It may be a long way to travel (unless, of course, you are based in the Pacific Ocean), but once you get there, Australia promises every mile of your journey was worth it. So vast is the landmass that it embraces every type of environment, from lush rainforests and snow-capped mountains to golden beaches and parched deserts, and it is abundant in natural wonders. To top it all off, its waters are dotted with idyllic islands and are home to the spectacular Great Barrier Reef.
A luxury yacht charter ensures you encounter the best of all the country has to offer, starting with the lively metropolis of Sydney. Located at the heart of one of the largest and most beautiful natural harbors in the world, the cosmopolitan city is breezy and laid back with dazzling beaches and chic restaurants. Spend a few days ashore and discover the architectural landmarks, exciting cuisine, dynamic art scene and irresistible vibe of Australia’s oldest, most populous city.
Sydney is a city that celebrates culture and its talent for honoring the old and putting a twist on the new. Its cultural scene is brimming with life, innovation and inspiration. The city’s best museum is Sydney itself, especially the areas associated with European settlers. Board the monorail for a tour of Darling Harbour or cruise into Circular Quay and step ashore to discover The Rocks located just behind the waterfront. The area’s history dates to convict days and there are several ghostly tours replete with tales of hangings, suicides and hauntings on offer. It’s not all grim, however, as far removed from its colorful past, the old lanes and courtyards are now packed with cafes, galleries and restaurants.
Avoid the crowds and take in magnificent views of the Sydney Opera House from the decks of a superyacht. Alternatively, you could embrace your cultural mood and step inside for music, opera, theater or ballet — the city’s iconic building is home of Opera Australia, the Sydney Theatre Company and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. (The venue is currently undergoing a massive renovation to improve the acoustics.)
Connecting the city center with the Northern Shores, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is the best place to view the surrounding city, the harbor and your yacht anchored below. Those brave enough can climb to the summit for the most spectacular views, but should there be children in the charter party, the Pylon Lookout, which is just 200 steps, also boasts impressive views over the city.
Sydney is the preeminent place for contemporary art in Australia, in part because the city has several multi-story arts spaces. The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia is the place to head for international collections and recent works by local artists. Alternatively, the White Rabbit Gallery focuses exclusively on contemporary Chinese art and has displayed some famous pieces over its four-floor gallery. Australia’s great colonial artists and later impressionists have long been trying to capture the remarkable light, fauna and expansive space that embodies the country and much of their art is in a permanent collection at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
From farmers’ markets to designer shops and high-end boutiques, Sydney is great for a dose of retail therapy. Make your way to the city center where international designers’ stores line Elizabeth Street and Castlereagh Street. Those looking for the equivalent of London’s Knightsbridge or LA’s Rodeo Drive should head to Transvaal Avenue in Double Bay. Big on exclusive designer shops, jewelry stores and the finest accessories, the exclusive area is referred to by locals as “Double Pay.”
For Australian designers, visit The Intersection in Paddington. Here you will find local designer labels that have put Australia on the global map of fashion, including Zimmermann, Sass and Bide, Camilla, Alice McCall and Bassike. For jewelry boutiques and all manner of pretty and luxurious items, try the elegant Queen Victoria Building and Strand Arcade. And,
those looking to buy art and souvenirs should head to The Rocks for the weekend markets.
The Royal Botanic Garden on the edge of the harbor is a welcome retreat from the bustling city. Originally the site of the colony’s first farm, the gardens date back to 1817. Today the landscape, spread across 34 hectares, varies between open parkland and paths winding through all manner of trees and beautiful flower-filled gardens.
Sydney is brimming with fine-dining establishments to rival any in the world; great dining is a matter of walking a few steps from wherever you are. Chef Peter Gilmore’s Quay, which has been named among the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, is the place to head for killer harbor views and a menu by the chef who put modern Australian cuisine on the map. Gilmore also is responsible for creating Bennelong in the Sydney Opera House. Defining Sydney dining, the award-winning establishment has been quoted as the “Holy Grail of Australian restaurants” by The New York Times.
Fans of seafood should head to Chef Neil Perry’s Rockpool Bar & Grill, a steakhouse with sensational fresh seafood, which showcases some of Australia’s finest and sustainable produce. If you have a penchant for oysters, the Morrison Bar & Oyster Room has an entire library of mollusks. Book a table on the open terrace for the best spot and make sure you have a side of Chef Sean Connolly’s duck-fat chips.
Potts Point on the harbor-side is fast becoming the foodie epicenter of the city and it is here you will find the sensational modern Asian restaurant Billy Kwong where chef Kylie Kwong turns out contemporary Chinese dishes created around indigenous Australian ingredients. Those brave enough should try the caramelized wallaby tail with black bean and chili. Fratelli Paradiso is the place to head for casual Italian, and if you want to take some cured meats and fresh pasta back on board, then Café Sopra at the fashionable food warehouse Fratelli Fresh in Potts Point is the best deli in the city. Also in Potts Point, Yellow is one of the best bistros for brunch. Arrive early to beat the crowds and try the grilled licorice bread.
Whether you like vine or grain, cocktail or draft, Sydney has a great variety of stylish bars, hip mixologists and heritage brewers. The cocktails at Firedoor (also a fine restaurant) are legendary. Try the signature Magnolia Acuminata or opt for the wine list curated by their very own Master of Wine. Alternatively, in Potts Point, the wine bar Monopole has knowledgeable staff who can guide you through the 500-bottle-strong wine list.
If your charter party is a slightly older crowd, you must head to Hemmesphere for its fabulous cocktail list and a-list. Located on the waterfront, The Loft also attracts the visiting glitterati and is a great setting for those looking for a midweek drink — the bar is packed on Friday and Saturday nights. For spectacular views with your vermouth martini, Orbit Lounge Bar is a scene of 1970s glamour in one of Sydney’s finest skyscrapers. For a casual drink, try Pocket Bar in Surry Hills or Mamasan in Bondi.
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Sydney and the surrounding suburbs are great for outdoor activities such as yoga, hiking and running. Greet the morning in sun salutation-style with Yoga by the Sea on the beaches at Bronte, Bondi or Tamarama. Hikers and runners should try the coastal walkway from Bondi to Bronte or the cliff tops above Vaucluse to Watsons Bay. Both provide some of the most stunning views in the city. For those looking to do as the locals, head to Bondi Baths for a sauna, spot of yoga or to swim in the famous outdoor pool. The best place for spa action in the city tends to be in the major hotels, which usually have the most impressive facilities. Try Chi, The Spa at the Shangri La Hotel or the Endota Spa at the Four Seasons.
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For Australian turf racing at its best, head to the Royal Randwick, which plays host to the world’s richest weight-for-age turf race over 200 meters, the Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes — a highlight on the social calendar each April for over 150 years.
Sydney Harbour may be home to the iconic Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, but these are just the tip of the iceberg of what 200 miles of shoreline have to offer. Twenty-one square miles of water run from cityscapes to inlets on the Hawkesbury River, providing a rich and varied cruising ground with tiny islands, safe diving spots and sandy beaches. Offering berths for superyachts of up to 75-meters, the Sydney Superyacht Marina in Rozelle Bay is minutes from the hub of the city. Built to accommodate visiting yachts to Sydney for the 2000 Olympic Games and having just been through a huge redevelopment, the marina is ideally located for both domestic and international airports and the city center. The marina also can arrange for berthing at Campbell’s Cove right next to The Rocks with uninterrupted views of the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. Alternatively, the small bay of Farm Cove lies opposite the Opera House and is surrounded by the Botanical Garden. Anchor here and take the tender ashore to Circular Quay. Away from the city, but with the best vantage point on the harbor, Athol Bay is ideal for a night at anchor.
After a few days anchored or berthed in the great city of Sydney, the harbor offers protected cruising and plenty to entertain even the most discerning charter guests before, of course, heading north to explore the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef and beyond.