7 Things To Do In Sydney For New Expats

things to do in sydney

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Every expat that moves to Sydney feels like a tourist for the first year. It’s hard not to when there are so many touristy things to do in Sydney like climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge, tour the Opera House, or taking the ferry to Watsons Bay. It’s during the second year that it really starts to sink in that they live in Sydney. Really live in Sydney as in working, paying rent, buying groceries, living in Sydney. Even then the shiny, newness of the city doesn’t fade but instead takes on another dimension of discovery. This list of things to do in Sydney is not one you will find in an Australian travel guide, but is instead one for expats that are interested in exploring more of the city, beyond Circular Quay.

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1. Make new friends by joining an expat group on Meetup.com or Facebook

For new expats this is a great way to make friends and friends are an essential ingredient for having fun whilst living abroad. There are several expat groups in Sydney listed on Meetup.com. One of the largest is the Expat Connection group that meets about once a month. Then there are smaller expat groups that are country specific.
Don’t worry about being shy or not attending because you don’t want to go on your own. That’s the whole point and, to be honest, it’s not a good enough excuse because everyone there is in the same boat. Besides, small talk is easy at expat events. In fact, the “so, what do you do?” question is usually not even asked because it has been replaced with “where are you from?”, “when did you move?” or “where in Sydney are you living?”. From there, the conversation is usually all about Sydney and how you’re settling in. Expat groups and meet ups are also a good place to get recommendations or advice from other expats that have lived in Australia for a while. Alright, now that you’ve made some friends it’s time to get out and have some fun.

2. Go Snorkelling

When most think about snorkelling in Australia, they are thinking specifically of the Great Barrier Reef. Yes, the Great Barrier Reef is an amazing place to go snorkelling and should be on every expat’s list of places to visit but don’t make the mistake of overlooking Sydney. There are several places to go snorkelling in Sydney.

One of the most popular is Gordon’s Bay just south of Bondi Beach, right along the South Coast Walk Trail. Another excellent place for snorkelling is Cabbage Tree Aquatic Reserve at Shelly Beach. Cabbage Tree Aquatic Reserve is well known for the diverse wildlife, including endangered species such as the famous Blue Groper. If you’re a fan of seahorses then you need to go to Chowder Bay and Parsley Bay where you’ll find seahorses that have colonised the swimming nets of each of these well known swimming spots. The seahorses are very small and also endangered do be extra careful when snorkelling around them. Underwater Sydney is an excellent resource for identifying the the local marine life.
There is one draw back to snorkelling in Sydney and that’s finding rental equipment. There aren’t many places in Sydney that rent snorkel gear. Instead of renting, invest in your own snorkel mask and fins. Don’t worry, it will not go unused in Australia.

3. Go hiking around Sydney

bondi to coogee coastal walk
Hiking, or bushwalking, is a fantastic way to get to know the city better and there’s always a surprise along the way, from exciting wildlife to amazing views of both the city and Harbour along the trails. Bushwalking is a very popular past time with Sydney-siders – and everyone has there favourite walk!
The single most popular walk in Sydney is the Southern Coastal Walk. It’s an easy, well paved walk from Bondi to Maroubra Beach, but most don’t make it that far and usually stop at Coogee Beach. The Spit Bridge to Manly is probably the most popular bushwalk with Sydney-siders. It’s very easy to catch the bus to Spit Bridge from the CBD, then start the walk to Manly, or take the ferry to Manly and head to Spit Junction. It really doesn’t matter which direction you choose to go in, just be ready for some of the best views of the city.
There are many more walks along the Harbour and coastline. Far too many to include all of them here but head to WildWalks.com for a list of walks all over New South Wales.

4. Barbecue at a public park

Australians have taken the weekend picnic and stepped it up a notch by having free barbecues in public parks. On a nice summer’s day, the best free barbecue spots fill up early. If you want to avoid the crowds, get a group of friends together for a weekday evening barbecue.
The top public parks in Sydney with barbecues are Bronte Beach, Centennial Park, Blackwattle Bay Park, and Shelly Beach. For a complete list of parks with barbecues go to the City of Sydney website.

5. Go to a weekend market

Bondi Market
There is always a weekend market happening somewhere in Sydney. One of the most popular and established is the Paddington Market held every Saturday starting at 10am. Foodies looking for fresh produce, local wine or hard to find, speciality cheeses should head to Pyrmont Market on the first Saturday of the month, or Eveleigh Farmers’ Market which happens every Saturday at Carriageworks.

6. Discover a secret beach

Every expat moving to Sydney has heard of Bondi and Manly Beach, but there are well over 100 beaches in Sydney. The best are usually the smaller, secluded beaches kept secret by the locals. Collins Flat Beach in Manly, Milk Beach in Vaucluse, Lady Mary Martin at Point Piper and Chinamans Beach in Mosman are a few of the smaller secluded beaches worth seeking out.

7. Go for a swim at a rock pool or one of the harbour baths

bondi to coogee coastal walk
If you’re finding swimming in the open ocean intimidating then head to one of Sydney’s famous rock pools, or for calmer waters, one of Sydney’s inner harbour baths.
The two most well known and photogenic pools in Sydney are Bronte and Bondi baths. Both are open ocean pools and can be rough on high surf days.
For a dip in calmer waters go to one of the inner harbour baths such as Murray Rose Pool in Rose Bay, MacCallum Pool in Cremorne or Shark Beach in Vaucluse (don’t worry about sharks as there is a netted swimming area).
Author Bio: Lauren Kicknosway moved to Sydney in 2008, and has since done her best to try and convince everyone she knows to move to Australia. In fact, she runs the website Sydney Moving Guide, a guide that helps people make the move to Australia, for this very reason.

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