1. Little Bay
Avoid the crowds at the beach at Little Bay, the last sand beach along the Sydney eastern coast before Botany Bay. Located behind what used to be hospital grounds, but is now a housing development, Little Bay is a hidden gem for those who love snorkelling and a bit of space to themselves. Find the chapel at the site and the bay is directly below. Incredible sandstone outcrops and rock pools make for a day of exploring. Hire a car for the day for easiest access to the beach and combine with a side trip to Kamay Botany Bay National Park a bit further down the road and visit the site where Captain James Cook first landed.
2. Wendy’s Secret Garden
Wife and muse of the renowned artist Brett Whiteley, Wendy Whiteley, has turned what was once a derelict junkyard adjoining her home into an oasis. The project started as a way of dealing with her grief after Brett Whiteley’s death in 1992, and is known locally as “Wendy’s secret garden”. A mix of wildlife, native trees and plants, dotted with sculptures, picnic tables and with postcard views of the Harbour Bridge, it is a perfect picnic spot. The garden sits in Lavender Street, Lavender Bay, below Clark Park.
Read more: Australia’s top zoos
Photo credit: Peter Ostergaard
3. White Rabbit gallery
Located in Balfour Street in the inner-city suburb of Chippendale, once the heartland of working class Sydney. The White Rabbit contains one of the world’s most significant collections of contemporary Chinese art. If you time your visit well, you can catch an informative tour of the collection – Wednesday to Sunday at 11am and 2pm – and then indulge in a plate of handmade dumplings available between 11am and 3.30pm at the stunning Chinese tea house on site. After your visit, wander the streets of Chippendale and witness the stunning vertical gardens of Central Park on Broadway and the unique shops and art studios of the area.
Read more: Best places for food and wine in Australia
4. Observatory Hill
For another million-dollar view of the harbour, wander through The Rocks and up to Observatory Hill adjacent to the Sydney Observatory. Its pagoda provides shelter in a storm and there are spectacular night views across the city. Don’t miss the chance to combine the visit with a tour of Sydney Observatory, built in 1858, where you can also pay for the privilege of naming your own star.
Read more: How to avoid looking like a tourist
5. Camperdown Cemetery
The oldest surviving cemetery in Sydney, Camperdown Cemetery in Newtown is home to tales both tall and true and dominated by an incredible fig tree. Among the more than 18,000 people buried there is Eliza Donnithorne, a Sydney woman from colonial times said to be the inspiration for Charles Dickens’ jilted bride, Miss Havisham, in Great Expectations. Nurse Bathsheba Ghost is said to haunt the nearby rectory, while the cemetery is also the final resting place for the 22 bodies recovered from the wreck of the Dunbar, which ran aground off the Sydney coast in 1857. You can wander the graveyard and the church and make your own discoveries. Or take a tour, held on the first Sunday of the month at 11.30am.
Read more: 5 sites to honour Australia’s war dead
Photo credit: wiredforlego