It’s a strange time. The state – and the country – is grappling with a surge in Omicron cases, and the streets are unusually quiet as many Sydneysiders opt to lay low.
But keeping your distance doesn’t mean you can’t still get out and about in a Covid-safe way. So, here are 10 socially distanced things to do in and around Sydney.
Catch a flick outdoors
Lights, camera, action: Sydney has never lacked outdoor cinemas in summer, and this year is no different. Moonlight Cinema has not one, but two screens under the stars; Westpac Openair Cinema’s iconic movie screen is back floating on the harbour (with a luxe VIP experience curated by Broadsheet); Sunset Cinema has taken over St Leonards Park in North Sydney; there are free screenings in a cobblestone laneway in The Rocks; and Flickerfest has brought back its pop-up festival garden on Bondi Beach.
See some al fresco art
Art isn’t limited to the indoors. At Les Sculptures Refusees, outdoor sculptures are scattered around the rolling hills of Manly. Closer to the city, immersive artworks have popped up around The Rocks, and in Vaucluse, a Sculpture by the Sea 2019 people’s choice award winner has been installed by the water.
Walk the walk
There are few things that fresh air and a bit of exercise can’t fix, and the city’s many walking trails give you both. Wondabyne to Woy Woy – which goes past Aboriginal sites and waterfalls – is one of author Sarah Wilson’s favourite walks in Sydney, while the North Head Sanctuary walk in Manly is a peaceful loop that’s among Sydney’s best walks by the water. Glenbrook Gorge track is an underrated walk in the lower Blue Mountains with a good food and coffee pit stop, and we’ve also rounded up some of Sydney’s best day walks.
Set sail on Parramatta River
Want to roll on the river? Go Boat lets you captain your own eco-friendly picnic boat. They’re bookable for up to eight people (kids included), but you can opt for a couple’s cruise or make it a family affair if you’re looking to keep your distance. The picnic part is up to you; go fancy with cheese and charcuterie or keep it simple with maximum chips. Then sit back with a tinnie or glass of rosé in hand and the wind in your hair.
Take a dip
Sydneysiders are spoilt for choice when it comes to swim spots, especially after the mammoth Gunyama Park pool complex opened last year. Chinamans Beach is one of the city’s best kept beach secrets, alongside secluded Little Bay Beach. Entry is free to Maroubra’s Mahon Pool, and there are plenty more of the city’s best ocean pools to choose from.
Unfurl a picnic rug
We got very familiar with picnics as lockdown eased, and the top picnic spots are a little less crowded now than they were in spring. Beach picnics don’t get any better (or quieter) than at Clareville Beach Reserve, while you’ll find plenty of space in Clarkes Point Reserve and Bicentennial Park.
And if you can’t be fussed preparing a spread, grab some takeaway and hit up a nearby beach or park. Josh Niland’s Charcoal Fish is a stone’s throw from Rose Bay Beach, Westwood Pizza (and its crowd-pleasing fermented-garlic honey pizza) is close to Camperdown Memorial Rest Park, and inner-city kebab shop Shwarmama is right by Harmony Park, or just 10 minutes’ walk from Hyde Park.
Set up camp
Recharge outside the city (without spending big bucks) by camping in the great outdoors. Treachery Camp between Byron and Sydney is surrounded by surf spots, lighthouse attractions, coastal walks and sunset drinks. Little Beach Campground on the Central Coast is one of our favourite places to camp by the sea, and Trial Bay Gaol campground in Arakoon National Park is also a good pick, within walking distance of great food.
Sip in the gardens
The Royal Botanic Garden is hosting two pop-up bars this summer. Hard seltzer fans may want to head to seltzer bar The Fellr Garden of Fizz, which is pouring fruity hard seltzers and even a Watermelon Margarita cocktail seltzer. Meanwhile, the Garden Social is serving beer-battered fish’n’chips, cocktails, beer and wine alongside live music and a tunnel of glowing floral lights.
Try forest bathing
The Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing”, has become somewhat of a global phenomenon. Now widely referred to as forest therapy, the wellness pursuit is about immersing your senses in the natural world and reaping the mental and physical health benefits. This guided version – in the Royal Botanic Garden’s quiet surrounds – runs for two hours and is designed to reduce stress by slowing your pulse and lifting your mood. Ideal for chaotic times.
Get physical on a rooftop
Skip the four walls of the gym and head straight up to Paramount Recreation Club’s rooftop pavilion for small-group exercise classes in the open air, where instructors guide you through high-intensity interval training targeting the whole body. It’s $35 for a casual class, or $45 a week for membership.