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Wednesday 12 May 2021

Sydney Seaplanes + Empire Lounge Restaurant: REVIEW

You know that whole 'be a tourist in your city' - well, there is no better city to bring this adage to life than in Sydney.

With the dreaded P word (you know, pandemic) still floating, going on a mini flight where no passport is required (your ID yes, of course), and you get the best seat in the plane, window seat or not, wherever you sit.

This is Sydney Seaplanes.

Everything about this experience is beautiful.

From arriving at Lyne Park at Rose Bay where you'll see the Rose Bay ferry stop, Catalina restaurant, and the adjoining park, you immediately feel a sense of ease.

The staff at Sydney Seaplanes are so welcoming - when you arrive, temperatures are taken as is customary now, and you are ushered to the room which doubles as a place to discover the history of smaller planes, and the people behind them, as well as the briefing room where you'll get instructions from your pilot, which I think is clever as you build that trust immediately.

Gus was our pilot for the day, and gave us said instructions even showing us how to don the non inflated safety jacket, and after the brief but thorough run through, we were taken through Empire Lounge restaurant across to the seaplane dock, awaiting our departure.

We are ushered onto the deck and and before we embark on the flight - you'll be on one of two of the Sydney Seaplanes in the fleet - the pilot takes a photo of you and your party, and it's a great way to know you've got your keepsake all done.

As I said, any seat is a good seat, and the three of us (my twin son and daughter, age 13) all set right behind pilot Gus and co-pilot Antony.

The plane has the usual hum you'd expect on a smaller plane flight, but completely bearable and not required headphones of any sort.

Plus, you'll want to listen as your pilot speaks about what you're seeing.

We went on the 'Sydney Secrets' flight path, which completes a glorious run over the renowned Sydney coastline, heading north to Palm Beach across the natural set of TV show ‘Home and Away’. 

Return via the meandering waterways of Pittwater for a final circuit over Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, before landing at the Seaplane Terminal in Rose Bay.

This flight path - and the approximately 40 minutes from boarding to landing - was perfect for us, and ironically we'd visited the Barrenjoey Lighthouse the very day before, so I could point out what we'd seen from a whole new perspective.

In case you want to know, there is a generous amount of room on the flight, as much as you'd expect on a smaller plane, and you certainly have to room. You will be asked your weight at the time of booking, but don't worry you won't be weighed when you arrive at the terminal (but don't be cheeky and lie about it, eek. I did not do this of course...).

The flight itself is glorious.

Who doesn't want to soar across the clouds?

While you're on there of course take the liberty of taking as photos and videos.

Though do take your time to just... be.

Gus did advise that you may feel a little ill if you stay on your phone too much. I can attest that I took lots of photos and videos, and didn't feel ill, but it's of course just so lovely to just immerse yourself. Do that.

On our flight, we descended slowly (it's not a massive hurtle towards the water, so you don't have to brace yourself) to allow a couple to disembark at Palm Beach. Our plane waited briefly for the couple to be picked up by a pre arranged water taxi which continuously does the rounds at the stops, and Gus was happy to wait until the couple boarded their boat transportation.

We were off again, and that thrill with the ascent into the sky from the ocean is one of the main  reasons you'll want to experience Sydney Seaplanes.

You can do the scenic flight, or the 'fly 'n' dine', and we chose the latter, so off we went to Empire Lounge Restaurant, the very spot we embarked at the beginning of our flight.

A side note, the disembarking is equally easy. If you are a klutz like me don't worry, the pilot will give you a hand.

Back to our brunch!

We arrived back to base at 10.40am, so it was time for brunch - lunch starts at midday.

Our brunch options are delicious - called the 'graze and gaze', your plentiful, fresh lunch includes:

- toasted sourdough with jams, jellies and assorted pastries (the croissants were super fresh!)

- baked egg shakshuka (I have no words for this warm hug of a dish, with soft beans in the mix, and a lovely amount of spice)

- fried haloumi sticks (insanely GOOD!)

- a lovely selection of freshly cut fruit

- cheese with fresh honeycomb (we had gorgonzola - blue vein cheese - with real honeycomb, which my daughter gulped super quick!)

- crackers, house made dips, olives and pickles

PLUS, a choice of crispy pancetta (so good!), mushrooms, and smoked salmon.

This is $35 per person and SUCH good value - there was plenty leftover so you won't leave hungry. It is $54 per person if you are adding a glass of champagne, or $15 per person for kid's choices.

Weekend brunch starts at 9.30am.

Sit at the table on the deck, with ample seating for couples and groups, or sit inside and still enjoy the beautiful water view, which is what we did as we were a tad chilly.

There are several routes you can choose from for your flight.

- Sydney Secrets

- Sydney Highlights 

- Sydney Highlights and Shark Island

We experienced Sydney Secrets and it was the perfect amount of time to soar above the clouds, and kind of the perfect flight time for kids.

I came along with my 13 year old twins, my son and daughter, and they had the best time on the day. It's the kind of experience to talk about for years to come. It's experiential in every way: the sights and sounds and soaring above the clouds is such a buzz at almost any age.

Click HERE to read more on Sydney Secrets.

The cost per person for Sydney Secrets is: $400 per person, and it includes: a 30 minute scenic flight, three course a la carte meal (we came early and had the brunch to share, see below for menus), and share any entrĂ©e including the delicious appellation oysters. Plus, one main course per person and dessert of the day per person. Also: 1 glass of bubbles per person

HERE are the menus to choose from.

You can also add extras if you like: add pre-flight Champagne at Empire Lounge Restaurant - $20 per person.

And: add a water taxi from Sydney CBD to the Sydney Seaplanes Rose Bay Terminal - $140 per person.

You can also have the option to charter flights for events and work functions.

For all the info you need, go to:


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