Ask A Local: Local Eyes
Top tour guide Jamie Creer's Sydney favourites
Jamie Creer and his wife Alex manage Local Eyes, a boutique touring company that offers a diverse range of day trips in and around Sydney with a focus on the harbour. Below, Jamie reveals some of their favourite spots.
What’s your favourite neighbourhood in Sydney?
We love Paddington because it incorporates history, architecture and culture. It’s one of Sydney’s oldest neighbourhoods and there are some wonderful historic buildings there, including renovated pubs with great food. It’s also a creative hub: you’ll come across lots of edgy fashion businesses and art galleries. In October and November, the backstreets turn purple when the jacaranda trees bloom.
Can you recommend a fun stop in Paddington?
We like taking visitors to Utopia Goods, which is run by Bruce, an artist specialising in Australian botanicals, and his partner Sophie. They make textiles using Bruce’s illustrations: everything from scarves to cushions, all with the most magnificent botanical prints.
Let’s talk about Sydney Harbour. What’s your favourite place for a drink with a view?
It’s definitely the Manly 16ft Skiff Club, which is about a 250m walk from the Manly ferry terminal. Inside there are old photographs and information about skiff racing on the harbour, but the place to be is outside, watching the ferries come and go. It has a south-westerly-facing aspect, so you get to see the sunset, too. It’s beautiful. And it’s very much a local’s hangout: great food and a relaxed atmosphere.
How about a waterside cafe for coffee or lunch?
We’re regulars at The Boathouse Shelly Beach. The coffee and food are reliably excellent, and inside there’s always a huge display of gorgeous Australian native flowers. Technically, it’s still in Manly, but it faces the ocean rather than the harbour. You can walk there from the Skiff Club in about half an hour. It’s housed in an early-1900s sandstone building with a corrugated roof, which is very typical of that period.
Where do you recommend your guests stay overnight?
Our first recommendation is always Jonah’s at Whale Beach. It’s a very small boutique hotel with an amazing restaurant attached to it. Jonah’s is located in the beautiful Northern Beaches, which is north of central Sydney. Staying there is a great way to get out of the city and see some of our loveliest stretches of coastline. And waking up with the view over the ocean is just magical.
When visitors want to learn more about Sydney’s indigenous heritage, who do you put them in contact with?
We pass them onto Marg Campbell at Dreamtime Southern X. She’s an Indigenous Elder of the region and she provides a wonderful insight into the history of Sydney, including a walking tour of The Rocks that our guests love. She’s not touristy in any way: she’s a very pragmatic, proud Indigenous person, and we think she does great tours.
What’s your favourite walk in Sydney and why?
We’re partial to the Manly to Spit Bridge Walk. First of all, it passes through four different micro-climates, so you’ll see a variety of wildlife: water dragons, wallabies, echidnas … as well as a huge array of flora. It passes by some of the best harbour vantage points in all of Sydney, and some fantastic little beaches.
You often take your visitors out on the water. What’s a secret spot you sail to?
We’ll take them to Crater Cove. You can just about see it from a clifftop along the Manly to Spit Bridge Walk but there’s no land access to commercial operators. In the 1930s, during the Great Depression, hermits somehow found it and built huts there out of local sandstone and materials that washed ashore. There’s a lot of history there, but most Sydneysiders don’t even know it exists.