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Digital Subscriptions > Lonely Planet Traveller (UK) > March 2018 > GREAT ESCAPE New South Wales

GREAT ESCAPE New South Wales

It’s late summer on Australia’s Pacific Coast – the perfect time to take a road trip. Using this updated design for our Great Escape section, find the sights and experiences that will bring this captivating region alive for you, starting in the increasingly creative suburbs of Sydney before you head south for good food and outdoors adventure.

Explore the local neighbourhoods of Sydney and the city’s appetite for the good life

THE LIGHT IS BRONZE, SHADOWS LONG, and beside Sydney’s most famous building a throng of people is drinking at the Opera Bar. From here, they are close enough to see that the Opera House’s sails are tiled in a zigzag pattern like the fletchings on an arrow. To its western flank, the iron girders of Sydney Harbour Bridge loom, solid. Beyond, the glowing sun sinks towards the horizon.

These may be the city’s most recognisable icons, but here is not the place to take Sydney’s pulse. For that, inner-city neighbourhoods beckon. In Surry Hills, grand Victorian terraced houses with wrought-iron detailing stand beside converted warehouses on narrow streets, and rainbow flags dangle from balconies. On Reservoir Street, the windows in coffee shop Single O open up to the pavement. Every seat is taken, and a queue snakes out the door. A young woman in running clothes, phone to her ear, perches on a stool, iced coffee in hand; on the street, a man awaits his morning flat white, his dry-cleaning folded over his arm. The staff exchange friendly greetings with him; this, evidently, is his morning ritual.

And ritual is the word: this is a city that treats lifestyle as a religion. Collectively, Sydney’s oncerough neighbourhoods are now home to popular restaurants, markets and bakeries. To Surry Hill’s southwest, the Redfern area is also punching through its scrappy reputation. ‘People used to shoot up outside the shop when we first moved here,’ says Brian Fitzgerald of Chee Soon & Fitzgerald, an arts and textiles shop that sells bold fabrics – prints from Finland, geometric patterns from east Africa, elegant Japanese blossom designs. It’s a different story around here now: shops like this one and nearby Seasonal Concepts, an Aladdin’s cave of vintage ephemera – among them a pot of silky feathers and a full-sized stuffed zebra – attract a new wave of locals.

‘There’s an energy to these streets,’ says Sophia de Mestre, a curator and visual artist who leads walking tours here with local company Culture Scouts. ‘They feel like my spiritual home.’

They’re also the spiritual home of Sydney’s indigenous community. Much of the street art that Sophie points out as we wander Redfern’s jasmineperfumed side roads speaks to the Aboriginal presence here, especially the ubiquitous colours of the Aboriginal flag: red for the earth; black for the skin; yellow for the sun. Nearby, an installation by indigenous artist Daniel Boyd features thousands of mirror circles on a black wall, distorting the world back on itself. ‘To me it’s about our capacity for selfreflection,’ says Sophia, gazing on it appreciatively.

Self-reflection, albeit of a different kind, is alive and well to Sydney’s eastern fringes, which back up against the giant Pacific Ocean. On the weekend Bondi Beach teems with buff city boys, paddlers and lifeguards, children playing tug-of-war. Surfers loll in the water, waiting for a breaker. Giggling girls splash in the shallows, arm-in-arm. To every aspect there is a tangible, studied sense of the carefree.

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About Lonely Planet Traveller (UK)

In the March issue… follow the coast of New South Wales south from Sydney on a Great Escape taking in art, wildlife and seaside dining; get a local's view of four less-visited neighbourhoods in Rome; discover craftsmanship and poetry in the cowboy country of northern Nevada; pick the right countries in which to find joy, adventure, passion or solitude; and much more