Few will argue with the suggestion that Sydney is not an inexpensive place to live. Now-infamous smashed-avo jokes aside, cost of living in this fabulous city sure ain't cheap, but luckily here at Scoop we have a run down of some of the many excellent and varied free activities our city has to offer.
1. Free Art
Spoil yourself with a tour of Sydney's Art Galleries - for free! Major galleries including the Art Gallery of NSW and the Museum of Contemporary Art have significant, excellent ranges of free entry exhibitions alongside their paid ones. The Art Gallery of NSW is open late on Wednesdays, with free films and music in addition to the artwork and other special events. Check out the seasonal exhibitions of contemporary Chinese art at White Rabbit Gallery in Chippendale, Carriageworks in Redfern, then wander up to some of the other fabulous little galleries in the area, such as Galerie Pompom and down in Zeltand, Sullivan + Strumpf. Heading east, there's also Alaska Projects in the Kings Cross car park and Blender Gallery of music photography in Darlinghurst. Further afield, the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre and the Campbelltown Arts Centre are absolutely worth a visit, the former with a fabulous cafe to complement your visit and the latter home to a lovely Japanese garden.
2. Free Music
There's always live music to be found in Sydney, with many many options every night of the week. The tricky part is finding the free ones, but Sydney friends, we assure you it can be done. Venue 505 jazz bar has free music several nights early in the week. For something a little sweatier, Frankie's in the city has live bands many nights each week and the dance floor heats up later in the evenings. Marble bar's house bands play late into the evening Thursday to Sunday and is another popular spot for a late night groove. Popular Surry Hills venue The Soda Factory has live bands several nights a week and Waywards at The Bank in Newtown has free bands on Tuesdays in addition to its regular ticketed gigs. In the East, Bondi's Beach Road Hotel plays host to many musos in its bandroom, and on Friday nights you'll find live Rock & roll, folk and indie pop rock at Selina's at the Coogee Bay Hotel. The Bucket Lounge hosts regular gigs in Glebe, Oatley and Cronulla, where entry is free but donations to the artists are suggested. And be sure to check out our wrap of five bars with regular free live music for some more great ideas.
3. Free Films
Films don't come cheap these days, and while we love supporting our fabulous independent cinemas, we also appreciate a freebie here and there. And there are a good few options around. The Art Gallery of NSW has regular free film screenings, usually Wednesdays, with a focus on lesser known cinema classics, documentaries, and other unique films. At the start of every week, The Soda Factory hosts Movie Mondays, with different themes each month and a wide variety of genres. Sydney's Japan Foundation screens free Japanese films every fortnight at their event space in Chippendale. On Tuesday nights catch free movies at Down/Under Space below Freda's bar in Chippendale. Offering more than books (not to suggest that books are not enough, of course) the fantastic Inner West Libraries group also has regular film screenings at its libraries including Balmain and Leichhardt, check their Facebook page for upcoming sessions. In Strathfield, Movies in the Park screenings in Strathfield park bring you some of the latest blockbusters for free, BYO picnic and enjoy the outdoor flicks event.
4. Free Walks
Not only a Summer activity, there are plenty of beautiful walks in and around Sydney that will cost you energy but not money. Classic journeys such as the Coogee to Bondi and the Spit Bridge to Manly may be full of eager-eyed tourists throughout most of the year, but are popular for a reason and well worth a look even for long term Sydneysiders. Or take in the harbour views with a Sydney Harbour walk such as the one way ~10km trip from the Harbour Bridge and Milson's Point around to Taronga Zoo. Also divine on a clear day are the extensive grounds of famous local parks such as The Botanic Gardens and Centennial Park. A little further but still easily done in a day, venture by car or bus up through the Northern Beaches to Palm Beach for the walk out to Barrenjoey Lighthouse, or take the train to the Blue Mountains to explore the enormous number of hiking options available there.
5. Free Talks
For our final freebie, here are some ideas for opportunities for free learning and inspiration. Sydney University has a huge range of free public lectures through the university year, with topics including Physics, Astronomy, History, Aboriginal studies, Gender studies, Health, Music, Art, Culture and more - go to their online events calendar and filter for lectures and talks to see what's coming up. At the Redfern Community Centre the City of Sydney runs Aboriginal Art and Culture Gatherings every second Saturday, led by Indigenous artist Graham Toomey. As well as free movies, Inner West Council Libraries host a speaker series at several of their libraries, with talks by writers, activists, artists and more. City of Sydney Libraries have artist talks too, but their real attraction is Late Night Library adults-only events after dark. On a similar tone, once a month the international creative hub Creative Mornings presents a breakfast lecture around a different theme, in many different cities all over the world. Pitched at those working in the creative industries, the talks are open to all and a fabulous way to start your day with some inspiration and networking.
Image Credit: Rochelle Haley, Bare Loggia, installation view, Galerie pompom, Sydney. Photo: Jessica Maurer