As we cruise into holiday-mode over summer, what better time to be a tourist in your own town? We sat down with Surry Hills local, Nathan Sullivan to get his tips on the best places to go to have a Surry Hills staycation. “I’ve lived in Surry Hills for almost 10 years. I just wouldn’t want to live anywhere else,” he says. “You have everything at your fingertips and it has this village vibe yet it’s so close to the city.”
Sullivan is a creative director, event planner and also produces one of Sydney’s premier LGBTQI club nights, Beresford Sundays at The Beresford. “The Hills attracts all sorts of personalities – it makes a great backdrop for an indie film,” he says. “It’s Sydney’s LGBTQI cultural hub and it’s a safe, progressive, positive space for all.”
“My favourite day of the week is, of course, Sunday,” says Sullivan. “I take a lazy walk down to Haymarket to pick up my fruit and veg for the week before heading to The Beresford. The courtyard is the best spot to drink an Aperol Spritz in the sun with your friends and catch up on all the goss from the week,” he says.
With a local council focused on promoting green-spaces, developing cutting-edge public amenities and encouraging bold architectural redevelopment of heritage buildings, it’s hardly a surprise that a scenic walk down leafy Crown Street is the neighbourhood’s best commute. “I love how I can walk everywhere. I love the cafe culture and the vast selection of cuisine to choose from,” says Sullivan. “And you can’t miss the markets in Shannon Reserve on the first Saturday of every month.”
With specialist coffee outlets seemingly occupying every corner of the neighbourhood, locally-roasted single origin espresso and filter coffee can be found at Sample, Artificer and Paramount Coffee Project.
Although he prefers oolong to espresso, his café of choice is a local institution with a more old-school approach. “I don’t drink coffee but my sister loves a cuppa and she’s my neighbour so I like to get her coffee from Crown St Grocer,” he says. “It’s family owned and operated, which adds to those village vibes. So quintessentially Surry Hills.”
From there it’s all about local boutiques and art-spaces. For a huge selection of carefully sourced and top-quality vintage classics, Sullivan recommends Route 66, which has been providing Sydneysiders with retro American outfits since 1988. A stone’s throw away is Cream on Crown, where vintage shoppers can find vintage clothes as well as in-house products made from upcycled fabrics and textiles.
But no Surry Hills experience would be complete without a scoop of the city’s finest gelato. Locals are split into two tribes – Messina or Rivereno – demonstrating their loyalty to their favourite gelateria by lining up around the block all year round. Sullivan is no exception. He answers loud and fast when pressed on the best scoop: “Messina,” he says. “Of course.”