Push the boat out

Mike Yardley makes the most of what’s on offer in his triumphant return to Sydney







CASTING MY EYES across the gleaming blue waters of Circular Quay as the sun spangled the Emerald City’s emblematic landmarks, Sydney was overtly strutting her sass and her stature, as one of the world’s most beautiful harbour cities. Feeling in a celebratory mood, I was onboard one of the newer harbour cruise offerings, Captain Cook’s Mumm Champagne Harbour Bar cruise. Treat yourself to some indulgence, with a bottle of GH Mumm Champagne and a tiered seafood platter to share, tumbling with prawns, oysters, calamari and smoked salmon blinis. It’s such a winning way to serenade your triumphant return to Sydney. Great eats in Sydney? Riding the wave of Martin Place’s recent $170 million refresh, a slew of inviting new bars and diners are making a splash in the heart of the CBD, including Sydney’s largest outdoor terrace watering hole, Cabana Bar. This sexy slice of tropicana nestled amid the tall towers instantly seduces. The expansive wraparound terrace space spans over 100m, a fast new favourite for after-work drinks, and the entire complex has five designer spaces to explore. Executive chef Brad Sloane is cranking out pub classics while also leaning heavily into the ocean, with oysters, shrimps and squid being the hot-sellers. The beer-battered Barramundi Tacos with cabbage chipotle mayo and lime are delish! Cocktail lovers, you’re in heaven. I plumped for one of their Signatures, Tilley Wills, which is a mix of gin, elderflower liqueur, passionfruit and lime. Just below Cabana, make a dinner reservation at AALIA and embark on a divine food odyssey into the Middle East. AALIA’s plush interiors and curvaceous warm woods push the boundaries just as much as Egyptian chef Paul Farag’s inspired menu. Bread aficionados will love AALIA’s ballooned Khorasan pita bread, made in-house and served piping hot, ready to be torn and dipped to your heart’s desire. Beautifully burnished brown balls of this Persian bread line the counter of the open kitchen until sold out. I loved the masgouf, an Iraqi char-grilled Murray Cod. It’s barbequed low and slow with a traditional masgouf glaze of garlic, turmeric, and tamarind, before being brushed with the juice of apples and pineapples to give it a sweet and sour flavour.. Push the boat out on the indulgence quotient and surrender to one of Sydney’s most celebrated high teas. Radisson Blu Plaza’s Signature High Tea is a sure-fire hit for happy bellies in the winter months. Entering through the impressive sandstone fac¸ade and marble entrance off Pitt St, this triangular landmark Beaux Arts building, was built in 1856 for publishers John Fairfax. It’s full of historic charm and contemporary comfort. Starting off with a glass of prosecco, while we sorted out our tea preferences, a beautifully presented threetiered china stand soon graced our table, a tower of goodness, laden with sweet and savoury treats, along with the obligatory scone, clotted cream and jam. But you can’t beat those chicken curry puffs! Theatre time? The heart-warming magic has returned to Sydney with Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s supercalifragilistic new production of Mary Poppins now on stage at Sydney Lyric Theatre. An absolute classic that has been entertaining families for decades, hear all the favourite old songs as well as a few new ones, including Practically Perfect and Anything Can Happen. If ever there was a show that transports you into a sense of childlike wonder, this is it. Endearing performances, visually spectacular sets and technical trickery and stunts that one-up themselves at every turn, this is a well-oiled machine with a sprinkle of Disney fairydust. There’s a whole lot more tricks packed into that deceptive carpet bag. And Stefanie Jones performance of Mary is indeed practically perfect. The musical is on stage until late August. Where to stay? Perfectly poised on Sussex St, with a gun-barrel view across Darling Harbour, lap up a luxurious stay with a harbour view worth waking up for at Hyatt Regency Sydney. Indulge and unwind in the hotel’s bars and restaurants including, Zephyr sky bar which boasts panoramic views from the rooftop, a high tea or seafood table at Sailmaker restaurant, the immersive cocktail bar Jackalberry, and Dundee Arms — one of Sydney’s oldest surviving pubs for a cheeky beer, which is incorporated into the hotels’ precinct.