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Toni Collette's Little Black Book on Sydney

Toni Collette
Toni Collette's favorite Aussie lingo? "Crickey! It's a statement of disbelief, and I am embarrassed to admit that I say it several times a day."
// What is your fondest memory growing up in Sydney?
I lived in an area called Glebe till I was 5 or 6. It was a bit rough around the edges, but is now completely gentrified and full of university students, great bookshops, restaurants, cafés, health stores and esoteric havens. But in the ’70s, a whole heap of my relatives lived within a street or two of each other. And in all the images from that time that still exist in my mind, everything is saturated or soaked in the golden hue of that decade. The boy next door used to yell out across the fence to my mum. He’d always ask her to put his favorite record on—Rock Me, by ABBA. And we’d dance like crazy on our purple carpet and wave at each other through our facing windows.

// Where are the best spots to take in the sparkling waters of Sydney Harbour?

Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, which is part of the botanic gardens, looks directly onto the harbor and opera house. From a ferry or private boat is always good. Or you can climb the Harbour Bridge. My husband and I were given the latter as a gift. I never would’ve done it otherwise. It seemed a bit tacky. But I am telling you, it is an amazing thing to do.

// What is Sydney’s best-kept secret destination?
Danks Street, Waterloo. It is a recently developed area with excellent cafés, shops and art galleries.

// If you could spend a free day in any Australian city, where would you go and what would be on your itinerary?

Melbourne. I love it. Breakfast at the European. Shopping in the gorgeous lanes of the city. A walk in the botanical gardens. Catch a tram to St. Kilda for more shopping along Acland Street and lunch at delicious Café Di Stasio. Then get a massage at the spa at The Prince hotel. Visit the National Gallery of Victoria. Have a drink at the wine precinct across the road before going out to see a great band that night. Finish up at Cookie for a nightcap and some Thai food to soak it up.

// Which hotel is your getaway retreat?

Bedarra Island has true natural luxury. It’s beautifully isolated and there are only 16 villas. The service is impeccable. They also know when to leave you alone. You can take a boat out, go fishing, diving, snorkeling or kayaking. You can do as much or as little as you want.

// What is your favorite day-trip destination outside of Sydney?

Berry. It’s a gorgeous village two hours south of Sydney with a great wood-fired bakery and a sweet string of shops. But it’s the land itself that is breathtaking.

// Which Australian fashion designer takes up most of your wardrobe?

Willow, Collette Dinnigan, Marnie Skillings and Kirrilly Johnston. All talented. All different.

// What is the best restaurant for authentic Australian cuisine?
There are no typically Australian restaurants that I know of. It’s diverse, and the produce is some of the best in the world. Sean’s Panaroma is my favorite restaurant in Sydney. Sean is an amazing chef who either grows or sources his own produce. It’s a small, relaxed room directly opposite the north end of Bondi Beach. The food is incredible.

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