Alex, a local blogger from Australia, knows just what to bring from Sydney. I hope you enjoy the post just as much as I do. You can find his travel tips on his blog Inspire A Better Life. You can find his Instagram here @johnsoninspires
If you’ve ever traveled overseas to visit family and friends, it’s likely that you know by now it’s merely impolite to arrive empty-handed. Whether it’s the international student your family hosted for a few weeks last Summer, to the several cousins on your dad’s side you’ve never met, it’s still common courtesy to show up with a selection of goodies. Authentic souvenirs to where you visited, ready to give out even right after hours of travel and limited luggage space.
Any true Sydneysider knows the easiest souvenir hack is a quick visit to Paddy’s Markets or any number of “Australian” gift & souvenir shops sprawled across Sydney’s hotspots. From here you can purchase typical Aussie souvenirs, such as a pack of those little clip-on koalas and plush kangaroo toys, to your more traditional souvenirs like pencils, keyrings and shot glasses. What also works is, you know, literally anything with the Aussie flag on it.
Apparently, if your extended family covers the Pacific ocean twice over, and you’re poor on time & dollars, this is an excellent first port of call.
However, if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a crappy souvenir, you’d probably understand it’s just about as exciting as getting socks for Christmas.
If you want to avoid the “My cousin from Sydney visited me in Italy, and all I got was this crappy T-shirt” sentiment, here is a list of authentically good Australian souvenirs that even your Italian grandmother who doesn’t speak a word of English will love:
Tim Tams, Vegemite, ANZAC Biscuits
Any favorite packaged Aussie food product is an easy and inexpensive buy. Just head to any local supermarkets such as Woolworths & Coles or independent grocer, and pick yourself up some gifts that can be eaten too!
Think Tims Tams, Vegemite, ANZAC biscuits and Milo, and expect to pay only a couple of dollars for these items. If you’re happy to fork out a little more on some luxury food items, then try getting your hands on some roasted coffee beans from a local cafe. A bottle of wine from one of Sydney’s great food & wine festivals is also an excellent choice.
Just be sure to first check with your airline carrier on what goods you can bring overseas (and bring back in) unless you’d like to star on the European equivalent of Border Security: Australia’s Front Line. Don’t forget to wrap them carefully inside your luggage too – you can’t teach your foreign family how to do the Tim Tam slam with broken biccys!
CLOTHING & FOOTWEAR
Have a little more pocket money left over to spend? Apparel such as footy jerseys, surf gear and Havaianas thongs (remember to explain to your American relatives that thongs are footwear) can be found all over popular retailers. Head to the city CBD or suburban shopping precincts such as Westfield shopping centers, to get your friends & family some new Australian threads.
Ugg boots and any other wool product are also fashion musts (click here to see some of the best places to buy ugg boots), just note these original versions of these items start at $60 with upwards of $100-$200 depending on the item.
If you’re thinking something a little more stereotypical, heck, even a cork hat, is a fun item to gift to your less than fashionable international friends and family. Items like these are a little harder to find in your standard shop. So try your more traditional souvenir shops or Paddy’s Markets, as suggested before. If you’re feeling a little cheeky, you might dare to gift your European uncle a pair of the iconic “budgie smuggler”, or better known as the ‘Speedo’, (just beware he might actually wear them in public).
HEALTH & BEAUTY PRODUCTS
– Oil, Soaps, Hand Creams
Emu oil, Tea Tree oil, Lucas’ Papaw Ointment and other Australian made and/or owned beauty products will likely be a hit with your overseas counterparts. These items are often highly sought after by those who visit down under. So be sure to pack plenty and hand them out Oprah style to your audience of relatives.
Most of these items can be found at the local chemist and pharmacy chains such as Priceline. Depending on the item, these products can range from as little as $5 to $20 for your more luxury beauty products. However, many of these products go a long way and are worth cashing out a little extra on.
Are you in Sydney for your birthday? Check this article out to celebrate it well and remember it for years after.
HAND-CRAFTED GOODS FROM ANY MARKET
There’s nothing quite like a hand-crafted good from any of Sydney’s outdoor markets. Markets such as Glebe Markets, Paddington and Kirribilli Markets are great for grabbing unique Australian gifts to suit any taste.
You can also probably find any of the above earlier mentioned beauty products, as well as items such as Aboriginal artwork, handmade jewelry, and scented soy candle – all sold in abundance at markets. Prices will depend on the stall and seller, but you can often find both bargains and more luxury items across these locations.
Gifts bought from a Sydney market are probably some of the best, they’re likely to be highly unique, hand-made in Australia and supports our local business. Fortunately, there’s also usually food and entertainment at these events, so bring a date and make a day of it!
Final souvenir tips from a local Sydney-sider
There’s nothing wrong with buying all your cousins a Sydney Opera House snow globe from Paddy’s (except that it doesn’t snow in Sydney). However, depending on who you’re buying for, the best tip is to always try to buy something that suits the intended recipient. If you don’t know what it is, you’re the best bet is to ask yourself “would I be happy getting this as a gift?”. If the answer is no, then put that $10 kangaroo-themed ashtray and spend your dollars elsewhere. And, at the end of the day, if it’s from Australia, your family and friends will probably think it’s pretty impressive either way.