Sydney Hotels, Flights, Tours and Cruises

Shopping in Sydney

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Where indeed to begin? There are so many souvenirs and things to buy in Sydney as well as locations of stores that it is really impossible to tell you what to look for. However, we have written down some things which we think you can purchase and other things to avoid.

Aboriginal Art
All Things Australian
Olympic souvenirs
What to Avoid?
Where to Shop?
List of Australian business and stores

Aboriginal Art

Aboriginal Art have gained such international recognition that they are easily recognizable by their bright colors (usually yellow, ochre and white) with spotted dots all around. For something unusual, why not consider a boomerang or ‘dijuridoo’? (A word of advise; if you're buying a 'dijuridoo' at an Aborigines owned store, don't blow into the instrument if you're a woman. The Aborigines believe a woman may become infertile if she blows into it.) But be warn when you are purchasing some of these items as they may be costly. Look at the labels and make sure that they are made in Australia. For other cheaper items, consider prints, t-shirts with Aboriginal motifs or hand weave baskets.


Australia is known to produce some of the world's most beautiful opals and it is no wonder that opals are recognized as the national valuable stones. Although they are beautiful to look at, it is advisable that you read a little more about these stones as looks can be deceiving. Shop around before you settle on buying one.

(This author got duped into buying an opal stone at the Queen Victoria Building and paid about $80 for a chain set. The chain rusted in no more than less than a month and the opal is now a dull shady color, a constant reminded to the author to be cautious when shopping around for precious opals.)

All Things Australian

Think Australia and the image of a cute koala or kangaroo spring to mind. Since these cute creatures are recognizable throughout Australia, you can expect souvenir stores to have a number of stuffed animals. You would be hard pressed to find one that's made here. Chances are they are probably made in Taiwan or China but at least they're cheap.

Paddy's Market

Another souvenir to look out for is sheep skin. Australia is known for its wool industry so it is not surprising to find sheep and lamb skins at every possible store. When buying one, check the labels for quality. Be on the look out for kangaroo skins and painted emu eggs. Paddy's Market (see left) and Chinatown will usually be open for bargains.

If you want to buy clothes, consider buying clothes that are made in Australia. There are designer clothes made by local artists such as Ken Done and Jenny Kee. Their designs can usually be found at trendy stores. Australia is proud of its surfing and beach tradition that it has produced a number of cool companies that cater to this crowd. Watch out for Mambo, Hot Tuna and Quicksilver which has some of the more diverse range of clothes.

Clothes that defined the Australian country side come in the form of Akubra hats. To top it all, you can also purchase oilskin riding coat or wool jumpers which are warm and comfortable. To get a better picture, rent Man from the Snowy River and you will see what we mean.

Olympic souvenirs

As Sydney nears the millennium and the Olympics, it comes as no surprise to find stores suddenly stacking up with all things to do with the Olympic. The best place to shop for these items are located in Olympic stores scattered throughout the city. For example, the Olympic Store underneath the Centrepoint Tower has an excellent collection of souvenirs ranging from pins to clothes.

As always, be wary of Olympic imitations. The souvenirs at the Olympic store will be expensive but consider them as an investment. After the game moves on, all merchandise will be halted. Consider buying pins or keyrings which are under $10.

What to Avoid

We had to ask ourselves what an average tourist should avoid buying when coming to Sydney. If you want something that is unique and made in Australia be prepare to spend a little more. However if you don't mind where it comes from then by all means, purchase any of the cheap souvenirs from the stores.

Cheap souvenirs has its pros and cons. The pros have already been mentioned, they are cheap and affordable. Of course, the disadvantage is you will always know that it was created in either Taiwan or China. If you can, avoid buying the really tacky looking souvenirs such as the so-called 'Aboriginal' ashtrays or cheap t-shirts with Australian motifs on them.

Then you've got your imitations. Be wary of items that resemble closely to the real thing. This can be difficult to screen out especially if you know nothing much about Australian arts and crafts. Just use your common sense and be aware of that imitation does happen here.

Where to shop?

With the above in mind, you are now ready to start shopping. After you have settled down in your hotel or motel room, you load yourself with traveler's cheques and cash and head out to the nearest souvenir store. But wait! Don't go rushing out to the nearest one yet as they are better bargains if you are willing to look around. The rule is the closer you are to the city circuit, the more expensive these souvenirs will become. For example, some of the more expensive souvenirs can be found in Darling Harbour or near Queen Victoria Building.

Perhaps the cheapest way to shop for these items are in Chinatown and Paddy's Market. Chinatown has a number of duty free stores where you can buy perfumes and alcohol at a discount. They also have a variety of goodies for you to choose from and what's best is that negotiation of prices is expected so don't be shy to try and bargain your way through. Paddy's Market is what it is; a market filled with small stalls. Here you can get some excellent cheap (but beautiful) jewellery as well as souvenirs that can also be bargain down.

The major shopping complex such as David Jones, Grace Bros. and Skygarden are located within the heart of the city. These shopping centres are usually busy especially during the Christmas season and after. The biggest and by far, one of the most impressive shopping centres in Sydney is located in Parramatta in the form of Westfield Shopping Centre. Chatswood is another great place to do your shopping. Along with Westfield, Grace Bros. and Chatswood Chase, this business district also contain the Mandarin Centre which has a blend of Western and Chinese culture.

An alternative to shopping malls are the suburb markets which are usually held once every month. You can visit the Glebe market or The Rocks which has some excellent range of the more unusual Australian souvenirs. Another market is the Hornsby Market which is open on the first day of each month and has an open and clean atmosphere about them. While you're there, why not see the largest pendulum clock in the Southern Hemisphere?

For a list of Australian businesses and stores, click here.

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