3 Great New Books About Exploring Sydney

We have spent this month checking out three great new books about exploring Sydney that will make perfect Christmas gifts for Sydney locals or those planning a visit.

The Bondi to Manly Walk – The Definitive Guidebook by Tara Wells

A well written easy to follow guide to this iconic 80km walk that traverses Sydney from East to North. This brand new guidebook breaks the journey into sections, making it a lot less daunting than it seems. Complete the walk over consecutive days on your holiday or dip in and out as your time and energy allow.

Cover of Bondi to Manly Walk book
Bondi to Manly walk guidebook – great drone image of Parsley Bay

It’s not just a guide to the walk but a fantastic guide to inner Sydney and the harbourside suburbs. It’s packed with interesting facts about Sydney. Snippets on the flora, fauna, geology, indigenous and colonial history of the city presented with just the right amount of detail.

Even as a local who prides themselves on knowing quite a bit about the city, I found plenty of new facts, including that:

  • Rose Bay was Australia’s First International Airport
  • Coogee Beach was once home to a 180m long entertainment pier in the style of Englands Blackpool
  • Coney Island at Luna Park is the only 1930s era amusement hall in use in the world
  • Jules Archibald who gave us the Hyde Park Fountain and the much love Archibald Portrait Prize is buried in Waverley Cemetery.
  • Tumbalong (as in the park in Darling Harbour) means place of seafood
  • Matthew Flinders was the first to suggest the name Australia replace New Holland.

Any budding “Sydney Expert” will love this book

Paula Morgan (aka Sydney Expert)

Reading the book before you head out on any of the sections will help you appreciate the experience even more, and for anyone coming to Sydney, this book makes great pre-trip reading.

Sydney Art Deco & Modernist Walks by Peter Sheridan

Strolling the streets of Elizabeth Bay and Potts Point is one of my favourite things to do in Sydney. There is so much life here, so many beautifully preserved homes and apartment buildings that continue their original use. Occasionally, harbour glimpses distract you from the architecture, but not for long because there are so many works of art along each street to steal back your attention.

Did you know the tiny suburbs of Elizabeth Bay and Potts Point cover less than 1sq km yet contain over 100 buildings from the Art Deco or Modernist period?

Sydney Art Deco Walks
The cover features Kingsley Hall (1929), designed by Emil Sodersten.

Peter Sheridan (AM), an internationally recognised historian, collector and speaker on Art Deco design, has released this 200-page walking guide of Australia’s most densely populated neighbourhood that is perfect for anyone with an interest in architecture.

Along with learning about the key architectural styles in the area and the individual buildings, the book provides background information on 4 of the areas more important architects.

You could complete the walk in 2-3 hours or dip in and out, a street at a time when you are exploring as I do.

  • Discover Modernist gems by Harry Seidler.
  • Find the five beautiful Art Deco buildings by Emil Sodersten 
  • Learn how Potts Point got its name
  • See the oldest and finest Spanish mission style property in Australia
  • View Meudon, Australia’s answer to NYC’s Flatiron Building.
Meudon Elizabeth Bay

Peter has also published a stunning coffee table volume Sydney Art Deco which was in my Christmas stocking last year and is a fabulous book for any Sydneysider to own!

Day Trip Sydney: 52 Nature Adventures By: Andrew Grune

Has watching your family and friends explore their LGAs this lockdown made you vow to get out and explore more of the city as soon as you can? Well, this is the book for you!

Day Trip Sydney Book Cover
Perfect for quick impromptu day trips

52 Nature Adventures is perfect for dipping into every week to inspire for the coming weekend. Inside, you will find just enough detail to tell you why you should visit and what you need to know before you get there. However, there is plenty left for you to discover when you arrive.

The listings are sorted by area, with many for the Blue Mountains and the south and north of Sydney, but as these are day trips, not much in the inner city or east.

Each listing includes transport details, whether the site is dog or family-friendly, and how much time you should allow exploring.

If you need more Sydney book inspiration, check out this list of books set in Sydney.

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