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Customs House

Home > Sydney > Architecture | Bars | Books and Writing | Exhibitions | Historic Houses | Restaurants
by Natasha Stewart (subscribe)
Food and words.
Published November 13th 2011
Sitting just across from the Circular Quay Ferry Wharf, Customs House is more than just another building. It is a piece of historical architecture, a place to sit and relax, a place to eat, and a place to be inspired. This interesting building comprises of gallery space, restaurants, a library, and plenty of reading rooms, so after a tiresome day of trudging around the city Customs House is a great place to just take a break.

Customs House is a public space, and it features a range of facilities that everyone should take advantage of. Take a seat on one of the comfy lounges and pick up a copy of one of the local or international papers. There is no need to hurry, you can take your time, and just sit and relax. If you'd rather read a book, then you'll find a selection of different ones, and many reading rooms where you can sit.

Customs House contains a library, and is great for a casual browse, or if you're in need of research. As well as books, you can brose the internet, or gain access to various records. There is a children's section where you can sit with your kids while they enjoy Red Fish, Blue Fish and Where the Wild Things Are. The library is bold, and creates an environment that makes you want to read and learn, rather than one that is stuffy and sterile. It perfectly mixed modern stylised design, with a beautiful heritage building.

It is worth a visit for the building alone, when you walk in you can cross the glass floor and look below to see a model of Sydney City. Make sure you head up a floor to see it from above. The spiral staircase is another beautiful aspect, you can enjoy it while you climb, but when you reach the third floor, stare down at all the stairs you have just climbed. If you're a sucker for architecture and design, then you'll probably also be interested in viewing the art exhibitions that are common in Customs House.

If you're feeling peckish then you can also choose from one of their restaurants. Cafe Sydney sits on the Customs House rooftop, and here you'll choose from a menu that mainly boasts amazing seafood dishes, that can all be washed down with some tasty cocktails. Young Alfred, the other dining establishment is great for lunch or dinner, and has an Italian menu with pasta, pizza and more. Quay Bar is also now part of the Customs House mix, where you'll get a good selection of food and drinks.

Customs House offers just about everything, and in such a central location you'd be crazy to skip it. Admire the building from outside, and then take your time to explore everything inside. It is a tourist stop for visitors, but also a handy place for locals. Grab a book, or a bite to eat, and take some time out at Customs House.
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Why? History, food, and design all in one building
When: Weekdays: 8am - midnight, Saturday: 10am - midnight, Sunday & Public Holidays: 11am - 5pm
Where: Alfred Street, Circular Quay
Cost: Free
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