Help me, Sydney SDMBers! (Two tourists vs. APEC)

Sigh. I feel like putting this in the BBQ Pit.

So I’ve been planning my big trip to Australia for, quite literally, five years. Once the wifey came along, the big OzTrip morphed from trip into honeymoon. And of all the dang weekends we picked to fly down under, all the weekends in the decade, we end up landing in Sydney on Friday, September 7th. Same day as George Bush and a zillion other presidents for APEC, which as far as I can tell is pretty much the most disruptive event in NSW since the Olympics.

It’s far too late to rearrange the trip, which leaves us stuck in the Sydney CBD the same weekend as all the APEC people. First I found out we couldn’t get near the Opera House; then I found out we couldn’t take a ghost tour; and just this evening I got a cancellation email for our much-anticipated steakhouse dinner in the GPO. This is going from irksome to downright awful.

Okay, guess I should ask a question here or something. Do the Sydney folks know if there’s ANYTHING not closed the weekend of Sept 7-10? We’re staying at the Lord Byron Hotel in The Rocks, and Circular Quay train station is closed! Are even taxis going to be shut down??

Anticipating a great deal of teeth-gnashing over the next month. Thanks in advance for any advice…

Unfortunately a very bad choice of date. The whole APEC thing is rapidly becoming more and more ludicrous.

For starters, go to the APEC website. There’s quite a bit of information there on what is/isn’t open/operating during the period (go to the **FAQ ** section under Find Out More). Taxis should still be available although entry to certain parts of the city may be slow/restricted. The city itself will probably be like a ghost town on Friday 7 September because that day has been declared a public holiday and we’re all being urged to stay away. I think most things are operating fairly normally otherwise on other days, but I wouldn’t necessarily count on it.

Thanks for the link, that does help a bit (though not my mood, sigh). Any other Sydneyers out there with suggestions/info? (Sydneyans? Sydneyites?)


Let’s see. I’ve been kinda shutting APEC out of my consciousness, and hoping it would go away. Then again, I was the same way about the Sydney Olympics, until they actually happened, and everything went smoothly (though admittedly APEC will be minus the party atmosphere). So…

  • the Opera House is overrated anyway, IMHO. Unless you’re going to a show, it’s fine just to look at the thing from a distance.

  • if Circular Quay station is closed, then go to Wynyard instead. It’s just up George St, and not much more of a walk.

  • APEC has been declared a public holiday weekend, so traffic will be down, and most Sydneysiders will be staying the hell out of the CBD. Like any big city, Sydneysiders will talk of their city’s infrustructure as “crumbling”, they will complain about the late trains, the traffic jams, etc. But when Sydney needs to pull out all stops for a big event, she generally does it well. I assume you won’t be driving, so road closures and the like will worry you little.

All in all, you might face a few minor restrictions downtown, but it will likely be just that - minor. And I think there will be positives too. You’ll find the crowds and queues are down. I also suspect that the restricted areas in the CBD (and for “security reasons” we don’t know exactly where they will be yet) will be down in the financial district (the north end, closest to the Quay), and frankly, that end of town is so dead on the average weekend, you wouldn’t want to go there anyway. On the other hand, the retail precinct around Town Hall, Chinatown, Haymarket, Paddy’s Markets, Darling Harbour, etc are all down at the south end, and will probably be operating reasonably close to normal.

I’m not sure if the ferries are running (I think they are), but a trip to Manly is a must. Visit Bondi. Go to the Blue Mountains, check out the arty/gay/bohemian inner suburbs like Paddington and Newtown. Plenty to do.

In short, don’t sweat it, and don’t deny yourself the pleasure of looking forward to your visit.

And welcome.


Will you be in Sydney only? Will you be driving or using public transport?

If it is a once-in-a-life-time trip, and you can afford it, Tetsuya’s is generally regarded as one of the top 10 restaurants in the world.

A ferry trip to Manly is always fun.

There is a very big department store, David Jones, which has many branches. THe city branch, the Elizabeth Street store, is in the grand style and the food hall is also worth a visit. Particularly if the Spring Flower show is on.

If you post your interests, I am sure we will be able to suggest things to do and/or see that will keep you out from under GW Bush’s feet.

Oh yeah - what Cunctator said. Ludicrous.

Good suggestions! Yeah, after taking a few deep breaths, I’m feeling like it maybe won’t be the WORST thing ever. What I’ve found so far:

  • Taxis are running, though there’ll probably be the typical “big conference” delays
  • The Circular Quay, Museum, and St. James train stations will be closed, but Wynyard is open
  • Ferries are running, though not the JetCat to Manly

What we’re planning on doing:

  • Ferry to Taronga Zoo (not Manly) and back on day 1
  • The Rocks, Sydney Aquarium, Miller’s Point, etc. on day 2
  • Hyde Park, Australian Museum, and botanical gardens (as much as we can get to them) on day 3
  • Flight to Cairns on day 4

The food situation:

  • Tetsuya’s does indeed have a good rep, but seems a little heavy on the seafood. (See this thread for that part of our planning ordeal.)
  • We finally settled on Prime at the GPO for a ridiculous Wagyu steak dinner, only to find out about the cancellation last night.
  • But (deep breath, again) Prime looks to be open on Sunday the 9th, so I asked to just bump our reservation ahead a day. If they can do that, I won’t go too nuts.

In summary, we’ll hopefully be able to enjoy ourselves sufficiently. I’ve heard previously that the Opera House isn’t too interesting up-close, so I’ll be okay with skipping that. Missing the ghost tours will probably be the biggest gripe. Maybe we’ll do the one in Adelaide or Melbourne instead.

Grr, I have my differences with our president, but he’s never PERSONALLY OFFENDED ME until now.

Thanks for the good thoughts though! Still looking forward to Sydney and the rest of our trip, even if we have to pretend that Dubya is NOT following us from Texas to Oz.

(Our blog:

Like cabbies the world over, our lads are pretty schizophrenic - there is no way to predict how they will respond to APEC. They might see a bonanza, and there will be cabs everywhere, or they might stay home and drink beer.

As you’d be aware, these are all part of the same small, downtown loop. Wynyard is good enough for your needs, but that’s assuming you’ll be using Sydney’s radial rail system, and as it generally goes to commuter suburbs, you probably won’t. But the train might be a good option to get you a stop or two down to Chinatown etc.

Jetcat not running? Feh. That’s for rich locals in a hurry. The ferry is the experience. Be sure to sit outside, and on the starboard side outbound from Circular Quay. Enjoy the journey - as a trip offered as a part of a workaday transit system for commuters, it’s spectacular.

Excellent choice. The zoo is beautiful and spectacular, and there are animals with spectacular views most humans in Sydney can’t afford.

Good stuff, all. Have a beer at the Fortune of War Hotel on Upper George Street at The Rocks. It’s the least touristy of the pubs there, and is in a cracking good location.

Not bad, but if you need to drop anything, drop these - especially Hyde Park (it’s nice, but you can see city parks like this anywhere in the world). The museum is fine, but then those are everywhere too. The Gardens likewise, though they do have a great view.

Thanks for the thoughts. Any substitute suggestions for day three?

Not trying to be a downer on those things - there’s nothing wrong with them - but you might like to get out of town for a bit instead. Or not. That’s up to you. For an hour’s rail journey fron Central - and this is just a fer eggsample - you could go up to a place called Woy Woy. The train journey in places is one of the nation’s most spectacular, and when you get there, you can sit by the water and feed the sea birds, and enjoy a cold beer. If that’s a bit sleepy for your liking, you could organise a day tour to the Blue Mountains (Echo Point is truly awesome) and/or Jenolan Caves (though the latter truly is a full day with a lot of travel - but worth every bit.

Or just explore some of the other bits of Sydney some tourists don’t get to. Glebe is great, so is a Rivercat ride up the Parramatta River. There are some pretty places up and down the coast - Kiama is recommended as it’s on the railway, so no connections are needed, and it’s an easy day trip.
But as I said, Hyde Park etc are fine too, but you’ll probably have had your fill quickly - the park is relatively small (only two city blocks).

You could just travel on and visit Melbourne.

Sydney is so overrated. :smiley:

Ah, not the Sydney-Melbourne thing again… :wink:

Don’t worry, Melbourne is our final stop on the trip. And no pesky international conferences to worry about either.

Could you catch a bus out to see Bondi, Coogee Clovelly or Maroubra. Or if you’re feeling energetic get off at either Bondi or Coogee and go on the coast walk. Info here.

You can easily spend a half day at the Zoo. Or a day!

You must, repeat must, see the Bird show. Be sure to have a dollar coin where you can get at it easily. The seal show is also very good. The times that the keepers feed the various animals are listed on the map handout, so a couple of those are fun to see. The Zoo is quite steep, and large - walking shoes are a must.

The Aquarium at Darling Harbour is very good. Not quite up to the Monteray Aquarium, but still very good. Walking under the harbour with sharks above is worth the visit. I would allow about 2 hours. If you miss the one in Sydney, the Melbourne one is good, just not as good!

If you have trouble with Prime, I suggest La Grillade in Crows Nest. Their meat, including wagyu, is absolutely excellent. You can get from Wynyard to Crows Nest by bus, or take a taxi.

One thing you should definately do while in the city is have a YumCha (Dim Sum) for lunch. I have never had one in the Sates that was the equal to the ones here. (On the other hand, do yourself a favour and do not even try anything that calims to be Mexican food while in Sydney. Blaaargh.)

If you are interested in food (and it should be obvious by now that I am!) there are various growers markets readily accessible from the CBD by public transport - heck, 2 of them (North Sydney and Pyrmont) are within walking distance! OK, you won’t be taking a bag of organic oranges home with you, but you can walk around and try things you wouldn’t encounter at home, like the native Australian finger lime!

The Fish Markets at Pyrmont is a fun place to have lunch. Very fresh seafood and bonus seagulls and ibises!

For something a little more gritty and funky, catch a bus to Newtown and walk down the main street to St Peters.

We spent a week in Melbourne recently being tourists. It is a very very pleasant city, and probably more tourist friendly than Sydney. I have a recommendation for a day trip out of Melbourne if you are interested.

Why not head out to the blue mountains for a day during the conferences?

I hope you can get your reservation changed. I’ve eaten at Prime several times. Very nice.

I love Sydney, but I love the suburbs more than I love the city centre. I second the suggestion of a trip to Newtown, I love the place and whenever I’m in Sydney always try to head out for a bit of a wander. Or you could take a walk out to Darlinghurst, grab a (truly wonderful) almond croissant from the Infinity Sourdough Bakery and then have a coffee at the Tropicana just up the road and check out who’s out to be seen. From there you can wander up to Oxford Street.

You could catch a ferry to Balmain and see where the rich people live (now), and Bondi is fun for people-watching and just checking out the other tourists. :slight_smile:

The Art Gallery of NSW is worth a visit, they have some wonderful Australian paintings. I also like to wander through the Museum of Contemporary Art which is at the Rocks. I don’t always understand it, but I like the brain stretch. And they have a really good cafe there so that you can eat well and puzzle out an installation or two.

And I love the Powerhouse Museum, and from memory you catch one of the light rails to it, which gives you a different view of Sydney.

There’s also Ku-ring-gai Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park which is only a short trip out of Sydney, and you can catch a train to within a half kilometre or so or a bus from Wynyard to Palm Beach. I used to have a friend who had an amazing house at Cottage Point, inside the park, built on three stories overlooking the Hawkesbury River. It’s a very lovely place.

And if you’ve got time a train trip into the Blue Mountains is fun to do. Once you’re past about Penrith the scenery is astounding. A two hour train ride will get you to Medlow Bath and you can have afternoon tea at the Hydro Majestic Hotel. The hotel overlooks the Megalong Valley and the views are spectacular.

I’m Melbourne born and bred, but I have a long-standing love affair with Sydney, so don’t be put off by intercity rivalry. Melbourne has good things to offer as well, but Sydney has its own particularly raffish charm. I’m so much in love with the place that decades after my first visit I’m still enthralled by sitting on a station platform watching the names go by. :slight_smile:

The Powerhouse museum is very cool! The opera house is defintely worth seeing close up…it is amazing!

Thanks for your continued suggestions. Prime is closed on Sunday as well! I made a reservation at Times on the Park, which also has Kobe/Wagyu steaks and good reviews, so hopefully they won’t shut down as well. :crosses fingers:

Flying out of LAX in 22 days! Very exciting.

I hope your arrival in Sydney was trouble free happywaffle. I’m in the city at the moment and I haven’t experienced any problems getting around the Rocks area. There was one rather bored looking policeman standing near the Lord Nelson hotel, but otherwise nothing much was happening.

And there are plenty of taxis on the streets.

I suggest hiring a car, bung on some little Canadian flags, and have your driver dress as Osama Bin Laden…you should be able to go anywhere in Sydney that you damn-well like.

:smiley: :smiley:
Enjoy your stay happywaffle.