Need an introduction to where to find the best skating spots in Australia? Look no further than our man on the move and Contiki Insider Matthew Elson. We're rolling out the first of four instalments in Matthew's Guide To Skateboarding Australia's Unearthed Spots, kicking off with Sydney.

MARTIN PLACE
Smack bang in the middle of the CBD lies Sydney’s most iconic skate spot, Martin Place. Skateboarding in Martin Place has been heavily documented on both a national and international level since the early 90s, with Martin rearing his skateable head in countless magazines and videos. Over the years, the physical traits of this pedestrian walkway have changed, but the vibe has stayed the same. Due to its central location, Martin has always made the perfect place to meet up with pals, before further exploring the vast amounts of concrete that this city has to offer. Whether you’re an over-enthusiastic 15-year-old grommy meeting your friends at 8:30 on a Sunday morning, or a jaded 20-something going for a post-work weeknight shred, the open space and plethora of skate-worthy objects make Martin Place the ideal spot to connect with your friends and spend an hour or a whole day, which is often the case for many.

The surrounding offices and general daily grind related chaos make Martin Place a no-go zone between business hours. The best time to skate there is either after 7pm on a weeknight or on the weekend. Personally, I prefer it on a weeknight when the numbers have dwindled and I can poorly-execute my extensive three trick repertoire in the comfort of my immediate circle of friends. Wade “unofficial mayor of Martin Place” Thompson has been nonchalantly navigating the marble-like ground of Martin Place for the better part of a decade. According to Wade “Sydney skateboarding without Martin wouldn’t be the same, if Martin Place was to vanish tomorrow it would leave a massive void not only in the Sydney skateboarding scene but also my existence.”


In terms of skateboard-friendly terrain, Martin offers a range of obstacles catering for skateboarders of all types and skill levels, offering ample opportunities for the avid stair leaper to utilize stairs for reasons other than walking. The “Martin 10”, Sydney’s infamous “Pit” and Prudential Double Set can all be found within the vicinity. For those of us that don’t feel like limping home there's still an array of low-impact spots for you to get your fix. Manual pads, smooth ground, smaller sets of stairs, curbs and wedge-like statues can be found littered throughout.

If after a hard days skating or sitting around you find yourself parched, head to the cleverly-titled Martin Place Bar for a beverage of your choice. However, if being surrounded by suit-clad briefcase warriors isn’t for you, skate a few blocks down the road to Bar Century for thrifty refreshments.



WATERLOO SKATE PARK
The best way to get to Waterloo, or “Fernside” as the locals call it, is by walking up to Surry Hills, heading to Crown St and jumping on the 301 which will get you nearby in about 10 minutes. If you’re looking for a little pre-skate energy burst you should definitely pop into one of the many eateries on Crown St to refuel. 

Should the park look super crowded upon arrival, don’t fret. Waterloo's resident ripper Gwyn Evelyn says the good thing about Waterloo is that “it has about a million different lines, so even when it may appear busy you can still show up with a carload of your friends, find a line and have a really good time”. Waterloo is a superbly built, really well set out street style plaza. The skatepark consists of rails, stairs, ledges, manual pads, banked ledges, a steep wall, a mini ramp and more and is easily one of the best parks in Sydney. Everyone’s favourite gourmet burger joint McDonald's is a 2 minute skate away, as is the local pub. 





Photo via skateboard.com.au

FIVE DOCK SKATEBOARD
Loosen up your trucks because Five Dock skatepark is not for the faint hearted. This transitional wonderland is approximately a 15-25 minute drive west of the Sydney CBD and is a combination of the old and the new; the rough-as-guts bowl from decades ago still stands tall as a testament to years gone by and I'd advise you to approach this bowl with caution - it hasn't aged well and can look extremely daunting.

The better looking younger bowl is much more personable, well-groomed and welcoming. The park consists of a series of bowls ranging from 5-8 feet, intertwined by spines and bowled corners. Five Dock has endless lines; hours of fun can be spent simply carving from bowl to bowl, pretending you could do more tricks if you actually felt like trying. The park also contains an awkwardly placed flat bar and a super fun baby sized quarter pipe. I’d recommend bringing your own food and beverages because there aren't any shops nearby, which is all part of Five Dock’s charm. The skatepark is surrounded by lush green grass and native Australian trees, making for a pleasant on-board experience. Like any skatepark, the best time to visit is during business hours throughout the week to avoid the masses.



Photo via skateboard.com.au

AVALON SKATEPARK
The best part about Avalon skatepark certainly isn’t getting there, for me anyway. Head to Wynyard Station, jump on the L90, relax and enjoy the 1 hour bus ride to the beachside suburb of Avalon. The beauty of this park is that the green room is only ever meters away. If the concrete isn’t being kind or the heat is too much to handle simply run down to the sand as every girl on the beach mentally undresses you, dive in and let the calming waters of Avalon wash your worries away. The skatepark itself although reasonably modest, is extremely fun and has good natural flow. One side of the park is a semi-bowl consisting of hips, various sized transitions and bowled corners. The opposite side is made up of 2 quarter pipes and a flat bank. In the middle of the park sits a hipped funbox and one of the best flat bars in Sydney. A multitude of food and drink options await you just across the road in the main stretch of the town. Try timing your visit to Avalon to coincide with warmer weather so you can utilize the prime location of this park.



Photo via skateboard.com.au

DARLING HARBOUR

Darling Harbour is the type of place that will make you feel like a child no matter how old you are. Whenever I’m there I find myself resisting the urge to go to the aquarium, holding back tears when I think back to times spent at the now defunct Sega World and being jealous of the person that gets to drive the cute little Darling Harbour tour train around.

Somewhere amidst the sea of tourists is some seriously skateable terrain, the most recognizable of all being the Darling Harbour banks - a series of pyramid-like brick banks that end in a hip. The banks have been heavily documented by the skate paparazzi over the years and can be skated as a manual pad, a bank or a hip. Ledges, gaps, stairs, manual pads and kickers are all hidden throughout Darling Harbour, waiting to be uncovered by an adventurous soul searcher like you.

The presence of security in Darling Harbour is heavy. These security guards have been known to apply excessive force and fabricate stories to people in positions of actual authority. Should you have any run-ins with security, it's in your best interest to be polite and keep it moving. When the novelty of playing hide and seek with middle aged men carrying walkie-talkies and driving golf buggies wears thin, head to any of the dumpling houses in nearby China Town to consume a well-priced banquet of steamed delicacies and figure out how to get that miniature train drivers job you’ve always dreamed of.




If you're a huge fan of travel, adventure and documenting life-changing good times boy do we have a job for you. We're looking for a sixth Contiki Insider to join the likes of Andrew, who we can send overseas on one of four incredible Latin American adventures to immerse yourself into the culture, people, sights and sounds and report back for a series of Insider posts on Pedestrian.

The categories you can choose from are:

Canned Heat: Dance Your Way Across Argentina
The Beautiful Game: Play Sport with the Locals in Brazil
Meat Lovers: The Carnivores Guide to Peru
The Music Of Mexico: Explore La Bamba to La Cucaracha

So if you're a dancer, a player, an eater or a music-maker, vamanos and hit up www.pedestrian.tv/contiki to enter by telling us which of these amazing Latin quests you want to go on. You could be joining our awesome crew of online travel bloggers as part of The Insider Project.

Photos by Cameron Spencer via Getty