Enjoy high tea in the historic Gatehouse, located in beautiful Parramatta Park. Choose from a traditional high tea, savoury high tea or kids high tea. Gluten-free high tea, dairy-free high tea and vegan high tea are available.
Parramatta Park is rich in colonial history. In 2007 the park and Gatehouse building were granted World Heritage Listing by UNESCO.
Built in 1887, the Gatehouse is one of the oldest high tea venues in Australia, and my favourite spot for high tea in Parramatta.
There is indoor and outdoor dining available. The outdoor dining has a lovely view of the park but I imagine could be a bit cold in winter and a bit hot in summer.
There are several high tea options at the Gatehouse.
Traditional High Tea
Tiny pastries (bacon is the standard quiche served. I received cheese instead).
Scones with jam and cream
Homemade petit fours and sweet bites
Tea or coffee
($44 pp or $49 weekends. Add $5 for sparkling)
*Cucumber and cream cheese, chicken are the standard options. I received mixed vegetables as my vegetarian alternative.
Royal High Tea
The Traditional High Tea served with a piccolo of Moet & Chandon champagne
($74 pp or $79 on weekends)
Savoury High Tea
Freshly prepared finger sandwiches
Pumpkin, carrot and zucchini muffins with cucumber yoghurt
Savoury pastries (included goats cheese, mushroom and one meat-filled pastry)
Coffee or tea
($44 pp or $49 weekends)
We requested as well as the muffins.
High Tea for Tin Lids
Mini sandwiches (cheese)
Fairy bread triangles
Mini cupcake and assorted sweet bites
Juice or soft drink
($24pp or $29 on weekends)
Add $5 for gluten-free or dairy-free and $10 for vegan
The Traditional High tea was an absolute delight. Warm scones, plenty of jam and cream. fresh sandwiches and delicious sweet treats. They included a red velvet cupcake, fruit tart, caramel slice, dark chocolate tart and passionfruit cookie.
The addition of the Savoury High Tea to the menu is extremely welcome as several members of our family prefer savoury to sweet. We all tried a bit of the muffin and it was delicious. You can ask for the muffins to be swapped with scones if you prefer that.
The Kids’ High Tea is an excellent option and it was completely devoured. Lovely to have the mini muffins and cupcake as the “sweets” (plus a marshmallow that is hidden). It was the perfect size for our almost 8 year old. They even served her orange juice in a teapot.
The service at the Gatehouse is top notch. I appreciated that the staff came to check on us and brought us extra boiling water to refresh our tea.
Parking is next to the Gatehouse. It is $3 per hour, $14 all day or free after 12pm Saturday and all day Sunday.
There is lots to explore in Parramatta Park so set aside the whole day. Near to the Gatehouse is the Pavilion Flat Playground which has been newly renovated and is about to reopen.
The Innocent Kitchen is a sweet and simple cafe run by two sisters in Sydney’s inner west.
The menu is basic and located on a blackboard. Choose from items like a bacon and egg roll and toasted sandwiches. Kids can order fairy bread, raisin toast, vegemite or peanut butter sandwiches and toasties. The babyccinos are free!
I suggest trying a fancy milkshake and some of their delicious baked foods. The cakes look amazing.
The Innocent Kitchen is also home of Marshmallow Club and is a 2 minute walk from Sydenham Station.
The cafe is bright and cheerful and has drawing materials for kids. There is a bathroom around the side of the building but no changing area.
It’s hard to choose the best vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Sydney – there are so many to try! As a long-time vego I’ve been slowly making my way through the best plant-based food Sydney has to offer. This list of fine dining, restaurants and cafes, desserts and high teas will give you plenty to choose from.
Where To Find The Best Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurants In Sydney
Yellow – Vegan and Vegetarian – Potts Point
Try this European-style vegetarian bistro and sample a range of exotic veggies. Vegetarian and vegan degustations are available. yellowsydney.com.au
Bentley Restaurant and Bar – Vegan and Vegetarian – CBD
The award-winning Bentley is well-known for their top notch cocktails and fantastic vegetarian and vegan degustation menus. Bentley is consistently featured in the Top 20 of Gourmet Traveller’s Top 100 Australian restaurants. thebentley.com.au
Aria – Vegan and vegetarian menus – CBD
The team at Aria believe that everybody should be included in the dining experience and offer extensive, vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and other special dietary menus. We dined at Aria for our 5th wedding anniversary and I loved how I was presented with my own vegetarian menu rather than feeling like an inconvenience.
Vegetarians and vegans are looked after with dedicated six-course menus at this fine Italian restaurant, located on the Woolloomooloo Finger Wharf. ottoristorante.com.au
Paperbark – Vegan – Waterloo
Paperbark is a modern, plant-based restaurant, focussing on native Australian ingredients. Their innovative tasting menus are the perfect way to celebrate a special occasion, or take a seat at the bar and try the simple bar menu with a drink. paperbarkrestaurant.com
Quay – Vegetarian menu – The Rocks
For our 6th wedding anniversary, Alec and I dined at Quay Restaurant – Australia’s most awarded restaurant, and one of two Australian restaurants on the prestigious S. Pellegrino World’s Top 50 List. The menu, created by chef Peter Gilmore, is modern Australian with Japanese and Chinese influence. Quay has won several awards in Australia, and has appeared in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants several times.
This Mexican-inspired, all vegan eatery is popular for their classic margarita cocktails served with delish food. The baked cauliflower is a popular dish. badhombres.com.au
Badde Manors – Vegetarian and Vegan – Glebe
This old-school cafe is a popular spot in Glebe, known for their global vegetarian dishes and desserts. The Badde Manors menu features dishes from Asia, North Africa, Middle East, Latin American and Mediterranean regions and have meals that cater to changing dietary needs such as Low Calorie diets, Gluten Free products, Nuts Free meals and Vegan meals. The breakfast menu is my fave – be warned that they are strict with menu changeover time. baddemanorscafe.com.au
Bodhi – Vegan – CBD
Our long-time go-to restaurant for vegan yum cha, Bodhi is a family-owned restaurant located in the middle of Cook and Philip park under St Mary’s Cathedral in the heart of the CBD. Bodhi is great for groups, with long tables underneath ancient Moreton bay fig trees. As well as offering a completely vegan menu, Bodhi also has great gluten-free options. bodhirestaurant.com.au
Bread and Circus is a bright and fresh cafe that features a healthy menu with plenty of raw, organic, handmade, and gluten-, soya- and dairy-free options to choose from. Their breakfast many is mostly vegan / vegetarian. All of the dishes are designed to be nutritious and ethically-produced. breadandcircus.com.au
This ethical, family-run eatery serves up sustainable food with a focus on fresh, local produce. Cornersmith opens onto Annandale parkland so there are also DIY picnic boxes and a small deli to cater to picnickers. There are even picnic rugs to be borrowed. Kids will love the cinnamon waffles made with Pepe Saya buttermilk. cornersmith.com.au/pages/annandale
El Chapel – Vegetarian, Vegan options – Marrickville
A new, small veg cafe by the folks who own Two Chaps, El Chapel features lots of sweet and savoury baked goodies, both savoury and sweet. Try the raw caramel slice. facebook.com/twochapscafe
Gardener’s Lodge Cafe – Vegan – Camperdown
This little cafe recently opened in the Gardener’s Lodge inside Victoria Park. Gardener’s Lodge is a plant-based cafe and vegan cheese deli inside an historic sandstone building. gardenerslodgecafe.com.au
Gigi Pizzeria – Vegan – Newtown
The pizza at Gigi’s is so good, you won’t even miss the cheese! Gigi Pizzeria serves up authentic Italian cuisine – 100% vegan. Gigi has been open for 8 years but went vegan more recently – which has seen its popularity skyrocket. A line reaching down the street mid-week is not an unusual sight. gigipizzeria.com.au
Golden Lotus – Vegan – Newtown
Golden Lotus is a small and busy restaurant in Newtown with a huge menu of vegetarian Vietnamese dishes. Tara of VegeTARAian says the satay ‘beef’ and ‘chicken’ satay were highlights on her visit. Golden Lotus is 100% Vegan Vietnamese cuisine with a focus on fresh, healthy and delicious food. goldenlotus-vegan.com
Govindas Cinema and Restaurant – Vegetarian, 80% Vegan – Darlinghurst
Drop by for the vegetarian Indian buffet, stay for a movie! Govindas is a cosy spot offering a buffet with 80% vegan Indian cuisine, attached to a small movie theatre. 80% of the food on offer is gluten-free as well. I loved trying a little bit of everything from the buffet, then settling back into a comfy beanbag and watching the movie for a top night out. govindas.com.au
Green Gourmet – Vegan – Newtown & St Leonards
Green Gourmet is an old favourite for veggos. When we lived on the North Shore, the St Leonards branch was a local fave for us. GG is a great spot to order in and enjoy their 100% plant-based food or fill up a container from the take away section. Green Gourmet offers vegan yum cha, mains, buffet and cakes, with lots of mock meat on the menu. greengourmet.com.au
Grill’d – Noteable vegetarian and vegan options – various locations
My go-to for heatlhy veg burgers! With three vegetarian burgers (patties are vegan!) and six Beyond burger options on the menu (including two vegan burgers), Grill’d is a sure bet when you’re dining out with non-veggo friends and you all badly want a burger. Grill’d are great at customising your burger to suit your needs, too. They also offer a vegetarian salad and a large vegan hot chips menu. The veggie delight is my fave, grilld.com.au
Harvest Vegetarian – Vegan and Vegetarian – Rozelle
In the back streets of Rozelle you’ll fine Harvest Vegetarian, a fancy-ish restaurant only open for dinner, offering modern Australian dishes in a cosy environment. harvestvegetarianrestaurant.sydney
Kindness Cafe – Vegan – Darlinghurst
A vegan Thai eatery specialising in meat-free curries, stir fries, sides and salads, made from quality fresh fruit and vegetables. No fake meat here! Gluten free options are available for most dishes. kindness-cafe.com
Lentil as Anything – Vegan – Newtown
Get your fill of hearty vegan food on a budget Lentil As Anything, where everyone is welcome to come in for a meal and contribute whatever amount they can afford to pay. Lentil As Anything is a not-for-profit organisation whose restaurant and grocery store have no set prices. lentilasanything.com
Little Turtle Thai Restaurant – Vegan – Enmore
A Thai restaurant with a focus on fresh, health conscious food, Little Turtle is a new vegan restaurant to the Inner West scene. Tara of VegeTARAian enjoy the pineapple fried rice, sticky sesame wings (sweet soy cauliflower) and the BBQ tofu satay on her last visit and suggests going with a group to sample more dishes. littleturtlerestaurant.com
Mary’s – Vegan menu – Circular Quay
The entire Mary’s menu can be recreated vegan at their new Circular Quay restaurant, in an effort to be inclusive and welcoming to everyone. Choose anything off the menu and ask for it vegan. The vegan “fried chicken” (fried cauliflower) is supposed to be excellent. I tried a vegan cheeseburger with a vegan patty packed with mushrooms, carrots, beetroot, raw white beans (“for crunch”) and a little soy protein. The kitchen has a dedicated meat-free grill and fryer, and all vegan ingredients are stored in a meat-free fridge. facebook.com/maryscircularquay
Peppe’s – Vegan – Bondi
A brand new Italian restaurant, Peppe’s has a simple pasta menu thats completely vegan. The pasta is made in-house daily, with a special focus on the gnocchi. Recent sauce varieties include pesto with green pea, Peppe’s pomodoro and the gnocchi bianchi. peppelovesgnocchi.com.au
Petty Cash – Notable Vegan and Vegetarian options – Marrickville
Petty Cash Cafe is a cosy, retro cafe that has become an unintentional go-to for inventive vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free dishes. Located directly across the road from the playground in leafy Enmore Park, it’s a great spot for families to dine in or pick up some take away. We dined in and enjoyed the vintage, mismatched chairs, tables and crockery. The cafe has a slightly hippy feel to it and is a bit disorganised. This either adds to its charm or can be irritating, depending on how hangry you are.
A wholesome dining option near Cronulla beach, Pilgrims serve up hearty, healthy meals. I love their brunch menu, but their lunch burgers are also popular, and at night they serve up Mexican cuisine. Pilgrims is an extremely accessible vego joint that even meat-eaters will enjoy. pilgrims.cafe
Ruby Lonesome – Vegan – Petersham
A newcomer to the vegan scene, Ruby Lonesome serves accessible vegan dishes for breakfast and plenty of muck meat for lunch. Tara of VegeTARAian enjoyed a hearty plate called What the Duck which featured mock duck pieces, Asian greens, brown rice and a special sauce. facebook.com/Ruby-Lonesome-138164536853058/
Shift Eatery – Vegan – Surry Hills
Sydney’s first vegan deli, Shift Eatery serves up tasty sandwiches, salad bowls and all-day brekkie. shifteatery.com.au
Soul Burger – Vegan – Glebe, Parramatta, La Perouse, Newtown
The plant-based burgers at Soul Burger are so good! It’s hard to believe everything on the menu is plant-based, making it a good option to take your non-vego friends to. Who knew burgers could be so healthy? soulburger.com.au
The Green Lion – Vegan – Rozelle
Sydney’s first vegan pub is absolutely worth a visit. Their hearty menu features pub classics like burgers, hot dogs and tacos – all 100% plant-based. There’s even a kids’ menu here. thegreenlion.com.au.
Two Chaps – Vegetarian – Marrickville
The tiny Two Chaps cafe is a very basic affair. Almost everything is made from scratch, most of the produce is organic and sourced from nearby or made by in house. Two Chaps offers a Mediterranean-influenced vegetarian menu featuring daily house-made doughnuts, cakes and muffins, two seasonal salads and two sandwiches. We tried the breakfast menu at Two Chaps and found the food to be wholesome and generous.
Two Chaps is also open two evenings per week (Thursdays and Fridays) for dinner, serving fresh pasta and local cheeses. twochaps.com.au
Yulli’s – Vegan, Gluten-Free – Surry Hills
Yulli’s is an old staple for vegos and vegans, offering a casual, well-priced dining experience that’s hard to beat. The menu features mainly Asian fusion dishes, with some Mexican and Moroccan options. They have recently released an entirely vegan menu including their own locally-made vegan beers. A gluten-free menu is also available. yullis.com.au
Flyover Fritterie & Chai Bar -Vegan, Gluten-Free, CBD
This little hole-in-the-wall fritterie is located in Temperance laneway in Sydney’s CBD and is a bit tricky to find. It’s well worth the hunt however, because their fritters are delicious. The menu is small and bade-to-order, so expect to wait a few minutes for your delicious, fresh food. Flyover Fritterie serves crunchy chickpea flour & vegetable pakoras (fritters) in a cone, salads, fritter burgers with house pickles and chutneys – all vegan and gluten-free. flyoverfritterie.com
Lord of the Fries – Vegan – Parramatta, Newtown, Central Station, George Street CBD
Vegan fast food! Check out the famous burgers, hot dogs and fries that put this joint on the map. Lord of the Fries is a little hole-in-the-wall joint best for take-away. They serve veggie burgers, onion rings, nuggets and hot dogs. I love their standard burger and sweet potato fries. lordofthefries.com.au
Earth to Table – Vegan – Bondi Junction
This organic, raw, vegan cafe serves juices, smoothies, cold press coffee, salads and raw vegan meals and desserts. facebook.com/earthtotable
Gelato Blue – Vegan – Newtown
Gelato Blue switched to a 100% per cent plant-based menu after gradually replaced their dairy products with coconut milk-based items in a response to customer demand. Popular flavours include the mint choc-chip, espresso swirl, carrot cake and milk chocolate chip cookie. facebook.com/gelatoblue
Little Raw Food Co – Vegan – Delivery
A premium raw, organic dessert shop, Little Raw Food Co delivers Sydney-wide. Their dessert range is made from plant based ingredients and are also gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free, vegan and paleo. littlerawco.com
We love Nutie’s wide selection of cakes, brownies, tarts, cookies and doughnuts. They’ve managed to make delicious lamingtons, lemon meringue pies and s’more cookie sandwiches gluten-free and mostly vegan. Nutie’s Surry Hills store offers breakfast and lunch as well as their famous baked goods. facebook.com/wearenutie
Pana Organic – Vegan and Gluten-Free – Alexandria
Chocolate made healthy! Enjoy chocolate that’s full of antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins and minerals, without preservatives, that’s vegan, gluten free, dairy free, soy free and refined sugar free. Pana Organic makes chocolate using organic ingredients with no refined sugar, and produced using minimal heat (raw). pana-organic.com
Treat Dreams – Vegan – delivery and markets
I discovered Treat Dreams at the Sydney Vegan Markets and couldn’t believe their delicious cakes were all dairy free and egg free, with some gluten free and nut free options. treatdreams.com.au
While every high tea I’ve eaten at in Sydney so far offers a vegetarian option, there are only dedicated vegan high teas:
The delicious high tea looks like a standard one but has almost hidden vegan ingredients. Scones, sandwiches, savoury pastries and sweets are all served on a three-tier platter.
Our high tea encompasses Matthew Kenney’s clean food philosophy and a combines classical and innovative cooking techniques to give locally sourced plant-based ingredients a creative makeover. The high tea menu features both sweet and savoury options. alibibar.com.au/your-high-tea
Other vegetarian and vegan food options
Suzy Spoon’s Vegetarian Butcher – Vegan – St Peters and online store
Suzy Spoon hand makes 14 delicious vegan products including sausages, burger patties, seitan, schnitzel, bolognese, lasagne, veggie balls, pepperoni, smokey rasher and even a special festive roast for Christmas and Easter. Spoons products are sold in health food stores and small supermarkets across Australia. Personally I love their sausages. They taste so much better than the regular supermarket brands. ssvb.com.au
Sydney Vegan Markets
The SVM runs the third Sunday of every month at The Entertainment Quarter in Moore Park. The markets are sprawled in several sections of the Entertainment Quarter, with the main area being reserved for savoury food. Don’t miss the dessert section! sydneyveganmarket.com
Vivid Sydney is, without a doubt, one of my favourite times of year. 2019 marks the 11th anniversary of Vivid Sydney, the world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas. From 24 May to 15 June the event lights up Sydney over 9 precincts, each featuring their own unique light sculptures.
Top Tips For Visiting and Photographing Vivid Sydney
What’s on at all 10 precincts
This year Vivid Sydney is spread across 9 precincts. Each features their own specific light installations.
Recognising the spirit and strength of First Nations Women For Vivid Sydney 2019, Exchange Place in Barangaroo will transform into Winter Camp, where visitors will experience layers of light, sound and puppetry reflective of the land and water, and inspired by changing seasons. The magnificent, six-metre tall puppet Marri Dyin (Great Woman) will return this year,
accompanied for the first time by a school of captivating fish puppets.
This incredible, giant puppet, was made by Erth, the creators of Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo.
Cristin from artsplorers.com reports as been to Barangaroo and has this to report:
“The main attraction at Barangaroo is the six-metre tall puppet, Marri Dyin. She begins the night at a huge cave-like structure at the Napoleon Plaza part of the Barangarroo walk (next to the lifts that come down from Wynyard Station). Thursday through Sundays, she is manned by several puppeteers, making a slow walk down Barangaroo Avenue (away from Darling Harbour). She’s quite impressive to see, though younger children may find her scary. This is the same puppet that was at Barangaroo last year, so if you saw it then, it won’t be new to you. We also saw a fun roving school of glowing fish, worked by several puppeteers. They don’t have a fixed location, so you just have to catch them as they make their rounds on the Barangaroo walk.”
Chatswood is a top pick for taking kids to see Vivid – lights go on at 5:30pm at Chatswood, perfect for taking the kids. Grab some food at around 5pm and you’ve got yourself the perfect early night Vivid experience.
This year my top pick looks like the super-sized trumpet flower garden that allows you to play the trumpet keys and make your own light and sound show.
The lightwalk stretches 3km from The Rocks around Circular Quay and to the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Sydney Opera House
The lights on the Sydney Opera House are always a highlight of Vivid. This year the display was created by Los Angeles-based artist-filmmaker Andrew Thomas Huang. Huang collaborated with choreographer Toogie Barcelo, dancer Jenna Moroni and animation design team Bemo to create Austral Flora Ballet, a hypnotic tribute to Australia’s native plant life.
The best view of the Sydney Opera House is from the Overseas Passenger Terminal.
The light show on the Customs House is always a favourite of mine. Kids can sit entranced watching the lights play across the giant canvas. This year the display is Under the Harbour, a surreal underwater encounter witan octopus stealing the sun.
There are lots of interactive light sculptures around Circular Quay this year which are perfect for engaging kids. We loved the The Harp of the City, a series of a giant public instruments that produces sound and an interactive light show.
Samsung Electric Playground
The Samsung Electric Playground is also a massive hit and extremely popular. I suggest lining up around 5:30 on weekends for this popular experience and being the first ones inside when the lights go on at 6pm.
It’s contained in a fenced in area that you will need to line up to enter and consists of several different zones inside that include an Infinity Slide and light up hula hoops.
The Galaxy Studio is inside the Samsung Electric Playground. The entrance to the queue to get in is near the Infinity Slide. The Studio is basically a big sell for the Galaxy phones, but it’s fun to test out one of the phones and compare it to whatever your device is. Inside the Studio are two “insta-worthy” rooms that you have to borrow a Samsung device to see inside. The process is simple but time-consuming and makes this an experience that takes a while to get inside.
The two experiences are Field of Hearts, where you share your heartbeat with a friend and Ocular Odyssey, which turns your eyes into kaleidoscope art. Both experiences are entered one group at a time, hence the long wait.
After taking photos on your borrowed device you can save 10 images to your own phone and leave. You can take as many photos and videos on your own device as well but both experiences are on timers and are very short.
My absolute favourite light installation this year is Ballerina, which dances across Campbell’s Cove to music that sounds like an old music box. Just stunning.
There are also a few interactive and fun installations north of Campbell Cove worth walking up to see, including the excellent Beat-loon interactive balloons, Regal Peacock and sparkly Let It Snow, which is the last installation as you walk around the circuit. Walk back through The Rocks to experience even more installations.
This year Darling Harbour will feature plenty of space-themed installations, with many of the sculptures being interactive and especially designed to be inclusive to give people of all ages and abilities an inclusive and accessible experience.
Robot SpaceLAND looks incredible – meet electro-automotive super-bots that have been sent to sow the seeds of a brighter, greener tomorrow.
Vivid Sydney’s inclusive playground Tumbalong Lights is back. Inspired by the next frontier, playSPACE will bring together super-scale installations that give intrepid explorers an opportunity to walk Under the Milky Sky, play with Spaceballs, and share different perspectives with See What I See. Low-sensory sessions will be catered for too.
Cristin from artsplorers.com has visited Tumbalong Lights and has this to report:
“The sensory-friendly play space at Tumbalong Park has been revamped this year. Rather than one fenced area with a single entry, there are six free-standing installations, all with a space theme. Kids can get a “passport” card to have stamped after doing each activity, which my 6 year old and her friend got pretty invested in completing.
The passport may be turned in at the end of the night for a chance to win Hoyts movie tickets. There is a a wheelchair ride (younger children will need help from an adult), a musical ‘alien’ mushroom, a glowing large scale pinball inspired game, an alien face maker, a short movie, and a star-themed installation. Including queues, it took our kids about an hour to do all of the stations and fill up their passports.”
Harbour Lights turns the waters of Sydney Harbour into a light spectacular, with many vessels moving across the water in a gentle, synchronised lighting display. A cruise is a great way to see Vivid Sydney lights.
The entire Amusement Park comes alive with brilliant shapes, patterns and colours that light
the Midway promenade and enhance high-octane rides such as the new family thrill ride –
Volaré. Coney Island celebrates the unique history and magic of Luna Park with a grand projection on its exterior.
Duck in and out of historic laneways and discover a treasure trove of light sculptures.
Museum of Contemporary Art
Pull up a seat out the front of the MCA to watch Claudia Nicholson’s Let Me Down illuminate the front of the building. It’s mesmerising.
We loved the Pixar: 30 Years of Art & Animation light show at the Argyle Cut. The characters from Pixar Animation Studios most beloved stories come alive in this beautiful installation that spans Pixar’s history and shares glimpses of the art behind the films.
There are even behind-the-scenes sneak-peek at images from the upcoming Toy Story 4, which hits cinemas June 20, 2019.
Pieces of fake grass are on the cement to lie down on and watch from the floor.
We loved Bug Hunt, which lets viewers “hunt” for bugs projected into a building and Bubble Magician even though it was broken.
Always a beautiful location to see light sculptures by the ocean, with the Sydney Opera House in the background, the Royal Botanic Gardens are a fave of mine at Vivid Sydney every year.
While most of the light sculptures this year in the gardens are interactive, making this a hot spot for families, the highlight for us was Beetopia, a giant glowing bee hotel with oversized, colourful native bees crawling all over it. Specifically designed to be inclusive and accessible for people of all abilities. Push the bees’ bottoms to make them buzz!
The mesmerising firefly field is back, and there are several sculptures that respond to sound and movement.
There is also a pop up food court in the middle of the light walk.
Find a prime position near the lights that you want to see the most without a hoard of people and wait patiently until the lights get switch on. BAM – lights minus the crowds.
Lights go on at 6pm at all locations other than Taronga Zoo, where the lights go on at 5:30pm.
Hit up the most popular installations first
This has always been a key for me in conjunction with the point above. I circle back to those that it’s easy to see even with a crowd last, such as the Customs House, MCA and Sydney Opera House.
See the lights without the crowd
There are a few spots where you can see Vivid lights that are away from the general crowd. For a good view of the Harbour head to the top of the Cahill Expressway (lift at Circular Quay).
Sydney Tower Eye is the city’s tallest building and offers the best view of VIVID up above – especially to witness the moment the city light’s up at 6pm. There’s also a range of activities taking place on the Observation Deck such as: free glow-in-the-dark face painting for all ages, every night during VIVID (24 May to 16 June) on the Observation Deck from 5 to 7pm and capture the ultimate snap in the mesmerising pop-up light box, Endless Lights which offers a unique illusion of great height and depth.
Lastly, walk over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It’s free to walk the pedestrian and bike path. I would suggest walking in one direction from The Rocks to Milsons Point, and catching the train back again.
Dedicate several nights to see it all
I’m sure it’s possible to see everything in one go, but why do it if you can spread it out? With so many locations, Vivid really needs at least three nights to see everything. Break it down into sections that can be covered together. Taronga and Chatswood or Luna Park, Circular Quay, Martin Place and Botanic Gardens plus Barangaroo and the Rocks, and lastly Darling Harbour, which can be done with another of the options with a bit of commuting in between.
It gets cold at night, especially near the water. Dress warm including a coat and a beanie and gloves.
Take the kids to Taronga
This is my pick for kids because it’s ticketed, so less people, and the lights go on earlier than the other locations.
Don’t bypass the smaller Vivid locations, especially with kids
With kids in tow, the locations such as Darling Harbour and Chatswood are also an excellent idea as these spots don’t get as large crowds as the CBD does.
Chatswood is excellent as it is right next to the station and lots of restaurants for a pre-Vivid dinner and easy getaway – and lights go on at 5:50pm.
Darling Harbour has lots of interactive and accessible installations.
Pick a quiet day to go
We always go the first weekend or Monday to Thursday. The first few days are always the quietist, before photos start appearing in the news and reminding people that it’s on. The second weekend, from Friday onwards, is when it starts to get really busy. If there is a big event on elsewhere while Vivid is on, that is also a great night to go!
Take public transport to the city or pre-book parking
Pre-book a car spot if you ca’t take public transport as parking is an absolute nightmare. When taking public transport, be aware that Circular Quay train station might be busy and be prepared to walk to another station if needed.
This year we packed near the Langham Hotel in a four-hour parking zone on a Saturday so it was pretty reasonably priced.
This is for two reasons – one, because it’s night time and little people get tired, but also to keep them out of the way of being stepped on by adults.
Eat food first
We always arrive early in the city and eat before the lights even turn on. My pick is Gateway Sydney for casual, great food. There is a pop up food court at the bottom of the Overseas passenger Terminal which is great to hit up early in the evening but is a nightmare to try to buy anything from later in the evening.
We also ate at the food trucks for the first time this year and found the quality to be excellent. I highly enjoyed the vegan gnocci for $16, feta, spinach and sweet potato gozleme for $15 and a mango green tea bubble tea in a light up bulb for $13. It was great to see several vegan and vegetarian options.
Tips for seeing Vivid with kids
Take them to Taronga or Chatswood, where lights go on at 5:30pm instead of 6pm and the crowds aren’t as bad. Darling Harbour, with its interactive light playground, is an excellent choice for families as well.
Take a stroller or baby carrier for little ones.
Feed them first or bring plenty of food for on the go.
Pick up free Lost Child Wristbands for the kids at info booths located on near the Overseas Passenger Terminal, Customs House and Darling Harbour.
Dress kids in high visibility clothing and keep them in sightline at all times.
Pick one area to see at a time and return another night to see more.
Take a good camera
Take the best one you have. If you have an SLR, bring it. If the best you have is a point and shoot or your phone, then that will do. One of my old photography teachers once said “the best camera is the one you’ve got” and I’ve always remembered it!
A better camera will however produce better results, so when you’re in a tricky lighting situation such as an event after dark, I find it’s always worth bringing the best camera you’ve got.
Turn off the flash
Please, please, please turn off your flash! A good flash on an SLR camera only has a range of about a metre, so a flash on a phone is even more ineffectual. Use light from the installations to illuminate your subject matter rather than the flash.
Caveat: If your subjects are standing in front of an extremely large light sculpture and you want them facing the camera with the object BEHIND them, then this is the one time when I would suggest using the flash. There is a photography op at Taronga with gorillas that is exactly this circumstance.
Use the sculptures to light faces
Instead of using the flash, position people near the sculptures with the light directing onto them faces. Move yourself into a position where you can see the faces illuminated. Then take the photo.
Take a tripod
Obviously this is a “if you have one” scenario. In any lowlight situation a tripod is your best friend to providing camera stability and resulting in sharper images without needing to over compensate for the low light by adjusting other camera settings as much.
Lean on fences or props
If you don’t have a tripod or, like me, don’t take one because they’re quite hard to manage with a crowd or you’ve got kids in tow, wedge your camera on solid, immovable objects to get sharper shots. I use fences, the backs of chairs, you get the picture.
Bump up the ISO
If you have manual settings on your camera, bump up the ISO A LOT. I bump mine way up to ensure that the photos are in focus. The photos are grainier as a result, but at least they’re in focus.
Give kids an old camera or phone
I gave Cheese my iPhone to shoot with this year and I loved the photos she came up with. Kids have a different perspective to adults so the angles and perspectives she shot were completely different to mine.
Indulge in a luxe high tea at the Intercontinental Sydney Double Bay. Choose from the Signature High Tea, Oriental High Tea or Kids’ High Tea.
High tea at the Intercontinental Sydney Double Bay is an elegant affair. Located upstairs in the Stillery, high tea is served daily between 11am and 4pm.
Adults can choose between the Signature High Tea and Oriental High Tea, while children have a special Kids High Tea on offer to them.
We chose the Signature High Tea with the option to add a glass of chilled Champagne.
The High Tea arrives on a very traditional three tiers, with sweets on top, sandwiches on the middle and hot savouries on the bottom.
I love sweets but as I’ve gotten older I’ve found that I enjoy the savoury and scones in larger quantities and my ability to eat sweets has lessened, so this type of high tea with its food ratio is my idea of perfection.
Each high tea is also served with your choice of tea of coffee, served in a pot that gives about 1.5 cups.
We adored this high tea. The sandwiches were delicious and fresh, the scones warm, the jam absolutely divine. Hubby wanted to take the jam home.
The sweets were excellent. A great variety and unusual flavours. My fave was the lemon myrtle cheesecake with wattleseed crumble and meyer lemon curd. It was slightly tart, fresh and sweet. I could have eaten more!
The kids’ high tea was a very happy addition to the menu. Cheese often finds the food on the regular high team menu to be too fancy, so she likes to have her own high tea where the food caters to simpler taste palates. Her fave was the chocolate fondue with strawberries. She loved it so much we had to ask for more strawberries.
The service at the InterContinental was just as you would expect. Efficient and friendly, making for an extremely pleasant dining experience. Highly recommend the InterContinental Sydney Double Bay High Tea!
InterContinental Sydney Double Bay 33 Cross Street, Double Bay, Sydney NSW Bookings recommended (you can book online) Website
Fika by Cuppa Flower is a cafe and florist located at Duo Central Park, Chippendale. Go for the pretty flowers and stay for the delicious food.
It’s no secret I love pretty cafes and Fika is extremely pretty, just like its sister cafe Cuppa Flower. “Fika” is a Swedish word meaning “state of mind”. The concept is a lifestyle choice: To “fika” is to make time to take a break and enjoy the moment; by yourself or with friends.
Fika by Cuppa Flower is the perfect place to enjoy a “fika”. It’s a quiet little spot with pretty flowers and details, with absolutely delicious food that we will be going back for again.
The all-day breakfast choices were a massive hit with us, and we tried the Red Velvet Latte $5, Hot Choco $4.70, Smashed Avocado Open Sandwich With Grilled Haloumi Cheese $16.80, Acai Bowl $13.80, Japanese Souffle Pancakes $20.80 and Matcha Swiss Roll.
The soufflé pancakes are a work of art and take a bit longer to cook, so be prepared for a short wait if you order them. They were the hit dish of our lunch. Fat and fluffy and divine they just melted in our mouths. Eat them fast before they deflate!
I have a thing for red velvet lattes which are effectively a white hot chocolate. Sweet and pretty I want to drink them all day.
My open sandwich was more like a smashed avocado dish with poached egg and I thought it was not just perfectly cooked and pretty as anything, but also a generous size for the price.
Hubby ordered the acai bowl and declared it not just healthy but tasty, and then ate the rest of the pancakes, so I guess that was a good mix to go with.
Cheese’s hot chocolate came with a little bowl of mini marshmallows which was a nice touch.
We all tried the matcha Swiss roll because Cheese is going through a matcha phase. The cakes are all super fresh and pretty and It’s a great spot to try a pastry that’s a bit different to what you might usually find at cafes.
Parking in the area is extremely painful. There is no car park in the area – the closest ones are a paid station across Broadway, but you can also park in the Broadway Shopping Centre for two hours for free and walk up. We found a spot on a side street after much circling but it was only one hour so we had to eat fast.
If you’re visiting with kids: the cafe is easy to access with a stroller as it’s flat and on the ground level right off the sidewalk. There are highchairs available. No kids’ menu but there are eggs any way on the menu.
Fika by Cuppa Flower Central Park Ave,
Chippendale Hours: Mon-Fri 7am-6pm (2:30pm kitchen closes), Sat & Sun 8:30am-6pm. Prices:$$ Get Directions
Hop into Easter with “The Tale of Mr Rabbit” Afternoon Tea at the Langham, Sydney
These April school holidays, treat kids with a delightful Easter-themed afternoon tea at The Langham, Sydney. “The Tale of Mr Rabbit” Afternoon Tea is an enchanting experience involving decadent treats, a stunning chocolate Easter egg display and a visit from Mr Rabbit himself.
“The Tale of Mr Rabbit” Afternoon Tea is on offer over three consecutive weekends only, from Saturdays and Sundays from 13th April to the 28th April, excluding Easter Sunday. Seating times are 12pm-2:30pm or 3pm-5:30pm.
Executive Chef Dave Whitting has prepared a fantastic afternoon tea that tastes as good as it looks. The tea is available for adults and kids – it is the same menu for both, with a reduced price for kids.
When we arrived we were delighted to see the beautiful Easter table set up in the middle of the room, overflowing with treats. About 30 minutes into our dining session the staff poured liquid nitrogen into the centre of the table which made the kids (and adults!) squeal with delight. What an extravagant table!
Mr Rabbit himself arrived just after and proved to be a dab hand at entertaining the kids. He handed out little pouches with two tiny Easter eggs in them to each child and happily posed for photos. I was delighted to see Mr Rabbit hung around for the next hour or so and happily entertained the kids. Thank you Mr Rabbit!
Also on hand to entertain squiggly little ones are colouring in sheets and plenty of coloured pencils.
Beef and potato pie *
Mushroom and gruyere cheese puff
Tuna, creme fraiche and caviar tartlet*
Kingfish tartare, lime, coriander, charcoal cone*
Chicken tarragon and spinach finger sandwich*
Curried egg and rocket finger sandwich *
(As a vegetarian I received vegan substitutes for these items.)
Homemade pastries and tea cakes
Mr Rabbit tartlet
Mandarin and white chocolate egg
Carrot and ginger garden bed
Golden egg bon bon
Hot cross bun macaron
Carrot cake and vanilla scones with homemade jam and cream
The tea also includes a selection of tea or barista coffee including an optional hot chocolate with marshmallows for children.
As always, the food at The Langham, Sydney was of exceptional quality. The fresh bread on the sandwiches and perfect, fluffy scones made me extremely happy, as these are often hard to get right.
I particularly enjoyed the curried egg sandwich and my cauliflower tartlet which was a substitute for the tuna one.
I ordered the peach iced tea for my beverage and I really could drink these all day, they are so sweet and refreshing.
Our junior diners couldn’t get enough of the scones, with both the plain and carrot proving extremely popular. While they were offered a hot chocolate, all three chose chamomile tea.
My favourite pastry was the golden egg bon bon, which has a crisp chocolate coating with a lemon centre. A little bite of heaven.
We attended on opening day and it felt like some of the kinks were still being ironed out with the tea, such as the advertised complimentary glass of sparkling on arrival which we didn’t receive, but this may have been because we attended on the first day when staff were getting the hang of the new menu and package.
The servers as always were kindness and courtesy personified. They were efficient and helpful and as always, a credit to The Langham.
Easter at The Langham Hotel 89-113 Kent St, Millers Point, Sydney NSW 2000 Prices: $$$ (Children aged 4 -12 $45 and adults $95) Hours: Seating is from 12pm-2:30pm or 3pm-5:30pm. Bookings are available on all Saturdays and Sundays from 13th April to the 28th April, excluding Easter Sunday. Phone: 02 9256 2222 Get Directions
We were guests of The Langham, Sydney. All opinions are my own.
Cuppa Flower is a delightful spot in the Sydney suburb of Waterloo that is a combination of cafe and florist. Good coffee, great food and fresh flowers are on offer.
The cafe is extremely popular due to their highly Instagrammable food and drinks, including vibrant cakes, smoothies and pancakes.
There is an all day breakfast menu plus a dedicated lunch menu. Popular choices include the red velvet, taro, and matcha green lattes, flower teas, fizzy lemonade drinks, acai bowls, pancakes, pastries, sandwiches and wraps.
Everything is beautifully presented, and thankfully tastes as good as it looks.
Cuppa Flower is a busy cafe thanks to its Instagram fame. There is a wait of 20 minutes when we arrive on a Sunday lunch, with a large crowd outside the front steps.
The staff are friendly and extremely efficient. No time for small talk and chit chat, but everything is said and served with a genuine smile.
Tip: Order at the counter, don’t wait for a server to come to your table!
We ordered the Kids Fish and Chips ($12.50), Ricotta Pancake (served with seasonal fruit, cuppaflower homemade mixed berries jam, ricotta cheese, honeycomb, mascarpone cheese and maple syrup, $20.80), Eggs on Toast Your Way (2 free range eggs, poached scrambled or fried, and a choice of toast, $9.50) with a side of Hash Brown ($4) and the Grilled Atlantic Salmon Steak (quinoa, edamame bean, cheery tomato, roasted pumpkins, asparagus, lemon wedges and mayonnaise, $25.80) and the lavender-flavoured Iced Fizzy ($7.50).
Usually when we order pretty dishes they don’t taste that great, so it was a wonderful surprise that the fancy pancakes tasted amazing. I would order them again in a heartbeat.
The kids’ fish and chips were a massive serve and was served nice and hot and fresh.
The scrambled eggs were creamy with a generous side of toast and tomato relish. Two hash browns were served as the side.
Hubby enjoyed his salmon and declared that he would be more than happy to eat here again as the food was delicious, not just pretty.
My fizzy drink was a mix of lemonade and lavender and I found it extremely refreshing.
The kids menu has plenty of options for junior diners, and there was a high chair available for babies.
Disabled access is through a ramp in the rear.
The cafe is even dog-friendly, with two tables outside where canines can enjoy brunch with their humans.
Anna Polyviou’s Enchanted Easter Garden High Tea Picnic at Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney
Fall down the rabbit hole with Anna Polyviou at her enchanted Easter Garden with a delightful High Tea Picnic at Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney, from 30 March to 29 April, 2019.
The pop-up garden is a fantastical world of colour with delightful treats to match, created by our fave pastry chef, the Punk Princess of Pastry, Anna Polyviou.
Follow the bunny feet in the lobby and hop on down to the Easter garden to enjoy the immersive experience. There’s a mini maze with flamingoes straight out of Alice in Wonderland, giant mushrooms, towering and tiny bunny rabbits, mad hatter clocks and white tables and chairs set up for “al fresco” dining.
Tiny details are set amongst the garden for those who look carefully. A little sheep, a fox, Easter eggs in abundance. It’s an absolute delight to dine in such a whimsical setting, with amazing attention to detail.
The Easter High Tea Picnic is something special. It comes in a hamper and includes a decadent menu which features:
Matcha sponge, vanilla chantilly, strawberry gel
“Lemon Meringue Pie Macaron”
Lemon zest, meringue pie, macaron
The menu is the same for adults and kids, with a discounted price for ages 0-11. I would say it’s an adventures menu for little kids so would recommend it for those willing to try new things or older kids. I did really enjoy the unusual additions to a traditional high tea, such as the inclusion of cheese and crackers, the matcha Club Cake, hot cross buns and milk whippy.
Cheese’s favourite items were the matcha cake (she ate both pieces), mandarin pop on the “Cracked Egg” and the “Mrs Whippy” which I thought tasted a bit like Japanese milk soft serve, but with the consistency of ice cream. Really delicious!
As always with the Shangri-La Hotel, everything in the basket was just delicious. Fresh, light, perfectly cooked. The hot cross buns were some of the best I’ve ever tasted and the macaron was not only adorable with cute bunny ears, served in a garden pot along with hidden Easter eggs, it was absolutely was heavenly and melted in my mouth.
I thought the serving size was generous and left absolutely stuffed even though I didn’t eat everything that came in the basket.
Also included is your choice of tea or coffee. We chose the chamomile flowers, which comes in a pop big enough for 2.5 cups of tea, and a hot chocolate for the little lady (two marshmallows! Score!).
Add a Belvedere Spritz for $14, Chandon Rose for $14/glass or Chandon Spritz for $12/glass. You can also try the Popcorn Caramel Martini.
At night the garden caters to grown-ups with a cocktail picnic basket for two, and food including cured meats, Australian cheese, olives, fluffy quiche, and the fresh fruit (pictured below).
Anna’s Easter Garden is open at the Lobby Lounge, Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney, 176 Cumberland Street, The Rocks, from 30 March to 29 April 2019.
The Easter High Tea Picnic is available daily from 11am-12.45pm, 1pm-3pm, and 3.15pm-5pm, and is priced from $75 per person, and $55 per child (0-11 years).
The Cocktail Picnic Basket is available from 6pm-9pm, and is priced from $55 for two.
Sweet devotees can also enjoy an Easter Escape stay package including High Tea from $420 per night.