Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a Yuwaalaraay storyteller living on Bidjigal land. I live with my partner George, son Luke and beagle Louie in Bardwell Park, southern Sydney. I spend much of my time daydreaming along the waterways of Bardwell Creek, Wolli Creek and the Cooks River.

What do you love about Sydney?
Sydney is so generous. It provides so much for so many, cradling difference and sparking movement. I love how it’s both old and wise, young and exciting all the time.

Where’s your favourite place to eat?
My favourite cafe in the whole wide world is Frank & Chitch in Earlwood. Their granola bowl makes my soul sing. Especially when I sit at a table outside in the late morning sun.

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Where else do you go for brunch or breakfast?
I love supporting local cafes. The Lil Hut Cafe in Bardwell Park, Frank & Chitch (obviously), The General Eatery & Supplies and Cafe the Beans in Dulwich Hill, and Mina’s Cafe in Stanmore, for example. All these places are more like community hubs than local businesses, each one treats you as family rather than a customer. Every single one has brilliant coffee and great tables on the footpaths.

It’s your birthday – how do you spend it?
I start with a paddle in my fourth-hand canoe – launching at Tempe wharf and going all the way to the Wolli Creek weir and back. Then I have breakfast with the fam at Frank & Chitch before window shopping in Gleebooks and Connie Dimas in Dulwich Hill. A train trip to Redfern has me lunching at Lucky Kwong. In the afternoon I walk amongst the cliffs and banksias in Girraween Reserve then watch the sun go down as I sip my lemon myrtle, quandong and finger lime herbal tea on my front porch. When the bats begin to fly overhead, silhouetted by the rising moon, I stroll down to dinner at Napoli Centro Pizzeria, where I eat any pizza on the menu and accompany it with a nice glass of red. Too much eating? Who cares, it’s my birthday.

When you want to impress someone, where do you take them?
Anywhere on a ferry or Rivercat. To be on the water, in the curves of the coves and waterways, observing the way the city breathes from a big nawi (canoe) is the ultimate Sydney experience.

What’s one of the city’s most underrated places?
The Cooks River is mighty – a place where Warrane (Sydney Cove) and Sydney dance together in both past and future.

Do you have any favourite shops?
I really love Boomalli in Leichhardt for wonderful NSW First Nations art, Indigigrow at La Perouse for all my native plant needs, and I love pottering around any independent bookshop in Sydney. The Larder, in Dulwich Hill, is great for yummy cheeses and other fancy things, and the State Library of NSW, Art Gallery of NSW and MCA shops are also a must.

Where do you go to get away from the city?
The Blue Mountains, Budderoo, Bouddi or Wreck Bay national parks. What more could anyone ask than to stand at the foot of ageless trees or untouched beaches and feel the majesty and beauty of Country?

Who makes Sydney a better place?
Biggest love to Aunty Beryl Van-Oploo and Aunty Patti Walford. Through their catering and hospitality training business, Yaama Dhiyaan (“Hello Family” in Gamilaraay lingo), run out of the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence, they have been teaching and feeding the wider Sydney and First Nations communities for decades. Aunty Beryl and Aunty Patti always share the beauty of native food in a spirit of generosity and kindness at flash events and community get-togethers. I am so thankful for their example, their sustenance and love.

Is there an essential Sydney song?
Byalla, written by Australian jazz pianist Kevin Hunt and performed by Dharug man Richard Green. The lyrics come from a letter written by Wangal man Bennelong to Mr Phillips, steward to Lord Sydney, in 1796, and sung by a direct descendant of Bennelong, Richard Green. The recording is very rare and very special. It was first performed in 2012 and is a true reflection of this place. To me, this song is the coming together of black and white Sydney – an interaction of history, language, relationship and song that is a powerful story of where we are and how it has shaped us.

Nardi Simpson is singing and storytelling as part of Barra at the Sydney Opera House on July 3. She’s also speaking at multiple events at Antidote festival on September 11.

nardisimpson.com
@nardiga

“My Sydney” is a regular column discovering the places and spaces that captivate and entice Sydney’s well-known residents.