Welcome to My Place . . . Sydney
Dubliner Anna Dempsey on making the most of the outdoors on the New South Wales coast
Originally from Dublin, Anna Dempsey has been living in Bondi Beach in Sydney with her Australian partner since 2011. A nature lover, photographer and creative, she works as a visual merchandiser in the museum sector.
Where is the first place you bring people to when they visit Sydney?
We’re spoilt for choice of outdoor activities, with plenty of spectacular walks and swimming spots to choose from around the harbour. When I have visitors, we head east on the ferry across the harbour to Rose Bay or Watsons Bay and walk a stretch of the 8km track through the coastal suburbs out to the Hornby Lighthouse. It’s a stunning harbourside walk along leafy walkways and pristine beaches, with spectacular views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Camp Cove or Shark Bay are perfect for a refreshing post-walk dip.
The top three things to do in Sydney, that don’t cost money?
The Museum of Contemporary Art at the Rocks has both Australian and international art, with spectacular rooftop views overlooking the opera house. For something a bit different head to Chippendale, to the White Rabbit Gallery, for a collection of Chinese contemporary art. The Oolong tea and dumplings in the the gallery Teahouse cafe are not to be missed.
Wendy’s Secret Garden is a beautiful somewhat hidden gem in Lavender Bay, just minutes by ferry from the city centre. Wendy Whitely, the widow of artist Brett Whitely, created the garden on derelict railway land after his death in 1992. The garden is a cool oasis in the city, perfect for a picnic, and if you go midweek, you’ll likely have the place to yourself.
Bring a blanket to the Bondi farmers’ market on Saturdays and while away a few hours on the grass. The market has countless delicious food stalls, fresh organic fruit and vegetables, and live music, making it the perfect place to start your weekend. I can’t go past the Fritter House, famous for their sweetcorn fritters with smoky baked beans, bacon and dill aioli. Polish it off with a fresh cut coconut.
Where do you recommend for a meal eaten out doors on a sunny day?
You can’t beat fresh seafood in Sydney on a sunny day. We often go to Bondi’s Best, a seafood restaurant in North Bondi, where you can dine alfresco while watching the sun set over the bay. Try the sushi, calamari, or my favourite, crispy skin Tasmanian ocean trout with steamed greens and sweet potato fries.
Where is the best place to get a sense of Sydney’s place in history?
One of the great privileges of living in Australia is the proximity to the ancient pre-colonial aboriginal history that is etched throughout the land. To the north of Sydney is Guringai land, now known as Ku-rin-gai Chase National Park, an area with more than 350 aboriginal sites. Take the Resolute walk through dry scrub, past spinifex grasses, wildflowers, dry scribbly gum trees and see rock art in the Red Hands Cave and rock engraving sites along the way. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot a White-bellied Sea Eagle or Rosella parrots as you walk towards Resolute beach, which you may have to yourself. It’s the perfect bush walk to give you a glimpse into the incredibly rich cultural heritage of Australia’s first people and the chance to see quintessential Australian flora and fauna.
What should visitors save room in their suitcase for after a visit to Sydney?
There is lots of great shopping, but for something uniquely Australian that works well in Europe, bring home a Seljak Brand blanket (seljakbrand.com.au) or hand crafted ceramics from The Forty Nine Studio (thefortynine.com.au) or the iconic Aussie staple, an Akubra hat (akubra.com.au).
Ever inspired by Sydney’s coastline and colour, Anna can be found snapping happy at @naturesnotes on Instagram.