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Where are the Best Places to Read in Sydney?

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by Lucy Y.Y. L (subscribe)
Somewhat skilled photographer. Full time tea drinker, reader and part-time napper. Follow adventures at
Published January 23rd 2016
places to read in sydney
Places to read in Sydney

There are thousands of book enthusiasts in Sydney, including myself and we've all had the struggle of finding the best and comfortable position to read. I've sat, laid on my back and front, crawled up in a ball, slouched over the couch and starfish-ed on my bed; I'll always be changing my position. Besides the comfort of my home and bed, I decided to switch up the location and experimented reading outdoors in front of nature, iconic places in Sydney and tested out the silence, tranquility and travel for each location. Generally speaking, you are allowed to read anywhere you like, but perhaps your 'reading preferences' include the gentle rustle of the trees, sounds of sprinkling rain or maybe the quiet chattering in a cafe. For instance, whenever I like to read, I search up 'autumn wind sounds' or 'rain sounds' to be partnered with reading.

The sites are not ranked in any particular order or worth.

1. Manly - East Manly Cove Beach

reading at east manly cove beach
Reading at East Manly Cove Beach

I decided to test out East Manly Cove Beach rather than the main Manly Beach because I find it difficult to read under a blasting sun even though wearing sunglasses does slightly shelter my eyes. Seated in front of the beach, I like to suggest it more of a bay, the trees shelter some of the sunlight, noise of distant playful laughter of children down at the beach could be heard and sounds of cars passing on the road were also audible. Travelling to Manly East Cove Beach is accessible by taking the ferry from Circular Quay Wharf to Manly Wharf and then walking five minutes or driving.
Reading ability at East Manly Cove Beach
Reading ability at East Manly Cove Beach

2. Circular Quay - Lawn in front of Museum of Contemporary Art (First Fleet Park)

reading in sydney
Reading in Circular Quay

Situated conveniently in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art and facing Sydney Opera House, the area offers a long stretch of grass that is sheltered by some trees. There were people laying on the grass enjoying the view/weather with background sounds of buskers and chattering among the lawn occupants. Travelling to the lawn by train/bus is most convenient, it's an accessible area to read and chill.
reading in circular quay
Reading ability at Circular Quay

3. The Domain

Reading at The Domain
Reading at The Domain

Located in front of the Art Gallery of NSW, the location is covered by vibrant green grass and lofty, thick trees that shade some areas. This was one of the quietest and most tranquil locations to read; the wind would gentle rustle the leaves of the trees and the place itself was uncrowded. Visiting The Domain can be accessed by taking the train to Martin Place and then walking for an approximate eight minutes. There are also seating facilities available and of course, if you prefer sitting on the ground, the grass is a terrific option.
Reading at The Domain
Reading ability at The Domain

4. Mrs Macquarie's Chair/Point

Reading at Mrs Macquarie's Point
Reading at Mrs Macquarie's Point

When I first visited Mrs Macquarie's Chair, I was amazed by the view of the iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House, as well as the level of silence and serenity; that was on a weekday. On the weekend, the popular area was flooded by international tourists and shared by Sydneysiders. There were countless selfie sticks, cameras, people modelling against the trees, on the rocks and the seats, even a wedding shoot took place. I recommend visiting on a weekday if it is possible but, finding a spot/seat is still achievable when on a busy day; perhaps try walking to areas other than the main photography area (elevated). Mrs Macquarie's Point can be accessed by walking through the Royal Botanical Gardens or driving to the location, there are parking spaces available.
Reading at Mrs Macquarie's Point
Reading ability at Mrs Macquarie's Point

5. Prince Alfred Park

Reading at Prince Alfred Park
Reading at Prince Alfred Park

This area is similar to the other parks but has more elevated hills which allow you to observe the park on a higher altitude. The park is speckled with basketball and tennis courts, a swimming pool, a children's playground and has several seating facilities. This was my favourite choice to read out of all the locations I've 'experimented', the view was my favourite place to overlook for its tall trees and the light breeze. Prince Alfred Park is very close to Central Station, exit Elizabeth Street and turn right onto Chalmers Street.
Reading at Prince Alfred Park
Reading ability at Prince Alfred Park

6. Belmore Park

Reading at Belmore Park
Reading at Belmore Park

I remember frequently visiting this park as a child and recall passing by a couple (I'm assuming) experiencing some trouble in their relationship; the woman was tearing up, facing in the opposite direction while her partner was desperately attempting to comfort her; it's one of my most visual memories for some odd reason. This is one of my favourite parks in Sydney (not because of that short story), it's so wide and full of luscious greenery. Sitting on the grass was no problem, other lawn occupants were laying down and also reading. Transport to Belmore Park is very accessible, it's almost opposite of Central Station and it's a quick walk; exit out to Eddy Avenue.
Reading at Belmore Park
Reading ability at Belmore Park

7. Sea Cliff Bridge

reading at Sea cliff bridge
Reading at Sea Cliff Bridge

This is definitely out of Sydney but I thought I would add it in for those out of the area. There are seating facilities at Sea Cliff Bridge and this particular seat was 100-200m away from the northern start of the pedestrian walkway. More sheltered than East Manly Cove Beach, the seat was surrounded by trees and has a spectacular view. Sounds of waves crashing against the rocks and frequent cars passing on two roads were audible. Since the seating location was under such sheltered trees, I would recommend taking sunglasses off to read as it may be too dark (depends on the shade of the sunglasses). Getting to Sea Cliff Bridge may range in difficulty: if you are travelling by train, it is closest to Coacliff Station, it may not be as efficient travelling by car.

Reading Ability at Sea Cliff Bridge
Reading Ability at Sea Cliff Bridge

Disclaimer: You are allowed to read anywhere you like, this is just a list of possible outdoor areas to read according to place, its attraction, silence and weather. The places will always be varying in these aspects, one day might be different to another.

TIPS: Wear sunscreen, whether it's sunny or cloudy, it's important to protect your skin.

ALTERNATIVES: Visit book cafes such as Ampersand Cafe & Bookstore (78-80 Oxford St, Paddington) or Sappho Books Cafe and Wine Bar (51 Glebe Point Rd, Sydney)
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Another delightful place to read is Lavender Bay. This sight has shade, a view over the Bay and also looks over the Secret Garden. It is peaceful during the week, and at weekends gently noise from Luna Park drifts across the Bay.

Access is easy from Milsons Point Station, and limited parking is available in the area.
by Regina (score: 0|3) 1969 days ago
Did you finish "Mrs Dalloway" with all those beautiful outdoor spaces staring back at you?
by Faye (score: 3|1193) 1968 days ago

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