Take a culture trip to Western Sydney during New South Wales’ month-long music festival, Great Southern Nights, where Penrith, Parramatta and surrounds offer riverside beauty, an ever-blossoming arts and dining scene, and incredible staycation-worthy excursions alongside a star-studded line-up of gigs.
Great Southern Night Gigs Prepare to belt out powerhouse pub classics from 18 March to 10 April, as Aussie legend Jimmy Barnes (17 March) takes the stage at the Sydney Coliseum Theatre in Rooty Hill, while the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre in Penrith will reverberate with the superb vocal range of Casey Donovan (21 March). At Riverside Theatre, Parramatta, The Whitlams (9 April) will remind you why you love this city.
From this lofty rooftop locale, let your eyes drift 26 floors down as you marvel at just how grown-up Parramatta has become with its elegant bars and polished eateries. Raise a martini to this coming of age in the post-prohibition-inspired cocktail bar that is Nick & Nora’s, where you can sip perfectly formed tipples and sup local oysters.
Chopsticks at the ready for this contemporary-edged interpretation of Chinese and Southeast Asian fare from executive chef Brendan Fong. Dine by the light of a neon-lit lotus flower and relish the classics reimagined with care and using ethically sourced ingredients.
An easy-going Italian trattoria to service all your pizza, antipasti and pasta needs. Restaurateur Maurice Terzini of Icebergs Dining Room & Bar puts his signature polish on this Parramatta Square diner that serves up robust flavours with all the affability of Italian-style hospitality.
Named after a bygone Penrith personality, Mr Watkin Tench, this establishment is a café by day, but once the sun sets, transforms into a restaurant and speakeasy-style bar. Staff have excellent hospitality pedigree, to supply delicious fare and good times for all.
After seeing the musicians on their stage, be sure to make time to see mammals play in their arena. A visit to the Sydney Zoo will keep the family entertained: talk to the apes on Primate Boulevard, let a meerkat perch on your shoulder, and stroke the shiny scales of a snake. There’s also a giant Ferris wheel, many bookable close encounters with resident animals, and even the opportunity to be a zookeeper for the day.
Throw yourself directly in the deep end on a sun-soaked excursion to Raging Waters. From gentle waterslides to suit the smaller and less adventurous among us to the more intense Bombora that hurtles adrenaline-hunters into swirling currents, this fun park offers all manner of waterlogged thrills.
If you’ve never had much luck happening across Australian fauna in their bushland habitats, you can be guaranteed to meet furry, feathered and scaly friends at Featherdale, which lays claim to the largest collection of Australian native animals in the world. Visit Koala Kindy, encounter a quokka, and feed a roo or two.
Be immersed in a revolving door of talent at the architecturally, technically and culturally significant Sydney Coliseum Theatre. As well as electrifying live music shows for Great Southern Nights, there’s plenty more to entertain, from theatre and dance to comedy shows.
Expand the horizons of your palate as Western Sydney’s diverse food offerings unfurl before you on a global tasting tour. From Cabramatta’s Vietnamese eateries to Liverpool’s Middle Eastern fare, these flavours will linger in your memory long after you’ve taken the last bite.
Spanning from Blacktown to Leppington over 27 well-maintained kilometres of parklands, this green space has been designed for the recreation of everyone, including their pooches. There’s the Warrigal Run, Sydney’s largest off-leash dog area, picnic areas, mountain bike trails, kids’ playgrounds, and even the TreeTops Adventure Park, should you feel the desire to test your heart rate on a hurtle through the canopy via zipline.
With all the necessary luxe details to feel thoroughly pampered, earmark this one for a city staycation. Located within easy reach of Western Sydney’s most covetable attractions, such as Parramatta Square, Parramatta Park and Riverside Theatre, SKYE Suites offers a contemporary place to relax after your Great Southern Night. Plunge into the infinity pool, ascend to the rooftop bar, Nick & Nora’s, and exhale at the onsite spa.
Located at Western Sydney’s most happening address, this 4.5-star hotel puts you squarely in the action. Close to restaurants, bars and the Sydney Coliseum Theatre, it’s the perfect end to a night watching Jimmy Barnes on stage.
In downtown Penrith, just a short drive from the enlivening air of the Blue Mountains, Mercure Penrith is within easy reach of Western Sydney’s urban and natural highlights. Soothing tones and an understated aesthetic make this a fuss-free and entirely agreeable stay.
For more information on Great Southern Nights and to purchase tickets go to our gig guide. Start planning your Great Southern Nights roadtrip and learn more about New South Wales’ diverse destinations and experiences at sydney.com and visitnsw.com.
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