Travelling shopaholics tend to find Sydney a most pleasant holiday destination, but reluctant shoppers find they do need to dig a little to find something really worth raving about. As individualistic as Sydney comes across, when it comes to retail therapy the city seems to have gone down the all-American-route; Sydney is home to some of the largest shopping malls in the southern hemisphere, even though to be honest (and logical) it has very little competition to speak of considering 99% of the developed world is on the opposite end. Anywho…there are still plenty of unique and unusual one-off boutiques, markets and shopping streets which add a little pizzazz to the photocopy-mall-style shopping experiences, so finding one which suits your taste and budget should be a breeze.
Here’s a rundown of all that shopping-friendly Sydney has to offer…
Sydney Shopping – The mega-mall experience
Sydney is home to five gargantuan Westfield malls, the kind of places where you could easily while away an entire day just getting your bearings, let alone doing any actual shopping. The most popular for visitors would have to be the one at Bondi Junction; not only is it right next door to the Bondi Beach bus station, but it’s also the most up-market shall we say, and boasts quite a few designer stores in between its run-of-the-mill clothing and accessories joints. If you like to do a spot of shopping under one roof, then you may want to head here, but unless you’ve forgotten to pack your underwear and are in desperate need to buy some new ones, we dare say wasting time in these malls may not be the ideal way to spend your valuable holiday time.
The designer hubs
The city centre is where most of the city’s designer boutiques are located, most within much smaller and infinitely more charming shopping arcades. Skygarden, the Strand Arcade, the Glasshouse and the Queen Victoria Building, along with the brand new Westfield Sydney, are all within a block of each other; the first three along pedestrian-only Pitt St. Mall, reputedly one of the most expensive retail strips in the world. If it’s European and Australian designer gear you’re after then, at least, you won’t have to walk very far. If you really can’t find something to buy in one of eight arcades and over 600 specialty stores, you’re just not trying hard enough.
The week-end markets
Sydney boasts some rather wicked markets, often dubbed the anti-Westfield shopping experience by locals. Some, like the infinitely popular Paddy’s in Haymarket, are perfect if cheap and cheerful souvenirs are what you’re after (think clip-on koalas, Aussie-flag tea towels and inflatable kangaroos). For a slightly more up-market splurge, then head to Paddington’s Oxford St. Markets, where you’ll find lots of super cool second hand clothing, home-made arts and crafts, fresh produce and quite a few stalls selling one-of-a-kind hand-made jewels. For equally great flea market bargains, head a little further out to Glebe and Manly.
For good-quality souvenirs, and a great shopping experience under the protective shade of the Harbour Bridge, don’t miss the markets held at The Rocks, which run from Friday night right through to Sunday night. Here you’ll find some extremely unique stuff made from some of Australia’s most beloved products, including eucalyptus wood carvings, tea tree oil potions and creams; honey, nuts and a wide array of totally strange hand-made collectables.
Pyrmont’s Sydney Fish Markets are a great place to spend a Sunday. Here you can ogle at the extensive array of locally caught fish, as well as feast your appetite on the cooked specimens at one of the numerous outdoor eateries. These markets are busy, smelly, somewhat dirty…and utterly cool.
Before heading out, check out this useful online Local Market Guide.
The alternative shopping strips
Spend but a few hours walking around in Sydney, and you’re bound to have your attention diverted by quite a few ‘colourful characters’. Of all of Sydney’s unique characteristics, this is by far its most endearing and the one which most differentiates it from most European capitals. Everyone here just dresses as they please, flaunting their individuality like it was going out of fashion, yet most Australians don’t even realize just how distinctive this really is. Because we’re sure that you will notice it, we’re also quite sure you may want to know where on earth Sydney’s flamboyant personalities go shopping. Head to King St. in Newtown and check out some of Sydney’s most eccentric clothing and accessories’ stores. Newtown is one shopping & people watching destination you may not want to miss. Home to Sydney’s foremost alternative thinkers, wannabe-philosophers, social activists and most fervent tree-huggers, Newtown is an incredibly refreshing scene if the suit and tie combo of the business-inclined city centre gets a little too ‘neat and clean’ for your liking.
Oxford St, which runs from the heart of the city all the way to Centennial Park is also a worthwhile mecca to check out, and is actually the retail personification of all that Sydney encompasses. The first half of the street is all gay bars and clubs, sexy fetish shops and weird and wonderful outlets, and then slowly yet surely everything about it gradually changes, until Oxford Street becomes the address for trendy, designer, up-market gear. By then…you’ll be at the top end of Paddington.
The beach gear
Bondi’s Campbell Parade and Manly’s Corso are the best places to head to if you want to splurge on a new Aussie-designed bikini or surfing gear. Gorgeous sarongs and summer dresses hang on racks lining both avenues, making this the ideal beachside shopping and strolling hubs.
If you need a little help…
If time is of the essence, join a Chic in the City Shopping Tour one of Sydney’s latest hip-things-to-do. Aimed at the designer aficionados and anyone who’s looking to revamp their wardrobe in style, these tours will take you to Sydney’s best boutiques, latest hot-spots and outlets of some of the country’s up and coming designers.
Westfield Sydney via Wiki
The Rocks markets via Wiki
Fish markets via Wiki
Pitt St Mall via Wiki
King St Newtown via Wiki
Bondi surf shop via @Bondi