Shopping in our own backyard, Tourism NSW takes us on a fashionable weekend away

Helen Lee of shopping for Tourism NSW

Helen Lee of shopping for Tourism NSW

There is so much written about bucket lists these days and one of the most common points on the list is travel. I know travel ranks highly on my ‘things I must do soon’ list, admittedly I’ve done pretty well having hit Italy and the West Coast of America in the last 10 months. But what about travelling and shopping in my own backyard? It’s hardly factored in my thoughts if I had to be extremely honest. So when Tourism NSW contacted me to see if I would be interested in taking part in a fashionable shopping trip around Sydney and New South Wales as part of their Youth Program Blogger Tour, I couldn’t refuse.

A few small facts you should know:

  1. Much like a mystery tour, I was going to find out where to go via Twitter from Tourism NSW’s fashion ambassador, Nikki Hager, designer and founder of Peeptoe Shoes as the day progressed.
  2. Little did I know that I would be trailed around by a videographer and photographer than should have been in front of the camera themselves, but more on that later.
  3. We were able to bring our lovely friend Michelle along with us to make it a fun girls/shopping trip.


@PeepToe_Tweets Says: To kick off our tour, what better then go to the markets on a day like this. @sassybella head to Paddington Markets for a morning shop!

Known for being the starting points in the life of brands like Dinosaur Designs and Willow, the Paddington markets on Oxford St in Paddington, NSW has a mixed bag when it comes to market stalls. Up and coming designers are mixed in with homewares and touristy nick nacks, making it an interesting market you visit once every few months.

Personally we prefer the Surry Hills Markets, Kirribilli Markets and the Glebe Markets if you’re looking for a great vintage fashion find. The prices vary depending on the stalls, but even the crowds are cooler.

Helen Lee of tries on shoes at Peeptoe Shoes

@PeepToe_Tweets Says: Hey @sassybella whilst in Paddington head to the @IntersectionPad cnr of Glenmore rd and Oxford st AMAZING shops including PeepToe.

I kind of love The Interesection so I was ecstatic that Nikki gave me instructions to head down there after a quick browse through the markets. A busy intersection for traffic, it features several of my favourite stores, including Scanlan & Theordore, Willow, Zimmermann, Marnie Skillings, World, Camilla and Marc, Sass & Bide and Kit Cosmetics.

Under instruction to check out the PeepToe Shoes Boutique, we went in and fell in love with one of the neck pieces and tried on some red suede pumps. We asked our Twitter followers if we should buy them and the resounding answer was YES! Ah shopping under public pressure, it’s not good for the bank balance.

After that we popped into Marnie Skillings, who’s Autumn/Winter collection I kind of adore. It was full of beautiful soft knits and fantastic prints The store manager was the sweetest thing ever and let me try on a zillion things before I finally decided on two dresses. The credit card was getting a serious work out and I had only followed two tweets!

@PeepToe_Tweets Says: Hope u shopped up a storm @IntersectionPad @sassybella time 2 head 2 style central @westfieldsyd serious designer duds and ZARA!!

Michelle had never been inside the new Zara Sydney store, so I was looking forward to dragging her around and giving her an armful of clothes to try on since she hadn’t bought anything yet. But then security at Zara said no filming, so no filming meant not going in at all. But their loss was everyone else’s gain because we popped upstairs to check out Chanel, Christian Louboutin, Diane von Furstenberg and Mulberry. I think I picked up every single one of the Mulberry bags and thought about which one I should add to my handbag collection next – when I win the lottery. Alas I had to walk away empty handed, but I could have blown more than a few months rent in Westfield Sydney – from the looks of all the shoppers, a few people were!

Zara launches in Sydney, Australia

@PeepToe_Tweets Says:Head off to lunch! @sassybella in the Strand Arcade is 1 of Sydney’s best Italian restaurants Pendolino! U must try the risotto

Pretty soon we were given instructions to head off to lunch, but before we made it there, I was accosted by a girl who was handing out free hugs in the Pitt St Mall. She and her friend had taken inspiration from the Juan Mann who started the worldwide phenomenon back in 2004 on the very same street.

After getting a big bear hug we popped into The Strand for lunch followed by a much needed coffee for energy. Then we attacked the stores inside The Strand – home to Bettina Liano, Aesop, The Corner Shop, Manning Cartell, Fleur Wood, Jayson Brunsdon, Alex Perry and Akira.

So much fun, but no time to try anything on because…

@PeepToe_Tweets Says: Hey @sassybella it’s time to hit the road & head to the Southern Highlands 4 a stylish mini getaway! Avis on William has the car, drive to the Gibraltar Hotel when u get to Bowral! Enjoy ur stay.

Road trip!

It was time to pick up the car, grab my overnight bag (which included one too many outfits – and I still forgot to bring boots) and drive down to Bowral in the Southern Highlands of NSW. Before this trip I had only heard about Bowral in passing for its vintage shops and being the location of the Sir Donald Bradman Oval (yes, I know a thing or two about the sport they call cricket) so I was really excited to finally get to see it. An hour and a half later, we arrived at the beautiful Gibraltar Hotel Bowral and checked into our gorgeous room before ducking out to have dinner at the Suttons Forest Inn with the photographer boys – Chris Grainger and Andrew Kaineder, check them out below setting up a shot at The Strand.

Suttons Forest Inn is a lovely homely pub with an open fire and a great pub menu, but what took the cake for us was the bar area where the locals came to singe karaoke on a Saturday. We were told that in the day time, the back of the establishment looks out towards Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban‘s property in the Southern Highlands – but unfortunately they weren’t in town so popping by was out of the questions.

Stay tuned for Part 2, our tour of the Southern Highlands of NSW.

Photos of us shopping were taken by Andrew Kaineder.

Disclaimer: General travel costs were covered by Tourism NSW, we were not paid to be part of their Youth Campaign. All thoughts and opinions are our own.

1 Comment

  • PeepToe Shoes says:

    So glad you had fun on the stylish weekend tour! We love your Miss Buckingham red pumps! xx

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