Are you a local who thinks they know Sydney really well – or would like to? Or, are you looking for a fun way to explore the city that taxes your brain as well as helps you explore a few sights that perhaps the other tourists don’t see – then why not try a Sydney Scavenger Hunt.
We recently tried a fun one by the team at Secret Trails Sydney.
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What is Secret Trails Sydney?
It’s kind of like a sightseeing scavenger hunt around the Sydney CBD. You head to the website, pick the walk that fits the area you want to explore – or the time you have – and then follow the clues to find some of the more interesting sights in the area.
While Secret Trails is well known around the world, the idea for having trails here was actually developed by Transport NSW as a way to help get people exploring the CBD again.
They teamed up with Travel Massive, a travel group of which I’m a member (which is why I got to try it early thanks to the lovely Jean from Traveling Honeybird) to ensure that the trails came with some real local knowledge.
Where Do You Explore?
There are five trails to choose from..
New and Trendy CBD which starts in Martin Place and heads towards Barangaroo. They say this should take about 30 minutes to complete.
CBD Laneways, History and Cool Art which starts at Wynyard and ends up at Circular Quay. Another short trail this one takes about 40 minutes to complete (we smashed that!)
The Goods Line which starts at Railway Square and ends at the Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour. Covering a slightly longer distance – 2km – this one should take about an hour to find all the sights.
Chinatown and Darling Square which starts at Town Hall and ends at the Goods Line. It’s suggested that this takes 1-2 hours – although I guess that might be more if you decide to nibble your way around it!
And the Historic Rocks Explorer which starts at Circular Quay and ends at the MCA Museum. This one takes the longest at 1.5-2 hours.
As you can see, some of the trails start where another one ends which means you can combine a couple for a longer day tour.
On the launch day we tried two of them – the New and Trendy CBD route which takes you around the middle of the CBD and down to Circular Quay and the CBD Laneways trail which takes in the route to the dining precinct around Barangaroo – and could be a good way to build up an appetite before you hit one of the many bars or restaurants you find there.
How Hard is the Quest?
Admittedly, the fact that I and one of my teammates, Joanne from Travel With Joanne spend much our time seeking the smaller sights in Sydney we found it pretty easy to crack the codes – and got super competitive trying to get round as fast as possible (well that might just have been me).
But, if you’re less au fait with the cities quirks and small alleys, it’ll take you a bit longer to decipher the clues but you will find some really cool sights – plus, you’re likely to find other things that interest you on the route – I found a new bar that I had no idea even existed in the new area behind Circular Quay.
If you regularly read this blog you might have an advantage as lots of the things we talk about on here are the answers to clues. Here’s one big wooden hint below!
If you do get stuck though you can unlock extra hints and even skip things – it just adds a little bit to your final time at the end.
When you find the location that is the answer to each clue, you’ll be asked to input some information like a set of numbers that relate to the destination – just to prove you’re not cheating. Read these carefully, we got over excited and lost valuable seconds by not reading what the answers actually needed you to write in!
Another nice touch is that the first 2000 people to complete each trail get a discount voucher for a cafe, coffee shop or ice cream parlour at the end of point of the quest – while I had to pass on the delicious crepes at Four Frogs in Circular Quay, after doing two back to back trails, the Salted Caramel Ice Cream at Riverino Gelato in Barangaroo.
I’m writing this a few weeks after I first tried it (as I was hoping I’d be able to go take the other three tours and compare them all, but erm, you know what happened) so those vouchers may already have been snapped up, but you won’t know until you get to the end!
And before anyone tells me off for talking about this now – a) I’m stuck in my house, I need to do something to pass the time and b) according to the City of Sydney website which is run by NSW Government website, following the trails would be allowed as your daily exercise.
Obviously, use common sense as to whether that’s the best idea and always follow other current rules as to how many people you can go with, wearing masks and ensuring that you’re allowed to be walking around the City of Sydney LGA at the time that you read this.
Where to Find Out More
Head to the Secret Trails Sydney website and click go – you’ll then need to register your team name and after that, off you go.
Right now, the trails are free and it looks like they might stay that way until October 30th. After that they might go onto the main Secret City Trails website which does charge for trails.
5 Other Sydney Scavenger Hunts to Try
Secret Trails Sydney are the only way to explore Sydney on a quest. There are a few other ways to explore Sydney on ‘scavenger hunt’ type experiences…
1. Book a Mystery Picnic
This is a scavenger hunt around the city’s food destinations – and you end up collecting goodies you can eat.
We tried the Darling Harbour and The Rocks tour and had a fantastic time (you can see our Mystery Picnic review of it here).
They are run in a number of different areas in Sydney so, check out what’s available near you now.
2. Clued Upp
Run themed detective days where teams explore Sydney while trying to solve a crime.
See their website for relevant dates and the theme of the next ‘crime’ . They also run events in other cities all over the world.
3. The Secret City
If you like the idea of being detective for the day, but want to do it on your schedule, then have a look at The Secret City games.
These ‘whodunnits’ are run through the Telegram app and see you solving clues (which also happen to take you to some interesting local sights) to determine who is behind the appearance of a dead body in The Rocks.
You can book your adventure the same day you want to try your hunt – so next time you’re wondering what to with a sunny Saturday in Sydney, now you know.
4. Urban Hunt
They offer themed hunts all over Sydney (and other cities including London and Melbourne) – and mix sights with local businesses like bars and bookstores. It’s run via Facebook Messenger.
5. Find the Tracey Emin Birds
If you’re looking for a free Sydney Scavenger Hunt, his one isn’t an organised hunt, but instead sees you wandering down Bridge Street in the Sydney CBD in an attempt to find all 65 of the tiny bronze birds put there by artist Tracey Emin.
See where to start and finish in our post on the birds here.
Who Writes Differentville?
My name is Helen Foster and I’m a journalist and author living in Sydney.
My travel articles have been published in titles including The Australian, Body & Soul at the Sunday Telegraph, RAC Horizons, Jetstar magazine and more.
I like the weird, the wonderful and anything that makes me jump and down with glee like I’m about three. That’s what you’ll find here.