Winter warm-ups are a great excuse for travelling in the cooler months and Australia’s leading lady is a trusty mistress, seasoned in the art of perking-up your winter blues. In fact Sydney has become quite defiant about the descent into winter, best exemplified by its annual illuminated art festival, Vivid, which has become a signature event to reignite your inner glow. Being such a cheap and effortless destination to transport yourself to, if you are spontaneously-minded, it’s not too late to make a date with Vivid 2013. Now in its 6th year, the festival transforms the harbourside district into a sweeping canvas, with large-scale light installations and projections splashed across the city’s most recognisable landmarks, starting with the Opera House. The festival runs through until mid-June and it will leave you positively sparkling.
Beyond the bright lights of a splashy festival, what I love about Sydney is its plethora of photogenic haunts for revitalising morning walks. My all-time favourite circuit starts at the Opera House, heading east around Farm Cove before cutting into the verdant finery of the Botanic Gardens, stopping to chat to the Yellow-Crested Cockatiels and then heading south past the New South Wales Art Gallery to finish up in Hyde Park.
I challenge you to find a more fulfilling circuit that not only gives the body a work-out but also the camera, in equal measure, with striking city skyline vistas set amidst lush foliage. With the sun out, a spot of lunch is best enjoyed at the water’s edge in Darling Harbour and Cockle Bay.On a nostalgic note, take the opportunity to savour the elevated city perspective of the Sydney Monorail one last time, as it will literally reach the end of the line on June 30.
The state government has decided to decommission the monorail, as it’s not integral to the city’s transportation needs. Another fabulous Sydney experience is to board a ferry at Circular Quay for the short 10 minute ride to leafy, historic Balmain. The inner harbour enclave is one of Sydney’s oldest suburbs, settled by boatbuilders in the 1830s. It is where most of Sydney’s iconic yellow and green ferries were built. Balmain is now a thriving and artistic suburb, home to some of Australia’s best-known writers, actors and musicians. The main thoroughfare of Darling St is an exquisite melange of sandstone cottages and wrought-iron wreathed villas, natty galleries, boutique stores and historic pubs. Quench your thirst with a foaming lager from the sprawling balcony of the London Hotel, one of the city’s most atmospheric pubs. If you want to scratch even further beneath the surface of the inner-city, head to Newtown and Paddington to rub shoulders with the edgy, eccentric and bohemian locals. Enmore Road and South King St are home to vintage fashion stores, tribal jewellery and gifts and a billowing array of specialised curio stores. Buttons, beads and tiles are big in Newtown. Paddington’s status as an antiques mecca is legendary, but accentuating its allure is the biggest concentration of Sydney’s most beautifully restored Victorian terraces, replete in cast-iron latticework.
Flying Kangaroo. ( 190 words.)
It’s a remarkable year for Qantas with some major transformations to Australia’s flag-carrier. Leading the winds of change has been the recent launch of the powerful new global partnership with Emirates. This lucrative alliance will allow Qantas travellers from Australia one stop connections to 65 destinations, in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. With Qantas and Emirates already servicing substantial Trans-Tasman traffic, the new global partnership will give Kiwi travellers a new range of connectivity options when travelling long-haul. Also on the makeover front, last month, the Australian airline unveiled its eye-catching new uniform, which features a much bigger splash of colour than what Qantas flight attendants have been sporting in the past decade. Australian designer Martin Grants says it was the airline’s striking logo, the bold red triangle and the flying kangaroo, that was the inspirational force behind the new wardrobe. Meanwhile, on the home front, next generation Boeing 737-800s service the Trans Tasman routes. I recently flew home to Christchurch from Qantas, and the full service in-flight experience is top knotch. If you want to push the boat out, Qantas Tasman Business delivers extra-indulgence, comfort, complimentary bubbles and fabulous cuisine.
To catch Sydney at its illuminated finest, the Vivid Festival runs from May 24 to June 10. For more information, check out www.vividsydney.com
Sydney escapes are available with Qantas direct from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Sign up for the best Red e-Deals across the Tasman and beyond with Qantas. www.qantas.com.au
( First published in APN’s regional newspapers. Mike Yardley Travel Page.)