Sydney’s The RocksPhotos Tourism AustraliaBy Marc Llewellyn

Most Australians live in the major state capitals, and everyone has their preferred places to eat, drink and visit. But if you were wanted to do what the locals do during your visit, then there are definitely some things that stand out.

No Sydneysider can ever get tired of looking at the glistening waters of Sydney Harbour, or the architectural magnificent of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. Then there are the beaches, of course. Even on the odd cool and wet winter’s day you’ll find the locals walking or jogging along the city’s many strips of golden sand, or catching a wave on a surfboard.

One of the most popular scenic walks for locals is the coastal walk from Bondi Beach to Coogee. The two-hour stroll starts at the Icebergs Dining Room and Bar, before continuing on past Tamarama beach – or as it is known locally ‘Glamarama’.

Next, the path leads to family-friendly Bronte Beach, then onto Clovelly Beach, before finally reaching the beach at Coogee. Along the way you might come across waterfront competitions or surf carnivals, which are popular on summer weekends. There are plenty of bustling cafés and restaurants along the route, too.

To experience Sydney’s original café culture hot spots, join the locals at one of the many coffee-houses in inner-city Darlinghurst. There is also a strong morning café scene at gorgeous Balmoral Beach. Go for a swim in the calm green water afterwards.

Sydney Opera House SydneysidersWhile Sydney has plenty of exceptional five-star restaurants, most locals usually reserve them for a treat, or for a business lunch. Before going to see a play or a show at the Sydney Opera House they might have a casual meal at one of the waterside restaurants around Circular Quay.

There are several popular eating areas where the locals tend to congregate. These include Newtown, where you’ll find a whole range of ethnic eateries, and both Crown Street and Oxford Street. For some sea salt with your meal head to the restaurant strips at Bondi and Manly beaches.

Sydneysiders also have a wide choice of pubs and bars to choose from, but one of the most popular areas is The Rocks – Sydney’s historic quarter. Some of the pubs here stretch back to the convict days, and tales of shanghaied sailors and smuggled rum are commonplace. Some pubs to visit in this area include the sandstone Hero of Waterloo, which hosts folk bands, and The Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel where you can buy beer brewed by the landlord.

A weekend favourite is the sunny beer garden and eatery at the Watsons Bay Hotel. Get there on a ferry from Circular Quay and leave time for a walk along the cliff tops.

Melbourne is renowned for its restaurants, bars, café culture, shopping, and fashion scene. Join the locals on the trams as they clunk around this gracious, cultured city and don’t expect to go to bed early, because Melbourne promises to keep you awake with its vibrant nightlife.

The locals have a bewildering choice of eateries to choose from. In fact, whole suburbs are known for their cooking styles, thanks to Melbourne’s reputation as a cultural melting pot.

For some of the best Chinese food this side of Shanghai, choose from among the dozens of restaurants in Chinatown, centred around Little Bourke Street in the city centre.

Melbourne’s St KildaAnother suburb worth noting is the bohemian, bayside precinct of St Kilda. There is a huge range of hip and funky restaurants here, ranging from Modern Japanese and Indian to Modern Australian and Vietnamese.

Just north of the city centre grid you’ll find the eat-streets of Carlton and Fitzroy. Carlton is known for its Italian restaurants and cafés, which cluster along Lygon Street, while Fitzroy has plenty of inexpensive eateries and bars on edgy Brunswick Street.

Melbourne’s eclectic spirit turns up in a mind-boggling range of nightspots that pepper the city’s streets and laneways. Try Tony Starr’s Kitten Club for live jazz acts and intimate spaces; or join the locals for a ritual sunset beer or weekend live music at The Prince.

An unusual laneway bar worth checking out is The Croft Institute, which has great cocktails, weekend dancing and curious chemistry-experiment equipment among the alcohol bottles. Meanwhile, beer lovers will adore Cookie for its beer-barn atmosphere and Japanese and European beers on tap. A new kid on the block is Saint & Rogue. It has comfy couches, a wide choice of beer and a traditional pub-like atmosphere. 

Locals in Adelaide flock to the huge Central Market, where you can buy all sorts of fresh local produce, and munch on cheap noodles and laksa. There are more dining spots in Adelaide per head of population than anywhere else in Australia. For just about any style of cuisine you imagine, head to the eat-streets of Rundle Street and Gouger Street, or to North Adelaide.