Sean Goedecke is a freelance writer trying to visit every cafe in Australia. If you enjoy his articles, it can't hurt to click the 'like' link at the bottom or subscribe.
Published September 27th 2011
Sydney's an expensive city. Taking your date out for dinner might be a culinary experience to remember, but it's also likely to come with a bill to remember (and days of eating beans and instant noodles). If only there were some entertaining things you could do with your partner that wouldn't cost anything – like the things on this list here, starting with:
The Bondi to Bronte Coastwalk
Your date's probably assured you that they love long walks on the beach. Are you going to just take their word for it? Put their honesty to the test with this four kilometre walk along Sydney's beaches. Beginning at the Ben Buckler Point, the coastwalk stretches across Bondi, Tamarama and Bronte beaches.
There's a reason beaches are romantic: take your shoes off and feel the sand between your toes. If you go during the middle of the day, wear sunscreen to avoid an embarrassing sunburn. A better idea is to just go during the evening, when you can appreciate the sunset over the flat horizon. One final tip: the walk ends at Waverley Cemetery, so unless both of you find dead people romantic, finish at the end of South Bronte beach.
The starry night sky has been a common image in love poems for centuries. It's dark, mysterious, and studded with twinkling points of light – the perfect thing to compare, say, your lover's eyes to. If lying on the grass, looking up at the endless expanse of stars is romantic, then why wouldn't studying cardboard exhibits in an observatory be romantic as well? Sydney Observatory, on Watson Road / Millers Point, is the perfect place to do this. During the day, the exhibits on the ground and first floor are totally free. Study up before you go so you can impress your date with accurate astronomical facts.
If you've had enough of stars and sand, enjoy the beauty of nature at Sydney's Royal Botanic Garden. It's an oasis in the heart of the city; a place to spot butterflies and relax in the sun with your date. Best of all, it costs nothing – take a picnic basket with some food for a nice lunch on the grass. The garden covers thirty hectares, so there's plenty of room to spread out and eat. Pouring box wine into an expensive-looking bottle is a good trick, but a avoid painful misunderstanding: make sure that you're not pouring cheap white wine into a Pinot Noir bottle.
The Friend In Hand Hotel, on 58 Cowper St, hosts regular poetry and spoken word events, with an open mike available to showcase Sydney voices. Why not take your date to Word In Hand and bump up your literary credibility? There are few things more romantic than poetry, after all. Word In Hand occurs on the first Tuesday of every month (except January). Get up on the stage yourself and read your partner a sonnet that you've written. Warning: only do this if you can actually write poetry, or your date might run out mid-stanza.
Art Gallery of NSW
Looking at art is much safer than creating it yourself. With that in mind, visit Sydney's Art Gallery of New South Wales, in the Domain east of Hyde Park. Wear your best artist costume (beret is recommended but not mandatory) and nod knowingly at each painting. Your date will hopefully be too impressed to actually ask questions, but you might want to sneak a glance at the title and artist just in case. If all else fails, lie so boldly that nobody would believe you made it up – and isn't that what art critics do anyway?
Don't try any of these on a first date unless you absolutely have to. First impressions are important, so get out your wallet and prepare to impress. However, when dinner at Tetsuya's has emptied your bank account, keep a few of these ideas handy for the second date – you might need them. Got another idea for a free date in Sydney? Share it in the comments; we'd love to hear from you.
Great suggestions and a very good review. I would love to go to the observatory, and the art gallery is truly astonishing. I would recommend that to anyone who loves art aswell. I have been to the Royal Botanic garden many times and it never fails to light up a whole day. Great advice at the end of the review for the starting relationships.
With a little planning a picnic can be a really cheap, but still romantic, date idea. BYO everything and lay a blanket down somewhere, preferably some place with a water view, and lay together talking, eating and laughing in the sunshine.
By Karen - senior reviewer Tuesday, 4th of October @ 04:36 am
I took my date to the Botanic Gardens once for a lunch date when we both worked in the city, basket and all. It's a great idea to stack in goodies from David Jones' food hall first. We are still happily married now 20 years so it must have been a good date :-)
By labaz - reader Thursday, 20th of October @ 11:34 pm