of bourbon was also huge and heavy as an ashtray and the back booths behind the DJ booth are kinda cramped but you can reach over and fiddle with the DJs buttons and there can't really be that much of an art to it because no button we pressed did anything that we could tell, although a few changed colour so that must mean something.
Place was heaving like a fat kid on his first boat. Heavy tunes, writhing dance floor, good times dripping from the ceiling.
"Take your clothes off and face the skeleton"
.... is not something I thought I'd hear more than, four or five times a year. Firstly, huge hat tip to Sylwia for me even finding out about this secret goldmine. You know how you can go to hairdresser schools and pay a pittance for a trainee to go buck wild on your barnet? This is the same deal, but instead of scissor sisters these are finger jockeys.
For $30 I got an hour-long sports massage by Ron, an Asian guy in ninja pants that was friendlier than a labrador and boy howdy did this guy know his stuff, he asked me what I wanted out of the massage (head straight for my lower back), did I want strong pressure or light (smash me Ron baby, go to town) and after a posture check that's exactly what he did. I've paid top dollar for massages and nobody worked out my trigger points like Ron did.
It's all fully legit, too. You're in a big room with 10+ other masseuses and punters, it's fully professional and nothing creepy, even though you're in your underwear they put towels over you etc.
I'll be back every week. This is Christmas in July.
Little known fact: I am a bandit for abandoned. If it's old, broke, deserted or forgot, I want a piece of it. From ghost towns along empty highways to dead and empty factories, there's something about these places that gets me humming.
The place is huge, there are tunnels and gutted warehouses with the skeletons of their once-roof exposed to the sky, there's diggers and heavy machinery, site offices and engine rooms, dark stairwells and crevices.
If you walk around it you can peep in windows and see all manners of schtuff. Seeeeecret schtuff.
Have I really not reviewed this joint yet?! That's a travesty of the highest magnitude.
I don't know if it's a small bar or a dive bar or a music shack or all three wrapped up in one, what I do know is this: it's impossible not to have a good time here. Impossible, I tell you. The place practically drips (not literally, of course, that'd be gross, I mean metaphorically drips, is drenched in) effortless cool and an easygoing, approachable character where you automagically become friends with everyone around you are rendered better looking and funnier than you would normally be, aided in no small part by.....
The booze, hooray! There's usually at least three creative and delicious craft beers on tap. Last night it was Feral's IPA Hop Hog, a golden ale and something I forget the name of in between, but the bartender gave me the run down on each, this dude really knew his $hit and was happy to take the time to tell me some stories.
Under 3 people? Prop up the bar. More than 4? The booths are where it's at.
|Get outta Sydney and out to the bush you mug, there's tons of good stuff up here.||Park cars here. That is all.|
|Indian fans unite - here are the places to get great thalis.||Wax those tongues, these places got spice.|
|Eat, drink, play on the water.||Chatswood is so damn big now! Good for us. Lot of great stuff.|
|Throwing a bash and need help? Here are some guys I've used & recommend.||Some providers I've used to help with parties.|
|Newsagents, drycleaners and such||Printing, faxing, scanning, etc.|
"Pull those party pants up immediately, young man."
Sydney New South Wales, AustralienYelper seit
Dezember 2011Dinge, die ich mag
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