Sydney: Captivating and engaging


World-renowned journalist and Sydney-sider, Nick Bryant explores Sydney’s charms and hidden delights.

Written by Nick Bryant

Artwork by Alyssa Robilliard

Nick Bryant is a world-renowned foreign correspondent, who covered the last five US presidencies for the BBC, and also served as its Sydney correspondent between 2006 and 2013.

A graduate of Cambridge University with a doctorate from Oxford, he is the author of four books and a regular contributor on ABC. He now lives in Sydney, with his wife and three children.

Sydney is a city that dazzles with its opening act, be it the staggering beauty of the harbour, the golden arc of its beaches, or the grandeur of its most famous landmarks – those twinned icons, the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, which complement each other so perfectly.

But returning to live in Sydney, after eight years in New York, I am reminded of how this city keeps on revealing itself. Maybe it is in a view of the harbour that you have never noticed before — an unexpected glimpse of 
the shimmering water through a gap, say, in one of Paddington’s elegant Victorian 
terraces. Or perhaps it is the delight of discovering a never-before-visited beach — only recently did I lay my towel down for the first time on Shelly Beach next to Manly, a little beauty. Sydney is full of surprises, and there is so much more to this city than the familiar postcard views.

There are new laneways that I have never walked down before, like Spice Alley with its 
pan-Asian eateries; and new architectural treasures, such as the Phoenix Central Park performing arts centre in Chippendale, an exciting new cultural quarter. In my absence, Sydney’s central business district has been expanded and transformed with the development of the new waterside precinct, Barangaroo.

Sydney: Captivating and engaging

Its shimmering skyscrapers and towers reflect the city’s status as a financial hub, able to compete with Tokyo and Hong Kong. Darling Harbour is also showing off a happy new face, with the opening of ICC Sydney over five years ago, the convention, exhibition and entertainment hub, and the unveiling of an entirely new culinary area of the precinct, Darling Square.

As a food capital, I firmly believe that Sydney is on a par with New York City — with its access to fresh, seasonal produce, its restaurants deliver a multicultural melange of exciting menus. As a cultural capital, it just gets better and better. I cannot wait for the opening of Sydney Modern, the new extension to the Gallery of New South Wales designed by the Pritzer-Prize-winning architectural studio, SANAA. Maybe it is the most exciting building to open since the Opera House or ICC Sydney.

Sydney has also bolstered its reputation as an academic powerhouse. The campuses at Sydney University, the University of New South Wales and the University of Technology

Sydney (UTS), have not only become the home of impressive new buildings — UTS can boast Frank Gehry’s only building in the southern hemisphere. These intellectual hubs are also generating a wealth of spin-off companies, especially in technology, medicine and science. Perhaps this will come as a revelation to some outsiders: that a city we tend to associate with fun and carefree living is also a centre of learning and restless innovation.

Sydney presents the perfect backdrop for business and trade, where the CBD is home to most major international corporations, and thriving local companies too. Meeting face to face for a flat white or lunch, you can find yourself expanding your network and opportunities while gazing across the city’s stunning shoreline and spectacular skyline.

Since returning, it has been good to rekindle my love affair with Sydney. Long may this charismatic city continue to surprise and delight.