Ten things I miss about living in Sydney

The Sydney Opera House lit up during Vivid Sydney 2022. Photo: Vivid.

Sunny Grace reveals what she misses the most about Sydney since moving to the Northern Rivers.

Since relocating permanently to the Northern Rivers in February, I have been adjusting to my new abode during two once-in-a-lifetime floods and a community dealing with their collective trauma. I’ve had no time to miss Sydney while trying to remain positive about my treechange.  A few weeks ago, however, the sun finally came out, drying the mould and lifting the cloud of depression hanging over the shire. I started to look outside my black hole and saw people engaging in social activities again. The first time since Covid. Meanwhile, my social media feeds featured friends in Sydney going to the theatre, with Albo appearing at the Belvoir and to Vivid. I realised I’m missing the old hood. 

Here are the ten things I miss the most: 

Yum cha 

I missed it during the pandemic, and I miss it now. There are a couple of places in the Northern Rivers you can get dumplings but it’s not the same as getting a table in Chinatown and salivating until the trolley with your favourite morsels arrives. Eating more than you need but still waiting for just one more until you literally roll out onto the street lamenting that last dumpling. But it’s oh so good. 

Different cuisines

There isn’t a lot of variety in the Northern Rivers. Access to good Lebanese or Ramen is limited. There’s one Vietnamese in town that isn’t bad, but I miss Marrickville and having a choice. I think choice is the keyword. I miss choice. 

Public Transport 

I used to complain about Sydney’s public transport (PT) system, compared to somewhere like London. Now that I live in an area where there are only two buses a day and it takes an hour and a half to get to town I realise Sydney PT is not so bad. Up here, everyone drives to get anywhere. With the price of petrol now that becomes expensive. Unless you are one of the lucky ones who live in the coveted beach towns like Lennox or Brunswick where you can walk to the shops and cafes. If only I could pop on my headphones, listen to a podcast and catch a train to the beach. 

Theatre

Ever since I was four years old and saw my first pantomime I’ve loved being in the audience in a theatre, waiting for new land to arrive on the stage in much the same way as lands at the top of the Faraway Tree in Enid Blyton books. I miss the experience of having a bite and a drink beforehand with friends, and the anticipation in the foyer, be it independent or mainstage. I miss sitting in the dark as new stories unfold onstage transporting me out of my own troubles before passing judgement on the poor playwright afterwards, despite knowing how hard it is to write plays.

The renowned Bondi Icebergs Ocean Pool, one of Sydney’s many ocean pools. Photo: Sunny Grace

Ocean Pools 

Due to a few childhood near-drowning experiences in the open ocean, I prefer the enclosed nature of ocean pools. My favourites are high tide at Clovelly and the Icebergs pool. How ironic given I live only fifteen minutes from one of Australia’s most hyped beach towns – Byron Bay. Since the floods, the beaches up this way haven’t been their usual idyllic selves, with washed-up dead cows, trees, furniture and other flotsam and jetsam. The water quality is still dodgy with people reporting sickness and earache after swimming or surfing. Nothing compares to a newly clean Icebergs pool on a sunny Sydney day. 

Walking 

I love walking in Sydney. There’s always something to explore, a new suburb, street or park. Through the Botanical Gardens into the city. From Clovelly to Coogee or Bronte. Through Centennial Park or Waverley Cemetery.  Before you know it you’ve done 10,000 steps and my writer’s mind has solved a few writing problems along the way. It’s not the same up walking through this quiet suburb on the hill. 

VIVID, Sydney Film Festival and other arts events 

All the photos on Instagram of Vivid and the Sydney Film Festival screenings over the past few weeks have given me FOMO, not the fear of missing out but the feeling of missing out.  While there are cinemas up here the theatrical runs of movies are limited. There isn’t the same energy of attending new films from around the globe with other cinephiles in the beautiful State Theatre. Getting dressed up for the occasion. I miss the art gallery too. 

Newtown/Enmore/Alexandria

There is something special about these areas. The energy, people, diversity. I love having a coffee at Fleetwood Macchiato in Erko, then wandering up to King St checking out vintage shops, grabbing a gelato and wandering home via the Imperial for a drink. Or on Sunday cruising to the new South Eveleigh precinct to try new food, listen to artist talks and then head over to Carriageworks via Redfern stopping for more gelato on the way home. 

Anonymity 

Finally, I love being able to disappear into the city. Pretend you are somewhere else for a day. Catch a ferry to Manly or a train to the Blue Mountains. Or even just Darling Harbour. For my birthday I like to pretend I am a tourist in Sydney and catch a ferry somewhere, go for lunch at a café I’ve never tried before, walk through areas I’ve only ever heard about and try a new restaurant.  I miss getting lost to find new experiences. 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think it’s time I book a flight for a Sydney fix. 

Sunny Grace is a writer, producer and director who divides her time between the NSW Northern Rivers and Sydney. Her website is located at sunnygrace.com.au.

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