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You Are Here: Circular Quay

Grapeshot’s Isabella Trope takes you through her favourite “nexus of culture” in Sydney

Fear not, Sydney Siders, Interstate Travelers, and International Tourists! The Covid Era has seemingly subsided. For now, anyway. Until whatever the universe seeks to throw our way next, we are free to roam our usual city haunts, share bodily fluids unabashedly, and go maskless outside like the shameless people we are. And what better place to do it than Sydney’s beloved Circular Quay?

Sexual innuendos aside, the withdrawal of Covid-19 restrictions, economic packages like ‘Dine and Discover’, and the return of some workers to the city, make Sydney city the place to be. As a harborside city, Sydney is privileged with glistening water views that sparkle day and night. Within walking distance from Circular Quay station, one can access:

• Views of the Opera House and the Harbor Bridge (a must-snap for instagrammers from Sydney and out of state alike);

• A Messina ice cream shop;

• The Botanic Gardens;

• The Sydney Observatory;

• A restaurant for people with too much money (Quay Restaurant);

• A restaurant for people with enough money to buy what’s important (MacDonald’s);

• A restaurant for seagulls (stealing chips from unsuspecting outdoor dining patrons);

• The Museum of Contemporary Art (most of the museum is free!);

• No less than 3 places to take that special history buff in your life, including the Museum of Sydney, Sydney Government House, and the Justice and Police Museum;

• At least a billion trendy restaurants and chic bars (no, I haven’t counted them. But I promise you’re spoilt for choice. It’s called hyperbole, look it up.); and

• A place to take your grandma (The Tea Cosy).

It seems as though the place now called Circular Quay has had a long history of being a hot-spot. Before displacement by colonial forces, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation lived, fished, and sourced food from the waterside. Many colonial sources recorded that First Nations people referred to the area as Warrane. The Sydney Harbour foreshore is layered with stories of Indigenous people, as exemplified by a planned series of public art, text, and audio installations as part of the Yananurala, or ‘Walking on Country’ walk, including an artwork representing a Bara, a fishing hook used by Gadigal women.

This year, Sydney was once again graced with the lights of the winter-time Vivid Sydney festival. The festival was canned in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. The light installations around Sydney are of course the main attraction, especially the lights around Sydney Harbour.

Winter is usually a time of reclusivity and hermitude as we bunker down to weather the cold and a final round of assessments before the end of Semester 1. However, Vivid Sydney presented a great opportunity to get your butt off your seat, into the crisp air and delightful ambiance of Sydney Harbour at night. Plus, there’s nothing like a cute setting and a chilly night to make hand-holding the perfect activity for you romance-seekers.

Circular Quay, to me, is a nexus of culture, experience and good vibes. It’s a something-for-everyone chocolate box of surprises for explorers willing to brave the cold. And for those not yet willing: don’t worry, someone will probably drag you here soon anyway.

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