Sports and the Outdoors in Sydney

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Sports and the Outdoors

Given its climate and its taste for the great outdoors, it's no surprise that Sydney is addicted to sports. In the cooler months rugby league dominates the sporting scene, although these days the Sydney Swans, the city's flag bearer in the national Australian Rules Football (AFL) competition, attract far bigger crowds. In summer cricket is the major spectator sport, and nothing arouses more passion than international test cricket games—especially when Australia plays against England, the traditional enemy. Sydney is well equipped with athletic facilities, from golf courses to tennis courts, and water sports come naturally on one of the world's greatest harbors.

Ticketek Phone Box Office. Ticketek Phone Box Office is the place to buy tickets for major sports events. Sydney, NSW. 13–2849. www.premier.ticketek.com.au.

Australian Rules Football

Sydney Cricket Ground. A fast, demanding game in which the ball can be kicked or punched between teams of 22 players, Australian Rules Football has won a major audience in Sydney, even though the city has only one professional team—the Sydney Swans—compared to the dozen that play in Melbourne—the home of the sport. Sydney Cricket Ground hosts games April to September. Centennial Park, Moore Park Rd., Paddington, Sydney, NSW, 2021. 02/9360–6601. www.sydneycricketground.com.au.

Bicycling

Sydney's favorite cycling track is Centennial Park's Grand Parade, a 3¾-km (2¼-mile) cycle circuit around the perimeter of this grand, gracious eastern suburbs park.

Centennial Park Cycles. Centennial Park Cycles rents bicycles for around A$20 per hour, A$70 per day. There is an additional location inside Centennial Park on Grand Drive. 50 Clovelly Rd., Randwick, Sydney, NSW, 2031. 02/9398–5027. www.cyclehire.com.au.

Clarence Street Cyclery. This is a major store for all your cycling needs. Plus, you can rent hybrid bikes (an all round leisure bike) for A$29 for half day and A$49 full day and road bikes for A$99 (half) and A$149 (full). 104 Clarence St., City Center, Sydney, NSW, 2000. 02/9295–0000. www.cyclery.com.au.

Boating and Sailing

EastSail. EastSail rents bareboat sailing and motored yachts from about A$655 per half day (four hours); a manned yacht costs around A$915 for four hours and includes nine sailor and the skipper. It also conducts sailing schools. D'Albora Marine, New Beach Rd., Rushcutters Bay, eastern suburbs, Sydney, NSW, 2027. 02/9327–1166. www.eastsail.com.au.

Northside Sailing School. This company at Middle Harbour teaches dinghy sailing to individuals and children's groups. You can learn the ropes in a two-hour, one-on-one private lesson from A$110. The Spit, 77 Parriwi Rd., Mosman, Sydney, NSW, 2088. 02/9969–3972. www.northsidesailing.com.au.

Sydney Harbour Kayaks. Sydney Harbour Kayaks rents one- and two-person kayaks. The location beside Spit Bridge offers calm water for novices, as well as several beaches and idyllic coves. Prices per hour start from A$20 for a one-person kayak and A$40 for a double. Guided 4-hour tours depart every Saturday and Sunday at 8:30 am ($A99 per person). Novices can take part in three-hour free lessons (A$50 for kayak hire). 81 Parriwi Rd., Mosman, Sydney, NSW, 2088. 02/9969–4590. www.sydneyharbourkayaks.com.au.

Cricket

Cricket is Sydney's summer sport, and it's often played in parks throughout the nation. For Australians the pinnacle of excitement is the Ashes, when the national cricket team takes the field against England. It happens every other summer, and the two nations take turns hosting the event. Cricket season runs from October through March.

Sydney Cricket Ground. International test series games are played at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Centennial Park, Moore Park Rd., Paddington, Sydney, NSW, 2010. 02/9360–6601. www.sydneycricketground.com.au.

Hiking

Fine walking trails can be found in the national parks in and around Sydney, especially in Royal National Park and Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park (32 km [20 miles] south and 25 km [15 miles] north of the city center, respectively) and Sydney Harbour National Park, which hugs the harbor shores. The Bondi-to-Bronte Coast Walk is a lovely 3½-km (2-mile) cliff walk, popular with just about everyone in the eastern suburbs. Signage explains the flora and Aboriginal history, and the area is the venue for the hugely popular Sculpture by the Sea outdoor art display (held every October and November). The Federation Cliff Walk from Dover Heights (north of Bondi Beach) to Vaucluse, and on to Watsons Bay, winds past some of Sydney's most exclusive suburbs. At Diamond Bay you can soak in great views of the 20-million-year-old sandstone cliffs from the steps and boardwalks.

Rugby League

Sydney Football Stadium. Known locally as football (or footy), rugby league is Sydney's winter addiction. This is a fast, gutsy, physical game that bears some similarities to North American football, although the action is more constant and the ball cannot be passed forward. The season falls between March and September. Sydney Football Stadium (now known by its corporate sponsorship name of Allianz Stadium) is the home ground of the Sydney Roosters. Other games are played at ANZ Stadium (Sydney Olympic Park) and stadiums throughout the suburbs. Centennial Park, Moore Park Rd., Paddington, Sydney, NSW, 2021. 02/9360–6601. www.sydneycricketground.com.au.

Scuba Diving

Dive Centre Manly. Located at the popular northern Sydney beach, Dive Centre Manly runs all-inclusive shore dives each day, which let you see weedy sea dragons and other sea creatures. PADI certification courses are also available. The cost for a shore dive is A$95 and A$125 for two dives. 10 Belgrave St., Manly, Sydney, NSW, 2095. 02/9977–4355. www.divesydney.com.

Pro Dive. Pro Dive is a PADI operator conducting courses and shore- or boat-diving excursions around the harbor and city beaches. Some of the best dive spots—with coral, rock walls, and lots of colorful fish—are close to the eastern suburb beaches of Clovelly and Coogee. The company also has a center in Manly. A four-hour boat dive with a guide costs around A$199, including rental equipment; a four-dive learn-to-dive course is A$399. 27 Alfreda St., Coogee, Sydney, NSW, 2034. 1800/820–820. www.prodive.com.au.

Surfing

All Sydney surfers have their favorite breaks, but you can usually count on good waves on at least one of the city's ocean beaches.

Lets Go Surfing. This is a complete surfing resource for anyone who wants to hang five with confidence. Lessons are available for all ages and you can rent or buy boards and wet suits. The two-hour beginner surfer lesson, in a small group, is A$99. 128 Ramsgate Ave., North Bondi, Sydney, NSW, 2026. 02/9365–1800. www.letsgosurfing.com.au.

Manly Surf School. This company conducts courses for adults and children, and provides all equipment, including wet suits. Adults can join a two-hour group lesson (four per day) for A$70. Private instruction costs A$90 per hour. Stand-up paddling (on a board) lessons are also conducted for the same price, and are held on the calm waters of Balmoral and Narrabeen Lakes. North Steyne Surf Club, North Steyne, Manly Beach, Manly, Sydney, NSW, 2095. 02/9977–6977. www.manlysurfschool.com.

Rip Curl. This store has a huge variety of boards and surfing supplies, incuding cool clothes. It's right at Bondi Beach. 82 Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach, Sydney, NSW, 2026. 02/9130–2660. www.ripcurl.com.au.

Surfection Bondi Beach. Here is every surfer's idea of retail heaven: surfboards and cool clothing all housed in one huge sparkling store. 31 Hall St., Bondi Beach, Sydney, NSW, 2026. 02/9130–1051.

Swellnet. A website with surf reports and weather details. www.swellnet.com.au.

Swimming

Sydney has many heated Olympic-size swimming pools, some of which go beyond the basic requirements of a workout. Many Aussies, however, prefer to do their "laps" in ocean pools at Bondi and Manly.

Andrew (Boy) Charlton Pool. Andrew (Boy) Charlton Pool isn't just any heated Olympic-size saltwater pool. Its stunning outdoor location overlooking the ships at Garden Island, its radical glass-and-steel design, and its chic terrace café above Woolloomooloo Bay make it an attraction in itself. Admission is A$6, and it's open September–April, daily 6 am–7 pm. Mrs. Macquarie's Rd., The Domain, Sydney, NSW, 2000. 02/9358–6686. www.abcpool.org.

Cook and Phillip Park Aquatic and Fitness Centre. Cook and Phillip Park Aquatic and Fitness Centre includes wave, hydrotherapy, children's, and Olympic-size pools in a stunning high-tech complex on the eastern edge of the city center near St. Mary's Cathedral. There's also a complete fitness center and classes. Admission is A$6.80 to swim and A$18.60 for the gym, which includes pool entry. Open weekdays 6 am–10 pm, weekends 7 am–8 pm. College St., City Center, Sydney, NSW, 2000. 02/9326–0444. www.cookandphillip.org.au.

Tennis

Cooper Park Tennis Centre. This complex includes eight synthetic-grass courts and a café in a park surrounded by native bushland, about 5 km (3 miles) east of the city. Court fees are A$25 per hour from 6 am to 5 pm on weekdays, and A$30 per hour from 5 pm to 10 pm (weekdays) and on weekends: Saturday 6 am to 7 pm; Sunday 6 am to 8 pm. Cooper Park, 1 Bunna Pl., off Suttie Rd., Woollahra, Sydney, NSW, 2025. 02/9389–3100. www.cptennis.com.au.

Parklands Sports Centre. Parklands Sports Centre has 11 courts in a shady park approximately 2½ km (1½ mi) from the city center. The weekday cost is A$20 per hour 9–5 and A$28 per hour 5–10 pm (Mon.–Thurs.) and until 7pm on Friday; it's A$28 per hour 8 am–6 pm on weekends. Many buses travel past the site including the 394, 396 and 397 from Circular Quay. Lang Rd. at Anzac Parade, Moore Park, Centennial Park, Sydney, NSW, 2010. 02/9662–7033. www.parklandssports.com.au.

Windsurfing

Balmoral Windsurfing, Sailing, and Kayak School. Balmoral Windsurfing, Sailing, and Kayak School runs classes from its base at this north-side harbor beach. Private windsurfing lessons are A$130 per hour, sailing from A$295 for four hours of lessons over a two-day period. Stand-up paddle boards and kayaks can be rented out for A$30 and A$25 per hour respectively. The Esplanade, Balmoral Beach, Sydney, NSW, 2088. 02/9960–5344. www.sailboard.net.au.

Rose Bay Aquatic Hire. Rose Bay Aquatic Hire has joined forces with kayak operator Oz Paddle. They now rent motorboats, kayaks and standup paddleboards. Motorboats are A$100 for the first two hours; kayaks are A$20 an hour, as are paddleboards. Whatever mode of transport chosen, an hour or two on Sydney's beautiful harbor is time well spent. 1 Vickery Ave., Rose Bay, Sydney, NSW, 2029. 04/1623–9543 or 04/1612–3339. www.rosebayaquatichire.com.

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