Richard Graham is the kind of traveller we identify with. Since the age of five, Richard has travelled to at least one new country every year. Every year.
Before starting his tour company, My Sydney Detour, Richard did a 14-month overland trip from Mexico down to Tierra del Fuego in Argentina in 2007–08, spending as much time off the gringo trail as possible.
When we were looking for unique local tours to try in Sydney – something that would give visitors a local insight into the city that is our hometown – Richard’s tour virtually stood alone.
It wasn’t just the vehicle – a 1964 EH Holden Premier, an Aussie classic – it wasn’t just the sights, it was the insights that made the tour memorable. While our post about the tour is coming up soon, we thought Richard was the perfect Sydney local for our Local Knowledge series.
Local Knowledge Interview: Richard Graham from Sydney
A. Blacktown, Sydney.
Q. Earliest travelling memory?
A. My family holidays were a little different as my parents decided to travel to a new country every year, starting from the age of five, with a trip to Colombia, and staying off the path most travelled. This style of travelling has defined my own travelling experiences.
Q. Biggest passion?
A. A passion for cars was ignited from an early age as it was tradition for a bloke from the Western Suburbs of Sydney to drive either a Ford or Holden.
Q. Your journey here?
A. I left school at 16 to work in the family importing business until the age of 21 when we sold the business. After which, as I was searching for my next career, I drew upon my traveling background to develop a completely new way to experience Sydney, as a local.
Q. How did My Sydney Detour come about?
A. After returning from a 14-month overland trip in 2008 from the very top of Mexico all the way down to Tierra del Fuego in Argentina, I had the idea for a tour concept to ‘become a local in a day’. Back in Sydney I needed a vehicle where travellers were no longer perceived as a tourist and to see the city through locals eyes.
Q. What do you most love about what you do?
A. Unveiling a hidden side of Sydney that you would never have had the chance to see otherwise.
Q. Why should people come to Sydney?
A. Australia is an island paradise with one of the most unique harbourside cities in the world where you still have the opportunity to discover your own slice of Sydney all for yourself.
Q. Three words to describe Sydney?
A. City. Beach. Bush.
Q. Three ways to describe Sydneysiders?
A. Easygoing, active, good eaters.
Q. Your top recommendations for visitors to Sydney?
A. Sydney is so much more than our main attractions. Take the opportunity to get off the beaten track and experience Sydney’s hidden treasures:
White Rabbit Gallery, Chippendale: the best private art collection of contemporary Chinese art (truly outstanding!).
Campos Coffee, Newtown: sit down next to a local in the bohemian hub of Sydney and sample one of the finest freshly roasted coffees.
Clovelly Beach to Bronte walk: wake up early and walk along our rugged coastline.
Q. Must-do Sydney eating experiences?
A. Cafe Ella at Redfern for breakfast on Sunday to soak up the local atmosphere and to treat your taste buds to a true Aussie Sunday breakfast.
Get out of the city and take the ferry from Palm Beach to Patonga Beach to grab Sydney’s best fish and chips at the Patonga Beach Hotel.
Make yourself a cupa and enjoy a box of TimTam Biscuits and suck the tea through the biscuit and then eat it!
Q. Best souvenir from Sydney?
A. Select from a wide variety of handmade clothes at Glebe Markets, every Saturday.
Q. Your favourite spots for a drink in Sydney?
A. Sunset at the Blue Bar on 36 at the Shangri-La Hotel for the most amazing view over the harbour and city.
Glengarry Castle in Redfern to chat with a local and soak up the atmosphere in one of the last Sydney pubs with soul.
Freda’s Bar and Canteen to chill out and enjoy some tapas and wine with your friends in a converted warehouse in Chippendale, just outside of the CBD.
Q. An essential thing to know before coming to Sydney?
A. Be prepared to be blown away by the natural beauty of the city.
Q. Most important phrases to learn?
A. Gdaymatehowzitgoin!? (All one word).
Q. Any other advice?
A. Have fun, get off the beaten track and eat like a caveman!