Sydney Culture Trails: Darling Harbour & surrounds

Sydney Culture Trails:

Darling Harbour & surrounds

Discover food, fauna and fascinating innovation on this Chinatown, Darling Harbour and Pyrmont cultural trail.

 

The Goods Line

(Map Point A)

Free entry

Connecting Central Station to Powerhouse Museum, this 500-metre urban walkway is a re-imagining of a once busy rail route. Having fallen into disuse since 1984, the line has recently been transformed into a park, taking pedestrians rather than passengers through the southern end of the CBD. The serpentine green space is filled with bike paths, playgrounds, table tennis, and outdoor workspaces.

The Goods Line - Ultimo

The Goods Line, Ultimo

Fuel Stop:

Power-up for the walk ahead with some caffeinated sustenance at The Goodsline cafe on Harris Street.

 

 

Powerhouse Museum

(Map Point B)

Free entry

Since opening in 1988, the Powerhouse Museum has been fascinating generations with its engaging exhibitions and is a must-stop on a day of cultural exploration. Celebrating excellence and innovation in science and design, a visit to the museum could have you learning about topics as diverse as the history of Australian ceramics, microcars or the night sky. Fittingly housed in a former industrial power station in Ultimo, the building itself is an architectural gem worth admiring.

 

In Between Two Worlds

(Map Point C)

Free entry

This public art project by Jason Wing animates Little Hay Street with a whimsical mural and installation. Referencing both Aboriginal and Chinese cultural motifs, the work has an ethereal quality, especially at night when blue figures illuminate above. The spirit-like beings represent our past, present and future ancestors and the universal themes of heaven and earth.

'In Between Two Worlds' art installation in Kimber laneway - Chinatown

'In Between Two Worlds' art installation in Kimber laneway - Chinatown

Fuel Stop:

A veritable Aladdin’s Cave of treasures and street food, crammed beneath Market City, Paddy's Market is open from Wednesday to Sunday. You can find almost anything in this labyrinthine bazaar from fresh produce and fashion to phone cases and felt hats. Grab a bubble tea and brave the bustle to sift through the dizzying array of stalls.

 

 

Capitol Theatre

(Map Point D)

Bookings required 

Take a slight detour to absorb the ornate beauty of the Capital Theatre. This historic building began life in 1892 as the Belmore Markets, by 1916 it had transformed into a circus hippodrome, complete with a 12-metre-wide tank from where seals and polar bears would ‘perform’. Today, though, one wouldn’t expect to see a menagerie of animals in this atmospheric theatre, but rather world-renowned stage productions, films and talks. 

 

 

Dixon Street

(Map Point E)

Head into Haymarket. This lively precinct blends into Chinatown and is pulsating with colour and energy any time of the day or night. While Chinatown spreads from Haymarket into neighbouring streets, morphing into Thai Town and Koreatown as it pushes out, the epicentre of the precinct is arguably Dixon Street. Here you’ll find an astounding bounty of regional Chinese cuisine, noodle and dumpling shops, tea houses, and an interesting jumble of fashion and bric-a-brac stores. A stroll down Dixon is essential, as is lunch at one of the many yum cha restaurants.

Chinatown

Dixon Street, Chinatown

Fuel Stop:

It would be remiss of you to walk Dixon Street without excitedly over-ordering during yum cha at Palace Chinese Restaurant.

 

 

Chinese Garden of Friendship

(Map Point F)

Admission fee applies

Darling Harbour is just a few steps away from bustling Chinatown. Take a moment’s respite in the Chinese Garden of Friendship. Designed in 1986 by landscape architects from Sydney’s sister city Guangzhou, the tranquil space is a balance of the opposing forces on Yin and Yang, and is a rare oasis with its lush plants, koi lake, and heritage-listed tea house.

Chinese Garden of Friendship in Darling Harbour, Sydney City

Chinese Garden of Friendship in Darling Harbour, Sydney City. Image Credit: TAHQ

If you’re walking with kids, head to Tumbalong Park instead for a rest stop. Often host to many cultural events and celebrations, as well as food fairs and concerts, Tumbalong Park is a green space that invites weary walkers to relax on the grass and enjoy Darling Harbour’s jubilant energy. Adjacent to the park is a playground complete with waterplay fountains, giant slides and a flying fox.

Fuel Stop:

You’ll find plenty of places to fuel your sightseeing at Darling Square. Wrap two hands around a burger at Auvers Café, enjoy a bowl of goodness at Fishbowl, or add some sparkle with a drink at Boque by Tapavino

 

 

International Convention Centre

(Map Point G)

Free entry

A stone’s throw from Tumbalong Park is the ICC. From trade events to entertainment, this is the place where big things happen. If you’re coming to Sydney for a show here you’ll already be familiar with this incredibly vast and modern three-building centre, but if you happen to just be passing by, be sure to check out the ICC’s collection of Australian art, which is displayed throughout the venue and is free to enjoy. Grab a coffee or gelato from Fratelli Fresh at the forecourt and stroll the complex to spot these incredible works.

 

Sea Life Sydney Aquarium & WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo

(Map Point H)

Admission fee applies

Continue towards the right and you’ll find yourself at the water’s edge. Called ‘Tumbalong’ by the Eora people, the traditional custodians of the land, Darling Harbour was historically used as a place of food and transport by the Gadigal clans. Today, it is a hub of family entertainment and public spaces that draws Sydneysiders and visitors. Animal lovers and kids will relish a stop at the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium for an underwater walk with sharks and other sea creatures, while the WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo is an opportunity to come face-to-face with Australian fauna.

SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium - Darling Harbour

SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium - Darling Harbour

 

Madame Tussauds

(Map Point I)

Admission fee applies

If you’re looking for attractions of a more human kind, divert your stroll into the endlessly quirky Madame Tussauds. The wax museum is an attraction across the world and Sydney’s chapter is full of fascinatingly life-like celebrities.

Madame Tussauds Sydney

Madame Tussauds Sydney. Image Credit: Merlin Entertainment Group

It’s time to take your cultural meanderings across the water. Follow the beautiful Pyrmont Bridge, which happens to be the one of the world’s oldest surviving electric swing bridges, and don’t forget to turn around and take a selfie with Sydney’s iconic skyline in the background. This historic part of the city is lined with 1900s terraces and dotted with old pubs.

 

Australian National Maritime Museum

(Map Point J)

Free entry, admission fee applies to exhibitions

Once across the Pyrmont Bridge, you’ll discover this sea-focused museum. From ocean science and maritime archaeology to history and Indigenous sea country exploration, you needn’t be a marine enthusiast to be enthralled by these exhibitions and events that dive deep beneath the waves. A leisurely four-minute stroll down the hill from the Maritime museum will deposit you at The Star entertainment complex. Positioned close to the historic 1919 Jones Bay Wharf and looking out across the sparkling harbour, The Star is a perfect place to pause your walk for a drink and a bite or to take in a show at the Lyric Theatre.

Fuel Stop:

While you’re in a seafaring mood, swing by the Peg Leg Tavern for a fortifying ale or enjoy an elegant meal at the stylish Bistro Clementine in Pyrmont.

Things to do & places to stay

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