Welcome to Sydney!
If you're like me, you've been craving more Magic now the pandemic has settled a bit. There's nothing quite as exciting as playing Magic in-person! And there's no better Magic than Commander. If you're reading this you probably already agree with me because you're on your way to CommandFest Sydney, hosted by Good Games Australia.
The gathering will be held over the weekend of 25th and 26th of June 2022. The doors open at 10am at Petersham Town Hall (107 Crystal St, Petersham NSW 2049, Australia).
An Inner West Suburb With Portuguese Flavor
Petersham is located 6 kms south-west of Sydney's CBD. Australia is often considered the most successful multicultural society in the world with over half its population either born overseas or with one international parent. You can see this right here in Petersham with a blend of Portuguese, Italian, and Greek influences.
Petersham Town Hall is an art deco building that was used in the 1992 film Strictly Ballroom. It's big enough to host a whopping 500 seated players! It's perfect for a massive Magic convention.
There are many ways to get here on game day. If you're staying in the CBD you can drive or even catch a taxi/rideshare. The trip should take around 20 minutes and cost between $35 and $45 each way if someone else is behind the wheel. However, bear in mind that Sydney can have bad traffic and less than ideal parking, so public transport is your friend.
Catch a train on the from Town Hall or Central station on the T2 Inner West line and it'll cost you about $6 each way. From there, it's just another 200 metres of Google-guided walking.Unfortunately, trains aren't running this weekend in Sydney! Try a boat or a helicopter, or if you're looking for something easier, try the bus.
You can catch a bus from Martin Place station on the 412 route which will take you right to Petersham Town Hall for about $5 each way. If you're using public transport, remember to buy an Opal card in advance at various news agencies or train stations.
Portugese Chicken, Portugese Tarts
Petersham is home to many Portuguese businesses. This includes their flame-grilled chicken and cakes! If you love chicken as much as I do, you can't beat Frango (but everyone just calls it Frango's). Located just 5 minutes walk from Petersham Town Hall at 98 New Canterbury Road, it's been famous for its charcoal chicken since 1989. It can fulfil all your chicken related needs between 10am and 9pm.
Craving something sweet? Sweet Belem's Portuguese tarts are some of the best in Sydney, which is conveniently located opposite Frango's at 35B New Canterbury Road. People travel all over Sydney to get a taste of their authentic desserts. Their tarts are crispy and creamy and they'll put a smile on your face. Once you're finished, coffee at The Counter is some of the best in Sydney. They sell specialty coffee that has strong chocolate notes that'll go wonderfully with all the Portuguese sweets around.
If you'd like to travel further afield, I'd suggest finding some Boba also known as bubble tea. You can find it in Petersham, but if you want real authenticity Sydney's Chinatown (located a 10-minute walk south of Town Hall station) is now full of hot pots and bubble tea shops. My favorites are the marbled brown sugar boba milk tea at Xing Fu Tang (569 George St) and the brulee pearl milk tea at No Fail (18 Goulburn St).
Best Pub Feeds
A long day playing Magic can be draining. If you're tired after a long day of concentrating and in the mood to relax, Petersham has plenty of pubs. Some of the local favorites are the White Cockatoo, the Oxford Tavern and Public House. Oxford Tavern is the closest, being 1 minute away at 1 New Canterbury Road) and is well-known for its smoked barbecue offering and craft beer.
Public House is just 5 minutes away (at 292 Stanmore Road) and serves a combination of wood-fired pizza and beer. Lastly, White Cockatoo is just another 5 minutes walk from Petersham Town hall (30 Terminus Street, near Petersham train station) and it sells schnitzels the size of a with a lovely selection of beers for every occasion.
Local Gaming Shops
Nothing beats the local gaming store experience. Coincidentally, the two best gaming shops you can find nearby are Good Games, the same group running the CommandFest! Good Games Central and Good Game Town Hall are the closest. Both shops are a minute's walk from train stations by the same name, so it couldn't be easier to get there.
You should be able to find most things you need there at the CommandFest, everything else is readily available at either location. They also have wonderful staff who will be happy to help you and plenty of gaming space if you happen to be in town on the Friday night. In fact, if you have a standard deck with you, Good Games Central are hosting FNM, the perfect competition to whet your appetite before the casual fun of Commander.
A Good Night's Sleep
You can't play good Magic without a good night's sleep. In case you still haven't found accomodation, I'd recommend the Cambridge Lodge Guest House at 109 Cambridge Street, Stanmore. It's just 15 minutes from Petersham Town Hall and a lovely walk. A comfortable room will cost you around $200 per night.
If you'd prefer Airbnb, you can find a room (or even a whole apartment) for somewhere between $200 and $300 in Petersham. If you want some distance from the CommandFest and a closer view of the city at night time, I'd suggest somewhere in the CBD. Sydney's capsule hotel, The Pod (F6/396 Pitt St, Sydney) is a cool budget option and a fun experience.
If you're looking for a luxurious night, you could even try Crown Towers (International Tower, 1 Barangaroo Ave, Barangaroo) where you'd enjoy a view of the Opera House for $1,300 per night. Hey, it's cheaper than some Commander decks I'm expecting to see at the venue!
A Place for the Gathering
Sydney has various wonderful places to hang out with friends and make new ones. We've got world famous landmarks like the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, and no visit to Sydney is complete without seeing both. I particularly love the Opera House, and more than just a performing arts venue, it's famous for its complex construction and innovative design. It's located north of Sydney CBD and reachable via Circular Quay train stop. Also, it's close to nice stroll areas such as the Royal Botanic Garden, The Rocks and Museum of Contemporary Arts.
If you need more details on the event itself, you can find everything you need to know right here. But for now, enjoy your time in the city I call home and have a great weekend!