Summer in Sydney
I may have been born in Auckland, and I may be living in Auckland, but part of me will always be a Sydney girl too.
In Autumn of the year 2000, my family packed up our life in Auckland, New Zealand and moved to sunny Sydney, Australia.
The days of my childhood consisted of Vegemite sandwiches, running around under sprinklers and sherbet-covered soft-serves on golden sand beaches.
Balmy evenings were spent frolicking around the city; watching street performers, dancing to the music of didgeridoos and marvelling at the monorail overhead.
On special occasions, we watched the fireworks over the harbour or headed to ‘Pancakes on the Rocks' where I would hustle coins for the jukebox and bust out some seriously dorky dance routines.
I have so many memories in this city where the streets are lined with red brick houses and Jacaranda trees.
I’m going into my fourth year of living away from Sydney, yet with every visit, I fall deeper in love with the city I grew up in. It may sound cliche, but absence really does make the heart grow fonder.
With a break from work, I headed “home” to spend the holidays with my family.
Here’s a little snapshot of the summer days I’ve just spent in Sydney:
CHRISTMAS AT THE GROUNDS
Moments after I stepped off the plane into the sweltering Sydney heat, Dad drove me to the winter wonderland at my favourite cafe in that part of town - The Grounds of Alexandria. This converted pie factory in the heart of industrial Alexandria does fantastic coffee, homemade and pastries that are to die for. At Christmas time, it is particularly great! They've totally decked the red brick halls. There was tinsel, trees, and styrofoam snow (not environmentally-friendly, but still somewhat magical). There was also a Christmas Market full of all kinds of crafty goodness.
CIRCULAR QUAY CRAZINESS
Home to the Opera House and overlooking the Harbour Bridge - you can't get a more postcard-worthy view than this!
DINNER AT JAMIE'S ITALIAN
I love food. Like a lot! And so when Mum suggested that we head down to Pitt Street for an early Christmas Dinner at Jamie Oliver's Sydney restaurant, I was giddy with excitement. The food was good. Like, really good. I ate a rich truffle butter pasta, a slow-cooked ox cheek pasta and a decadent boozy brownie. But the thing I'll remember most about that night was the conversations we had around that table that made me giggle until my full belly was sore.
CHRISTMAS EVE AT HILLSONG CHURCH
There's no place I would have rather spent my Christmas Eve than at the Hills Campus of Hillsong Church. All three buildings of the buildings were jam-packed and the crowds even overflowed on to the grassy lawn. There were sweet carols, amazing performances and a powerful message, which kept Jesus at the centre of the season's festivities. The entire campus was completely lit up with a magical Christmas light display which my family and I wandered around after the service too.
SUNSET AT KING'S TABLELANDS
Some friends and I road tripped out to this sandstone plateau for ridiculous views over the beautiful blue mountains. We caught up on just about everything as we sat, chatted and watched the sun go down.
SYDNEY SIXERS GAME AT THE SCG
I may have absolutely no idea what the rules of cricket are but I do love getting to wear pink leis and a KFC bucket on my head, which is apparently what you do at these Big Bash games.
DARLING HARBOUR ATTRACTIONS
My friends Elly and Karina treated me to the most epic day of attractions down in Darling Harbour. We rode the glass-bottom boat at the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, posed with the Biebs at Madame Tussauds and squirmed at the creepy lizards at WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo. I haven't lived in Sydney for three years, so I totally count as a tourist now, right?
NEW YEAR'S EVE ON SYDNEY HARBOUR
After pushing through the crowds, some friends and I watched the famous fireworks display from a balcony in The Rocks as the clock struck midnight.
NEW YEAR'S DAY SUNRISE ON CURL CURL BEACH
At 3am on New Year's Day, we boarded a bus from the city to my mum’s house in Curl Curl Beach to watch the sun rise on 2018.
CENTRAL COAST ROAD TRIP
On New Year's Day, still functioning on next to no sleep, Mum and I headed out of Sydney and up the coast to visit friends. We spent the day frolicking in the waves at Norah Head, and searching for Mum's keys in the sand afterwards!
For my dad’s birthday, we headed up to these gorgeous gardens in the Blue Mountains for lunch, stopping in Bilpin on the way for apple pies of course!
BRUNCH AT THE BOATHOUSE
My friend Lane and I upheld out high-school tradition by heading to the beautiful Balmoral Boathouse. Back in the day, we'd leave school and come here for #FoodstagramFridays. This old favourite of mine was just as beautiful as I remembered it being!
I was pretty lucky with the timing of this trip, I was home not only for Christmas, New Year's and Dad's birthday but for my brother Levi's birthday too. To celebrate the baby of the family turning 14, we headed down to this old-school waterfront theme park for a day of thrills and fairy floss.
What's a trip to Sydney without swinging by the iconic Bondi Beach? Dad and I wandered the boardwalk, the markets, over to Icebergs pools and to down to Speedos Cafe for mermaid bowls.
Sydney has to have some of the most beautiful city beaches in the entire world. I can never get enough of their rolling waves and golden sand. I think the majority of my trip home was spent frolicking between them.
There's always something going on at this beautiful old railway station turned multi-arts centre. This trip, it just so happened to be the Sydney Festival, which included this ginormous tie-dye installation piece by Katharina Grosse.
This was the area that my friend Tenzin and I used to wander when we were younger and dream about living in. It's beautiful, fun, trendy, there's plenty to do and the food scene is next level. Coming back to Sydney to hang out in this area, which Tenzin now lives in, was surreal. We wandered the same back alleys that we wandered as teenagers, only now they are just outside her doorstep.
This happening suburb, slightly south-west of the city centre is the kind of place where everything and anything goes. Here, you'll find thrift stores and designer brands, secret gigs at underground bars and some of Sydney's top concert venues and restaurants that range from vegan to meatatarian.
My mum lives in Sydney's Northern Beaches area, just a 30 minute ferry ride from Circular Quay. I love taking the Manly Ferry home to these surfy suburbs. With killer views the whole entire way, it's the one form of public transport that you'll never hear me complain about taking.