Young love is a many and splendored thing. Sure, there’s something to be said for coming to Australia and spending your first three or four months playing musical beds with the other guests in your hostel. We’ve been there; no one’s judging you.
Yet, after a period of time, when the hard fiscal realities of life on the road set in, your heart may well grow weary of the myriad of interchangeable faces. It may well yearn for something more stable, something with a semblance of feeling, mutual respect and affection.
Or maybe you’re just trying to trick an Aussie into marrying you so that you can get permanent residency. Whatever your reasons are, we’ve compiled a list of places where you can take the object of your goodly intentions out on a romantic – and more importantly – memorable date.
Something with character, that will live long in the memory – as opposed to a boring meal at a shitty restaurant or the back seat of the cinema.
With our tireless research and your aesthetically symmetrical face, effervescent wit and jovial personality these date ideas can’t fail but to win your would-be lover’s heart. Or – at the very least – make them agree to go on a second date with you.
As males we understand the rules of the game and we are always thinking of new and ingenious ways to make you women swoon. This is simply our top 10.
So boys and girls, read on. Let us be your literary wingmen on this, your battlefield of love. Steal your courage and strengthen your resolve, friends, for it’s a jungle out there.
Fish for a kiss
The Aquarium: So you’ve met some hotty-mc-hot-so-much in your Sydney hostel and now you need to find a nice casual, no pressure date to take them on. Your best friend on a first date is Sea Life Sydney Aquarium at Darling Harbour. That way you can disguise any awkward silences by gawking and oohing and ahhing over fish.
Something about the way the light glints off a grey nurse shark’s teeth will put you in the mood for romance, and science informs us that looking at various species of fish through inch-thick glass is a powerful aphrodisiac (no source available).
Primo date time is weeknights just before 7pm to avoid the worst of the crowds, and if things go to plan you might even get a sneaky pash in the shark tunnel. Even if things don’t work out, remember that the best advice is right in front of you – there are plenty more fish in the sea. There’s 6,000 in Sydney Aquarium, after all. RP
Shift into gear
The Drive-In: This falls more into second date material. So, if they’re willing to go on another date with you, here’s your chance to take romance to the next level. Take a leap back in time to Sydney’s only drive-in cinema in Blacktown where you can finally land the old ‘yawn and stretch’ move and casually place your arm around your date’s shoulder. If you’re in Victoria, head just outside of Melbourne to Dromana to become a member of the 1960s.
To complete the transition you’ll need to borrow somebody’s dad’s Pontiac Firebird convertible and promise to have your date home before dark.
Don’t think too hard about which movie to watch – the worse it is, the better. There’s nothing more arousing than mutual hatred of a movie. It’ll be much more fun to discuss on the drive home too. Unless they love it, in which case you’d better be good at faking it. RP
Hit the high notes
Karaoke: Things must be going pretty well for you and your special friend if you’ve made it this far. To truly test your affection for each other it’s time to show the other person your true colours and there is no better way to do this than at your local karaoke bar.
But let’s take a step back. Embarrassing yourself in front of your date is one thing, but in front of an entire karaoke bar? Fear not, you can bask in the false sense of security at a private room in Ding Dong Dang in Surry Hills and sing your guts out in a pitch-imperfect rendition of Creep. If that doesn’t scare them off, then you’re surely onto a winner.
It’s cheap, has approximately one billion songs on offer (each with its own hilariously irrelevant video), and most importantly, a well-stocked fridge at reception. Make it a double or triple date and have plenty of time to cosy up and let another couple embarrass themselves with cringe-worthy duet of A Whole New World. RP
Ten pin bowling: It’s a classic date choice, but you can’t go wrong with it. That is unless you’re really good and your date is terrible, in which case they’ll have a miserable time and you won’t impress anyone.
Tone it down if you’re a champ and take the opportunity to teach your date a thing or two. If you’re a good teacher then maybe it’ll become a lifelong shared passion and you’ll look back on your first bowling date fondly. Aww…
The secret to a good bowling date is to make it a double. Otherwise one of you is bowling while the other sits and waits. Do it right and you’ll have ample time to sit and get to know each other and awkward conversations can be interrupted as soon as it’s your turn. You’ll have as long as it takes to launch a ball or two down an alley to think of something clever or interesting to say. RP
Long walks on the beach
Beach walks: Dates don’t get much cheaper than this – fresh sea air, beautiful views and an ice cream at the end of it all (usually). A leisurely stroll along the coast is a great opportunity to get to know your new special friend in as casual a way as possible.
It’s also winter, so the whales are out, giving you the ideal distraction when you’re out of things to say. They won’t know the difference and your intent scanning of the water will make them forget that your story was going nowhere.
The best thing about a walk is it can be as long or short as you like. If things are going well, you can take a seat, enjoy the view and make the date last. Plan according to the weather though, as things might be over quicker than you thought if you get rained on. RP
Cooking with gas
Cooking classes: There comes a time in every budding relationship where you’re going to have to roll up your sleeves and impress your paramour by whipping up a little something in the kitchen. After all, nothing says ‘sensitive’ and ‘new aged’ quite like homemade falafel.
Still, there’s going to be a bit of a problem with this. You’re a busy person and busy people tend to take most of their sustenance out of a clear tupperware container while standing over the sink.
Not to worry though, there is a way to improve your culinary skills exponentially and get a memorable date out of it at the same time. Cooking classes have been around almost as long as cooking has. Unfortunately they have long been the domain of the recently retired baby-boomer couple looking to stave off boredom. Until now, that is.
Healthy Soy Cooking in Bondi Junction, for example, run a very reasonably priced sushi-rolling course. Not only will you learn how to make delicious cyu maki and nigiri from scratch, but you’ll also get a potentially telling insight into how your prospective partner is with their hands. Which is always useful. HR
The Zoo: Ah, yes, the zoo. Where else in these heady, modernised times of ours can one pay good money to stand and watch a family of chimpanzees masturbate and throw faeces at each other?
That being said, there is something indefinably romantic about walking hand in hand around what is essentially an animal prison. Both of you peering through the bars at the exotic species in various stages of repose in their cages with the ripe aroma of dung stinging at your nostrils and watering your eyes.
As with so many other things in life, it’s the little things that make the zoo date so unforgettable. Also – depending on how far down the intimacy road you have progressed – many zoos will allow you stump up a fee to spend a night on the grounds. Werribe Zoo in Victoria for example runs a ‘Slumber Safari’ while the Taronga Dubbo Plains has its very own Zoofari Lodge.
The two of you can huddle together, dosing fitfully in your sleeping bags, periodically waking in terror when something rustles around outside your tent. Good times. HR
Bike Riding: Now we’re talking: the open road, insects in your mouth and the wind blowing through your helmeted hair.
No inner-city street corner or graffiti-sprayed alleyway is quite complete without a bike repair and hire shop. Slap down a cheeky tenner and you and your significant other can get fitted for a helmet and pedal off into the sunshine on a couple of pre-loved velocipedes.
Pack a picnic and ride to a nearby park, or play the part of the peddle-powered café racer and zip from one cosy coffee house to the next. The beauty of this date is that there are no boundaries or geographical restrictions other than how far you two can get on half a gluten-free bran muffin and a free-trade skim macchiato each.
For the ultimate coupley experience, why not hire a tandem-bike instead? This way one of you can sit up the front and do all the actual peddling while the other takes in the view and steers the small talk.
Lycra bodysuits are optional, but not necessarily encouraged. HR
Boating: Boats are definitely romantic; the sensual sound of water running over the ships’ gunnels, the gentle creak of the vessel in the lapping waves, the shrieking overhead of the sprightly gulls.
Boating can take a less than amorous turn however if one finds oneself and one’s close ‘friend’ drifting perilously into international shipping and commercial ferry lanes in Sydney Harbour.
Keeping that in mind, we’d recommend that if you and your special friend fancy getting a little salty, take it to a lake or slow moving river first. Northern Sydney’s Lane Cove River might be a good place to start; the water’s placid and the traffic is light at best.
Now you’re on the water you can play it anyway you want; do it traditionally with the man working the oars and the lady lying resplendent in the bow with a cool drink and a parasol, or get all 21st Century about it and swap the roles around intermittently. HR
Trivia nights: I know what you’re thinking: ‘pub trivia? What’s romantic about being stuffed onto a table with a bunch of fat, pissed blokes, listening to a man with a microphone screeching questions above the swelling house music down at my local?’
Everything, that’s what. For one thing, trivia gives you an excellent opportunity to show off your higher level of intelligence. If you can think of a better time to show off your uncanny ability to name all of the American state capitals in front of your partner without sounding like an absolute tosser then I’d like to hear it.
Also, your average pub trivia night will likely be awash with slightly sweaty singles all attempting to drown their sorrows on a Monday night awhile answering questions to make themselves feel better. Let your partner have a quick look around and he or she will think that they had better find someone soon or else wind up the same way and die alone.
Fear of the future is a powerful aphrodisiac… from what I’ve been told. HR
Photos: Tourism NSW/Tourism Queensland, Thinkstock