In the frantic hurry to book the next holiday, hidden gems of destinations sometimes escape our notice. We know all of the big cities and the famous beaches, but there are great family holiday destinations lurking just out of sight. Slipping into the lesser-known can turn an average holiday into a memorable one, and completely change your view of a location. For example, North Sydney makes an outstanding holiday destination in its own right with its close proximity to the Sydney CBD. While the district is best known as the information technology and advertising hub of greater Sydney, it is also a friendly and welcoming town that is ready to provide a dose of family fun.
While the title of Australia's greatest celebrity face may be up for grabs, it is generally accepted that Australia's first celebrity was an early resident of North Sydney. Billy Blue was a Jamaican convict who was transported to Australia in 1796, and after serving out his sentence went on to become a ferryman and a water bailiff. His habit of disregarding the law eventually cost him the right to become a bailiff, but his winning personality kept him out of most of the trouble, and led to many of North Sydney's prominent landmarks (including Blues Point, William Street, and the Billy Blue Design School) being named in his honor. Mr. Henry Lawson, considered Australia's greatest writer, was also a resident here. If you haven't read his books, you may still know his face from postage stamps or from the old $10 note (1966 - 1993, prior to the current versions).
The biggest attraction in North Sydney has to be Luna Park. Curled around the eastern shore of Lavender Bay, Luna Park has been entertaining the young and the young at heart since opening in 1935. The Midway still has games and amusements alongside the roller coasters. Maybe unique in the world is the Coney Island funhouse. The National Heritage listed building was constructed in 1935 and is still in operation. Just like any fun park or state fair, one big attraction is the carnival-style food offered here. No need to leave for lunch or dinner - stay in the park and enjoy your meals here as well.
If you tire of time under Luna Park's Big Top and crave more natural distraction, Balls Head Reserve sits only 5 minutes south of North Sydney's center. Balls Head Reserve extends into Berry Bay and is only 5 minutes away from North Sydney. It can be a little disorienting to find undisturbed bush walks, beaches, and barbecue spots while still inside Sydney's sprawl, but this is a great way to get away from it all without a long drive and days of preparation. Whether your preference is catching unbeatable vistas of Sydney Harbour at sunset or in finding intriguing trails for mountain biking, Balls Head Reserve fits the bill. Full facilities in the park allow you to spend as much time as you like enjoying nature, close to downtown.
Are there foodies traveling with you? Be sure to check out Epoque Belgian Beer Cafe for outstanding food and beer, or sign up for a Hunter Valley wine tour. Wine tours include tastings, but not only of wine - typical offerings include gourmet chocolates, gelato, and baked goods (varies depending on tour).
Whether you're visiting Sydney for the first time or the fiftieth, chances are you've given North Sydney a miss. Now is the time to change plans and make sure this suburb doesn't remain overlooked on your holiday to-do list. With attractions for every member of your entourage, you are sure to enjoy North Sydney - it has plenty to offer the whole family.
Phone: 0410 838 309 | North Sydney, NSW
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