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It’s easy to be drawn to the crush of Bondi, Manly or the sizzle of Tamarama on a 30 degree afternoon, but Sydney’s real summer charm lies in its hidden spots, its patches of green and harbour blues. All you need for a good time in these lush corners of our city are a couple of bags of ice, a few salty snacks, a case of beer and maybe a straw hat to keep those rays at bay. The hottest tip of all? Pack a bottle opener. Don’t be that guy.

Gordon’s Bay

Major St, Coogee

Gordon’s Bay is wedged between Clovelly to the north, and Coogee to the south. There’s a small seaweedy beach in the middle, but give that a miss and cart your gear over the rocks on either side of the bay (the Clovelly side is best for golden hour). Find a large, flat space to settle on and make your way down the rocks into the water below. On a clear afternoon this is the ideal locale to cruise around on a novelty floatation device; giant flamingo, say, or slice of inflatable pizza.

McKell Park

Darling Point

Darling Point isn’t shortchanged when it comes to glimpses of the Bridge, but McKell Park is probably the only place in the area where you can lounge about on lush grass while staring straight at it. You may have to dodge the odd wedding ceremony, sure, but there’s plenty of shade, an abundance of expertly trimmed hedges, and even a tiny little ferry wharf, should you need a quick exit.

Cremorne Reserve

Milson Rd, Cremorne Point

New Year’s eve is where Cremorne Reserve really comes into its own with its killer skyline views, but this small green reserve on the tip of Cremorne Point is near-perfect for a sunset beer any day of the week. It’s possible to scan the city all the way from the Opera House to Taronga Zoo here, and shallow water makes it possible for quick dips on sweltering days.

Milk Beach

Vaucluse Rd, Vaucluse

In the shadow of the heritage-listed Strickland House lies tiny Milk Beach, where clear water and white sand are backed by a rolling lawn and shady trees. It’s been known to get pretty pumping here come Australia Day, but on most weekends it’s a tranquil spot to lay down a towel next to a full Esky. The sun sets directly in front of the water here (that doesn’t happen in Bondi!), so make sure you stay late enough for the show.

Wendy’s Secret Garden

Lavender Bay

Winding paths, overhanging branches, sunlight shining through big old Moreton Bay Fig trees, Wendy’s Secret Garden feels a little magical. This lush hideaway was created by Wendy Whiteley in dedication to her late husband, the artist Brett Whiteley. Grab a spot on one of the heavy stone benches, they’re hot property in good weather.

Little Bay

Coast Hospital Rd, Little Bay

The name of this calm inlet rings pretty true. Take a short walk past a golf course and down a timber staircase to reach this small, protected oasis with easy waves and a gentle breeze. Locals park themselves here for hours in the summer and you should too. There aren’t any shops nearby so make sure you come full stocked for an afternoon of kicking back on the sand.

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