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Insider's Guide to Sydney

Fleur Wood designs diaphanous bridal gowns and gossamer lingerie for Bhldn, as well as a celeb-coveted ready-to-wear line under her own name. The native New Zealander moved to Australia's sun-kissed metropolis when she was 4 and has been a Sydneysider ever since. Here are her favorites in her adopted (and adored) hometown.

As a visitor, I'd stay at ...

The Park Hyatt. It has incredible rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out on the harbor and the Opera House -- there's not a hotel with a better view. Plus, it was recently renovated.

When it comes to the beach ...

Bondi is a great starting point for fun. From there you can do a stunning coastal walk to Tamarama and Bronte beaches.

The best seaside eats ...

On a hot summer's day, go straight from the beach to North Bondi Italian (idrb.com). It's always buzzing, particularly on Sunday afternoons when the Bondi beauties congregate on the terrace for a drink and a bit of a pose. I prefer a midweek dinner there with friends. We typically share dishes -- I love the signature crab linguine in a bag and the eggplant Parmigiana.

Another restaurant that never disappoints ...

Catalina is old-school but sophisticated, and in such a divine spot on landmark Rose Bay. I have the snapper. It's so delicious.

For an indecently decadent dessert ...

Make it the sampler plate at the Asian-fusion Longrain. The menu changes, but you might get sublime banana fritters or roasted-peanut ice cream.

As for watering holes ...

Eau de Vie is an intimate 1920s-speakeasy-style bar with the best drinks in Sydney. It has a mind-blowing range of spirits and this fantastic collection of vintage barware.

When you're on the hunt for culture ...

The Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art just had a makeover and absolutely deserves a visit. Not to mention that it's free, as is Art Gallery NSW.

A touristy, but worth-it, diversion ...

Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The view is simply breathtaking.

When you feel like a spot of shopping ...

The suburb of Paddington has all the cutest boutiques -- start on William Street and walk down Oxford Street to Glenmore Road. It's also near Bill's in Woolaraha, the place for breakfast and ricotta hotcakes.

To spend a romantic evening ...

Plan a sunset picnic at Mrs. Macquarie's Chair on the edge of the Royal Botanic Garden. It was carved out of rock in 1810 for Governor Lachlan Macquarie's wife, who used to sit there enjoying the views of the harbor. During summer, there's an open-air cinema overlooking the water.

To explore beyond the city ...

Head to the Blue Mountains. The towns of Leura and Katoomba are fantastic for antiquing, and there are exquisite views. My favorite is of The Three Sisters, a rock formation named for an Aboriginal legend. After a long bushwalk, reward yourself with the famous high-tea service at Lilianfels resort. And if you stay over, I love Echoes hotel.

For those considering a wedding Down Under ...

A dynamite place to say your vows would be on a boat in Sydney Harbour.

For favors ...

We have an extraordinarily gifted paper artist here: Benja Harney (paperform.wordpress.com). He can make anything from pop-up books to incredibly realistic flowers. His work would be so charming as decor or for presents.

Don't leave without ...

A piece of indigenous art -- we Australians are very proud of our traditions. A painting from The Artery Gallery in Darlinghurst is a take-home must.

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