By Jenny Hewett
Nov 18, 2022
IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW MANY TIMES I’ve done it, even as a Sydneysider, I still get pumped to see Sydney emerge at sunrise from a plane window. Seeing her from this perspective is also indicative of the sheer scale of this city. Beaches unfurl to the north and south and east, and hidden among the vivid blue waterways are some of Sydney’s hottest tables, including Jonah’s at Palm Beach and Berowra Inn at Berowra Waters. It could take you days (and many refused glasses of wine) to explore these dazzling corners of the harborside city if you’re traveling by car… but not if you hop in a seaplane.
“Alright, who wants to fly upfront with me?” asks our young pilot Mark, as we tentatively look on from the dock of Sydney Seaplanes next to the iconic Catalina restaurant in Rose Bay. As well as offering scenic flights, this eastern suburbs-based operator connects fanatical diners with some of Sydney’s best waterside restaurants. Today, the 10-seater Cessna Caravan floating on the harbor in front of us will be ferrying us to Bert’s Bar and Brasserie (one of Merivale’s finest) in Newport on Sydney’s upper reaches of the Northern Beaches for caviar, freshly shucked oysters and salt-baked rainbow trout, washed down with as many martinis or Rieslings as we like. Because we can.
“There’s a bit of wind today, so it might get a bit bumpy up there. Keep your seatbelts fastened,” Mark says. Soon enough we’re soaring above the choppy harbor and towards the bushland of Middle Head. The plane tilts slightly towards the left and does a lap over the city, highlighting the glory of a sun-drenched Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, before veering towards Manly. A few years ago, I walked the 80-kilometer coastline from Bondi to Manly with my mum, so I know my city’s landscape more intimately than most. Seeing it from above makes me want to do it again… and again.
As we cruise past North Head and up the northern beaches, I take in sights I’ve never seen; the roaring waves hitting the rockpools and remote cliffs on the headland we have lived near for many years. We briefly pass through a rain front and within just 20 minutes we’re descending into our destination of Pittwater in Newport. Rain is bucketing down now, but in the few minutes after the tender arrives and whisks us towards the pier, the clouds clear and we arrive to a glorious sunny Sydney day at The Newport pub. We’ve got 15 minutes to kill before our lunch reservation, so we polish off a bottle of sparkling in the beer garden, where water peeks through the trees. There really is no better way to dine in Sydney.
MORE CITY-BASED SEAPLANE EXPERIENCES
Fly over the magical islands of the Hauraki Gulf and land in tranquil Man O’ War Bay on a wine-tasting seaplane tour that also includes a deluxe lunch platter. aucklandseaplanes.com; from US$495 per person.
Get an aerial view of the Arabian Gulf city’s unique desert and ocean landscapes on a 30-minute scenic flight taking in mangroves, Yas Marina Circuit and Saadiyat Island. seawings.ae; from AED1,795 per person.
Luxury Hong Kong-based start-up Seaplane Group is soon to launch sightseeing seaplane tours and air taxi connections in one of Asia’s best metropolises. seaplanegroup.com/seaplane.
Departing from Australia’s cultural capital, this ‘Fly, Drive and Dine’ package takes in Victoria’s Bellarine peninsula and includes wine and gin tastings, a luxury chauffeur and lunch at fine-diner Jack Rabbit. melbourneseaplanes.com.au/fly-drive-dine-tour; from A$2,190 for two people.
All photos courtesy of Destination NSW.