Having done the usual Sydney touristy stuff e.g. Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House and eating at Sydney’s popular restaurants like CHISWICK, you might want to check out Centennial Park which is one of the world’s largest park in the city – I think it is second only to New York City’s Central Park.  You will find children’s play area, a cricket pitch and playing fields, cafés and restaurant and most importantly lots of open spaces – perfect for a picnic in the park or just walking, running or cycling around the park.

Getting to Centennial Park is easy – it is just 5 km from the Sydney CBD and there are regular buses from Circular Quay, Central Station and Bondi Junction Station.  If you are visiting Bondi Beach, the Centennial Park might be a good stop in your itinerary for the day after checking out the beach.  For more info on Centennial Park, check out http://www.centennialparklands.com.au

Besides recreational activities like cycling, jogging and dog walking around the park, you can also do horse-riding at Centennial Parklands – if you are keen on this activity, then check out the Equestrian Centre within Centennial Park.  There is a 3.6km horse track around the park and 3.5 hectares of fenced grounds featuring show jumping and dressage!  There are many riding schools at the Equestrian Centre which offer lessons, horse hire, pony camps, pony parties, pony leads and guided park rides.

We checked out Eastside Riding Academy for our horse ride around Centennial Park.  A leisure ride around Centennial Park cost AU$90 – about 50 minutes of riding time and 10 minutes of setup and mounting and dismounting the horse.  Even if you have little or no riding experience, it does not matter as you will be guided through Centennial Park on horseback with a professional instructor.  Riding boots, helmets and other safety equipment are all provided at the riding school – all you have to do is suit up and mount up the horse!

Centennial Parklands Equestrian Centre Horse-Riding in the Park

Sydney is one of only three major cities in the world to retain a full-service equestrian centre and horse track in the middle of the city (others are London and New York) so a horse ride around Centennial Park is certainly a unique experience. :-)

Centennial Parklands Eastside Equestrian Centre Horse Riding Park

After horse-riding at Centennial Park, you can also check out Moore Park Golf – the closest public access golf course to Sydney CBD.  Moore Park Golf boasts a 18-hole public access golf course as well as an all-weather, day-night driving range – I tried a few rounds at Moore Park Golf’s driving range – I did not do too bad considering that this is my first time.

Moore Park Golf Driving Range features a world-first giant LED screen.  Don’t worry about hitting the screen as it is protected by nets.  Prices for the driving range start from AU$20 for off-peak periods and go up to AU$35 for weekends Twilight.

Centennial Park Moore Park Golf Driving Range

Every year during early spring in September, Centennial Park plays host to the Australian Garden Show Sydney – this year in 2014, it was held from Thursday 4 September to Sunday 7 September at Centennial Park.  The Australian Garden Show Sydney (AGSS) is a stylish event celebrating Australia’s love of gardens and outdoor spaces.  The show explores new ideas in gardening techniques and design, showcasing spectacular displays and a wide variety of lifestyle gardening products.  Admission fee for adults is AU$35 and there are concession rates for seniors (AU$25) and children (AU$15 – 15 to 18 years old; children below this age range enter free).

Flower Display Australian Garden Show Sydney AGSS

As the name suggests – Australian Garden Show Sydney, you can expect a lot of floral displays around the park.  You can also expect a lot of free garden talks and workshops and to keep the children occupied – there is also an aMaze setup for them – this is an area where children can explore the growing world, participate in activities that connect them to nature and this is all free!

Flower Display Australian Garden Show Sydney AGSS

The highlight of the Australian Garden Show Sydney has to be the Inspiration Gardens.  These are show gardens designed by leading Australian and international horticultural and landscape innovators which features an awe-inspiring array of native and exotic plants, as well as new ideas in garden design and architecture.  Thus, if you are planning to build a garden in your backyard, this is the place to be to get some inspiration – take lots of pictures since the consultancy part of your garden design is already done up for you – there are 8 show gardens to check out.

The garden pictured below – titled “Tread Lightly” by Christopher Owen is one of my favorites as it is very simple and serene – just what a garden should be like.

Garden Exhibition Display Australian Garden Show Sydney AGSS

This is my favorite garden – “My Island Home” by Phil Withers – this garden is supposed to bring a piece of paradise by featuring a timber beach hut and bridge surrounded by tall palms and colourful succulents.  It is not a surprise that it also won the People’s Choice award during the Australian Garden Show Sydney 2014.

For most of us staying in Singapore HDB flats, there is also something in it for those interested in gardening – there are displays of city gardens and balcony gardens which make full use of smaller spaces to create sustainable garden courtyards.

Garden Exhibition Display Australian Garden Show Sydney AGSS

Besides show gardens, I find the exhibitors at the Australian Garden Show Sydney very interesting – there is a wide variety of nurseries, landscape designers, florists, garden accessories, tools and other gardening products.  So if you have a knack for gardening and find that gardening equipment in Singapore are too expensive or there isn’t the seeds/plants that you want, the Australian Garden Show Sydney is the place to get great bargains and a huge variety of gardening tools and products.

Flowers for Sale Australian Garden Show Sydney AGSS

Within the Grand Floral Pavilion, there are lots of flowers for sale too – what might interest you is the floristry demonstrations and fashion parades of beautiful flowers put up by design students at the respective TAFE institutes and this happens daily at fixed timings!

Flowers for Sale Australian Garden Show Sydney AGSS

What caught my attention is the Poultry Pavilion where there is a display of different chickens and even a pink hen that lays blue eggs!

Blue Egg Chicken Australian Garden Show Sydney AGSS Poultry Display

If you can’t get enough of flowers and gardens in Sydney, then you must check out the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Domains which is an oasis of 30 hectares in the heart of the city.  Around the Gardens, you enjoy spectacular views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.

View of Sydney Harbour Bridge Macquarie's Chair

Established in 1816, the Royal Botanic Gardens is home to a wide variety of Australian and overseas plants.  There are free guided tours of the Gardens daily by volunteer guides.  We did an Aboriginal Heritage Tour at the Royal Botanic Gardens – the guide shared very interesting info of ancient music, dance and artefacts and the aboriginals made use of seeds, plants and trees for food and as weapons to hunt animals – the Gardens do such tours every Friday at 10.30am (U$36.50 as of 2013).

Royal Sydney Botanical Gardens Flowers

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Sydney is home to some of Australia’s best restaurants – here you can enjoy many award-winning gourmet dining experiences and dynamic chefs well-known for their innovative cuisine. Some of the chefs in these restaurants with the prestigious Chefs Hat Award had even struck out on their own to setup restaurants in their own style!

What makes the dining experience in Sydney even better is knowing that some Sydney chefs tap on high quality local fresh produce (and some even grow their own!) to produce amazing dishes – for a foodie from Singapore, it was definitely an experience I was looking forward to.

During my recent trip to Sydney, I had the opportunity to check out a few amazing restaurants in the heart of the Sydney city and even as far afield as in the Sydney suburbs e.g. Bronte – most of them using local fresh produce and some of them being helmed by chefs who had worked in Hatted restaurants.

Sagra Restaurant at Darlinghurst

Sagra is a good combination of the two factors that I am looking for in my Sydney food trail – experienced chefs from Hatted restaurants and the use of fresh local produce in creating Sagra’s menus.

Sagra is helmed by Nigel Ward from the one hatted Sean’s Panaroma and have spent some time at Lucio’s and the popular London trattoria, Trullo.  Sagra is also well-known for as they say it “organic, biodynamic, farm to plate” food.  Sagra’s menu changes daily and they make their own bread, their own pasta and even make their own wine!

The menu is simple – just four antipasti, four primi (pasta dishes) and two secondi (main courses), usually one meat-based and one fish.  The food is simple and yet very good – referring to the picture below (starting from the top left and going clockwise), we tried the lamb fritti, fennel & anchovy (AU$18) and brussel sprouts, slow cocked egg & vincotto (AU$17) for antipasti before moving on to the bone marrow ravioli with nettle butter (AU$19) for primi and finally spatchcock, romanesco & salsa rossa (AU$28) for secondi.

You will most likely not get the same menu next time you visit Sagra but what you must try in Sagra are the pasta dishes – obviously because this is a Italian restaurant but really they are very good – I loved the bone marrow ravioli!  The lamb fritti was very tender and tasted very good.  I find the spatchcock a bit salty but the meat is tender and fresh (you won’t find those imported frozen meat here!).

sagra-restaurant-sydney-italian

Sagra is quite a small restaurant – about 10+ tables.  You get the homely, cozy feel when you dine here at Sagra especially with the friendly service – very unassuming atmosphere.  Frankly, I was unfamiliar with a lot of the words in the Sagra menu e.g. papardelle, fregola, spatchcock but the Sagra staff was quite patient and explained in detail each item and made good recommendations on what to eat here at Sagra!

sagra-restaurant-darlinghurst-sydney

Another plus point of Sagra is its location in Darlinghurst, Sydney.  We were staying at Pullman Sydney Hyde Park (just a 5-minute walk from the busy Chinatown district) and we were able to walk to Sagra in about 5-6 minutes.  There are also a number of cool hipster restaurants around this area too and Hyde Park is just a few minutes walk away – perfect for a leisurely stroll after a full meal at Sagra.

Sagra’s Address: 62 Stanley Street, Darlinghurst 2010

Website: http://sagrasydney.com.au/

Telephone: (02) 8307 0430

Opening Hours: Lunch Mon-Fri 12 noon-3pm; Dinner Mon-Sat 6pm-10.30pm

Q Dining at Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour Hotel

Q Dining (formerly known as the Quadrant Restaurant) is located within the Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour Hotel.  Here at Q Dining, besides good food and an excellent dining ambiance, you also enjoy great views of the harbour through its  floor to ceiling glass windows. Located on the eastern side of Circular Quay, Q Dining is also a popular spot for pre-theatre dining before an evening at the Sydney Opera House.

I loved the seafood dishes at Q Dining e.g. the seared bay scallops served with black pudding and cauliflower (AU$26) and the barramundi served with macadamia crusted clams and fennel textures (AU$42) – see the topmost pictures in the picture below.  The barramundi’s crispy skin can be quite salty if tasted by itself – the trick to enjoy this dish is to slice a portion of the meat and eat it with a bit of the skin for a good mix of crispiness and softness of the barramundi!  We concluded our meal at Q Dining with an interesting and refreshing dessert – Earl Grey ice-cream served with zokoko chocolate and salted caramel (AU$13) – you get the taste of sweet chocolate infused with caramel and to top it all off with earl grey – quite an interesting concoction.

q-dining-dinner-pullman-grand-quay-sydney

For breakfast at Q Dining, we treated ourselves to a 4 hour pork cheek served with rustic egg whites, roasted tomato and vincotto (AU$21) and scrambled eggs (AU$9) served with sides of hash browns (AU$5).  Q Dining prides itself on using fresh local produce e.g. Fryars Kangaroo Island free range eggs, South Australia bacon and ham and sausages from Blackforest Smokehouse.

q-dining-pullman-grand-sydney-quay-breakfast

Q Dining Address: Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour Hotel, 61 Macquarie Street, Sydney 2000

Website: http://www.pullmanquaygrandsydneyharbour.com/restaurantandbars/

Telephone: (02) 9256 4044

Opening Hours: Lunch Mon-Fri noon-3pm; Dinner Mon-Sat 5.30pm-10pm

CHISWICK at Woollahra

Located in the beautiful Sydney suburb of Woollahra, CHISWICK Restaurant is a casual dining venue co-owned by celebrity chef Matt Moran and Peter Sullivan.  Mention “Matt Moran” to Sydney locals and they will talk about the successful fine-dining restaurant ARIA and rave about its great food.  Thus, it is not a surprise that CHISWICK is just as popular among locals.

CHISWICK even has its own 150 square metres working herb and vegetable garden. When CHISWICK talks about ‘farm to table’ for its dishes, it is with not only produce from the garden but also superb grass-fed beef and lamb from the Moran family farm near Bathurst.

chiswick-open-bar-restaurant-woollahra

If you are dining with a group of 4-5 friends at CHISWICK and no one can’t seem to make up their mind of what to eat here, you can check out the CHISWICK Collective Menu (AU$75 per person) which puts together all of CHISWICK’s popular dishes e.g. oregano, garlic, wood fired bread; Kingfish sashimi served with sesame, yuzu and coriander; ‘Cioppino’ fish served with prawns, mussels, tomatoes and fregola; Wood roasted Moran family lamb served with white bean and smoked tomato; CHISWICK hazelnut rocher and many more dishes.

Otherwise, there is a huge selection of nibbles, small plates, mains and to share plates to choose from the CHISWICK menu.  For appetisers, we started with Prawn popcorn served with chipotle mayonnaise and lemon (AU$14), Kingfish sashimi served with sesame, yuzu and coriander (AU$19), Snow crab slider served with lettuce, kewpie and gherkins (AU$9) and Seared scallops served with celeriac and fresh Western Australian truffle (AU$22).  My personal favorites are the snow crab slider and seared scallops.  I had the opportunity to try the Crispy fried quail served with lime, shallot and ginger (AU$22) – not pictured below – I absolutely loved it – must try!

chiswick-appetisers-restaurant-sydney-scallops

For mains, we ordered the Roast pork belly served with toasted barley and shallot dressing (AU$33), Char grilled grain-fed beef, roast parsnip, seeded mustard butter (AU$35) and Pan roasted whole flounder served with fine nuts, kale and pipis (AU$34).

The servings for the mains at CHISWICK were quite generous!  The Roast Pork Belly tasted just like how a typical roasted pork belly 五花肉 is prepared Chinese-style – crispy skin with a good quantity of fat (but not too much).  I find the flounder fish dish too bony to my liking – too much hassle eating it.  The Char grilled grain-fed beef was excellently done – it was ordered medium rare and it was prepared just right – not too hard and tasted really good with the sides!

One of the side dish worth a mention (not pictured here) is definitely the Hand cut chips served with black garlic aioli (AU$9) – these are quite thick slices of chips and they are fried to the right level of crispiness – very addictive dish and I can’t stop nibbling at it even with my generous mains!

chiswick-restaurant-main-courses-pork-belly-beef

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Yongduam Dragon Head Rock (Jeju City Sightseeing)

by Zhiqiang & TingyiSeptember 20, 2014
Yongduam Dragon Head Rock Jeju South Korea

If you are staying in or travelling to Jeju city as part of your self-drive itinerary around Jeju Island, you might want to check out the Yongduam Rock – also known as the Dragon Head Rock. The Yongduam rock is situated at the northern end of Jeju city. To find the location in Jeju using [...]

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Hiking Up Jeju’s Island Seongsan Ilchulbong (Sunrise Peak) – A UNESCO World Heritage Site

by Zhiqiang & TingyiSeptember 8, 2014
Sunrise Peak Jeju

No trip to Jeju island is complete without a hike up to the Sunrise Peak or as the Koreans call it – Seongsan Ilchulbong (성산일출봉). Some of you might be thinking “huh climb mountain ah!” – yes that’s what I felt too, I hate hiking trails, mountain climbing trips etc. Hiking up the Taktsang Monastery [...]

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What to Do and See in Phoenix, Arizona

by Zhiqiang & TingyiSeptember 8, 2014
phoenix

Image via Flickr by: kevin dooley Phoenix, Arizona is a unique spot to visit. It is one of the cleanest cities in the country and is a smaller area, so it has its own local flair with fresh dining options, boutique hotels and shopping, and beautiful outdoor recreational areas and golf courses. It is a [...]

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A Day Out on Sentosa Island – What to Do, See and Eat

by Zhiqiang & TingyiSeptember 4, 2014
The Merlion Sentosa

Advertorial There is so much to do on Sentosa Island – be it just chilling out by the beach or learning about the history of the island or trying a new adventure – you name it, they will very likely have it. For an overview of Sentosa’s sights and attractions, I suggest that you start [...]

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Review of Giift – Managing Your Loyalty Programmes and Gift Cards

by Zhiqiang & TingyiSeptember 1, 2014
Giift

Today, almost every store and service is providing some sort of loyalty programme or reward card – from Watsons to H&M to Singapore Airlines and even your local bubble tea shop (get 10 “chops” to exchange for 1 free drink type of rewards).  There have been several occasions when I was doing spring cleaning of [...]

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Top 4 Shopping Streets in Seoul – Myeongdong, Hongdae, Ewha, Dongdaemun

by Zhiqiang & TingyiAugust 30, 2014
Seoul Shopping

Seoul is a shopping paradise for all kinds of things e.g. skincare products, cosmetics, fashionable clothes, shoes – yup all the things you see the actresses and actors wear and carry in those Korean drama – Seoul is the place to get them all.  So many things to buy and so many places to see [...]

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How To Make Your Cruise Vacation More Enjoyable

by Zhiqiang & TingyiAugust 30, 2014
cruise

Anyone who has experienced a cruise vacation that was handled by leading cruise service providers that boast of grandiose contemporary interiors and other luxurious features know that signing up for the said vacation activities is well-worth one’s time, money, and effort. Simply put, cruises (given that they are offered by tried and tested companies) have [...]

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5 Pre-Flight Preparation Tips for an Enjoyable (or Rather Less Painful) Long Haul Flight

by Zhiqiang & TingyiAugust 26, 2014
Thumbnail image for 5 Pre-Flight Preparation Tips for an Enjoyable (or Rather Less Painful) Long Haul Flight

Advertorial We just survived a 22-hour long flight journey (with one stop at London) from Boston back to Singapore. Both the Boston to London and London to Singapore flight legs were full – thus no 4-seaters or 3-seaters where we could lie down to sleep for the journey. Nonetheless, the journey (on economy class) was [...]

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