You’ll find plenty of places to keep your credit cards in action in Sydney. Most shops of interest to the visitor are in The Rocks and along George and Pitt streets (including the shops below the Sydney Tower and along Pitt Street Mall). Other precincts worth checking out are Mosman, on the North Shore; Double Bay, in the eastern suburbs, for boutique shopping; Chatswood, for its shopping centers; and various weekend markets.
Don’t miss the Queen Victoria Building (QVB), on the corner of Market and George streets. This Victorian shopping arcade is one of the most ornate in Australia and has around 200 boutiques—mostly men’s and women’s fashion—on four levels. Here, you’ll find fashion-statement stores featuring the best of Australian design, including Oroton, Country Road, and the fabulous woman’s clothing designer Lisa Ho. The arcade is open 24 hours, but the shops do business Monday through Saturday from 9am to 6pm (Thurs to 9pm) and Sunday from 11am to 5pm.
The Strand Arcade (between Pitt Street Mall and George St.) was built in 1892 and is interesting for its architecture and small boutiques, food stores, and cafes, and the Downtown Duty Free store on the basement level. Labels to look for include Third Millennium, Allanah Hill, and Wayne Cooper.
On Pitt Street Mall you’ll find a few shops and a Westfield Shopping Centre full of fashion boutiques. Oxford Street runs from the city to Bondi Junction through Paddington and Darlinghurst and is home to countless stylish clothing stores. You could spend anywhere from 2 hours to an entire day making your way from one end to the other. Detour down William Street, once you get to Paddington, to visit the trendy boutiques Belinda and Corner Store (cutting-edge designs), and Pelle and Di Nuovo (luxury recycled goods). You’ll find the boutique of celebrated international Australian designer Collette Dinnigan on Caledonia Street.
For Aboriginal artifacts and crafts, head to Original & Authentic Aboriginal Art (tel. 02/9251 4222; www.originalandauthenticaboriginalart.com) at 79 George St., The Rocks, which has quality Aboriginal art from some of Australia’s best-known painters. Artists include Paddy Fordham Wainburranga, whose paintings hang in the White House in Washington, D.C., and Janet Forrester Nangala, whose work has been exhibited in the Australian National Gallery in Canberra.
The two big department store names in Sydney shopping are David Jones and Myer. David Jones (tel. 02/9266 5544; www.davidjones.com.au) is the city’s largest department store, selling everything from fashion to designer furniture. You’ll find the women’s section on the corner of Elizabeth and Market streets, and the men’s section on the corner of Castlereagh and Market streets. The food section offers expensive delicacies. Myer (tel. 02/9238 9111; www.myer.com.au) is similar, but the building is newer and flashier. It’s on the corner of George and Market streets.
Nearer to Circular Quay is Chifley Plaza, home to a selection of the world’s most famous and stylish international brands. For really trendy clothing, walk up Oxford Street to Paddington or head to Surry Hills, and for alternative clothes, go to Newtown.
If you are looking for trendy surf- and swimwear, the main drags at Bondi Beach and Manly Beach offer plenty of choices.
For gifts and souvenirs, the shops at Taronga Zoo, the Sea Life SydneyAquarium, and the Australian Museum are all good sources for gifts and souvenirs. Many shops around The Rocks are worth browsing, too.
Sydney has many good markets worth a look for quirky gifts or souvenirs and to soak up the local vibe, especially on weekends.
Closest to the city is The Rocks Market (www.therocks.com), held every Saturday and Sunday (with a smaller “foodies” market on Fri). This touristy market has more than 100 vendors selling everything from crafts, housewares, and posters to jewelry and curios. George Street in The Rocks is closed to traffic from 10am to 4pm to make it easier to stroll around.
Paddy’s Markets (www.paddysmarkets.com.au) are a Sydney institution, with hundreds of stalls selling everything from cheap clothes and plants to chickens. It’s open Wednesday to Sunday, 9am to 5pm. Above Paddy’s Markets is Market City, which has three floors of fashion stalls, food courts, and specialty shops, and a huge Asian-European supermarket. Paddy’s is at the corner of Thomas and Hay sts., Haymarket, near Chinatown.
Balmain Market (www.balmainmarket.com.au), held from 8:30am to 4pm every Saturday, has about 140 vendors selling crafts, jewelry, and knickknacks. Take the ferry to Balmain (Darling St.); the market is a 10-minute walk up Darling Street, on the grounds of St. Andrew’s Church.
Bondi Markets (www.bondimarkets.com.au) is a nice place to stroll around on Sunday and discover upcoming young Australian designers. This market specializes in clothing and jewelry, new, secondhand, and retro. It’s open Sunday from 9am to 5pm at the Bondi Beach School, Campbell Parade.
Paddington Markets (www.paddingtonmarkets.com.au) is a Saturday-only market where you’ll find everything from essential oils and designer clothes to New Age jewelry and Mexican hammocks. Expect things to be busy from 10am to 4pm. Take bus no. 380 or 389 from Circular Quay and follow the crowds. It’s held in the grounds of St. John’s Church, Oxford St., on the corner of Newcome St.