For some reason (one far beyond us) musicians have a thing about going on an Australian tour and skipping Adelaide. Even Perth gets included in more tours than us! Not only does that mean us Adelaide fans have to pay for tickets, but we have the added expense of flights and accommodation just to see our favourite artists perform live (surely the Government should subsidise this?). So while our Eastern state counterparts would only be spending $100-200 on a show, our expenditure can regular get up to $700-1000 depending on the time of year.
So when we nabbed tickets to Harry Styles in Sydney, we though ‘damn, this rules’, while simultaneously thinking ‘damn, this sucks’. And it does suck, and we feel you Adelaide, so while we were visiting our favourite ex-boy band member/Mick Jagger lookalike, we put our detective hats on to figure out the best ways to save some much-needed moola when you’re travelling across the country. Whether this helps you see Harry Styles, Taylor Swift, or even Cradle of Filth, this one’s for you, Adz.
How to get there:
If you’re a budget traveller, you’ve no doubt heard of the wallet saviours called Tigerair Australia. Not only are they super affordable with their every day prices, but they also have regular sales where you can get huge slashings on fares ($10 one way is a massive saving on our poor pockets). The best option is to plan ahead (which we definitely didn’t do) and try to score some tickets during a sale to save yourself some cashola to spend on avo toast and coffee.
As a poor 20-something, I pretty much exclusively fly with Tiger and I’ve never regret it once. Plus, their logo is a tiger… that basically means they’re the best in the animal kingdom – right? You will have to pay for added extras like the ability to choose your own seat and extra luggage, but dang girl, you’re going to a gig with a bunch of other sweaty young people, just pack light.
My #1 top tip in Sydney is that if you catch a train from the airport they’ll surcharge you $13 EACH. Make sure you check the price of an Uber before you sign up to that, you’ll potentially save a bunch of money.
Where to stay:
As someone who has sworn by hostels in pretty much every city I’ve been to – whether it Barcelona, London, Melbourne or Amsterdam – it really surprised me to find out that an Airbnb can be cheaper than the tried-and-true blue hostel. For a solo traveller, it’s more than likely a hostel is your best bet, not only are you basically guaranteed to find mates no matter what, you usually get basic amenities like a kitchen, a safe and regular group pub crawls (it’s an essential, okay?)
If there’s more than one of you, Airbnb is definitely worth checking out. We booked our accommodation the night before we arrived in Sydney, and were lucky to pick up a private room near Darling Harbour, conveniently located near the Light Rail. Not only did we get a comfy bed, aircon, and a kitchen, but we also got free shower supplies, towels, Netflix, fruit in the morning, and wifi. Make sure you check how much their extra person charge is before you book (ours was only $7), and check if they do a discount for weekly bookings!
Day One in Sydney (Circular Quay, Merchant of Venice, and the Sydney Opera House):
Upon arriving at our Airbnb, we were exhausted. After our host showed us around the ‘hood and we grabbed some chow, settled in and watched some (FREE) Netflix before we headed off to Circular Quay.
After wandering around to try to find some cheap food for what seemed like forever, we settled on a sandwich from one of the convenience stores because we’re trash and we were running super late for our showing of the Merchant of Venice in Sydney Opera House (yes, we definitely see the funny side of this scenario).
I’m not a huge Shakespeare fan myself, but my friend loves it, so I gave in and went to see it too. To be fair, it wasn’t too bad at all, despite my complete lack of understanding at 80% of what went on. The strangest thing for me was that the actors changed costumes on stage, though my friend assured me this is common (I don’t believe her).
Day Two (Local Café and HARRY STYLES):
Upon waking up, I checked Twitter to see the state of the line for Harry Styles outside of the Enmore Theatre… there was over 200 people there already and it was only 10am! My friend and I decided it wasn’t worth lining up at this point, so went to a local cafe for a bite to eat. While their coffee was severely lacking compared to Adelaide’s and the prices were outrageous for what we got, it wasn’t too bad overall. We resolved to try to eat as many breakfasts at home as we could (spoiler: we failed this resolution)
When it hit about 2:00pm, we started getting ready while watching The Good Place on Netflix (I’d highly recommend it). Upon leaving at 4:00pm, we finally arrived at the venue at 5:00pm and, after picking up our tickets, walked the 2km* walk to the end of the line.
*this may be an exaggeration, I’m no good with distances.
As we lined up, some lovely fans gave us rainbow flags with a note telling us to wave them during Sign of the Times. The note said this was to show LGBTQIA+ fans that this was a safe place and they were loved. An incredible and inclusive way to start the gig that was only amplified by Styles’ overt support for LGBTQIA+ and equality, even at one point stopping the concert to congratulate us on voting yes as he ran around the stage waving not only the pride flag, but also the pansexual flag.
When we entered the venue, there was a surprising amount of room left on the Enmore’s slanted floor. As the thousand or so audience members waited with anticipation, you could feel the electricity in the air as they got ready to lay eyes on their hero.
After Tasmanian Triple J Unearthed singer/songwriter, Maddy Jane, finished performing her relatable lyric-filled set, the crowd inched forward in excitement for Styles. Suddenly, a huge pink sheet fell from the roof, adorned with huge flowers and reminiscent of his album cover.
The crowd fell eerily silent, the only sound coming when they spotted someone darting on and off the stage to set up. After what felt like an eternity, a huge spotlight lit up the sheet and there was the silhouette of the beautiful man we’d all been waiting for. Teasingly, the band began playing their first chords, but the sheet didn’t fall. Styles’ silhouette gestured for the crowd to go wild and after what was an incredibly long wait, the sheet fell and there he was.
For a fleeting second, he almost looked shocked at the size of the crowd, despite regularly playing to 100x larger. As he worked his way through his debut album not skipping a single song, there would not have been a disappointed fan in the crowd.
Even the parents who were dragged along had something to enjoy when he belted out Fleetwood Mac’s classic Chains. Much to our surprise, we found out after the show that Stevie Nicks and Mick Fleetwood had been in the audience too.
Not shying away from his roots like many former boybanders, and actually embracing them, he played two One Direction fan favourites – Stockholm Syndrome and a decidedly more rock-based What Makes You Beautiful.
When Styles introduced Sign of the Times, the crowd went wilder than they’d ever gone before. Flags not only came out, but lights were shining from thousands of phones. As we turned to look at the crowd, all you could see was a sea of rainbows and white light. It was beautiful.
As we left the venue, we walked past groups of crying young women, lying on the floor and amazed that they’d seen their idol up close. There’s no doubt Styles is a performer for the ages, and if you ever get a chance to see this man before he ascends his legendary throne, do it.
Styles will be touring Australia again in April 2018, and while Melbourne and Sydney are sold out, there are tickets still available in Brisbane and Perth.
Day Three (The Q, Pitt St Mall, and Darling Harbour):
After a late night, we woke up quite late and headed to The Q at the end of our street for a late breakfast. The coffee here is the most similar to Adelaide we seemed to find and the food, while limited, was delicious.
We later headed to Pitt Street Mall, and while it bore some striking similarities to our own Rundle Mall, there were a few shops we don’t have in Adelaide, such as Forever 21 and H&M. After wandering around and buying more clothes than we could carry, we headed home before heading out for dinner at Darling Harbour. We managed to make it for Mediterrania’s happy hour which scored us $10 cocktails, and then made our way to Olivo’s for some much needed carby goodness (it was pasta).
Sufficiently full of pasta and cocktails, we head home and had an early nights sleep (I’m lying, we watched The Good Place until 1am and ate chocolate cake and Brie in bed)
Day Four (Ferry ride, Sydney Aquarium and Muriel’s Wedding the Musical):
Our full last day in Sydney, we spent the morning cruising around the Harbour with our hop-on/hop-off Captain Cook Cruise ticket and explored the Sydney Aquarium. While Sydney’s is nowhere near as good as Melbourne’s, it’s still worth checking it out if you’re into zoos for fishies. We likely wouldn’t have gone if we hadn’t bought the ferry ride, as tickets for the Aquarium alone were $33.60, though for only $55 we could get a two day pass to unlimited ferry rides AND the Aquarium, so we were sold.
Cruising around Sydney Harbour was probably the most relaxing thing we did all trip. We sat on the boat, the waves rocking us from side to side, looking at the beautiful surroundings. We went under the Harbour Bridge and saw the Opera House from the water. While this is likely a pretty regular view for Sydneysiders, for a young pair from Adelaide, it was like something we’d only seen on postcards or in Mary-Kate and Ashley movies.
Hopping off the ferry at Barangaroo, we headed to Roslyn Packer Theatre to see Muriel’s Wedding the Musical. I absolutely love musicals after seeing Wicked on the West End, and was determined to see one here.
Now, it’s time for a confession: while I may be a self-confessed TV and movie buff, I realised during the show that while I thought I’d seen Muriel’s Wedding, I was actually confusing it with Betsy’s Wedding, which we’d bought on DVD at the same time… my bad.
With that knowledge in mind, you’d understand why I was so shocked at some of the plot twists. I guess that’s typical Australia though, making hilariously strange movies that start out light and funny but end up with a devastating plot twist. It’s safe to say that I loved it though! And the best part? The Sydney Theatre Company have an Under 30s discount, so even if you’re not a student you’ll get a great discount on a show.
Upon heading home, we found an Asian place called Dragon Boat Restaurant in Darling Harbour, and decided to stop in for a bite to eat. Thinking this was similar to home, we ordered three entrees for two to share… and when the food came out we were shocked to realise they’d given us half a chicken, about 4 cups of fried rice and two entire fried eggplants! It’s safe to say we took doggy bags home and lived off of that for the rest of the trip.
That’s another tip I swear by when trying to save money on food, whether travelling or even at home, never be afraid to ask for takeaway containers. Sure, if you’re at a classy place it’s probably taboo, but if you go out and only eat half a schnitzel, don’t try to scoff the rest down so you don’t waste any money, take it home and make another meal from it! Most hostels/Airbnbs also have kitchen facilities, so try to cook as much as possible at home. To keep it cheap, try to limit yourself to buying one meal a day and make the rest yourself. Whether that means a box of cereal for a week for breakfast, or buying brunch to cover you for two meals, it’ll save you heaps.
Day Five (Home):
By day five, we were pretty ready to head home. Not only did I miss my dog (I didn’t see ONE DOG in Sydney), I missed knowing where I was going (Sydney’s streets are crazy), good coffee and lactose-free milk (apparently when you ask a barista there for it, they have to ask three other staff members what it actually is before telling you there’s ‘only almond or soy’).
This time, we got an Uber to the airport (and saved $15 and about an hour of our time in the process), and hopped onto our Tigerair flight home. Luckily, the plane arrived in Adelaide over 10 minutes early because let’s be honest, all you want to do after a trip away is get in your own bed, cuddle your dog, and catch up on all the TV you missed (hello, Brooklyn Nine-Nine).
Before we leave you, we’re going to give you a few tips that we learnt through our many mistakes, in the hopes you don’t make them too: