Free Time

Penny's Picks

Wondering what you could do with just a few free hours? Considering  getting to Sydney a few days before the Workshops and Conference? Or staying a while afterwards for some holiday time?

Take a browse through Penny’s Picks below for some great ideas for what to do in your free time ….


Sydney Festival

  • Runs from 1st January to 26th
  • Program is released in about October
  • Includes an outdoor evening Opera in the Domain , Outdoor evening Sydney Symphony in the Domain, Public Holiday Australia Day Ferrython on harbour
  • Lots of free events
  • There will be events on at
    • phone 9250 7777
    • recitalCity Recital Hall Angel Place phone 8256 2222 – this is a great auditorium in the middle of the city (Melburnians who like the  Dame Elizabeth Murdoch Recital Centre might draw comparisons). Make sure to have time to walk around the outside of the building and LOOK up and UNDER your feet and OPEN your ears for a treat of an outdoor sculpture (no more spoiler alerts). Several nearby restaurants in Ash Street, Angel Place
    • Sometimes venues within the Sydney University campus are used. E.g. The Great Hall.
  • We’ll have an update later.

Art – Inside

  • Sydney University Art Gallery – Monday to Friday 10.30am to 4.30pm and 1st Saturday of the month 12-4pm
  • Art Gallery of NSW
  • Museum of Contemporary Art – Circular Quay
  • H. Ervin Gallery is in a National Trust building on a hill near the Harbour Bridge with views around the city. Café. Small gift shop.
  • Commercial galleries – some are closed in January. Updates later.
  • Near Newtown – Defiance Gallery 47 Enmore Rd, Kerrie Lowe Gallery 49 King St;
  • Manly Art Gallery – see reference under View Sydney from the water Ferries
  • White Rabbit – 21st Century Chinese Art from a private collection. Free entry. Great space. Special Teas and dumplings.


Art, Architecture, History – Outdoors

Other Museums

  • Australian Museum of Natural History College Street in city opposite Hyde Park
  • Sydney University Macleay (old style Natural History) and Nicholson Museums (Ancient History, archaeology) Monday to Friday 10.30am to 4.30pm and 1st Saturday of the month 12-4pm.
  • Museum of Sydney (on the site of first Government House, Sydney’s past and present), Justice and Police Museum (Sydney’s shadowy past), Susannah Place near Museum of Contemporary Art (ordinary lives, working class Sydney) are all near Circular Quay and Hyde Park Barracks (Sydney’s convict story, UNESCO World Heritage site) also in the city. Elizabeth Bay House is worth a wandering walk from Kings Cross. .  Entrance charges
  • Sydney Harbour Youth Hostel has an ongoing archaeological project that can be viewed. Near The Rocks, Museum of Contemporary Art, Susannah Place
  • Sydney Jewish Museum not open Saturdays
  • Powerhouse Museum Ultimo


  • Non-classical music venues in/ near Newtown
    • Enmore Theatre
    • Sound Lounge – Seymour Centre – diverse musical styles
    • Sly Fox  – pub with live music 199 Enmore Rd
    • Marlborough Hotel  – 145 King St
    • Newtown Social –  pub– 387 King St
  • A bit further to go and worth it
    • Camelot Lounge Marrickville   Sydenham train station is close to it
    • The Basement near Circular Quay 7 Macquarie Place. Been going for decades, various music styles. Dinner plus show cost is high price for a seat and not great food. Show only price with bar seating or stand up is fine. Other eating places around. If Monday to Friday go to Tapas e Vino around the corner in Bulletin Place for Spanish.
  • Classical
    • Sydney Festival will have offerings see item above
    • Sydney Symphony will release 2016 program about August
    • Opera Australia will release 2016 program about August


  • Theatres a bit further
    • Sydney Theatre Company 2016 Season released about August; performances could be at Drama Theatre at the Opera House(take bus to Circular Quay)  or at Walsh Bay . Recommend “The Bar at the End of the Wharf” for views of the Harbour Bridge at sunset with a drink pre/post theatre or just because it is a fine place to be. Nice pub with microbewery and reasonable food is  The Lord Nelson for pre theatre. Good Dumplings at Lotus across the road fro the Wharf Theatre.
    • Belvoir St Theatre 2016 Season released about August. Foyer drinks and food available. Vini Wine Bar nearby not Sunday.
    • Griffin Theatre is Australia’s new writing theatre, been going over 30 years, performs in an intimate and engaging space the SBW Stables near Kings Cross. and other social media
    • Darlinghurst Theatre at the recently renovated heritage building Eternity Playhouse



View Sydney From The Water And Explore

ferryPenny’s Suggestions : Walk/train/bus to Circular Quay – take a ferry around the harbour. F2 – to the Zoo which has great views, F6 to Mosman – café at the wharf – see lower north shore from the harbour,  F3 all the way to Parramatta or just go to Woolwich  – nice pub with views; Cockatoo island for quiet wanderings around ship building archaeology with fabulous views, or get off at Balmain or Balmain East and walk around charming peninsula that used to be workers cottages and now gentrified; (F7 Eastern Suburbs to Watsons Bay/ The Gap great views – Fish and chips, cold beer, tea Rooms along the esplanade or at swanky Dunbar House) (Manly F1 – ocean beach, harbour pool, The Corso wanderings, markets, Manly Art Gallery on the ferry side will have an exhibition exploring the ideas of quarantine, migration and place )

Sydney Harbour Ferry Tours from Circular Quay, including up to Paramatta :

Green Spaces

barangarooSydney’s hottest new harbour headland, Barangaroo!! Well worth a visit for the Foreshore Walk and other activities. Accessible via the CBD – walk up from Darling Harbour, or round from The Rocks or from Wynyard Railway Station. 

Other Quiet Places

  • The Quadrangle in Sydney University
  • Cockatoo Island – see view Sydney from the water
  • The Reservoir at Paddington – a little haven. Across the road from Chauvel Cinema.
  • Chinese Garden of Friendship – open every day. Small entrance fee. Western side of city in the Darling Harbour area.

chin gard

Scenic and Bush Walks

Sydney Bushwalk reference books will be at our desk. (Blue Mountains is a full day trip away – another story.)

  • Walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Take bus to near Circular Quay. Access from stairs in Harrington Street in the city, from lower Macquarie Street to get onto the Cahill Expressway pedestrian path which connects with the Bridge access, from Observatory Hill.
  • At the northern end you could go west and walk along the foreshores of Lavender Bay and up towards North Sydney train station (find Wendy (former wife of Brett) Whiteley’s Garden created from unused railway land – it’s a treat and she might be there); or go east towards Kirribilli and then ferry back to city (Anvil Café on Kirribilli Wharf); or just catch the train from Milson’s Point Station back to the city.
  • bridge climbOr  book ahead and walk to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
  • Walk west from Circular Quay along the foreshores, past the Museum of Contemporary Art around to (possible refreshments with a view at ) and on to the new precint Barangaroo 
  • A show-off walk for Sydney – Manly to The Spit or reverse. About 3-4 hours with pauses. Bush, views, rock art, swims, beach-side culture. Buses to The Spit, walk to Manly then ferry to city.  If you start at Manly there’s not much at The Spit end of the walk – take bus back to city.
  • Ferry to Manly, up hill to North Head or bus up route 135, walk around at the top (bush, views, , history, café) and walk or bus back to Manly and the ferry.
  • Zoo to Balmoral Beach (harbour not ocean) great views, cafes. Ferry to Zoo (F2).  Bus back to Military Rd at Spit Junction then bus to city or Red M30 that goes through Newtown.
  • Eastern Suburbs beaches cliff top. Start at Coogee or Bronte and go to Bondi Beach or further on.
  • Circular Quay to Watsons Bay along Sydney Harbour Foreshore National Park in places.
  • Ferry to Manly, walk to Dee Why via Freshwater, bus back to Manly or City