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June 30, 2017

Looking for that perfect city escape but can’t get out of Sydney? Jane Body has uncovered some peaceful havens that will have you chillin’ out in no time.

Having lived right by the beach for most of my life a recent move to the big city of Sydney was quite a change of pace. Amid the dazzling city lights, the buzz of life at all hours and the knowledge that at any one moment I’m surrounded by more than 5 million city slicking neighbours I feel pretty lucky to be part of all the hustle and bustle. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped missing the moments of Zen that come with getting in to nature, or sitting quietly by the ocean; so I hit the streets to find out where some of Sydney’s diehard localyokl’s get their escape within the city.

After chatting to a few people out and about, a common theme occurred. Everyone loved a bar where they could enjoy a quiet drink and a chat; somewhere they could actually hear the person they were talking to. The Royal Sovereign Hotel, affectionately known as Darlo Bar definitely topped the list for the localyokl’s I spoke to. In one of the most densely populated suburbs in Australia it is certainly a refreshing feeling to walk in to what has been referred to as the living room of Darlinghurst. The cosy downstairs pub room is complemented by a peaceful rooftop bar complete with a gorgeous vertical garden, giving you just enough greenery and serenity to forget about the city outside for a drink or three. They even use herbs fresh from their rooftop garden in all their meals and cocktails!

Prince Alfred Park
Prince Alfred Park

This next not so little gem was introduced to me by a friend after I mentioned I was craving some wide open space that I didn’t need to drive anywhere to get to. Prince Alfred Park is smack bang in the centre of Sydney. Located right next to Central Station, you might think that it would be heaving with people but something happens when you enter its grounds. The space becomes infinite, time slows and everyone around seems perfectly content being part of the little community that for the moment exists inside. My tip is to pack a picnic, a drink or two and head there on a lazy Saturday afternoon for some excellent people watching, a cuddle with the numerous dogs that will be running around, and a view of the candy-coloured sky as the sun sets behind the city.

As far as escaping the city goes, to me it’s all about immersing yourself in the wonderlands hidden within it, and this past weekend I most certainly found one of those. The Sydney Flower Markets at Flemington can quite literally take you to another world. Awash with colour and fragrances of all kinds you would be forgiven for thinking you’d stepped in to some technicolour dream. As the first rung in the flower industry ladder it also means the flowers are wholesale price and that means cheap! You might have to take them home, trim and de thorn them yourself but I think that makes the experience all that much more gratifying. A hot tip is to get there on a Tuesday morning if you can – it’s a lot less busy and although they are technically open from 5:30 till 11am, most vendors are running out of stock and packing up by about 8:30. Basically, the early bird gets the worm, or the rose in this case!

Sydney Flower Markets
Sydney Flower Markets

Now this last one comes directly from me because I just can’t finish up this blog without mentioning my personal, favourite escape – Berkelouw Books. Located on busy Oxford Street, it is impressively easy to block out the city as soon as you step inside this little piece of heaven. The first floor is packed full of new releases and cute trinkets and if you venture up to the second level you’ll find Café 1812 nestled amongst the bookshelves. Their motto is ‘Food, Wine, Ideas’, so they obviously had me at hello. My favourite level however, is definitely the third. On this level all the second hand books are kept and you can find small desks and comfy armchairs scattered amongst the rows. Scouring the shelves for an epic read and settling down with a cup of tea is definitely my kind of inner city escape. It’s also very cool to know that the Berkelouw family have been trading books for six generations, originally starting out in Rotterdam, Holland in 1812 and then moving their headquarters to Sydney in the late 1940s. They are now recognised as Australia’s largest rare and antiquarian second hand and new booksellers.

Berkelouw bookstore

It’s not always easy to drive an hour or two out of the city to get the peace and quiet you crave, so finding places to escape every now and again is essential to recharge for the beautiful madness that keeps Sydney ticking constantly. I know I’ll be seeking refuge in all of the above again soon and I’ll be sure to keep you updated as I uncover more!


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