Australia is one of those destinations that makes it onto everyone’s travel bucket list. Whether you want to laze on the beach, soak up a different culture, try some outdoor adventures or explore the wonders of nature, Australia has what you need by the bucket full.
But what about Australian nightlife? Well, Brisbane is booming, Melbourne has a vibe all of its own and Perth has been described as the LA of Australia. But topping all of those, if you want to party in Australia, Sydney is the place to be. Here, we will give you an insider’s look at some of the hottest places in 2023 to eat, drink, gamble and dance the night away in true Aussie style.
1. Sundowners at The Swinging Cat to get the night off on the right foot
A couple of civilized cocktails while you watch the sunset. What better way to start off an evening? There are numerous very fine cocktail bars in Sydney, almost all of which are around The Rocks and Darling Harbour.
A particular favorite with both locals and visitors is The Swinging Cat. There is live jazz several evenings a week starting at about 7PM, and the city’s best choice of cocktails and mocktails. The only downside to the place is that it has such a welcoming and relaxing vibe, along with a great selection of tapas-style sharing plates, that you can easily lose track of time and end up spending the entire evening there!
2. Incredible views and award winning food at Quay
Overlooking the harbour and standing opposite the iconic Sydney Opera House, Quay restaurant provides some of the best views in Sydney. As for the menu, let’s just say it has been awarded Three Hats by the Australian Good Food Guide for 21 years in a row.
Executive Chef Peter Gilmore is one of the best-known names on the Australia food scene, and the menu offers a range of international classics and very special ingredients that you won’t find outside Australia. Try the Moreton Bay bug, surely one of the culinary world’s best kept secrets!
3. Dance till you drop at Club 77
There are a lot of nightclubs in Sydney around The Rocks. The Spot, Puzzle and NOX all have their fans and get mostly positive reviews. But Club 77 on William Street is a classic venue that has been through a few incarnations and definitely has something special about it. This subterranean bar and nightclub plays club classics that will appeal to all.
More important than that though, it seems to avoid the ruckuses that so often kick off in and around some of Sydney’s other clubs in the small hours. Club 77 always has a welcoming and friendly atmosphere that can be lacking at some of the other venues. Even the security staff on the door seem to be able to keep the necessary order on a busy night without losing their sense of humor.
4. Get lucky at The Star Casino
The clichés are all true, Australians love to gamble, especially when it involves pokies, which is what the locals call slot games. Sydney has a couple of large casinos in and around The Rocks, and the biggest, brashest and brightest of them all is The Star.
Now, in case you’ve not read a paper or news site in the past year, Sydney’s glitziest casino has had a rough ride the past couple of years. First there was all the competition from online casinos (see www.australiainternetpokies.com for more details) offering more choice of pokies and other casino games along with all sorts of special promos. Then the NSW regulator suspended the casino’s license amidst waves of money laundering and fraud allegations. The Star has battled through it all, and the temporary management team put in place last year has done a fantastic job to salvage something of The Star’s reputation.
The casino boasts almost 1500 electronic gaming terminals featuring the usual pokies, video poker and electronic versions of roulette, baccarat and other games. There are also 150 traditional tables with variations of poker, blackjack, baccarat, roulette, dice games and many more. Regular tournaments in mahjong, poker and bingo should satisfy and competitive instincts, and there are even private tables for high rollers, British secret agents and even the occasional passing celebrity, according to the Daily Mail.
5. Old school live tunes at the Oxford Art Factory
In the good old days, Oxford Street in Darlinghurst was simply littered with live music venues and you could let your ears lead you. These days it all seems to be take aways, massage parlors and money lenders. There’s one important exception. Oxford Art Factory lives on, an old fashioned venue, almost apologetically lurking amidst the retail units, and it attracts the old fashioned rockers. The focus is on local talent, of which there is plenty, but you get the occasional big name too.
It’s really a case of checking out the website and local press, because famous bands wanting to test out new songs or sets typically pitch up for a random night with very little notice. Big names to have trodden the club’s well-weathered boards in recent years include Mumford and Sons, Lady Gaga and latter day supergroup The Dead Weather.
6. A nightcap at The Baxter
Prefer a couple of quiet drinks in luxurious surroundings? The Baxter on Clarence Street is just the thing. It’s only a short walk across two blocks from the Aquarium, but it feels like you are transported a million miles from the hubbub of The Rocks.
An old fashioned whisky bar in the prohibition style, The Baxter has more than 800 whiskies from all across the globe. So whether you like classic Scottish single malts or you’re ready to try something a little different from Japan or even Australia, the knowledgeable bartenders will help you make a selection before swinging away on their scrolling library ladders like circus performers, to find the right bottle. We can’t think of a better way to close out a memorable night in Australia’s most memorable city.