Tour unearths Sydney, Australia’s semi-hidden gems

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SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA-I’ve found an underground country bar, Shady Pines Saloon, where the only giveaway of its presence is a lonely doorman standing at a white garage door in an otherwise empty alley on Crown St.

I’ve been to shows at the Sydney Opera House, most recently a performance of Othello. Shakespeare in Australian accents is just as disturbing to this Brit as American “soccer” chants.

Having lived in Sydney for five months, I’ve hit the tourist hot spots and uncovered a few semihidden gems.

Today, I’m doing a four-hour walking tour with creative space connoisseurs Culture Scouts to find out what I’ve missed, but first I’m ticking off the last touristy thing on my list — Sydney Fish Market.

It smells exactly as I imagine a funeral home for more than 100 species of seafood should. The market floor looks like a Las Vegas sports book. Spinning auction wheels run on three cinema-sized screens and around 1,000 boxes of fish sell each hour.

Market guide Alex Stollznow explains what buyers look for in each species, from tiny prawns to giant tuna. Generally, the eyes tell no lies. If they sink in, no good. If one is cloudy, that could be OK, it might have rested on ice. The gills should be blood red, not black, brown or grey. Stollznow is a self-confessed “awful” restaurant customer and his tips will make you obsessive about seafood quality, too.

The tour embraces the daily grind and doesn’t try to “Disney” the experience. A worker hurriedly…

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