When Yaz Kassisieh got home from a European holiday last year, the Sydney man couldn’t quite shake the travel bug.
But rather than spending thousands of dollars on airfares, he decided to spend just a couple hundred bucks exploring one of the best cities in the world: his own.
“I had seen this big list of Sydney suburbs, and thought there’s a lot more than you really think there are,” he told Yahoo News Australia.
He came up with the idea to visit and explore every one of them and document what he found. Given that there is about 650 suburbs that make up Australia’s biggest city, that’s no easy feat.
So far, he’s about a sixth of the way through after visiting more than 106 suburbs.
"You come back from travelling and rather than doing nothing, there’s no reason to stop travelling,” he said.
“Why not make it into a thing.”
‘My friends think it’s a bit weird’
Most weekends, the 27-year-old spends about six hours wandering around a new suburb or two, uncovering hidden gems, and gaining new insight into the sprawling breadth of Sydney.
Sometimes he finds it hard to explain to people.
“Most people think it’s quite interesting. But aren’t really sure why I’m doing it,” he said.
“Taking it to the extreme of visiting every suburb is maybe a bit much … my friends think it’s a bit weird.”
Sometimes he takes a friend or his partner.
“But I’m walking around for six hours a day and most people don’t find that very fun,” he admits.
Australia’s major cities have grown at a rapid pace in recent years. Immigration and foreign investors have seen Sydney’s outer suburbs expand while high-rise apartment buildings continue to sprout up.
Between 2017 and 2018, Sydney’s population grew by 93,400, according to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
By the end of June 2018, greater Sydney had more than 5,230,330 people.
“A lot of the time, some of these changing areas are some of the most interesting,” Mr Kassisieh said.
About a year into the project, he has seen that change up close and has some favourite, and not-so-favourite spots across the city.
‘Never seen anything like it in Sydney’
He writes about what he finds to a “small but loyal” following on his blog Completing Sydney, which is filled with a list of conquered suburbs where readers can follow along with the urban exploration.
“There are a fair few suburbs that you’ve just never heard of and when you get there they’re quite cool,” he explained.
A pleasant surprise was the tiny suburb of Kyeemagh, right next to the airport.
“It’s got a little beach, it’s got a little river and fishing area where you can actually watch planes take off and land ... It felt like a little idyllic slice in the midst of the hustle and bustle,” he said.
Then there’s suburbs like Denistone, near Ryde Hospital, and “there is just nothing there”.
In the Western Sydney suburb of Mays Hill he stumbled upon a Hindu temple which left him floored.
“Out of nowhere there is this really amazing temple… It’s just this amazing building and I’d never seen anything like it in Sydney,” he said.
Although it’s the suburb’s “only redeeming factor”.
The best and worst suburbs in Sydney
Mr Kassisieh currently rents a place near Central Station in the city. Disregarding the sky-high prices of Sydney real estate, his unusual mission has left him with a specific list of preferred suburbs if he was going to buy a property of his own.
At the end of last year, he put together a best and worst blog post of the suburbs he had visited in 2018.
The leafy inner city suburb of Paddington took out the prize for the most desirable.
“Paddington boasts bushland just a few centimetres from the city, beautiful historic buildings, ornate terraces, fancy stores and cafes, and, best of all, the awesome Paddington Reservoir,” he wrote.
At the other end of the spectrum, South Maroota laid claim to being the “crappiest” suburb in his estimation for its lack of interesting things to see or do.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.