Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

October 23, 2017

© Tourism Australia / Anson Smart

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Sydney

You'll find bush walks, wine tours and urban attitude Down Under

Sydney’s Harbour Bridge and Opera House get all the attention, but its surfboard-laden beaches and lush landscapes also deserve some of the spotlight. Combine those natural assets with breezy cafes and pubs, polished restos, and cool galleries and shops, and you’ve got all the makings of a balanced conference destination, both indoors and out.

Moving around in this happening town may require a bit of a transit cocktail. Depending on your destination, you may need to take buses (sydneybuses.info), CityRail trains (cityrail.info or ferries (sydneyferries.info). There's also a monorail that connects the city centre to Darling Harbour and a tram line (both metrotransport.com.au) that runs between Central Station and Wentworth Park. Several passes are available; all are much cheaper than individual tickets.

The Day Tripper ticket (adults $17, $9 for the first child, others free) gives you unlimited bus, train and ferry travel for one day. Weekly Travel Passes are colour coded; most visitors use the Red Pass (adults $37, kids $19), which covers the city centre and inner harbour ferries, but not the ferry to Manly. This welcoming suburb hosts an International Jazz Fest (manly.nsw.gov.au) the same weekend as the ISH meeting. With a laidback beachside setting, it features 70 free afternoon performances with indoor ticketed concerts in the evening.

You can wile away a free afternoon with one of many cruises on offer around the harbour. One not to be missed is the Aboriginal Cultural Cruise (tribalwarrior.org; $63 adults, $42 for kids). While you take in all the classic harbour sites, you'll learn about the history and lives of the original Aboriginal guides who took settlers inland. The tour ends with a stop at Clark Island where guides caked in white ochre lead visitors to a ceremony filled with haunting songs, music and dance.

At the conference: bedding down and eating up

Conference organizers have blocks of rooms at six hotels within a 10-minute walk of the Convention Centre. If you're willing to skip the perks of a posh property, the Metro Hotel Central Sydney is your best bet, offering stylish mid-range rooms starting at $167 double, including free Internet.

If that's not available, book on your own at the homegrown Vibe (vibehotels.com.au) hotel chain. The decor is colourful and modern. There's a café for breakfast and light meals, a rooftop pool and workout room, and their central Sydney property is a short walk from the Convention Center. Advance purchase rates start at $155 for a queen.

For a leisurely lunch, skip the Convention Center’s standard food court and head to the second floor of the adjacent Harbourside Shopping Centre. There Zaaffran (tel: 011-61-2-9211-8900; zaaffran.com) offers a refreshing take on Indian food in a white airy setting with balcony views of the water and skyline. The Delhi-born chef comes by way of Raffles Singapore, which no doubt inspired the inventive twists on traditional fare.

Or, for a true splurge, head to Quay (tel: 011-61-2-9251-5600; quay.com.au), one of only two Australian restaurants on the prestigious San Pellegrino World's Top 50 List. Dishes are a deft blend of French, Italian and Australian influences. And the harbour views are nothing short of spectacular, especially at night, taking in the Opera House and Sydney Bridge. A three-course tasting menu at lunch is $130; four-course tasting menu at dinner is $175.

… and after: bushwalks and wineries

As you'd expect in a coastal city with balmy California weather much of the year, Sydney is all about the beach. During September and October it's springtime in the Southern Hemisphere, and temperatures hover in the mid 20s. Most locals catch a wave, but if you prefer to keep both feet on dry land, go bushwalking in the Blue Mountains (bluemts.com.au).

Known for their rugged tablelands, sheer cliffs and cascading waterfalls, this is where Sydneyites head on the weekends (which means you should head there during the week instead). There are 50 walking trails, ranging from 15-minute jaunts to three-day treks. Outfitters like Oz Trek Adventure Tours (tel: 011-61-2-9666-4262; oztrek.com.au; adults $57, kids $46) have tours of all the major sites, a scenic railway and tramway ride, plus 1.5-hour bushwalk.

Australia has 60 wine regions, and luckily four are within a few hours' drive of Sydney. Two hours away is the Lower Hunter Valley (winecountry.com.au), the country's oldest wine region, with 120 cellar doors open for tastings. In addition to great Semillon and Shiraz tastings, it offers everything from art galleries and spas, to award-winning restaurant and artisanal food producers. A day-long wine and cheese tour from Sydney, with stops at local cheese shops, wineries and a guided cellar visit explaining the winemaking process is $99 with Activity Tours (tel: 011-61-2-4227-9902; activitytours.com.au).

This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.

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