AUSTRALIA, PART ONE: SYDNEY

Hello hello! I know it’s been forever and a day since I last posted and I’m beyond excited to get back into the swing of things, starting with lots of pictures from our trip to Australia! We were so excited to visit after planning the trip over several months but I have to say the country exceeded our every expectation. It is so unbelievably beautiful there and the people, the food, and the beaches are just incredible! I know several of you are planning your own trips down under so I can’t wait to recap everything we did, where we stayed, where we ate, and what I wore. Today I’m starting with where we stayed and what we did for three days in Sydney!

design darling langham sydney australia

langham sydney australia

langham sydney on design darling

We arrived in Sydney at 10 a.m. and went straight to our hotel, the Langham. I picked it for its beautiful rooms and central location in a beautiful historic neighborhood called The Rocks but fell even more in love with it after taking in all the fresh orchids in the lobby. Swoon! We paid a small extra amount to upgrade to a room that was available for early check-in so we could take a much-needed nap (the flight to Australia is no joke!) and then hit the ground running. I had a bunch of people ask how we were coping with the jet lag but to be honest we took one three-hour nap on the first day and then got on a pretty great schedule of waking up around 6 a.m. and being ready for bed by 8 or 9 p.m… Basically the way I wish I lived my life all the time! It felt so productive to wake up before sunrise and seize the day. The adjustment back to the east coast the past couple days has been way more exhausting!

hyde park sydney on design darling

slim's rooftop bar sydney on design darling

slim's rooftop sydney on design darling

slim's sydney dress code on design darling

slim's sydney design darling

We spent our first afternoon walking around to acclimate ourselves with the city and the time change and it felt SO nice to be outside after a long east coast winter and so many hours cooped up in an airplane. We walked from the Langham through picturesque Hyde Park to lunch at Slim’s, a rooftop bar that’s decked out in sorbet-colored umbrellas and Slim Aarons prints as far as the eye can see. We ordered a few small plates to share (highly recommend the edamame) and took in the views of the Sydney skyline.

design darling sydney opera house

sydney opera house design darling

sydney opera house from mrs. macquarie's chair

sydney opera house

sydney opera house sunset from mrs. macquarie's chair on design darling

Next we continued our walk to the Opera House, which was even more impressive in real life than I’d imagined. We took it in from every angle before walking through the Royal Botanic Gardens to Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair, supposedly the best vantage point for both the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge behind it. We decided to stay and watch the sunset which was when I filmed this fun timelapse video. We decided Sydney reminded us a little of San Francisco with its harbor views and photo-worthy bridge.

For dinner on our first night we headed to Mr. Wong, a place that came highly recommended when I asked for Sydney suggestions here and here. We walked in without a reservation (against my better judgment and all your advice, oops!) and were immediately seated at the bar downstairs. We wanted to try a bunch of different things and I think my favorite was the vegetable fried rice which was seriously out of this world (though Will insists the duck pancakes were a close second). It seemed to be a favorite spot among both locals and tourists and we would definitely go back on our next visit!

the grounds of alexandria sydney

the grounds of alexandria flower shop on design darling

design darling the grounds of alexandria sydney

breakfast at the grounds of alexandria sydney

grounds of alexandria sydney on design darling

We started our second day in Sydney with breakfast at the Grounds of Alexandria, a quick and worthwhile Uber ride from our hotel and another highly recommended “only in Sydney” type of place. I am so glad we made the trek! This place is like Terrain in Westport, Connecticut, on steroids: outdoor seating, delicious food, and fresh flowers and plants as far as the eye can see. We ate outside (how could you not?!) and had quite possibly the best blueberry muffin either of us had ever eaten (tied only with my all-time favorite from ‘Sconset Market on Nantucket!). Then we stumbled upon the flower shop which looked and smelled like heaven on earth. Such a dream!

bronte beach surfers on design darling

bronte beach design darling

bronte to bondi coastal walk on design darling

bronte to bondi coastal walk sydney

bondi icebergs on design darling

bondi icebergs sydney on design darling

From there we took another Uber to Bronte Beach to kick off the Bronte to Bondi walk we’d heard so much about. Let me just say the views blew my expectations out of the (absolutely gorgeous, crystal clear, bright turquoise) water. I could have stayed and watched the surfers at Bronte and the swimmers at Bondi all day! The views along the coastal walk were insane and I took more photos on this day than any other of our trip. It reminded me a little bit of the Chapman’s Peak drive we did in Cape Town on our honeymoon but it was so nice to take in the views on foot vs. being in a car! P.S. We learned that Bondi is pronounced Bond-eye and not Bond-ee… tell me we’re not the last people to know this?!

bondi icebergs club on design darling

bondi icebergs on design darling

fonda bondi sydney on design darling

fonda sydney on design darling

fonda bondi sydney

We stopped for a cold drink at the Bondi Icebergs Club, where you can see both the pool and the beach from their outdoor balconies. You can also eat in their restaurant but I’d heard good things about Fonda a few blocks away so we downed our drinks and headed there for guacamole and tacos which totally hit the spot. 

watsons bay sydney on design darling

watsons bay beach club on design darling

watsons bay beach club on design darling

watsons bay beach club sushi boat on design darling

watsons bay beach club sunset on design darling

From Bondi we headed back to our hotel for a change of clothes and ventured out to Watsons Bay, a waterfront Sydney suburb that’s home to the beautiful Watsons Bay Beach Club. There’s a gorgeous park overlooking the water and a pathway running along the water in both directions so we explored for a bit and worked up an appetite for dinner underneath the Beach Club’s striped umbrellas. Will ordered the sushi boat having no idea it basically contained enough sushi for a family of six but it wound up being one of our favorite meals of the trip!

boathouse palm beach sydney

design darling anchor lattes

boathouse palm beach on design darling

anchor lattes on design darling

boathouse palm beach flowers on design darling

birds at boathouse palm beach sydney

boathouse palm beach anchor lattes on design darling

Our third and final day in Sydney sadly called for rain, but we didn’t let the forecast deter us from driving out to Palm Beach, a suburb in the Northern Beaches about an hour outside the city center. I’d been dying to try a number of restaurants there and I’m so glad we still made the trip as it was one of my favorite days despite the overcast weather and occasional downpours. We started with breakfast on the covered patio at the Boathouse Palm Beach, which is known for its gorgeous floral arrangements and adorable anchor capuccinos which were almost too pretty to drink. Will is very tolerant with my picture-taking in general but I think by the nine hundredth photo I took of the anchor capuccinos he was wondering if he’d get to eat his breakfast sandwich while it was still warm. 🙂 I wish a coffee shop in Connecticut or Nantucket would figure out how to make these because I would be their #1 customer! We also had the craziest colorful birds join us at the end of our meal… aren’t they incredible?

boathouse home anchor coffee cups on design darling

boathouse home bakery on design darling

palm beach sydney on design darling

From the restaurant we walked through the park to Boathouse Home, a store by the same restaurant group that’s like a boutique version of Serena & Lily. I basically wanted two of everything but settled on a couple cute soaps and a marble soap dish as a pretty and packable souvenir. The women in the shop were SO sweet and wrote out a ton of helpful recommendations for our stay in Cabarita Beach! We enjoyed a couple to-go coffees (in their cute-as-can-be anchor cups!) on their front porch while waiting for the rain to subside before walking along the water and working up an appetite for our next meal.

barrenjoey house palm beach

barrenjoey house palm beach on design darling

design darling barrenjoey house palm beach sydney

We had lunch at Barrenjoey House, the newest addition to the Boathouse Group and one of the most beautifully decorated restaurants I’ve ever been to. It’s 100% worth the extra hour drive if you’ve already gotten yourself all the way to Sydney! The food was fantastic and the interior has me convinced that our next kitchen should have pale blue cabinetry and white marble countertops. And maybe even a couple striped pendants for good measure?!

hugo's manly beach sydney

Sadly it started raining sideways during our lunch, thwarting our plans to explore more of Palm Beach that afternoon. We headed back to our hotel for some rest and work before heading back up to Manly Beach for dinner at Hugo’s. We loved the pizza and the waterfront but wish we’d gotten to experience the area when it wasn’t pouring… one of many reasons we hope to return to Sydney someday!

I hope you enjoyed the first recap of our trip! I’ll be doing two more for each of the other legs of our trip on the Gold Coast and the Great Barrier Reef plus sharing several outfits we snapped along the way. It feels so good to be back on the blog — I’ve missed you all more than you know! xoxo

18 thoughts on “AUSTRALIA, PART ONE: SYDNEY

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  1. Oh you’re making me homesick with this post! You definitely did Australia right, and I love that you had such a great time and visited so many of my favourite places. And thanks for the recommendation about Barrenjoey House; I haven’t been there yet but completely smitten with the style (it reminds me of Halcyon House), so I’m definitely bookmarking that one for my next visit.

    Briony xx

  2. These Australia photos are INCREDIBLE! I did a semester abroad there years ago and they make me want to go back soon! Can you share what kind of camera you use to take your photos? Thanks!

  3. I’ve grown up and lived in Sydney all my life and I’m so glad you loved our beautiful city! The photos you took are gorgeous and make me want to explore it all over again haha!

  4. I studied abroad in Sydney (UNSW) back in college (technically lived in Coogee) — the travel lag there was easy to adjust to; it took me MONTHS to return to normal after coming home (NJ). Glad you loved it, I can’t wait to go back one day.

  5. Aussie ex-pat living in South Carolina here! Those birds are called lorikeets! It was lovely to read your post this morning, makes me miss home so much and make me so excited to move back to Brisbane in a few months after living in the US for 12 years. You should definitely come visit Brisbane & Noosa next time you venture to Australia!! Thanks for the nostalgia and beautiful photos & blog post!