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Are you looking for quirky, weird and nerdy things to do in Sydney, Australia? Here are 19 non touristy things to do in Sydney, from a bona fide nerdy weirdo Sydneysider. Forget basic beaches; let’s get quirky!
When tourists plan a trip to Sydney – especially when searching for ‘things to do’ – the usual appears: Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge, etc. While they are amazing, they are usually crowded and frankly, a bit touristy. But not you, my friend, you’re interested in something a bit different; aren’t you? I’ve got you covered. Follow me.
Discover Oxford Street, Darlinghurst
Growing up amongst the LGBTQIA+ community, Oxford Street was the beating heart of queer Sydney, and it remains so to this day. Home to the annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (Pride) Parade on the first Saturday in March, the Darlinghurst and Paddington section is also one of Sydney’s quirkiest places to shop, drink and eat.
Highlighted quirks: House of Priscilla (Sydney’s ‘Ultimate Costume Shop’), Oxford Art Factory (A live art + music space inspired by Andy Warhol’s Factory), the iconic Stonewall Hotel – “Nobody was killed [at Stonewall?]”, or join drag queen ‘The Fabulous Wonder Mama’ on a walking tour of the area.
Bonus quirk: Visit the hotel featured at the beginning of 1994’s “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”, The Imperial Hotel, located a few suburbs away in Erskineville.
Delve into Sydney’s Criminal Past
Behind Sydney’s glamorous facade lies a dark side and it is the location for many of Australia’s most notorious murders (read more via the online Sydney Crime Museum). Fans of true crime are spoiled for choice when it comes to delving into the ‘underbelly‘ of the city. Note: please be respectful of victims and their families.
Highlighted weird: Visit the Justice and Police Museum (Home to a “grizzly collection of underworld weapons along with tales of mayhem and lawlessness”), Join Sydney’s Razor Gang True Crime Tour (Discover more about the gangsters from “[the] roaring 1920s and 1930s”), or even further back in time with The Rocks Walking Tour (“scallywag stories of convicts, colonists, soldiers, sailors, larrikins, legends, rum and rebellions!”).
Bonus weird: Fancy being a detective for the evening and “unmask[ing] the true murderer”? Consider an “immersive” Murder Mystery experience (18+) at the historical Elizabeth Bay house.
Dig Deeper at Sydney’s Museums
At school in Sydney, the highlight of my year was always the annual ‘trip’ to the Powerhouse Museum ($). Part of a group of museums (including the Sydney Observatory ($), it is “the most popular museum in Sydney” and for good reason, with reliably fantastic displays here. Yet, there are also lesser-known (but great) museums to see!
Highlighted Museums for Nerdy Folk:
- The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (FREE) Everything from surreal short films to sculpture.
- Museum of Human Disease @ UNSW ($) Nearly “1,500 diseased human tissue specimens”.
- Sydney Bus Museum ($) Open the 1st (first)/ 3rd (third) Sunday of each month.
- Australian Museum of Magical Arts ($) Saturday @ 1:30 pm tours available – bookings essential.
- Museum of Freemasonry (?) Private, but tours are available on request.
- Sydney Jewish Museum / History and Holocaust Museum ($) “Where history has a voice”.
Bonus Nerdy adventure: After Museum-ing, have a drink at the 1989 Arcade Bar, with “37 arcade games and pinball”. You might even find yourself competing in a N64 Mario Kart tournament. Rainbow Road forever!
As you’ve seen, there are endless non touristy things to do in Sydney, especially for those looking for activities on the quirky, weird and nerdy end of the spectrum. There is everything from arcade games to archaeology. So, go on, get out of your comfort zone and enjoy! Your Instagram photos will be better for getting ‘off the beaten track’.