In a city that’s one of the most expensive in the world, what can you do when your bank account is empty and your Opal card is running low? Well, as it turns out, plenty.

Green Square Library
No longer hushed, dust-encrusted buildings where you’re afraid to breathe too loudly for fear of being “shooshed”, libraries are lately becoming cool. Take Green Square Library, in Sydney’s inner south.

This subterranean addition to the suburb’s new public plaza is spacious, with plenty of natural light thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows, and books lining the walls rather than in rows. Modern facilities such as a reading room, a computer lab with 3D printer and music studio with recording equipment are in a six-storey glass tower, and a sunken garden makes it easy to enjoy the summer weather, book in hand.

Harold Park
Up until 2010, Forest Lodge’s Harold Park was a harness-racing paceway. Today it’s a huge public park in the inner west within easy reach of the Tramsheds food hub. It occupies 3.8 hectares and is home to a playground and picnic and barbeque areas, as well as walking and cycle paths, and tree-lined corridors that will hopefully lure wildlife back to the area. And there’s plenty more room for activities.

The park leads to the Glebe foreshore, and connects Bicentennial, Federal, Jubilee, Pope Paul and Blackwattle Bay parks, creating a continuous 20.6-hectare green passage.

Waverley Cemetery’s Coastal Path
In November, the Waverley Cemetery section of the Bondi to Coogee walk finally reopened, returning to Sydney the path and the impressive ocean panoramas that made the track famous. For a couple years walkers had to instead detour through the cemetery after the footpath was washed away in a storm in 2016.

The track now includes a new lookout on the Bronte cliffs, giving ramblers a break during the six-kilometre walk, with views across to Waverley, North Bondi and beyond. It’s also worth wandering through the cemetery if you have the time – it’s the final resting place of notable Australians including poets Henry Lawson and Dorothea Mackellar, Archibald Prize patron Jules Francois Archibald and inventor Lawrence Hargrave.

Sub Base Platypus
For more than a century and a half, this slice of North Sydney’s foreshore was off-limits to the public. At different points in its history it was a gasworks, a torpedo factory and a base for the Royal Australian Navy’s Oberon-class submarines.

Now, members of the public can visit the site, with an over-water walkway linking it with nearby Kesterton Park, as well as a playground and recreation area next to the harbour. There are plans for a courtyard and plaza, and potentially a restaurant or cafe in an adjacent workshop. But for now visitors can enjoy one of Sydney’s rare quiet waterfront spaces.