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Lower tourist levels mean fewer crowds, better beaches and a more chilled-out vibe – but also fewer accommodation options. The places you’ll find on Airbnb however are pretty good. Search under Manly, Mosman and Kirribilli.
Thai food to Australia is what Indian cuisine is to the UK, and at the shorefront suburb of Kirribilli, found as you step off the north end of Harbour Bridge, you’ll find some of the best. Join the queue at Stir Crazy, a hole-in-the-wall restaurant doing the best stir-fry in the north, before ducking next door to the Bottle-O (that’s an off-licence to you) for an inexpensive white. Or go for a spin on Luna Park’s ferris wheel, return for afternoon fish and chips by the harbour and take in a clever matinee performance at waterfront secret the Ensemble Theatre.
There is one other secret worth mentioning here, if you happen to like luxury goods, that is. Thanks to the area’s wealth there are some seriously amazing wardrobes round these parts, and the young women they belong to are (mostly) too sensible to throw away their clothes (it’s those conservative British roots.) On the second Sunday of each month however you can shop their stalls at Kirribilli’s Art, Design & Fashion Market, where second- hand Chanels and the odd pair of still-in-box Givenchys are found alongside the usual market bric-a-brac.
Most visitors then head north to hit Manly. From the CBD, the fastest route here is via the iconic Number 1 Ferry, but the best part of Manly isn’t Manly itself – it’s the beach next door. Travellers voted Shelly Beach the best in the state last year, which is saying something, and despite being just eight minutes’ walk from her famous big sister, this intimate pocket of sand is everything Manly isn’t. There are no shops here, aside from a sandy-floored kiosk and ridiculously photogenic restaurant, The Boathouse. No surf either, although the snorkelling is fantastic. Manly is a cosmopolitan haven for fancy organic grocers and artisanal beer, but Shelly is about fish and chips on the sand. But you shouldn’t have to choose between the two. So visit both. Bring a swimsuit.
Kirribilli Art, Design & Fashion Market
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