Sydneysiders who call the lower north shore home are a pretty lucky bunch. Encompassing some of Sydney's most desirable suburbs, this area truly has it all: sweeping views over the harbour, beautiful beaches, and a vibrant restaurant and shopping scene. Dreaming of making the move to this part of town? We've teamed up with luxury Australian property development company Aqualand and its new Blue at Lavender Bay project, and we're rounding up the best arts and culture activities in the area. Whether it's an outdoor art exhibit or a film at Sydney's most beautiful cinema, it's all but impossible to have a boring weekend in this corner of town.
On the second Sunday of each month, the Burton Street Tunnel in Milsons Point becomes a shopper's dream. If you're on the hunt for original artwork, handmade homewares or vintage fashion, look no further than this charming neighbourhood market. Once you've worked up an appetite, head for one of the diverse food stalls where you can get your hands on anything from Turkish to Thai. Happen to be coming from the southern part of the city? We recommend making like a tourist and crossing the Harbour Bridge on foot for a vivid reminder of how utterly gorgeous this city is.
HAYDEN ORPHEUM PICTURE PALACE
Catching a flick at the Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace is nothing like your average night out at the movies. The gorgeous art deco cinema in Cremorne dates back to 1935 and has been meticulously maintained in the decades since. Each of the six auditoriums are decorated in a different style and bear names of popular theatres from cinema's Golden Age. Try to catch a film in the main cinema, the Orpheum, to witness the marvel of an organist playing a Wurlitzer organ that rises from below the stage. Yes, it's more expensive than staying in bed with Netflix but it's well worth it. Go on a Tuesday when adult tickets are only $13.50.
Adelaide Perry: Taronga Wharf, 1939.
MOSMAN ART GALLERY
This multi award-winning gallery has been around since 1998 and continues to put on some seriously impressive exhibits from Australian and international artists across five dedicated exhibition spaces. Featured works come from both established artists as well as highly talented students. Though the gallery was established close to 20 years ago, the Mosman Art Prize — Australia's oldest and most prestigious local government art award — has been held annually since 1947. The gallery is now home to the acquisitive painting award, and continues to expand its collection of prized paintings, which form an important anthology showing the development of modern Australian art from the past half century.
BEGINNER'S POTTERY CLASS AT SILKY SHAPES STUDIO
Always wanted to pick up some pottery skills? The lovely people at Silky Shapes Studio in Crows Nest will have you throwing, trimming, and glazing your own pieces in no time. Geared towards complete beginners, the intro package consists of three two-hour classes over the course of three weeks and includes all materials. At just $135, the course won't break the bank and small class sizes mean you'll get plenty of individual attention from teachers. Once you've mastered the basics, you'll be able book studio space to work independently on your own creations.
If your kitchen skills start and end at scrambled eggs on toast, it might be time to kick things up a notch with a cooking class. The Sydney Cooking School in Neutral Bay offers short courses for everyone from the complete novice to the kitchen master. In the four-week Adult Beginners Course ($495), you'll learn how to cook five protein-based dishes per session and learn handy tips along the way. By the end of the course you'll know how to slice an onion like a chef and whip up your own mayo from scratch. Plus, you'll get copies of the recipes to take home because, you know, practice makes perfect.
TRAFFIC JAM GALLERIES
Perched on a traffic island between Falcon Street and Military Road in Neutral Bay, this delightful gallery features work by both emerging and established contemporary artists from Australia and abroad. Step inside the four-level NYC-style loft to find vibrant creations like singing men in a rowboat and vintage armchairs plastered in psychedelic street art. With a constantly changing series of exhibitions, there's something new to discover on every visit. Art aficionados will want to attend at least a few of the galleries' special events, which include artist dinners, talks, and a diverse array of pop-ups.
ART CLASSES AT LAVENDER BAY GALLERY
If picking up a new creative hobby has been on your to-do list for years, sign up for one of the Royal Art Society of NSW's art classes at Lavender Bay Gallery. The school's been around since 1880 so it's obviously doing something right. With a huge selection of classes including figure drawing, still life, and Chinese brush painting in a variety of media, you're bound to find something that appeals. Don't miss the excellent exhibitions at the adjoining gallery, which include traditional and contemporary pieces from new and established artists.
Facebook / Ensemble Theatre
Founded in 1958, Ensemble Theatre is the country's longest-running performing arts company, and for good reason. With a diverse program featuring both local and international works, the theatre's productions are consistently impressive. The 2017 season features ten plays ranging from world-premieres to old favourites, comedy, and drama. Head over pre-show to grab a drink and a bite to eat at the lovely bar and restaurant, which boast scenic views over the water.
North Sydney Council's Centre for Sustainability, The Coal Loader is a learning hub focussing on the best practices for sustainable living and innovation. An artist studio space, organic community garden and bush tucker plot all exist within the grounds, as well as a 2.8 hectare park and walking track — you can hike from the centre straight through to Balls Head Reserve, enjoying North Sydney's largest area of bushland as you go. Trekkers can also explore the 160-metre of tunnels that still exist within the historic coal loading system. Come November, the centre's green rooftop project is set to complete, opening up a community garden with 'urban harvest' plots where individuals and groups can grow their own fruit and veg.
FERRIS WHEEL DINING EXPERIENCE
This dining experience gives you the chance to eat a meal in an actual, moving Ferris wheel. And it's neither your run-of-the-mill dinner, nor is it your average Ferris wheel. Returning in October, the three-course feast with matching wines created by Michael Roper, executive chef at The Deck, is delivered straight to your private car in Luna Park's iconic attraction. Yes, it's pricey — tickets for two will set you back $399 — but this is one dining experience you won't forget any time soon. It's one to look forward to in the warmer months to come.
Surround yourself with everything the lower north shore has to offer at Aqualand's Blue at Lavender Bay development. The best restaurants, cafes, bars and activities are all on your doorstep.