Besides the main, popular things to do in Sydney, here are some other, cheap things I did when I lived in town:
I went to the Pylon Lookout at the Sydney Harbour Bridge because I got a free ticket with my Bridge Climb on the previous day. After dropping a bit a dosh there, I followed it up with an all free day. So here I was! It is actually a great alternative if you don’t want to pay for the Bridge Climb or are short on time. There is loads of information as you walk up to the top and you can spend all the time you want taking pictures at the top.
Nearby the Pylon Lookout is Sydney Observatory located nearby in Observatory Park. It is free to visit the grounds and permanent collection, which actually is kind of weak. It was dead empty when I was there and once you get inside feels more like a house then anything. I love space and love visiting observatories in other cities and have enjoyed all the ones in the Southern Hemisphere, but this one was a little bit of a dissapointment, especially for a city the size of Sydney. Maybe the pay options at night are better, but the perm exhibit, eh.
A short boat ride away is Watson’s Bay which is in the far east on the south shore. Gap Park is a beautiful park and great overlook, but unfortunatly is also a place where a lot of people jump to commit suicide. There are lots of parks as you walk farther south, including the beautiful Lighthouse Reserve. I walked into the residental neighborhood of Valcuse which has AMAZING houses and a little inlet of Parsley Bay Reserve where lots of families were pickniting and I grabbed an afternoon ice cream. I then hiked back to Watson’s Bay to catch the bus back to town.
I lived in Potts Point which isn’t too far from the Sydney Jewish Museum which is free on public holidays! Being pretty broke, this was a great day to visit on Labour Day! I have a pretty big interest in the Holocaust (went on the March of the Living when I was in college, which was amazing and interned at the Shoah Foundation my last semester in school) and that was pretty much the majority of the this museum. For a generally Christian country (seriously, even more so then the US), this museum is great for the city. They were going through some changes when I was there, which was a little annoying, but the exhibits were really well done. On a personal note, the one thing I wish this museum had more of was on Jews coming to Australia. There was a little bit on that, especially around World War II, but since I know a lot about it already, it felt like rehash to me. But for the people of Australia, this museum is a great resource. Fun fact, there have been Jews in Australia since the First Fleet and since then has kept a pretty much kept the same percent in relation to the general population (which is only about 0.5%)
I think Opera House is one of the most beautiful buildings in the modern world and the Essential Tour was really awesome. Loads of information and we got to go places that most of the public doesn’t normally get to go. The guides were really excellent and professional and even thought it’s a little on the expensive side (bring your student ID for a minor discount!) I thought it was well worth it.
Killing time one weekend, I decided to bit the bullet and do one of the most popular tourist things to do in Sydney is get out on the water and go whale watching with Bass and Flinders Cruises. Getting out on the water was one of my favorite things to do in Sydney, so this was a perfect excuse. And I picked the best day! It was warm and sunny and the middle of winter when the whales are out in full force. We saw tons once we got out of the harbor and in the open water. It was a great half day trip. There are loads of companies and I am sure they are all pretty similar on price and tour and both do pick ups in Darling Harbor and Circular Quay so see if there is a package deal with other stuff you want to do or just spin a wheel and pick whichever. My company was fine, plus they had a marine biology student on board to answer any questions we may have had!
Art Gallery of NSW is free and a pretty awesome museum. It’s large and has a pretty extensive collection. I went on a weekend and it was pretty crowded. It has a decent mix of the old and new, so there is something for everyone.
The State Library of NSW is not as good as the State Library of Victoria but it does also have pretty extensive collections and exhibits, most, if not all, are free. I didn’t have a library card when I lived in Australia, so I couldn’t access a lot of the library, but I did enjoy the exhibits. A great place to explore when you are broke and have time to kill!
Moral: Sydney isn’t all Bridges and Opera House, shopping and eating. These are just some of the places that tourists might not think to head to when in town, but in this expensive city, there are still great places to explore on the cheap. These were perfect places to kill time at in between jobs, when you have tons of time and no money.