Sydney is known for its beaches, bars and harbour. If you are looking for a holiday full of outdoor activities, sunshine and exercise – then Sydney is the destination for you!
However, what most travellers don’t realise is that for at least two months of the year (in winter) it rains in Sydney… a lot! This isn’t rain made up of those little drizzly drops which are annoying but you can still go out in. No, when it rains in Sydney the raindrops are so heavy that if you are caught out in a shower you are soaked through within seconds. Umbrellas, raincoats and gumboots can not protect you against the onslaught.
Many travellers find this aspect of Sydney to be disconcerting and spend their rain-filled days looking around Sydney’s overpriced shops or drinking in a bar. But there is so much more to do in Sydney if you know where to look.
So here are three free and cultural things to do in Sydney – for when you get a day that is not quite sunbathing ideal.
1. The Art Gallery of NSW
Located up near the beautiful St Mary’s Cathedral in the City, this art gallery is perfectly situated for a quick escape from the rain. If you are an art lover you can spend hours wandering the galleries.
It isn’t in the same league as the Uffizi or the Louvre but what I like about it is that you can see some great pieces by the great masters (Monet, Pissarro, Lambert) that are often overlooked. My favourite part though is the Australian collection featuring the likes of Arthur Boyd and Sidney Nolan as well as having an extensive gallery of contemporary and indigenous art.
For a window into Australia’s history, the Art Gallery is a great place to start and the best part is that it is FREE!
For more information see: http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au
2. Government House in the Botanical Gardens
Most travellers to Sydney easily overlook this cultural gem right in the heart of the Botanical Gardens, though considering how big and dominating the building it is – I can’t see how!
You can walk around the building easily enough, however, to fully appreciate the history of the place you should definitely do a guided tour. They run every hour and are completely free. The tour guides are all enthusiastic and endless mines of knowledge on this small part of Australian history.
Some fast facts to whet your appetite
- Is the home of the Governor of NSW (if you don’t know what that is – go on the tour)
- The Governor lives and works there – and maybe in the building, as you are given a tour through, so you aren’t always shown the same rooms depending on which rooms the Governor is using at the time.
- It is built in the Gothic revival style and nearly every piece of furniture and ornaments has symbolism to them.
- Queen Elizabeth has stayed there – on the tour you are shown a couch where she once sat!
For more information see: http://www.governor.nsw.gov.au/government-house/
3. Parliament of NSW tour
A country’s politics can often shed light on the culture of a place. However, it is rare that you can see politics up close and personal. For a closer look at how politics work on a state level, you can do a free tour on the first Thursday of the month at 1 pm.
If you are travelling to Canberra, I would strongly recommend doing a tour to the Federal Parliament House and sitting in on Question Time when Parliament is sitting… it’s definitely an eye-opener to not only Australian politics but also the Australian culture. Doing a tour of the NSW Parliament is a great precursor to do before you get there. As then you can compare state and federal politics.
For more information see: http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/Prod/parlment/events.nsf/0/1A7074E8B84DC234CA25767E001A5D11
This is just a small sample of things that you can do in Sydney when it’s raining… or when you are too sunburnt to lie on the beach any more.