Secrets To Experiencing Sydney Like A True Local

It's not all oysters and brunches...

Secrets To Experiencing Sydney Like A True Local

Want to convince people you bleed Bollinger and piss piccolos? Go to Totti’s on a Monday, avoid the CBD like the plague, go to an Alexandria beer garden, spend a fortune on a personal trainer, watch out for magpies and get obsessed with finding the latest “secret” rockpool. And that’s just the start, if you want to experience Sydney like a true Sydneysider…

There are more articles on how to make the most out of Sydney than you can throw an extra large flat white at. But to learn how to experience the city of sandstone and overpriced restaurants like a true local, read this one.

Getting to Sydney

When the flight attendants start blasting the plane with aerosols, act blase. You don’t stink. You just might be covered in apocalypse-causing bugs. Next, don’t get stuck lining up for a passport “ticket” – be bold and gamble that a machine further ahead, closer to the e-gate will be available, if the closer ones are full of people.

Learning the language

Some phrases you may find helpful include “hi,” “the bill please,” “ew, cockroach,” “my landlord just painted over the mould,” “my rent went up again” and “I’m so tired I may purchase a $1,200 sweater to wake myself up.”

Going out

Sydney looking fine. Source:

Get the hell out of the CBD. If you value your wallet and dislike homogeneity and oysters, then go north, south, east or west.

Try Korean BBQ in Western Sydney, brunch at The Boathouse, dinner at Totti’s (but only on a Monday, so you can actually get a booking) or the inner west for a confusing piece of theatre or a better value knock off of a French, Spanish, Greek or Italian kind of restaurant you’d have to pay $400 for in the middle of the city.

For a taste-bud spanking Indian, try Nilgiri’s in Cremorne or Terry Hills’ Urban Tadka. For Mexican restaurants, Surry Hills, Newtown and Manly have a few options (even if every now and then one of your fish tacos will still be frozen in the middle).

Finally, accept that most restaurants in the city will play annoyingly loud elevator jazz to make up for their lack of atmosphere. To overhear the latest stock tip that will probably send you broke, go to Ryan’s Bar.

Beer gardens

Alexandria and Redfern are absolutely pumping with them. Coogee is pretty good for this too.


After 7:30pm most days Sydney feels pretty small. In rush hour it’s like crawling across the Sahara.


You might go to one to watch Rugby Union if you’re from the North Shore. Otherwise, they are for degenerate gambling on the pokies and rugby league.

Live music

Go to Wollongong.


To convince anyone you are a true stereotypical Sydneysider you must have an aggressively healthy morning routine. Take the following Tweet, for instance, where one David Attenborough-type netizen says: “It’s 8:20 in Sydney and all the locals are out on their morning runs and getting coffees meanwhile all the England fans are pissed up causing havoc in the pub – I love it.”

Further tips include wasting a fortune a year on a personal trainer instead of developing any willpower, taking up a lifetime-consuming hobby (surfing or cycling) that you talk about as much as you engage in it and downloading My Fitness Pal. You must also have a step counter. If you don’t hit 10,000 steps a day you must hand in your licence to be a Sydneysider and go and live in Tasmania.


You probably don’t need to worry about sharks and snakes, but watch out for magpies.

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Public transport

Never refer to the train system as the underground – even if some bits of it are underground. Also, unless you’re getting the B-Line, never trust your bus to turn up when it’s supposed to. It will either be 20 minutes late, or 10 minutes early and you’ll miss it. And don’t bank on TripView to safeguard you against this either: its favourite expression is “real-time data unavailable.”

Social media

Brag about your Blue Mountains hiking expeditions if you must (although good luck with that: most of the cool ones are closed at the moment), make your friends jealous with your latest jaunt to Bali and post the exact same Bondi sunset sessions footage everyone has already seen.

Oh, and get obsessed with finding the latest ‘secret’ rock pool, fairy pool, figure 8 pool, or hidden waterfall which was actually only a secret 10 years ago, and post about it as if you are Christopher Columbus.

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Bondi sunset sessions is pretty cool if you haven’t been. There is also some other dancing kind of thing nearby. There are also boat parties, illegal warehouse raves in Mascot (with like 7 people and some dodgy-sounding English geezer out the front!) and Harbour Life. There is also Vivid, which is overrated.


Image: Getty

If the thought of starring on Bondi Rescue fills you with dread, there are a lot of sea pools. Oh and if you want to experience Sydney like a true local, head down for a dip in the middle of winter, in your boardies or budgie smugglers.

Finally, religiously check the Instagram account of your local beach photographer (there’s always one). Today you might have made the cut!


Spend the first twenty years of your life not worrying about buying a house. Then, from age 20 to 30, spend a decade complaining about not being able to buy a house. Next, at age 30, get a loan from your parents to help you buy a house. After this, you must slowly get quieter and quieter about the issue for the next 20 years, before restarting the cycle again with your own kids.


Call Julio Iglesias eating KFC in a private jet your spirit animal. Say things like “my last meal would be chicken nuggets with a bottle of Prosecco.” Put an inflatable pool on the balcony of your $2 million house.


Be rich enough to drive a Prius, but poor enough you still have to sleep in it when you go up to Byron. Or have a fully kitted out adventure van, but only use it once a year (the rest of the time leave it in Erskineville, where it wastes three in-demand car spaces). Or… have a Land Rover with a roof tent and those orange “get myself out of a bog” things and never drive it anywhere riskier than terrain a Subaru Forester could handle.

The latte line

Act as though whatever quarter of the city you live in is Sydney. Everything else is an illusion. Ask yourself, “Why would I ever want to cross the bridge?” Extrapolate conclusions on the world and Sydney as a whole entirely based upon your own suburb.

Mental Health

Take it very seriously, except when it comes to the whole “cut down on the drinking and illicit substances” part. Meditate in public. If you have a “menty b” go to Vipassana.

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