Sydney is the next city in our series of how to have a cheap and cheerful weekend around Australia, and to be fair we sent our unbiased Gold Coast reporter, Natalie, to suss out Australia's most expensive city.
First up, it's a good idea to find somewhere to stay somewhere that will have you close to lots of the great things you will want to see in Sydney. Entertainment, theatres, Darling Harbour, Harbour Bridge, Opera House, bars, restaurants, Sydney Aquarium, China Town, museums and galleries are all within walking distance of the great little budged priced Pensione Hotel.
The 68 rooms offer flexible accommodation options and are in an inviting, contemporary atmosphere behind a beautiful heritage-listed façade. The hotel has a traditional European feel and fronts George and Sussex Streets and is above the brand new Sussex Arcade which has shops and Charlie Chan's Bar & Restaurant.
A ferry ride on Sydney's beautiful harbour is a must and you can spend a lot of money to go on an organised cruise or jump on a Manly Ferry from Circular Quay, across the water to the famous beach.
You will head out past the Opera House, Kirribilli House, Fort Denison, Admiralty House and see the homes in some of Sydney's most affluent suburbs.
The surf-side of Manly is made up of Queenscliff, North Steyne, South Steyne and Shelley Beach. They are busy with surfers, divers, sunbathers and picnickers. Beaches are patrolled and there are salt water pools to swim in.
The harbourside, next to the ferry wharf, has a sheltered, sandy beach and gentle waves washing in from Manly Cove. It is ideal for families, sailing and fishing.
Sandbar Café at Shelly Beach is perfect for a snack stop, coffee or something stronger. There are tables and chairs where you can sit and enjoy your order and the view every day of the week between 9am and 5pm. The federation building was built in 1923 was once a boatshed and was used as a tearoom for many years.
Next stop, back across the harbour to Paddington. Oxford Street is crammed with shops in fact Princess Mary spent quite a bit of shopping time there on her recent visit from Denmark but if you take a tiny detour into William Street you will find some pleasant surprises.
The Corner Shop is popular amongst funky young Sydney ladies for its hand-chosen vintage and customised pieces and cutting edge labels in a beautiful store. It is owned by fashion retailer Belinda Seper who has two other stores in William Street, all worth a visit.
Pelle Recycled Designer Footwear & Accessories is the place for finding those shoes and things you see in glossy magazines but are waaaaay beyond your price tag. Technically second hand, many have been worn once or not at all. Maybe they have been used in a fashion shoot, or just worn by someone who became bored with them. Some pieces are from the 1960s and 70s but there are “today” items as well Manolo Blahnik, Prada, Ferragamo, Marc Jacobs, Dolce & Gabbana.
Next stop is the irresistible Just William Chocolates. The Francis family opened this cave of temptation 21 years ago and have been running it ever since. They have truffles, pralines, fruits, nut and chilli chocolate, honeycomb and chocolates in all its colours.
Not far away in Darlinghurst is Govinda's vegetarian restaurant and cinema. You can eat as much as you want from the buffet and then go to the cinema where you can lie down on mattresses to watch a film. Just like home!
It is a Hare Krishna eatery, but you aren't hassled with literature of the sect you are just left to enjoy the superb food and first release film.
North Bondi RSL Club must have one of Australia’s best positions, and if you live more than 5kms away, you are a bona fide traveller and can enjoy the club’s facilities. It has a bar area, dining room, games machines, good old fashioned meat raffles and trivia nights. Best of all is a huge balcony where you can enjoy cheap drinks and pub-style meals.