I am an academic and writer living in Melbourne. I love to travel and I also love writing about all the things Melbourne, regional Victoria and other parts of Australia have to offer.
Published December 15th 2018
Secrets of Potts Point
Potts Point, just down the road from Kings Cross is a different world. It is full of architectural interest, cool restaurants, wine bars, cafes and fashionable boutiques and art deco shops. In this way, it is very different from Kings Cross but the differences between these two are also what makes this area of Sydney fascinating.
If you take the train to Kings Cross and exit onto Darlinghurst Road you will be in the middle of the "Cross", as the locals call it. The Cross is characterised by a number of clubs and shops of a less salubrious nature, people who may be struggling to keep their life on track and icons such as the El Alamein Fountain and the Wayside Chapel. But this area is at the same time fascinating, particularly when you witness the coexistence with Potts Point and its people who tend to be of a different social standing. Backpackers are a common sight across the two areas, mainly due to backpacker accommodation and affordable places to eat and drink scattered in the back streets of both Kings Cross and Potts Point.
So what are the best things to see and do in Potts Point?
In Potts Point there are examples of many varied types of architecture, highlighting the different periods of Sydney but of course, those of England and the rest of the world too. You can see examples of Colonial, Victorian and Federation architecture, but it is the Art Deco apartment buildings that for many people define this suburb in terms of architecture. The Art Deco style buildings of the 1930s along Macleay Street, in particular, invite you to view their intricate details and motifs on the front doors and entrances, the curved brickwork and the porthole windows and lead lighting. A sneak peek into these buildings together with their names, Carlsbrooke, Werrington, Cahors and such, conjure up images of what life was like in this time period.
If you are an Art Deco aficionado and just looking at the buildings does not satisfy your hunger for this style, or perhaps you want to add to your collection of Art Deco objects, then you are in the right place. The biggest of these, Potts Point Galleries, offers a walk-through trove of Art Deco as well as other antique treasures, with different dealers specialising in decorative pieces, small furniture, jewellery, glassware and anything else your heart and wallet may desire.
Macleay on Manning stocks a large number of design objects, knick-knacks, and homewares that are not available elsewhere in Sydney. Objects and ranges by Missoni, Paul Smith, and many other overseas designers can be found here. Check out their Insta page to see the large range they have on offer.
With an emphasis on fairtrade and ethical sourcing of products Oasis Emporium offer an eclectic mix of homewares, jewellery, textiles, and fashion; support of up-and-coming and established Australian designers is also a major feature of this shop.
Now that you have seen the architecture and the design shops it's time to consider lunch or a coffee break. Whilst there are many cafes and restaurants to consider and will be mentioned later you may decide on a do-it-yourself lunch. There are a few great deli and wine shops that could result in an impromptu lunch either back in your accommodation, permanent or temporary, or in a park nearby. The choice for lunch will be endless at Bottega del Vino with cheeses, charcuterie, loaves of bread and other delicacies just asking to be bought and eaten. There is also a Woolworths Metro that has many staples as well, to add to your picnic.
If by any chance, at the end of lunch you feel like getting lost in a good book why not pop into the Potts Point Bookshop for a large selection of the latest editions and old favourites.
Kings Cross Market
If you happen to be in the area on a Saturday between 8 am and 2 pm then you must go and see this market. It is a relatively small market with a wonderful atmosphere; the emphasis is on organic produce, flowers and plants, ethnic street food and specialty products such as nuts and dried fruit and ethically sourced products. There is also a high-quality, affordable jeweller and a few specialty gift stalls.
A coffee, from a few excellent baristas, is a must before you start shopping. So is a pastry or two, but beware, you will be spoilt by the choice; delectable French pastries, homemade cakes, and tarts and special baked goods are all there - just make sure you come early!
For breakfast Gypsy Espresso is a little hideaway in Manning Street (off Macleay) and offers excellent coffee and a small range of delicious breakfast dishes - try the boiled eggs with Vegemite soldiers. For a more Italian breakfast or brunch try Fratelli Paradiso. Their lunch and dinner offerings are worth stopping by too. Other cafes to try for breakfast and good coffee include the gritty, warehouse-like Room 10, Zinc cafe which uses produce from the market and La Buvette.
There are just as many choices for lunch or dinner.The Fish Shop with its emphasis on sustainable fishing and local options is a great choice if you are after that fish 'n' chips meal or perhaps a linguine with prawns. If you after a meal with a strong focus on meat, you can't go past Chester White. This restaurant is a bit of a local secret and because of its size, it may be hard to get a table unless you are early or willing to wait at a local bar enjoying a cocktail or two. The wait is worth it, good food and wine plus a bit of blues music will make this a dinner to remember. Make sure you try their cacio e pepe pasta, I still dream about this dish. Their menu changes frequently too so there is always something new to try.
If you are after a meal with an Asian influence Billy Kwong is just the place. It combines the warmth and charm of a neighbourhood Chinese eating house with the dynamic workings of an open kitchen. Its staff and atmosphere are friendly, warm and welcoming and locals and visitors have a chance to interact with each other. There is a focus on local and sustainable produce and the use of native Australian foods in Asian cooking.
There is so much to choose from and see in the Potts Point area and this makes it a perfect place to explore a different side of Sydney. It's a wonderful area to stay a while, talk to locals and watch everyday life go past if you are a visitor to Sydney, but also if you are a long-term Sydney resident.