Sydney Open is when the city’s best kept architectural secrets open their doors to the public for just one day.
Spring in Sydney is my absolute favourite time of year and it has nothing to do with the weather. Well, almost nothing.
It all starts with Art and About around the end of September. October rolls around and it’s Good Food Month with Hyde Park Noodle Markets, something else we always go to every year. Then, also in October, there is Sculpture by the Sea along the South Coastal Walk from Bondi to Tamarama. Yet another not-to-be-missed event in Sydney. In fact, I go several times including getting up to catch the dawn light for photos.
Just when I begin to think that I’ve had my fill of noodles, artsy-fartsy culture and jockeying with other photographers for that perfect shoot, Sydney Open arrives the first weekend of November and I suddenly find my secret reserve that I usually only resort to in the presence of a dessert cart. “Oh, the dark chocolate cake is flour free? That sounds health and dark chocolate is good for me, right? Oh why not.”
We have been going to Sydney Open since 2008 and it has never disappointed.
Ok, that’s not completely true. I was disappointed that, back then, it was only every other year. Then I was disappointed when the ticket prices went up. And I was disappointed when not all of the buildings allowed photos. A disappointment I endure every year. Then I was disappointed when I had to wait inline, sometimes up to 30 minutes. Where did all these people come from?
Have any of these disappointments ever stopped us from going the following year? No.
We even see the same buildings as we did the year before. I know it seems like a waste to repeat ourselves but it is actually part of our strategy now.
Yes, each year we come up with a strategy before we leave the house. Why? There are over 50 buildings included in Sydney Open and it’s only one day, from 10am to last entry at 4pm. You need a strategy to fit in all in. Actually, I would say that as part of your strategy, don’t try to fit it all in.
Here are my recommendations for Sydney Open.
Where there any buildings that you want to see? Are there tours for those buildings? Note the times. The drop-in tours add another level to the experience and, I promise, you will learn something you didn’t know before hand.
Drop-in tours at buildings I recommend.
- St James Church Children’s Chapel talk in the Crypt (20 people max) and the Church history Q&A.
- Sydney Observatory “whirlwind” tour of the historic site, including outdoor areas not usually open to the public (20 people max).
- Sydney Harbour YHA tour of the archaeological site and the tour of the hostel for the single reason to go up to the rooftop terrace that has a spectacular view of the harbour.
- Queen Victoria Building historic tour where you will learn all about the past lives of the now shopping centre.
- Sydney Town Hall though not a tour but a demonstration of the grand organ.
Building I recommend you see.
Obviously, the buildings I listed above that have tours but also these:
- The Government House – A little out of the way from the other buildings but worth it.
- Grosvenor Place – The view is amazing.
- AMP Building – Another incredible view of the Sydney Harbour from the rooftop terrace.
- Lands Department Building – The Eastern Dome will be one of the most photographed features of Sydney Open and there is a reason for it.
- Merchant’s House – Be sure to ask about it being haunted.
- Parliament of New South Wales – One of the most historically important buildings not just in Sydney but in Australia.
- St Mary’s Cathedral – Don’t skip the cathedral crypt.
State Library of NSW – My two favourite features are Mitchell Vestibule and the statue of Trim, Matthew Flinders’ faithful cat.
- The Great Synagogue – The capacity of the synagogue is around 1,200. Yea, it’s big.
There are several additions to Sydney Open 2016 that I’m looking forward to. The one at the top of my list to see is Macquarie Group at No. 1 Martin Place. I am also curious about Two International Towers at Barangaroo.
How about you? What’s peaked your curiosity enough that you want a peek inside?
Sydney Open is a big day. You will be on your feet if not walking from building to building, then standing in line waiting but also when touring the building.
Try to focus on one area at a time. For example, start at the Government House, then the NSW Library, then NSW Parliament and then St James. Or go in the opposite direction and head to the AMP Building after the Government House.
Don’t try to see everything.
Another tip would be to try and see the most popular buildings, like St Mary’s Cathedral, closer to the 4pm last entry time.
The most important tip I have for you is to have fun. You are going to learn so much about Sydney and, by the end of the day, you will have a whole new appreciation for your newly adopted home.