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Sydney’s best swimming pools!

Sydney’s best swimming pools

Last month I posted a summary of an old series, Sydney’s best beaches. While Sydney is blessed with some incredible natural stretches of sand and surf, they’re not the only places to cool off this summer. In fact Sydney is home to a smorgasbord of beautiful swimming pools! From the humble rockpools hewn out of beach headlands to high tech aquatic leisure parks, here in no particular offer are Sydney’s best swimming pools!

North Sydney Olympic Pool

North Sydney Olympic Pool (Image: Yeeyi)

North Sydney Olympic Pool (Image: Yeeyi)

Let’s begin with the iconic North Sydney Olympic Pool. It was built in 1936 and in 1938 hosted the swimming events at the Empire Games, a forerunner to the Commonwealth Games. Nothing is quite as “Sydney” as swimming under the harbour bridge at North Sydney Olympic Pool.

Tip: The restaurant here is pretty good too!

Entry: $7.50

 

Greenwich Baths, Greenwich

Greenwich Baths

Greenwich Baths

Tucked away in an inlet in northern Sydney harbour, and hidden by foliage, is Greenwich baths. Given the location, you would be forgiven for thinking this is a skinny-dipping hotspot, and while more than a few nocturnal swimmers have been caught with their pants down, by day this is a strictly family affair.

Tip: Not the place to bring a football and stereo system

Price: $4

 

Andrew “Boy” Charlton, Wooloomooloo

Andrew "Boy" Charlton Pool

Andrew “Boy” Charlton Pool

Andrew “Boy” Charlton pool is where the beautiful people of Kings Cross and Darlinghurst come to bronze themselves and be seen. Cruisey summer by the pool? More like cruising by the Cross. It’s not all buffed bodies and shelf bums. But there’s a lot of it.

Tip: Hit the gym before you come here. Competition is real.

Price: $6.20

 

Mahon Pool, Maroubra

Mahon Pool, Maroubra

Mahon Pool, Maroubra

Set further from the beach than most of Sydney’s other rockpools, Mahon Pool at maroubra is a destination for those who want their surf without the surf. Waves come crashing in, stirring up the water, but the swimmers keep on swimming unperturbed. It sure beats the rough maroubra swell down at the beach.

Tip: Mahon Pool is lit for night swimming. Just try it once – you’ll be hooked!

Price: Free

 

Bronte Baths

Bronte Baths

Bronte Baths

It’s like someone transported a crystalline piece of South Pacific aquamarine into the azure surf and sunshine yellow beach, such is the beauty of the Bronte baths. This is not any ordinary Rockpool – this is managed, gated and preserved. A little piece of heaven.

Tip: Sunbaking on the rocks next to the path above the pool is simply bliss

Price: Free

Bondi Icebergs

Bondi Icebergs

Bondi Icebergs

This is where they apparently put ice blocks in the water for the regulars’ cold temperature endurance training! Bondi icebergs is sort of the ultimate Sydney rockpool – the iconic beach, the iconic swimming hole… getting thrown into the drink as waves crash over the edge…

Tip: Come here early on a winter morning, watch the sun rise and see how the icebergs push the limits of their endurance.

Price: $6.50

 

MacCallum Pool

MacCallum Pool, Cremorne Point

MacCallum Pool, Cremorne Point

If you’ve ever wanted to swim in Sydney Harbour (and really feel like you’re swimming in the harbour), this is the place to do it. Filtered harbour water in calm, forested surroundings tucked away on Cremorne Point. Peer over the boardwalk for picture postcard views of the Opera House.

Tip: Come here early in the morning and you might even have it to yourself – you’ll feel like you’ve just woken up in your very own Blue Lagoon film.

Price: Free

 

Lake Parramatta

Lake Parramatta

Lake Parramatta

Who’d have thought that parramatta would have one of Sydney’s best natural swimming holes? Ok, so it’s not technically a swimming pool, but it is a waterhole and it’s awesome. 20kms from the coast, and recently reopened after years of contamination, Lake Parramatta is possibly western Sydney’s best place to cool off this summer

Tip:  Outside of the netted area you swim at your own risk; there are boats on lake parramatta, and you’re supposed to dip in the netted area full of children, where the lifeguards can keep watch. When I visited, some locals were having a ball jumping off the rocks on the northern shore of the lake. Technically out of bounds… But no one was stopping them either…

Price: Free

 

Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre

Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre (Image: edwin11, Wikimedia Commons)

Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre (Image: edwin11, Wikimedia Commons)

Anyone who grew up in Sydney in the late 1990s begged their parents to take them here at least once. The draw cards of course were the waterslide, the whirlpool, the hot tubs, kiddies area. Well guess what? It still rocks!

Tip: This is a great place for children, especially younger children. If you went swimming here as a child back in the 90s, and you’ve spawned some of your own, do the right thing and bring them here!

Price: $7.50

 

Wet’n’wild

Wet n Wild Sydney (Image: Mary and Andrew, Wikimedia Commons)

Wet n Wild Sydney (Image: Mary and Andrew, Wikimedia Commons)

Sydney does the Gold Coast! It was probably inevitable that the old Wonderland site would be used as some sort of a leisure venue, but it’s fair to say not many people saw it coming when in 2012, wet n wild announced their expansion into the Sydney market. 42 slides across four towers, each with a different level of intensity. What more could we want?

Tip: The park isn’t open all the time, especially during cooler months – check ahead of time, and book your tickets online.

Price: $79

 

What is your favourite swimming pool? (either in Sydney, or elsewhere)

Sydney’s best beaches

Sydney’s best beaches

So what are Sydney’s best beaches? As we head into another long hot summer, it’s time to nominate our favourite places to chill out in Australia’s biggest city.

 

Bondi Beach

Sydney's Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach

What would a beach article be if we didn’t mention Bondi? Sure it’s crowded, busy, and, dare we say it, overrated. But It still has much to recommend it. Where else can you lie on a stretch of sand this beautiful, then have a meal at such a wide selection of restaurants, go shopping, or even head back to work after your lunch break? While it’s no doubt pretty, even on a busy day, Bondi trumps anywhere else in terms of accessibility, facilities and backpacker party atmosphere.

 

Clovelly Beach

Clovelly's cute beach and bay

Clovelly’s cute beach and bay

Lovely little Clovelly is an anomaly in Sydney; a very short but deep beach at the end of a rocky inlet (while most beaches are long, wide and flanked by headlands). The waves break far out from the beach, creating a tight lagoon-like environment between the coast and the actual shoreline. The concrete catwalks which line the channel provide additional sun-baking space, while little waves race past into the narrow bay. The beach is backed by a small park, surrounded by trees that make Clovelly a perfect little antidote to the rush of other cityside beaches.

 

 

 

Whale Beach

Sydney's Whale Beach

Whale Beach

A secluded stretch of sand lined by Norfolk Island Pines and ringed by well-to-do villas boasting frangipani trees. No, this is not some faraway South Pacific idyll, this is Whale Beach, just south of more-famous Palm Beach and absolutely part of Australia’s largest city. Not that you’d know it; hidden from busy Barrenjoey Road by a range of green hills (hinterland?), Whale Beach sees far fewer visitors than its neighbours, and the locals like it this way.

 

 

 

Bilgola Beach

Sydney's Bilgola Beach

Bilgola Beach

It’s hard not to like a beach whose only land access route is a snaking, tree-lined road called The Serpentine. Once you’ve parked amid the palm groves, Bilgola Beach delights with its gorgeous little crescent of golden sand, and it’s pretty, secluded setting away from major traffic routes. It’s rarely crowded here, and there are properties right on the beach too – a low key slice of northern beaches beachfront, and a place you’ll find yourself returning to again and again.

 

 

 

Shelly Beach

Shelly Beach

Shelly Beach

Ok, so it’s not actually part of the harbour, but lovely little Shelly Beach just around the headland from Manly is not exactly your typical ocean beach either. Come to this protected cove any warm weekend and you’ll see lots of families, paddle boarders and snorkelers enjoying the placid waters. Palm fringed, cafe-boasting and accessed by a long walk where you can spot wild water dragons, Shelly Beach is a long-time favourite for many Sydneysiders.

 

Balmoral Beach

Balmoral Beach and its island

Balmoral Beach and its island

Balmoral is so much more than just a beach; it’s a suburb, it’s a destination, and it’s a state of mind. Despite the throngs of people who crowd the waterfront in peak season, it never quite loses its charm. With a handful of cute cafes, high-end shops and it’s gorgeous pavilion, it’s difficult not to love Balmoral. Spend time on the calm beach, walk across the quaint bridge over to the natural island, or while away the hours sipping a cool iced coffee.

What’s your favourite Sydney beach? Comment below!

This article is based on a series “Sydney’s Best Beaches, Parts One, Two and Three“, originally published in the summer of 2013/14.

Good Thai, Chatswood, Sydney; is it?

Good Thai, Sydney

Good Thai, Chatswood, Sydney

The owners of Good Thai, or G Thai as it is also known, must be pretty confident about their product to name their restaurant so. Built underneath the town square development in the northern Sydney suburb of Chatswood, it is in one of the shopping hubs premier locations. But does it live up to its name?

Soft shell crab, Good Thai, Chatswood, Sydney

Soft shell crab, Good Thai, Chatswood, Sydney

When I visited with some friends a few months ago, I was excited to actually dine in or around Chatswood’s madeover town centre. G Thai would be my introduction, and I’ve never made any secret of the fact that I love Thai food.

Good Thai, Chatswood, Sydney

While the decor and service at G Thai are contemporary and lovely, the food (a kind of blend of street and restaurant favourites) is not so spectacular. The impressive golden wall sculpture at the entrance is about as close as I came to having my G (Thai) spot hit.

Good Thai, Chatswood, Sydney

Good Thai, Chatswood, Sydney

It’s not that the food is bad – it’s fine in fact. The Massaman curry was deliciously rich and spicy, the rice fragrant and the soft shell crab tantalisingly tangy – but I was still waiting for the rabbit to be pulled out of the hat. The Pad Thai was not too bad, but the noodles were slightly squidgy, and the serving size a bit too small for the price we paid. This was one of those cases where fine is not quite good enough, especially when there are so many other good Thai restaurants in Sydney.

Pad Thai, Good Thai, Chatswood, Sydney

Pad Thai, Good Thai, Chatswood, Sydney

The best part about my Good Thai experience was the Thai iced milk tea – sweet, creamy and refreshingly chilled. However we came for the food, and considering the effort that has gone into making G Thai look so good, one would think that some effort could be spared on the food.

Massaman Curry, Good Thai, Chatswood, Sydney

Massaman Curry, Good Thai, Chatswood, Sydney

Ultimately, G Thai is one of those restaurants that seems to be counting on its location more than its reputation to draw in customers. How long this lasts is yet to be seen; people vote with their feet, but with a great location and great first impressions, there might be enough foot traffic to give it time to improve.

Thai Iced Milk Tea, Good Thai, Chatswood, Sydney

Thai Iced Milk Tea, Good Thai, Chatswood, Sydney

Details

Food: 5/10

Ambience: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Cost: Mains $11 – $21

Shop 2, The Concourse, 405 – 409 Victoria Avenue, Chatswood 2067

(02) 8971-3268

www.goodthai.com.au

Monday – Sunday: 11:30am – 10pm

 

Review: Umi Sushi in Sydney’s Darling Harbour

Umi Sushi

At risk of turning my blog into a sushi review site (after my many reviews from Sydney, and my last one from Lahore), I am pushing ahead this week with my review of a lovely Japanese restaurant in Sydney’s Darling Harbour; Umi Sushi.

Umi Sushi

Umi Sushi is a great place I came across while searching for a reasonably priced, tasty and pleasant sushi joint in the entertainment precinct. Umi Sushi ticks all these boxes.

Umi Sushi

The contemporary, Japanese-inspired setting is the perfect place to chow down on classics like prawn, salmon, tuna and California rolls. However we decided to sit outside, dining alfresco and watching the world go by – highly recommended.

Umi Sushi

The plates are colourful, sushi-train style servings, but the service is top-notch; restaurant style and courteous.

Umi Sushi

There’s also a range of ‘creative rolls’ – think the ‘Sydney Roll’ (salmon, cream cheese, avocado and cucumber with seared salmon belly) and the ‘Ayres Rock Roll’ (seared scallop on avocado and cucumber).

Umi Sushi

There’s also Karaage Chicken on the menu (see above), and a whole bunch of udon dishes, salads, sashimi and even dessert (black sesame pudding, anyone?). The food was all delicious, and at these prices, and near the heart of Sydney’s CBD, this might have been one of my best finds yet!

 

Details

Food: 7/10

Ambience: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Cost: Rolls for $2.60 – $18, mains $7 – $19

Darling Quarter, 1-25 Harbour St, Sydney, facing Tumbalong Park

(02) 9283 2006

www.umisushi.com.au/#!darling-quarter/c1xbt

Sunday – Thursday: 11:30am – 10pm

Friday and Saturday: 11:30am – 10:30pm

Videos: Camille and Dib ♥ Sydney

Camille Parkinson

Camille Parkinson seems to love being a tourist in her own city; her conversations are littered with recommendations of places to go, things to do or sights to see. Sydney is of course the type of city which lends itself to excursions like this, and because she laps it up, Camille was the perfect choice for this video. While shooting the video she took us Cockatoo Island on the Parramatta River, and of course gave us a guided tour of one of her favourite places at home!

To watch Camille on YouTube, click here, or for Vimeo, click here.

Dib Taleb

Lebanese-background Australian Dib Taleb runs a Chinese restaurant and has been known to attend sporting matches where Afghanistan is playing. The manager of China Bowl in Punchbowl, a halal Chinese restaurant in Sydney’s south west, is the perfect candidate to sum up how multicultural Sydney works, lives and breathes. Sydney is a melting pot, and my friend Dib knows it like the back of his hand.

To watch Dib on YouTube, click here, or for Vimeo, click here.

Gallery: Vivid Sydney 2015

Vivid Sydney 2015

With Vivid Sydney over for another year, it’s time to look back at the fortnight that brought the harbour city to life!

Top Speed Thai on Sydney’s North Shore

Top Speed Thai

It’s not hard to find a good Thai restaurant in Sydney. Parts of the city are overflowing with eateries offering the popular South East Asian cuisine, and a few years ago, it was difficult to understand how some of them were turning a profit, such was the market saturation.

Top Speed Thai (Image: Aussie True Blue0

Top Speed Thai (Image: Aussie True Blue0

Top Speed Thai is one of Sydney’s better Thai options, and on the North Shore, which traditionally has lagged behind the eastern suburbs and inner west in terms of quality Thai restaurants.

Top Speed Thai (Image: From dimmi.com.au)

Top Speed Thai (Image: From dimmi.com.au)

The food is as delicious as it should be; when we visited we ordered some favourites (chicken stir fry and Tom Yum Goong), along with the more interesting-sounding ‘Heavenly Beef’

Chicken Oyster Sauce Stir Fry at Top Speed Thai

Chicken Oyster Sauce Stir Fry at Top Speed Thai

The beef was indeed heavenly – served sizzling on a hotplate, tender and infused with just enough savoury vegetabley flavour and a hint of spice – it reminded me of some delicious Chinese dishes I’ve eaten.

Heavenly Beef at Top Speed Thai

Heavenly Beef at Top Speed Thai

The Tom Yum Goong was done properly – it was certainly one of the better renditions of the classic sweet/sour/spicy soup that I’ve tasted outside of Thailand itself.

Tom Yum Goong with Coconut Rice at Top Speed Thai

Tom Yum Goong with Coconut Rice at Top Speed Thai

The place itself is surprisingly comfy – it’s not much to look at from the outside, but on the inside it’s sleek yet homely. The service is friendly and obliging – waiters were more than happy to help us out when we asked to be moved to a quieter table.

All in all, a pleasant, good-value, and lip-smacking night out on Sydney’s North Shore!

 

Details

Food: 8/10

Ambience: 7/10

Service: 8/10

Cost: Mains $10 – 25

331 Penshurst Street, Willoughby North

(02) 9417 7500

topspeedthaiwilloughby.com.au

Lunch: 11am – 3pm daily

Dinner: 4pm – 10pm Sunday – Wednesday, open until 10:30pm Thursday – Saturday nights.

Why everyone loves Mamak Malaysian restaurants!

Mamak

Way back in 2004 I decided that I loved Malaysian food when my cousins and aunt in Melaka took me out for a scrumptious dinner. My mouth was equally watering and on fire with every delicious, spice-laden dish that was presented to me; sambal prawns, chicken curry, nasi goreng, beef rendang… all washed down with tangy and sweet lime iced tea. Since returning to Australia I had searched for a meal which reminded me of that delicious experience.

Mamak Malaysian food

Fast forward to 2010; I’m visiting Sydney and am taken to Mamak Roti and Satay near Chinatown. The queue is long; we have to wait for about half an hour to be seated; but all these people can’t be wrong.

They’re not. Mamak fulfils all of my Malaysian culinary wishes in one casual fell swoop. Begin with roti canai, the flaky, hand-rolled bread served with tantalisingly zesty dipping sauces. It’s perfect; flaky, warm, melt-in-the-mouth goodness.

Roti canai at Mamak

Roti canai at Mamak

Roti canai at Mamak

Roti canai at Mamak

Follow this with nasi lamak; a tasting plate with a mound of rice at the centre. Imposed by fiery sambal prawns, succulent chicken curry, nuts, dried fish, cool chopped cucumber and a boiled egg, this is no-fuss-just-dig-in style food. And it’s totally delicious. Being a tasting plate, nasi lemak can be served with accompaniments of your choosing; the soft, slow-cooked beef rendang is a perfect substitute for the prawns if you’re looking for something with less chilli.

Nasi Lemak at Mamak

Nasi Lemak at Mamak

These can also be ordered as ‘complete’ mains if you’ve got a favourite and don’t want to sample. Nasi goreng (fried rice), mee goreng (fried noodles) and a range of other Malaysian delights are on the menu.

Sambal prawns as a main dish at Mamak

Sambal prawns as a main dish at Mamak

And don’t forget to order at least one plate of chicken or beef satay skewers to share around the table.

You can wash it all down with that sweet lime iced tea, although there are also Malaysian beverages such as teh tarik (literally ‘pulled tea’ – the milky sweet brew is poured from a great height to create a comforting bubbly foam). And for dessert is a range of bread sweets, like the roti tisu, a giant cone of paper-thin bread drizzled with sweetened condensed milk and a raspberry jam-like syrup.

Roti tisu at Mamak (Image: Urban Spoon)

Roti tisu at Mamak (Image: Urban Spoon)

No, those people weren’t wrong; they were lining up with good reason. And since my first visit to Mamak, I have returned countless times to the Sydney Chinatown, as well as Chatswood and Melbourne branches.

Iced Lime Tea at Mamak

Iced Lime Tea at Mamak

Details

Food: 10/10

Ambience: 7/10

Service: 8/10

Cost: Mains $10 – $18

15 Goulburn Street, Haymarket, Sydney; (02) 9211 1668

Shop P5, 1 – 5 Railway Street, Chatswood; (02) 9411 4411

366 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne; (03) 9670 3137

www.mamak.com.au

Lunch: 11:30am – 2:30pm daily

Dinner: 5:30pm – 9:30pm (Sydney Chinatown until 10pm)

Late nights Friday and Saturday: Sydney Chinatown open until 2am, Chatswood and Melbourne open until 10:30pm.

The Duniya Look: Sydney

The Duniya Look: Sydney

In this photography project on UrbanDuniya, we explore our four dynamic cities through their colours, faces and fashion. In a series of beautiful images, we capture the iconic look, the stunning locations and the sensual textures of the places we call home. We began in September with The Duniya Look: Lahore, celebrating Pakistan’s cultural capital, and continued in November with the urbane sensibility of The Duniya Look: Melbourne.

Today we continue with the svelte beauty of Sydney, Australia’s face to the world; a beautiful harbour city which values lifestyle, charisma and allure. Sydney is a place of dreams and dream lifestyles, the country’s brash nerve centre filled with businessmen, designers and models; surfers, travellers and celebrities. Join us as we experience the sunny outlook of this exciting metropolis, with Natasha Perczuk, Josh Edney, Anna James and Tim Blight.

Special thanks to photographer Alberto Andrés Flórez Claro for his outstanding contribution to this album.

If you liked this Sydney album, check out the laidback charm of The Duniya Look: Chennai.

With eTramping: Sydney for $25 a day!

Sydney skylineWe love our cities, and at UrbanDuniya we call four cities home; Melbourne, Lahore, Chennai and Sydney. We also love saving money, and after bringing you budget guides to three of these cities (and a special post about the Maldivian capital Malé), we complete our series in the Australian city of Sydney.

Sydney is Australia’s big, brash, bold face to the world; beautiful, glamorous and expensive. However it doesn’t have to be that way; in this guest post with eTramping.com, we show you how to see the harbour city for under $25 a day! Click here for more!

Agness and Cez from eTramping.com are committed to experiencing the world as ‘tramps’; that is, living on the road for less than $25 a day (and, at a stretch, less than $10 a day!).

Sydney from Mrs Macquaries Point

Sydney from Mrs Macquaries Point