Sydney blurs the line between “city” and “frontier”

For weeks leading up to my flight to the other side of the planet, the one question I got more than any other from friends, family, and coworkers was…

“Where are you going to travel to while you’re there?”

Back in the US, people’s perception of Australia is one of a “frontier,” and understandably so. Sydney is 20 hours away from Chicago by plane, essentially on the opposite side of our big blue planet. Tell an American you’re “going to Sydney” and they think of the Outback and the Great Barrier Reef, of kangaroos and koalas.

A furry friend I met during my first weekend in Australia.

And sure, Australia has all of those things. But what was completely overlooked by me and my friends in the states is how cosmopolitan Sydney is. You’re just as likely to find the urban chic as you are dope street-wear.

Views from the agency party a couple weeks ago.

So naturally, I made it a goal of mine to travel as much as I could while here, to explore the spectrum of what Australia has to offer. I wanted to play to both extremes of Aussie culture — the blossoming, cosmopolitan cities, and the natural, epic landscapes.

Cairns — where the color comes from nature

After my first week’s blitz of office events, I knew the first place I needed to go was the home of some of the world’s greatest wonders. Northern Queensland is the only place in the world where two UNESCO World Heritage sites meet — the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest. After a weekend of diving along the world’s largest coral reef, hiking through the world’s oldest rainforest, and having some damn good Japanese food, I had a pretty good sense of the adventurous spirit that is so tied to Australian culture.

Melbourne — where color comes from culture

Next up was a weekend trip to Australia’s cultural capitol with some new coworkers-turned-friends from Havas Media here in Sydney (staying true to the “village” mentality). Simply put, Melbourne’s where all the hip people live, the country’s Brooklyn. The capitol of Victoria has become synonymous with graffiti-covered alleyways, door-to-door boutique shops, and a mix of classic and modern architecture.

Sydney — where worlds collide

Beautiful Sydney is the perfect mix of the two forces. Even in winter, water is an inseparable part of living in the city, from surfing to swimming to whale-watching. The countless parks see year-round green forever trying to overtake the growing concrete jungle. Even the annual #VividSydney, the world-renowned festival of art, music, and ideas, uses public light displays to super-impose messages about Australia’s natural history onto modern structures, like the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Perhaps my experience isn’t so uncommon. Maybe, for the large swathes of people from all over the world that come to Sydney for something new, the great distances they have to travel to get here instill an indelible sense of adventure in this city that’s so easily begins to feel like home.

For more Lofts adventures, follow along on Instagram and Snapchat (@jsschultz88).