As I arrive, i'm fatigued by cantankerous immigration staff, an extorionate chocolate milk and the sweetest (not neccesarily nice), most expensive do-nuts i've ever had the mispleasure of eating, all while waiting for the bus to the hostel on a bitterly cold Sydney morning.
A half moon is still visible. There's not a cloud in the sky. I can see my breath. It's that cold. And i'm incredibly tired.
After some sleep, I walk through Alfred Park, past Central Station and into the long spanning Central Business District along Pitt Street. I know i'm getting close.
Suddenly, the sight i've been longing to see begins revealing itself from behind trees and buildings. I'm euphoric. I walk towards the steps I barely managed to climb as a 4 year old and just try to take it in - What a feeling, to have arrived in Australia only this morning, and within a few hours to see for real it's most recognizeable landmark.
I walk around Circular Quay, past the buskers and open air restaurants. I walk back to the Opera House, looking out upon the steady flow of ships and ferries as they passage the choppy waters.
I stare in amazement as the sun drops below Harbour Bridge and the accompanying skyline. It shines upon the Opera house to turn it a strange orange.
I touch the tiles of the famous building and feel the urge to wash my hands shortly after. English voices, Japanese chatter, the odd New York twang. The whole world is here, in this Mecca of South Pacific symbolism.
There's no doubting Sydney is one of the more visually pleasing western cities. The centre is filled with skyscrapers, hotels, museums and victorian style government buildings and town hall.
While (relatively) nearby Canberra is the official capital of Australia, Sydney feels like the New York to America's Washington - the financial and cultural centre. There is afterall, a whole financial district and the country's stock exchange. There are also many, many pubs and bars, as well as several large parks that compliment the urban sprawl.
Although it's generally without trouble, the city itself does reward vigilence, having witnessed several fights nearly break out in the street.
I explore 'the Rocks', an older historical area of Sydney to side of Circular Quay and right underneath Harbour Bridge. It's recently had a spot of redevelopment, which makes for a very trendy fusion between authentic colonial Australian streets and buildings, and modern artistic boutiques and eating places.
Not far from here is the Museum of Contempary Art. The poignancy and shere oddity of many of it's exhibitions really impress me.
Later, I walk the full distance across Harbour Bridge and back. It's decievingly high, and from the many vantage points along the way, you cant help but catch a spectacular view of the city and the cast white pearls of the Opera house, all against a backdrop of monet like clouds and joggers routinely sprinting past.
I take the ferry across to Manly - famous for it's beaches, surfing and seafront area. Arcades, Ice Cream stalls and sweet shops line the coast. I relax on the beach to the sound of live acoustic music not far away.
I walk around Darling Harbour on ANZAC day, and watch as drunken Aussies play "two-up" to celebrate their war dead. Most of the city is closed off to traffic. Street performers take advantage of the crowds. Australian flags hang from every lampost and building. The streets are littered with ticker tape and rubbish. Navy men throw their hats into the air. Walking by the bars, it sounds like a riot is in progress.
I seek refuge 250 metres up inside the Centre Point tower - otherwise known as Sydney Tower. Naturally, it's a great view of the city and of the nearby islands from this angle - even if the main attraction - Sydney Opera House is itself hidden by grey buildings.
Culturally, Australia (predictably) wasn't as exotically unfamiliar as the places i'd come from. I generally get more of a buzz from visiting places as far removed from the West as possible. Sydney and it's surrounding area did however remind me of a more attractive version of home (the UK).
The draw of the place both to tourists and immigrants is clear and understandable. Having the freedom to explore it for 4 days with the accompanyment of perfect weather really did therefore make for a very enjoyable time.
From September to December 2005 I was seconded to a suburb of Sydney, Australia which, as secondments go, was a pretty juicy one for a 23 year old to land. As readers of my other pieces will attest to I got out and about in Australia during my time there, but since Sydney was the place I was working 4 days per week, every week, I also got to spend a fair chunk of time in the city.
Arriving in Sydney is generally by air on a domestic or international flight though some energetic souls may also drive in having road-tripped it from Melbourne and/or Canberra. The airport is not an especially noteworthy one but it does have one outstanding feature: Krispy Kreme donuts. Can you imagine anything nicer, having got up early to board a shuttle to Cairns or Hobart, than checking in quickly and picking up one of their glazed numbers to nibble on the way to the gate? The airport also has a lovely chocolate shop but this is located airside in the international terminal so I was only able to visit once, on my way home again. Getting to the city from the airport is easy thanks to direct bus and train links, and from my base in the eastern suburbs the journey was a pleasant 30 minutes. If you are lucky enough to land or take off at sun rise or sun set then youre in for a treat as the views over Botany Bay are breathtaking. This was my first view of Australia and it was a good one with which to start.
The centre of Sydney is surprisingly small you can literally walk across the city centre without any trouble but the city runs out into numerous suburbs to all sides. Many tourists naturally choose to stay as close to the famous landmarks as possible, but for a view of the bridge or the opera house youll pay an extortionate premium. That said, I would recommend staying vaguely centrally as otherwise youll quickly have to familiarize yourself with Sydneys crazy bus network.
The OPERA HOUSE is just like the pictures, and located right on the water. Numerous shows play on any night as there are half a dozen theatres located within the complex, but my big recommendation for visitors is to go on a tour. These cost a fraction of the price of a show ticket, include a drink afterwards in one of the nearby cafes and take you all over the building showing you much more than youd see in an evening at the opera or ballet. These book up quickly at the weekend but mid-week you can pretty much just turn up as tours run regularly.
The HARBOUR BRIDGE is nothing all that special just a tall bridge that, um, spans the harbour. The first time you see it at sunset, along with the Sydney skyline, it makes you stop and whip out your camera, but Im afraid that after a few sightings it stops being worth looking up for. You can climb the bridge for a huge price tag but this is generally considered worth doing only if you have the cash to spare. Many colleagues of mine bemoaned the fact that the bridge climb was now commercialised and remembered fondly the days when anyone with a lot of guts or, perhaps, a death wish would decide to climb it (illegally) just for kicks.
DARLING HARBOUR is round and up a bit from Circular Quay if you head along the water, but if you go inland youll come across another Krispy Kreme which I discovered on my first day and which made me feel like Sydney wasnt going to be too bad. In Darling Harbour you can go to a free didgeridoo show, have a nosy round a few touristy shops, peek into various museums and generally explore.
The SYDNEY (AMP) TOWER is a suitable alternative to the Bridgeclimb for the views it offers, and is a fraction of the price. Handily, its located in the centre of the centre, near Hyde Park and with a shopping mall underneath. Excellent.
The CONTEMPORARY ART GALLERY and ART GALLERY OF NEW SOUTH WALES are both well worth visiting, and are free. The first has some slightly dodgy pieces of art (like some eggs being fried by giant coconut looking men which is supposed to be an interpretation of Australians frying at the hands of the Bali Bombers) but also has some more normal ones, and the second has a suitable mix of more traditional pieces from Australia and abroad. Its also located next to the BOTANICAL GARDENS so you can go for an explore afterwards.
In SYDNEY OLYMPIC PARK you can easily spend a day being sporty and, um, eating junk thanks to the Muffin Break, McDonalds and more located there. The park has the worlds fastest swimming pool, so called because its the place most world records have been broken, though the local explanation for this is that its because its slightly slanted downhill You can also learn circus skills from the people at Quasar Flying Trapeze. We went for a lesson one Saturday morning and within one hour we were doing catches. I cant recommend it enough for those with a dormant gymnast inside them.
SHOPPING in Sydney centre is not exciting a few mini-malls all have the same stores, and not exciting ones at that. For touristy presents and souvenirs theyre fine (if a little overpriced) but for normal things youll find the selection is not good. For a day of retail therapy head for the megaplex at Bondi Junction or out of town to somewhere like Eastgardens.
- Take the ferry to Manly (from Circular Quay) and spend a day there, exploring the Corso and beaches, and stopping at Max Brenners in the Wharf Terminal for one of their unique hot chocolates or $2 chocolate licks
- Walk through the botanical gardens to Mrs Maquaries chair to (a) sit on it and feel suitably tiny and (b) line up the perfect shot of the opera house and the bridge all in one photo
- Do the Bondi to Coogee walk. It takes an hour or two but has fantastic sea views all of the way and definitely counts in place of going to the gym for a day. Better yet, time this to coincide with the weird and wonderful Sculpture By The Sea contest where sculptures in an shapes and forms from international artists line the walk from Tamarama Beach to Bondi and all beaches on the way
- Go to Bondi on a Sunday to visit the flea market at the far end of the promenade in the grounds of a secondary school where youll almost spot a bargain or at least one of the peeps from Home and Away. If bargains and minor celebs arent your thing, Bondi is also the best place locally to learn to surf and lessons run morning and afternoon most days of the year.
- If the weathers up to it, head to Coogee for a swim in the sea or one of the 4 ocean pools, and then go for brunch afterwards at one of the many local cafés
- Head out of town for a day trip to the Blue Mountains, to see the sights or get energetic with some abseiling or canyoning or rock climbing. Or go to Penrith for a stint of White Water Rafting. You can also go to Canberra and back in a day but thats a long day.
- Again if youre in town at the right time, head over to Get Active Sydney at Moore Park its a locally sports-day where you can try over 50 different activities (and get a free t-shirt) and we did everything from rock climbing to pilates to spinning to trying a surf simulator.
Here are the most bizarre things about Sydney:
Trying to find somewhere to eat after 6pm in the centre is crazily hard unless you want to go to a posh restaurant. During the day youre fine as there are dozens of food courts selling a large range of different, delicious foods, but they shut in the early evening and after that you wouldnt believe how hard it is to, say, find a pizza. Thats where the title comes from: Maybe Tonight was the winners single on Australian Idol this year and became our catchphrase when it came to food maybe tonight well actually find somewhere open. Bizarrely where we lived in the east there was a multitude of places open around the clock.
I have never seen so many beautiful people in all my life as I have in Sydney. They are all just so damn attractive, and yet they persist in going to the gym all the time surely they must have fulfilled whatever appearance goals they had by this point? Maybe its all about maintenance, but Ive never been surrounded by bodies like that in a gym before.
There are no Irish left in Ireland theyre all in Sydney. Thats not a criticism, just an observation: never before have I heard so many lilting voices in one place. And yet in the hospital we were over-run with Scots. Bizarre.
Sydney as a place to visit is unique, interesting and entertaining. However I thought it lacked a certain something. There was a persistent feeling of Is this it? whenever we were being tourists for the day. It just seemed so small and under-resourced in terms of decent museums and attractions compared to other places Ive lived. In a way it was a lot like Manchester where Im now based there are enough pubs and clubs and cinemas and theatres to entertain the locals, but you wouldnt stay for weeks if you came to visit. I wouldnt trade my time there for anything, and if I were to have to move their permanently I wouldnt object, but if I was going back to Australia just for a holiday I wouldnt put too much time aside for Sydney. Been there, done that, got the several free t-shirts. A place to see once, tick off the list and move on.
I landed in Sydney on Boxing Day evening 2003 armed with only my backpack and my Lonely Planet guide book for company. I was on my own, (due to being let down by the friend I was supposed to be travelling with) and determined to have a good time. Needless to say I didn't find it too much of an effort. I had booked hostel accommodation as I was to be in Sydney until Jan 1st and knew it would be difficult to get anywhere on the day which from speaking to others proved to be a good decision. After clearing immigration I found the city shuttle outside ($8 au, refunded by hostel) I was at the Alfred park budget Hotel in Redfern, walking distance into the city in about 20 mins. I was in a 4 bed mixed dorm with a colour TV and fridge and felt at home straight away. Luxury it wasn't but it was clean and safe and besides I wasn't there for luxory I was there to meet new people and have fun. I fell into a happy and contented sleep straight away. Day 1 Sprang out of bed pulled back the curtains and, uh.. the sky was grey. That wasn't part of the plan but undeterred I set off to explore the city. I could see the sprawling metropolis that is Sydney from the steps of the hostel and just thinking back now of the impressive skyline makes me go misty eyed. I walked in, through china town and the business district through the busy shopping area, much like all other shopping areas around the world and headed straight for Darling Harbour and I wasn't disappointed it took my breath away. I was dying to get on one of the many boat trips around the harbour and whip out the camera but I thought I better explore the harbour area first of all. The thing that sticks in my mind about the harbour area is how pretty it is. There were beautiful flower beds all along one side myriad of pleasure craft in the water and that sky line? well, all I can say is I'm getting misty eyed again. I browsed the shops but once spotted I knew I had to go to the
Aquarium. Again, I wasn't disappointed, I thoroughly enjoyed it, I can imagine it would be pricey for a family It was about $18 aud from what I can recall, but it was really good with the Finding Nemo display and the glass walled tunnel where the sharks are all around. There are tanks marked with all the dangerous creatures that I found especially fascinating. A great couple of hours. I decided against the IMAX cinema as I have been in one before and went for my cruise around the Harbour, Sydney's piece d 'resistance. It was fantastic, the first view of the Opera House and the Harbour bridge I will never forget. That first day I took a full guided cruise and heard all about the history of the area, of circular key and the area where the first settlers arrived. The cost was $24 aud but It is a must do I would say. That night, back at the Alfred Park I cooked up some pasta and got chatting in the kitchen to a guy who had a rental car. We decided that we would pop out to the bottle shop (off licence) and while we were out he showed me Bondi and Coogie beech's by dusk. Bondi is a bit trendy with wine bars and nice restaurants but as I was in scruffy shorts and sandals we kept on going. Day 2 New room mate arrived, a fellow lone traveller, female 29 (a year older than me) she was meeting up with a couple of other backpackers she had met for new years eve. That day we did some girly bonding in the Pubs of central Sydney and planned the following day to go out to the Blue Mountains which was on my list as a must do. We browsed the shops between watering holes and had a thoroughly enjoyable day/night. Day 3 An early start and a 2 hour train journey out to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. The train was on time, cheap and clean. Much more satisfying than handing over a wedge of cash to go on an organised tour. Katoomba was a quaint little town with great character and quaint shops and a couple of decent pubs. We
got on one of half a dozen bus tours that explore the Blue Mountains and visited the 3 sister formation using the cable car to go up and the steepest railway in the world (A bit like a roller coaster) to come down. Another brilliant day. Day 4 More new roommates and more shopping. Two more girls, one of 30 one 24. We went to the Haymarket, a big indoor market in the city much like you will find the world over. Afterwards we took the monorail around the city which was cheap, just a few dollars and lasted about 40 mins. The sun came out that afternoon so I took a water taxi ride back out into the harbour and re-took all those photos against a blue sky. I got off at the Opera house for a closer look then made my way across to the Botanical Gardens which were beautiful and full of people enjoying their Christmas holidays, sun bathing and playing Frisbee. That evening I heard there was a production of the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe on at the Lyric Theatre so I thought I would check it out. The production was great but the actual complex (It's known as Star City) was also very impressive with a casino inside next to the theatre. New Years Eve My roomie's and I headed down to Circular Quay about lunchtime with a large picnic and lots of alcohol to find a good spec for the fireworks, which are at 9 pm and midnight. When we got there, there were already a good few hundred people laying out blankets on the grass to get a good view. We met lots of other people, mainly brits, I think the locals all stayed in to watch on TV. The fire works were out of this world and I truly felt I'd never spend NYE in a more impressive place. Misty eyed again and more than a little tipsy we started the half hour trek back to the Alfred Park for a few hours shut eye before I caught my plane up to the Gold Coast on Jan 1st. The Verdict Once in a lifetime type stuff, the weather came up trumps in the end, I made good f
riends saw a lot of the city. I can't say enough good things about Sydney. It is relatively cheap compared to UK and there were loads of Internet cafes, so despite the distance I was speaking to the family more that I normally would.
Sydney – somewhere I had wanted to visit from being a small child. I have no idea where the draw to this city came from but fixate me it did! Odd then that it took two trips to Australia to actually "get there", but at the beginning of this year I finally managed it…… ~HISTORY~ Sydneys story began in the late eighteenth century when the British Government of the day decided to establish a penal colony (to help with overcrowding in the goals back at home) in the newly discovered land of Australia, more importantly in the newly declared territory of New South Wales. The first fleet of eleven ships sailed into Sydney Cove on January 26 1788 after eight difficult months at sea. Led by Captain Arthur Phillip, the group of 1200 convicts, soldiers and their families began building the countrys very first "white" settlement which they named after the British Colonial Secretary, Lord Sydney. Soldiers and prisoners worked hard to carve out a pretty rough and ready settlement. They used their European knowledge to do this and all ignored the skills of the local Aborigines who had lived there for so long and who were now being wiped out by the diseases that had been brought to this "New" land. Many times the colony came close to starvation, as the European way didnt work here. It wasnt until further investigations of the area discovered fertile ground at Paramatta that the settlement was saved. The transportation of convicts ended in 1840 and by now the population of Sydney was around 30,000. The City of Sydney was established in 1842 along with all the trappings of a "free" society like elections. Gold was discovered in the area in 1851 and that’s when the city really "took off" with people arriving from all over the world wanting their piece of the new riches. Many did make their fortunes, however a more certain way of making money was in the building trade
; the huge influx of settlers meant a boom in this particular industry! Sydney is not an easy city to negotiate for the first time visitor as its streets are not laid out on a grid system as in say Melbourne or Adelaide. This is because unlike those two cities that were "planned"; Sydney grew and developed as people arrived and as convicts became free men. Today, much of the history of Sydney has been retained. The tracks hacked through the Bush have become the citys thoroughfares. The "official" eastern side of the settlement still contains the buildings that denote power/control. A lot of these fine buildings were built between 1810 and 1821 when Laclan Macquarie (pronounced McQuarry) was Governor of this (then) convict town. He had a vision of creating a city and was recalled to London for his troubles, accused of spending too much money on the place! ~THE ROCKS~ I was lucky enough to have my own personal guide around this area; my good friend Robyn who is herself descended from one of the first convicts showed me plenty of things I think I would have missed had I been looking around on my own. The first settlement in Sydney was built along the natural rock ledges, which are not far from the waters edge hence the name "THE ROCKS" was used to describe them. This name is still in use today and this first strip of housing became the settlements first street, which is where I shall begin this section. This thoroughfare is called GEORGE STREET and as the oldest street in the whole of Australia has many buildings of interest along its length. The SYDNEY VISITOR CENTRE is a good place to start, as it is full of free leaflets and booklets as well as being run by very knowledgeable staff who can help with any questions you may have. They also sell good quality souvenirs at very reasonable prices! Next door to the visitors centre is CADMAN’S COTTAGE, the oldest surviving building i
n Sydney and it dates back to 1816. Its now the Sydney Harbour National Parks Information Centre but its still good for a photo opportunity! The OLD POLICE STATION at number 133 is adorned with a truncheon and lions jaws and is a fine building made from local stone. Across the road at number 100 is the BILLICH GALLERY, which is housed in the old Seaman’s gallery. The ROCKS MARKET situated north of the corner of Hickson Road is another good place in this area to buy souvenirs and also has some antique stalls. ARGLE STREET is also full of history, but history that I think a lot of people miss. As we walked up it towards Lower Fort Street, we passed under the BRADFIELD HIGHWAY, the road that crosses Sydney Harbour Bridge. At this point, Argyle Street passes through THE ARGYLE CUT, which has been hewn from the rocks and the pick marks can be clearly seen where the route was slowly carved out. As Robyn pointed out to me, it was convicts who were the ones doing the hacking, the labouring and many died achieving the route for Argyle Street. I know for a fact that if she hadnt pointed this out to me I would have probably passed through here without a second thought… The ROCKS SQUARE, between Playfair Street and Mill Lane is a lovely paved area bordered by small shops and eateries. Between 12 noon and 2pm live music is played here and thus makes it a lovely place to eat lunch which we indeed did! On Mill Lane itself is a large tri-faceted stone SCULPTURE depicting the three groups of people who founded Sydney – the soldier, the convict and the free settler. On each side of this piece of artwork each figure is carved in "relief"; on the convict outline metal shackles have been added and on the soldier outline is a gun. Another moment where I just stood, looked and reflected. The GARRISON CHURCH at the corner of Lower Fort Street and Argyle Street was originally the church for the local troops and still retains its milita
ry connections. It has a fine stained glass window, the walls here are covered in plaques given by many military divisions from around the globe and when I visited, the church was also full of various wreaths. I found it to be a very poignant place to walk around, especially given the situation in the world today… This place of worship really isnt that big and attracts a lot of visitors but was still perfectly quiet. OBSERVATORY HILL on Watson Road is one of the good spots in Sydney to get photographs of the inner harbour and the wharves. This is also where you will find the SYDNEY OBSERVATORY, which is built on the site of one of the city’s forts. Its very easy to see why this site was chosen as a defensive point from the view you get from here. The observatory is free to enter in the day but there is a small admission charge after nightfall. Saving the most famous until last in this section; SYDNEY HARBOUR BRIDGE begins crossing the water from this area of Sydney on the South Side of the harbour. Opened in 1932 it is affectionately called the COATHANGER by all Sydneysiders. It has to be one of the most photographed structures in the world! Its not just an imposing edifice though; you can walk it, drive across it on the Bradfield Highway, climb it or visit its very own HARBOUR BRIDGE EXHIBITION complete with a lookout 200 steps up… At the Rocks end you get up onto the bridge walkway by taking the steps that lead up from just below Observatory Hill, on Watson Road. This is the only way to cross the bridge for free! The walk takes you from The Rocks to MILSONS POINT. By the time wed managed that (and it seems like one heck of a long way), we jumped on a bus back to the city! I wasnt brave enough to do the BRIDGE CLIMB, but for those of you who are, it costs roughly A$150 and takes roughly three hours. CIRCULAR QUAY~ Circular Quay is essentially the citys bustling ferry terminal; catch ferries
here to Manly, round to Darling Harbour, across to the zoo amongst other places. On the West Side of Circular Quay is the MUSEUM OF CONTEMORARY ART, which is free to look around. It is housed in a large 1930s Art Deco style building and it presents paintings and film by living artists. They also host special exhibitions for which they charge a small fee. The lawned area in front of the museum is a good spot to sit and relax, or on a hot day, collapse! Just up from the museum is the OVERSEAS PASSENGER TERMINAL where all the immense cruise ships dock. While there I saw a couple of P & O liners as well as the QE2. The EAST CIRCULAR QUAY PRECINCT offers a good selection of restaurants, cafes and bars and is an excellent place to watch the ferries come and go. There are also upmarket shops, which I found were good for window-shopping if nothing else! The OPERA QUAY PRECINCT beyond this is on a lower level and is reached by way of short flights of stairs or a small escalator. It is essentially a collection of shops and bars/cafes, which are pretty expensive, but boy is the view impressive! This leads me to what has to be THE most famous and recognisable landmark in Australia and something that I was totally over-awed by; the OPERA HOUSE. Situated on BENNELONG POINT and finally completed in 1973 it was designed by Danish architect Joern Utzon and over 1,000,000 tiles in an Aztec pattern cover its roof. The Opera House actually houses 5 separate theatres and covers all manner of theatrical works, not just opera! Guided tours of the interior are available, but I found my little piece of heaven just by walking around the exterior until I reached lands end so to speak and looking out over the water. Not many people walk right round this building so the quiet was fantastic! Whilst you have Circular Quay on one side of the Opera House and Bennelong Point, on the other and stretching around FARM COVE are the ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS which were
established in 1816. The gardens have several entrances (and the main one is on Mrs Macquaries Road), but I have included them in this section as there is a large gateway to this large and green oasis just across from the Opera House steps. This haven of peace and quiet in the middle of such a large city has, amongst other things, a Pyramid Glasshouse (the tropical centre), a herb garden, a walled cactus garden and an oriental garden. Myself, I just liked to grab a bench and relax whilst taking in what has to be the best view in the world… Around the other side of Farm Cove are MRS MACQUARIES POINT and MRS MACQUARIES SEAT. This apparently was the Governors wifes favourite spot in Sydney, which is why it has been named in her honour. Mrs Macquaries seat was where she used to sit and watch the ships come into the harbour and its actually a rocky outcrop that has had a seat carved into it. It is said that only women should sit in it and if they do theyll be lucky in love (maybe I should have sat my a**e down for a while)! The views from here are pretty stunning and the whole CBD (Central Business District) can be seen. Perfect for photographs! ~DARLING HARBOUR~ At the AQUARIUM I literally come face to face with some pretty impressive sharks in the Open Ocean Oceanarium. This is where you get to walk through the water via glass tunnels and this is the last place you get to on your tour around the Aquarium. Other draws in this place are the Salties or Saltwater Crocodiles (one species of animal that will attack man without any provocation), the very impressive Great Barrier Reef display, seals, fairy penguins and fish like the Barramundi and the huge Murray Cod. The A$23 entrance fee was worth every cent and I spent several hours there. For POWERHOUSE MUSEUM think Science Museum in London! Costing A$10 admittance the displays here I thought were excellent. Whilst you can only ever see a fraction of what the museum has accumu
lated during its 120 years in existence, what you do see is well presented and the large displays are stunning. Theres aeroplanes here hanging from the roof, as well as some very old steam engines, satellites and space suits. If science is your thing then this is somewhere not to be missed on your tour of this area. STAR CITY is Sydney’s CASINO. A stunning building set at the top of a steep bank of steps, escalators and water cascades, its not just a place for slot-machine addicts! It also houses a couple of theatres, a gym, restaurants and bars, spas, saunas and you could even live there! Star Citys philosophy seems to be to get people through its doors and then keep them there by any means possible! Not my cup of tea I have to say but it was worth a look nonetheless… ~SYDNEY CENTRAL~ The SYDNEY TOWER (or AMP Tower, or Centrepoint tower, call it what you will..) soars 304 metres, thats 1000 feet in old money, above the Centrepoint shopping Centre on Market Street. At the top are four levels; the lower two house revolving restaurants, the third a licensed café and above that is the OBSERVATION DECK. Due to other buildings being in the way you cannot see the Opera House from here, but you can see the bridge and anyway, the views are that spectacular from what is the highest observation deck in the Southern Hemisphere, who cares! Admittance costs around A$19 but most guidebooks give 20% discount vouchers away which makes the cost around A$15. The entrance fee includes SKYTOUR: THE GREAT AUSTRALIAN EXPERIENCE. This takes you on a virtual tour of the country and ends with you being strapped into a roller-coaster style seat and thrown around whilst watching a huge screen which covers half the room youre in. Now thats what I call audience participation! ST MARYS CATHEDRAL on College Street is a stunningly imposing building. The crypt here features what I would describe as an incredible mosaic floor that depicts The Cr
eation. Free tours of this church take place every Sunday at midday. Across the road from the cathedral is HYDE PARK. This was declared to be "common ground" in 1792 and was the venue for the colonys earliest cricket match in 1804. Apart from being a lovely tree filled green area it also contains the ANZAC MEMORIAL and the ARCHIBALD FOUNTAIN. Most recently this particular park was one of the focus points of the Peace Marches (which I did indeed attend). A little further down College Street (and at the corner of William Street) is the AUSTRALIAN MUSEUM. This is Sydneys equivalent of Londons Natural History Museum. Unlike the NH in London however there is a small entry charge here, A$8 is the current adult admission price. I did think it was good value though as the museum covers three floors and theres plenty to see, including dinosaurs, Aboriginal historical artefacts (and the Aboriginal story told in their own words), minerals and there is an area set up specifically for the under fives. On the corner of Phillip and Bridge Streets is the MUSEUM OF SYDNEY, which has been built on the site of the first GOVERNMENT HOUSE in Australia. This house was demolished in 1846 but the foundations for it were discovered by archaeologists back in the 1980s and have been preserved and are just one of the exhibits at this particular museum. In case you havent guessed, this is where you will find out about what life was really like back in the Colonial days and here you can chart Sydney’s development from 1788 onwards. Entrance is A$7 per adult and I found some of the exhibits to be very moving. Before you all begin to think that Sydney is an expensive place to be, as everything seems to charge you money to get in let me tell you that there are plenty of sights to see that are free! Central Sydney is good to just walk around as there is a lot of history to look at if you know exactly what youre looking at! Walk down MACQUARIE STREET and
theres the old RUM HOSPITAL, which has now been divided up into three separate institutions. The South Wing is now The Mint, the North Wing houses Parliament House and the Central section retains the original hospital theme and is Sydney Hospital. Incidentally, outside the main entrance to this latter building is an exact copy of "il porchino"; the famous pig fountain in Florence, Italy. Why is it there? Who knows..I certainly have no idea but it does have novelty value if nothing else! The STATE LIBRARY is also on Macquarie Street, between Parliament House and the Hospital. The library has a substantial collection of Australian Art and manuscripts, which are frequently on display. MARTIN PLACE, which is lined with shops, is a major focal point in Sydney on ANZAC DAY as well as on Remembrance Sunday. This is where you will find the CENOTAPH (the War Memorial) and this is also where Sydneys Christmas Tree is placed each year. The ART GALLERY OF NEW SOUTH WALES is on Art Gallery Road (behind Macquarie Street and across the Domain). This, you will all be glad to hear is free to get into although they do charge for special exhibitions. I found it a very peaceful place to spend a few hours. ~THE BEACHES~ BONDI has to be just about the most famous beach in the entire world and it is only 8km east of Sydney Central. Its also, Im sorry to say the place I was the most under-awed and unimpressed by! To me the whole place screamed "fake" and "artificial" and to me even the sand looked like it shouldnt have been there! I think I only spent an hour here before I decided to do the coastal walk down to BRONTE beach. There are only 2km between the two and on the way you pass another beach, TAMARAMA, which is very small and set into a tiny inlet. Stunning is the only way I can describe it and I thought it to be the best of the eastern beaches. Bronte beach itself is, in my opinion, far more "real" than Bond
i but there is a dangerous rip here so its very dangerous for swimming and surfing. The next beach down from Bronte is COOGEE, which seemed to me to be very clearly the backpackers choice! MANLY is the first in the long line of northern beaches and is reached by ferry from Circular Quay. The ferry arrives in Manly at the Wharf and from here it is a relatively short walk down the shop and café lined street that is THE CORSO to the main beach. I went here with a South Australian woman who was staying at the same hostel as me and as we walked out onto the beach we both looked at each other and said “Glenelg”! Before I get too many confused looks, Glenelg is Adelaides beach area…and the similarity between Glenelg and Manly was very striking to us both. There are roughly a further dozen beaches north of Manly before you reach the "last swim" in Sydney – PALM BEACH. Id use words like pretty, stunning and scenic to describe it, but if any of you watch Home and Away youll know that already! Yes, this is where they film that particular Soap Opera and yes they are usually filming there. Its comical to watch the young and beautiful having to repeat the same scenes over and over and over…. ~GETTING AROUND~ If theres one thing Sydney has plenty of and does well is public transport, you just need a degree to understand the zone arrangements for each! The Sydney area BUSES, TRAINS and FERRIES all come under the umbrella of STATE TRANSIT and zoned passes can be bought that allow you to interchange between all three separate modes of transport. These passes can be bought at either Circular Quay or at Wynyard Station on Carrington Street and these two places also have transport information offices. Some of the buses are quite frankly old and not so clean or green but at least the services seemed to be reliable! The ferries are also old but in their case they are more than forgiven, as this is the
total charm of them. I cannot comment on the trains as I didnt go on them but from what I was told they were clean but got very busy… The MONORAIL loops from the city to Darling Harbour, the Powerhouse Museum and back again. Ticketing for this is separate from those Ive already mentioned as is that for the LIGHT RAIL which is a small tram system that connects CENTRAL STATION to Darling Harbour, Star City and the Sydney Fish Market. The afor mentioned Central Station, main entrance on EDDY AVENUE, is the place to catch all INTRASTATE (meaning within the state) and INTERSTATE trains. Its also where the INTERSTATE COACH TERMINAL is located. For tourists there are two special bus services, the SYDNEY and BONDI EXPLORERS. A day pass for each costs A$30 but you can also buy a two-day pass for A$50 which allows you to interchange between the two buses to your hearts content! As Sydney has no form of "free" transport at all I did exactly that and bought myself a two-day pass so I could "get my bearings". Although fifty bucks sounds a lot to spend on a bus ticket I found it to be very good value for money. Each bus, whether its the city or Bondi explorer are "coach style" and air-conditioned. They both drive a set two-hour loop, stop at all the major attractions (yes the Sydney explorer does go both over the bridge and through the Sydney Harbour Tunnel) and the drivers are all friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. There is a CD commentary that runs between stops but most of the drivers will add extra information to it and as Im a sponge for all things trivia/history I was in heaven! The buses are all hop-on-hop-off so you can get off wherever you please and then just catch the next bus along when youre ready. Last but by now means least, in this section I should include SYDNEY KINGSFORD SMITH AIRPORT, Sydneys air terminal. Divided into International and Domestic and only 9kms out of the city, the runwa
y juts out into the historic BOTANY BAY so nervous fliers beware! Both terminals have superb facilities and are ultra-modern and clean. From the airport you can jump on the green and gold AIRPORT EXPRESS which provides a connection between both terminals and the City/Kings Cross. The fare is currently A$7 per adult. Alternately most if not all hostels provide a FREE pick up service from both here and the Rail Terminal. Simply go to the information desks, locate the "accommodation boards" and use the free phone to call wherever you plan to stay. ~SO, WHAT DID I THINK?~ Well first of all I know that I havent done the place justice here, nor did I even remotely see all there is to see while I was there. Despite spending several weeks in the City I know I certainly could have spent longer! I spent most of the time pinching myself in almost disbelief that I had finally made it there and I never failed to be bowled over by the Opera House and I did go down to the Quay regularly… Sydney sprawls in every direction and that for me was a drawback as Im not a huge city fan at all. However the city itself is fairly open; wide streets and lots of parklands and green areas certainly helped crush any claustrophobic feelings that could have otherwise surfaced in me. The city is very clean streetwise although there is definitely a smog that hangs over the place during hot weather which I found a little unpleasant. Another drawback to the place is that I thought most things were expensive; I would equate Sydney to London, price wise. The only thing I found to be ridiculously cheap was Internet access through the myriad of Internet Cafes! Accommodation here is pricier than you will find anywhere else in Australia, so is shopping in general but especially food and drink and the majority of museums/exhibitions charge admittance. Of course there are bargains to be had here as everywhere but you just have to look a little hard
er! For those of you who are interested, whilst in Sydney I stayed in the famous Kings Cross area. No its not as bad as some people make out, in fact it has a charm of its own and isnt at all dangerous. Here you can outside a café and watch the sights go by!! Yes it’s Sydney’s Red Light district but thats only noticeable at night and overall the place has a very vibrant atmosphere. So I guess the big question is – “Would I ever go back?” The simple answer is yes I would, Id love to spend more time there seeing more of what the city and its surrounding areas have to offer, I didnt get into the Blue Mountains for example while I was there. Is it my favourite city in Australia so far? No it isnt, that accolade still belongs to Adelaide and I doubt that will ever change. Id visit again for sure, but its not somewhere I could live… One Australian Dollar = roughly 35 pence
Australia's most celebrated city remains an obligatory stop on most itineraries around this vast continent. With a bulging population of 4 million this is a city that is going places. Many vistors are spellbound by the intoxicating mix of fine weather, superb natural environment and a cost of living that is attractive when compared to Europe's oft overpriced capitals. Many a working holiday has extended to much longer stays and for a considerable percentage Sydney eventually becomes home. Although one of Australia's oldest settlements, Sydney remains a relatively new city. Europeans first arrived here just over 200 years ago and rapidly turned a unique wilderness into a city to be marvelled at. One event more than any, however, injected an unstoppable impetus than has yet to be tamed. The 2000 Olympics were a lavish success and had the eyes of the world jealously trained on Australia's pride and joy. As with all this dooyoo'ers travel opinions this review is written from the backpackers perspective. Even though we enjoyed 3 months of fruitful employment we keenly guarded our well honed skills for eeking out a bargain and the endless search for the holy grail that is the freebie (Martin Place/Town Hall train stations pre-9am are treasure troves for free handouts!). Thankfully Sydney is hugely accommodating for both the bargain hunter and the more well heeled. ACCOMMODATION The man hub of economy accommodation can be found in the sleazy King's Cross suburb. With its coterie of cheap bars, strip joints and internet cafes the Cross is excellent for a night out, if only to witness the underbelly that Sydney doesn't try too hard to hide. Some of the characters that line the main drag, Darlinghurst road, can be a little unnerving so get those happy hour drinks into you. Cooee Backpackers is the most obvious hostel in the area as it is adjacent to the Cross train station. As well as being party ce
ntral its location means that the cities wildest hedonism is literally at your doorstep. Bondi is another backpacker enclave and boasts several hostels as well as ample long term accommodation. Noah's Backpackers just off Campbell Parade near Bondi Beach has a good reputation and certainly looks clean and well run. Prices for dorm beds are generally around the $20 mark with doubles priced from $60. Hostels are not really a viable option for many who come to Sydney on a working holiday visa . In summer shared accommodation can be hard to find whereas the winter months tend have an excess of supply. The best resources to look for house/apartment sharing is the Sydney Morning Herald's classified section. The backpacker operators such as Backpackers World and Travellers Contact Point also have good accommodation notice boards even if they tend to be a little out of date sometimes. We found out about our place from a poster stuck to a lamppost so keeping your eyes peeled is half the battle. If you are searching in the Bondi Junction, Glebe, Newtown areas there are tons of these makeshift ads everywhere. Like finding work (seek.com is the best job site by the way), getting a place to stay just takes a little patience. Don't take the first thing you see, check out at least half a dozen places to get a feel for what's on offer and what people are charging. The price/quality variances are quite wide so be prepared to hold out until the right place comes along. If you are going to be working in town, proximity to local transport is a big factor. Somewhat annoyingly a lot of shared accommodation on the market comes completely without furniture. So not only do you have to shell out on a bond (usually a months rent) but you may have to seek out a mattress (a base is optional, dependant on your ability to ignore midnight cockroach scurries!) as well. One way to get around this predicament is to move into a communal home like those run by
the aptly titled 'sleeping with the enemy'. These houses are usually well run and come fully furnished, just don't expect to sleep much. Check out sleepingwiththeenemy.com for details. ATTRACTIONS Probably the first sightseeing foray most people undertake when they arrive in Sydney is to head to Circular Quay which is home to both the fabulous Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. The Bridge is a huge structure that links the 'Rocks' to the city's North Shore. Now in its 75th year it retains a unique aura as well as providing Sydney's most popular tourist activity, the Bridge Climb. The Opera House can be accessed by surmounting a series of steps just around the corner from the ferry wharf. We were caught by surprise by the fact that the structure is actually a collection of separate buildings. The now dulling tiles that wrap around its curves are due for renovation later this year so come next year it should look like a Hollywood actors incisors. While the price for shows is around the $75 mark some seats sell for as little $25. Early booking is essential to get one of these. Of late it seems that management have decided to look beyond its traditional market. Dance events are held once a month in the 'Studio' building with prices set at a very reasonable $20. Despite this it's likely that the majority of people who arrive at the Opera House's door will rarely step inside. Darling Harbour is a huge area just off the Central Business District (CBD) that up to the mid-eighties was a dilapidated Dockland. Getting to the area is just a short stroll from the cities main thoroughfare George street. If you have the time or the inclination take the ferry from the Rocks or the light rail link from Pitt Street. Both afford brilliant views of the approach to the harbour. Darling Harbour has enough going for it to keep you entertained for a full day. The main attraction is the world famous Aquar
ium. At $21 the admission price is a steal and if you present your VIP backpacker card there is a 25% discount. The highlight is undoubtedly the shark tank that has a curved underpass which gets you within touching distance of the creatures. Mixing it (and somehow getting away with it) with the sharks are the graceful manta rays and umpteen other species of fish. Another eye opener are the dreamy Moon Jellyfish that make like a rave generators favourite video. On a poignant note the Welcome Wall around the corner from the Maritime Museum makes for a solemn reminder of how many different nationalities arrived on Australia's shores looking for a new life. The wall combines inscriptions of the names of thousands of emigrants over the last century with some of their initial impressions of the new land. It's hard not be affected. There are quite a few attractions just outside the city that are well worth visiting. The Blue Mountains is a very popular destination all year round. You can actually see the range from the city on clear days. If you decide to visit the peaks then you should stop off along the way to see the famous 3 sisters rock formation. The Southern Hemispheres largest theme park, Wonderland, is located near Rooty Hill in the outer suburbs. Day passes for unlimited rides, shows and return rail ticket is a bargain at $54 but be advised to get there early in the morning as the park closes at 5 in the evening. Tarango Zoo is a just a ferry ride from Circular Quay and provides an ideal opportunity to see native animals like Kangaroos, Koalas and Crocodiles. Sydney's tallest structure is the AMP tower which has its entrance in the Pitt Street Mall. Apart from the observation deck there is a wonderful revolving restaurant that has the best views of the city. At $48 for an all you can eat buffet this is exceptional value. Some of the dishes on offer are a little unusual. Try the Emu, Camel or Kangaroo to leave your taste buds
as well as your body in a spin! THE BEACHES Not many capital cities have hundreds of beaches (300 in fact) in their environs but Sydney boasts more wonderful seaside escapes than most do trees. The big daddy of them all is Bondi Beach in the Eastern Suburbs. As well as being a surfers mecca the beachfront (Campbell Parade) is packed tight with trendy restaurants and shops and has a 'groovy' Sunday market. Bondi Beach is surprising small but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in energy. The main lookout has fine views of all the seafront activities and on a clear days it is possible to see for miles. Facilities on the beach are top notch with free changing rooms and showers. You can rent pricey surf or boogie boards if you feel like showing off. The water can get a little nippy and the rips have been known to catch people by surprise (cowards that we were we never found out...hey it was winter!). To get to Bondi from town catch the train from Town Hall to Bondi Junction station where you can hop on a 380 bus that goes straight down to Campbell Parade opposite the beach. Manly is a little more difficult to get to but the journey by ferry from Circular Quay is well worth the round trip price of $10. With a sweeping beach that dwarfs Bondi, Manly is another surfers paradise. Facilities in the beach area are excellent and the promenade is a great way to shake off all that accumulated sand on your body. As with most Australian sea fronts there are marked safe swimming zones which are patrolled by lifeguards. Oceanworld near the wharf is also worth a visit. Palm Beach has become infamous because it is the location for the shooting of 'Home & Away'. If you're not driving then there is a bus service from town. While the area may come across as a little stuffy imagine the joy of seeing the surf club or Ailsa in a swimsuit! Because we spent our time in Sydney during winter we never ma
de it to Bronte or Coogee beaches but both are among the popular among Backpackers and locals alike. SHOPPING Sydney has its fair share of weekend markets that are more or less extensions of the traditional bric-a-brac sales. Many take place in school yards and always attract an eclectic mix of people. The best markets can be found at Glebe (Saturday 10am - 4pm), Paddington (Saturdays) and Bondi Beach on Sunday afternoons. Sydney's largest indoor market is the much visited (by us anyway!) Paddy's Market in the basement of the Market City complex in Haymarket. Here you can buy anything from fluffy Disney slippers to CD skip doctors. At times the place gets very busy and only the strongest elbow owners make serious inroads down the aisles. Paddy's Market has a similar outlet in the Flemington suburb and is also open weekly from Thursday to Sunday. The heart of the shopping district is undoubtedly Pitt Street or the Pitt Street Mall to be more precise. Here you have your choise of any number of department stores like Centrepoint, Grace Brothers or the Strand. For a more alternative shopping experience Oxford Street has it all, whether the rubber on your shoes can match the legwork required to see it all is open to question. The Queen Victoria Building (so called cause you'd have to be Royalty to afford anything in there) on George Street is a definite case of a victory of style over substance ( much like the Strand Arcade just off Pitt Street). As the beautiful people pontificate on whether that Gucci scarf would go better with their recently acquired green Lacoste pullover or the stylish Hugo Boss shirt peasants like us try to pass off the widening gap in the shoulder stitches on our well worn Stereolab T-shirts as a return to 80's cool. The hourly clock action on the third floor is a gas. If music is your thing then Sydney will have you salivating at the mouth. Pitt Street towards Chinatow
n has a treasure trove of second hand stores. The best (and cheapest) is Lawsons. Red Eye Records is good for collectors but they do tend to overprice. Dirt Cheap records opposite the Hilton sells CD's for $10 and have a surprising good range. Hum in Newton, Egg Records on Druitt, Utopia on George and Revolution CD's in Bondi Junction are also worth checking out. EATING OUT It often seems that Sydneysiders spend more time in the restaurant than in the pub. There certainly is a huge variety of choises available. Eating out in Australia is generally cheaper than in Europe and the wonderful 'Bring Your Own' (BYO) drink option that exists in many of the eateries manages to lower the bill further. Mozzarella's on Bondi Road just off Campbell Parade has a quaint atmosphere. The BYO attracts a small charge but the delicious pizza's on offer make it worthwhile. The decor is homely, the staff are efficient and the prices are good value even by Sydney standards. YHA run the best hostels throughout the country and their newly refurbished joint near central station is no exception. The restaurant downstairs is unbecomingly arty and the menu is resolutely cheap. So what you get is the joy of eating out without the need to extend your overdraft. Market City has a fine food court on level 3. Taste of North India was consistently our favourite option with great curries at reasonable prices ($7.50 for a huge helping). There are quite a few food courts spread around the city (Town Hall and Mid-Centre Department Store for example) and they generally match great variety with good value. Being a sports mad city you'd expect to see lots of sports clubs. RSL's are everywhere, huge buildings stacked high with Pokies (gambling machines), televisions tuned to Foxtel, well maintained gyms, cheap beer and best of all roast dinners for under $10. They may not have much atmosphere but who cares when nutrit
ion comes at such ridiculously low prices. You can become a member for around $7 per quarter. We became members of Easts RSL in Bondi Junction and dined there whenever the thought of cold beans turned our stomachs. If you like your food fast then the usual suspects are available in abundance. For some reason, however, the meal deals at KFC, McDonalds and Hungry Jacks (Burger King in all but name) are better value than at home. For $6 you can lap up a quarter pounder, fries and coke. As you would expect all the main thoroughfares are brimming with cholesterol jammed snacks. For some reason Sydneysiders seem to have a passion for Sushi. Not knowing what the stuff was we gratefully tucked in. Not really our cup of tea but at $2 a small dish this was good value for money. Bondi Junction is overflowing with Sushi outlets with Sushi Train being the biggest and the best. THE BARS Sydney is a great city to get drunk in. Before you enter though it is a good idea to get a handle on the lingo. Pint size beverages are a rarity, you're more likely to be handed a Schooner (petite glass beaker) or a pot (incredulously tiny liquid container). While your instinct might be to hide in the nearest cubicle while you skull the contents a cursory look at the adjoining punters will put you at ease. Rather typically the liveliest pubs in and around town have an Irish theme. The star pupil is Scruffy Murphy's on the corner of Goulburn and George Streets in the city centre. Dark, sticky underfoot, packed to the rafters and open 24 hours ensures that having inebriated fun is the only viable outcome. Upstairs the atmosphere is a little more relaxed and the big screen is perfect for watching Ireland take another famous footballing scalp. Back downstairs the band are giving it all while the fresh off the boat punters argue with the staff over the size of their pints. The Cock'n'Bull in Bondi Junction has a misplaced reputa
tion. Management do little to enhance patronage but still they still come in they droves. While the place has an initial attraction (they serve beer and have bodhrans on the wall), sober reflection reveals an establishment without a soul. Just up the road the Tea Gardens prospers under a guise of minimalism. The countless TV's make it a sport followers dream but try a midweek drink there and appreciate the advantages of couch potatoing. Back in town the Bristol Arms on Sussex Street has free flowing happy hours where $2.50 bourbon and cokes usually lead to outrageous dance compositions at 'Retro', the nightclub upstairs. Just around the corner on Kent Street the Hotel CBD has Tuesday 'toss the boss' evenings. Here if your call on a coin toss comes up the drinks are free. Get friendly with the coin thrower and the odds get stacked marginally in your favour. Dirty Nelly's in the heart of Paddington has a real old world feel and where many Irish styled pubs have a cobbled together feel this pub has a genuine ring to it. Made up of poky little corners and unpolished surfaces it is the perfect environment in which to yap the night away. The Mercantile Hotel gets packed at holiday time probably because it sits in the middle of the Rocks part of the city. Initial impressions would lead you believe that its in need of some renovation but the clientele are among the liveliest in the city. As the drink starts to flow you may even start to overlook the dodgy creditionals of the bearded wonder on guitar and start to grind to his dulcet tones. Cheers Sports Bar on George Street has the most soul destroying basement disco bar in the city but upstairs the atmosphere is much better. With a huge screen and fast service this is a great venue for football matches. PJ O'Briens on King Street is another monument to the great franchise that has come down the East Coast from Cairns. It's hard to fault the authenticity ev
en if it is a Scotsman that runs the show. Kings Cross has a good selection of pubs. The most famous and biggest is the Empire Hotel. Spread over 3 levels this place is forever thinking of ways to attract the budget drinker. It more or less succeeds but the atmosphere suffers a little due to its size. Club 77 on South William Street has a brilliant indie club called 'London Calling' on Friday nights (just beware of the trashy bands that come on before it). For late night drinking in a relaxed atmosphere then Barons in the Cross is hard to beat. Perfect for mixing with people while you mix your drinks. Have the paracetamol on the bedside table for when you return home. Bondi Beach has a slew of classy bars that are worth avoiding unless you want to be seen looking goofy stirring an overpriced cocktail. Much better is the Bondi Hotel that boasts a dark hovel in the back where the coolest of bands occasionally sell their wares. ENTERTAINMENT Sydney excels in laying on free entertainment. With a dependable climate much of this takes place outdoors. There are plenty of festivals including the Darling Harbour Jazz fiesta in June and the impressive Surry Hills Festival a month earlier. The Entertainment Centre in Darling Harbour sometimes has free shows like the recent visit by the Dalai Lama. Most of the bigger suburbs have their own multiplex cinemas. The best choise is to be found in town however. The huge Hoyts complex on George Street has over 20 screens showing mainstream flics. Dendy cinemas at Martin Place and Circular Quay are a better option if you want to see independent or alternative movies. Reading Cinemas (Market City) have good meal/film deals for around $16. Ticket prices are a bit exorbitant at $13.50 so it makes sense to go on budget nights which fall on Mondays (Reading) or Tuesdays (Hoyts). Rugby League is the major sport in the city and even the national sport footie takes a back seat
leaving Melbourne to lead the way. Soccer is a fair bit down the pecking order despite the fact that Sydney's Olympic Sharks (I know!) beat Perth Glory in this years grand final. Johnny Warren and Les Murray on SBS put a new definition on soccer punditary such is their laid back sleep inducing style. If you fancy a night in watching the box then expect to be pulling your hair out by the end because Australian TV is unequivocally rubbish. The content itself is not always to blame, its the incredibly high quotient of ad breaks. At times a 90 minute film can take almost 3 hours to watch. Forgetting plot lines, character names and the will to live is an inevitable consequence. Sydney has a pretty active live music scene. The best venue is the Metro near Town Hall which has an alternative heart (but oh so expensive, $52 for Mercury Rev). Other venues include the Enmore Theatre in Newtown and the aforementioned gigantic Sydney Entertainment which holds 9,000 people. Most live acts are local which means that the quality can be a little lacking. There are some impressive acts on the go like Alex Lloyd, Coade and Gerling but several dozen excretable, yet unfathomably popular groups, such as Cog, the Butterfly Effect and the dreadful Oasis clones Motor Ace who just curl your ears. Overseas acts are few and far between and tend to all come at once around festival time. TRANSPORT Sydney has a well run transport infrastructure highlighted by an underground rail network that images the London equivalent. Fares before 9am are steeper than later journeys but for regular travellers a weekly rail ticket makes sound economic sense. The weekly Red ticket costs $29 and offers unlimited rail, bus and ferry travel in the inner city. There are 10 rail lines in total that service most suburbs and extend well beyond the metropolitan area. In the city centre a futuristic monorail system looks good but really needs a few more kilometres of track to
attract the non tourist dollar. One thing you will notice when tramping the streets of the city is the distance that many of them extend. Oxford Street starts off in town and winds its way through Paddington only coming to a halt in far off Bondi Junction. Elizabeth and George Streets are similarly gargantuan and should only be tackled by those with adventurous instincts. MISCELLANEOUS There is a slew of free publications that are worth a read to get a feel of what's happening around the city. Drum Media is great for alternative music news and reviews. 3D World has digital leanings which means it has a specific audience. Revolver holds the middle ground and boasts excellent listings. If you need to get some footie news from home the crudely titled British Balls is a must. Witty, irreverent and pretty much indispensable for those unwilling to fork out 12 bucks for Loaded. Metro (in the Sydney Morning Heralds Friday addition) is allegedly the bible for weekenders but in reality tends to be a little stale. The paper itself has slim pickings during the week but thankfully comes into its own at the weekend. With a climate that never dips down to Western European standards Sydney is perfect for those seeking that Mediterranean feel in the Southern Hemisphere. We were somewhat taken aback, however, by how chilly the Sydney winter morning/evening can get. During May/June/July you need to wrap up well. When the sun shines it will warm you bones but at any other times it's fleece time. For the rest of the year though your only inclination will be to grab a towel and head for the beach. It may seem a little odd of me but when living in Sydney I couldn't banish the thought of isolation. While the city has enough for a lifetimes worth of experiences getting anywhere else requires the services of a long haul flight. Perhaps its the fact that in Europe there are so many diverse capitals within a couple of hours air
time that makes the Australian experience so different. Sydney is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Its population is multicultural which adds an energy and diversity that many cities lack. Taking your time to explore its nooks and crannies is essential for appreciating the Sydney way of life. Without doubt a fair dinkum place to visit.
Phew, I think this is my longest op ever, so please bear with me until the end.... As I lived and worked in Sydney for two years, I thought I would share my experiences with you. I first went to Sydney in November 1997, but unfortunately this was only for a few days as I was on a three week assignment in Brisbane. However, less than six months later, I got the opportunity to move to Sydney in the course of my job. A Little Bit of Australian History --------------------------------------- Well, as we all know, in the beginning, the only residents of Australia were Aborigines. However, European man started to explore and everyone wanted to find the Great Land they had heard about. A Dutch Captain, William Jansz landed in 1606, but he figured there was nothing to be had there. However, exploration still continued and in 1642 Abel Tasman was in the area. He discovered Van Diemens Land, or what we now call Tasmania. He explored much of the coast and he too did not have a lot of positive things to stay about the aborigines. The called the land New Holland, but as they were so unimpressed they never bothered to try and claim the land as their own. The British traveller Dampier explored the West of Australia at the end of the 17th century, and he was also negative about the land and its people. So finally Lieutenant James Cook explored the area known as Botany Bay in 1770. He, on the other hand was fascinated by what he found in the land. His ship was subsequently damaged on the Great Barrier Reef. Cook named the land he found New South Wales. How to get there --------------------- OK, let's get the worst bit out of the way first. You can fly from Heathrow, and it typically takes about 23 hours. You will touch down for refuelling in Bangkok or Singapore normally. Many people use this opportunity to go and see a bit of Asia, but amazingly despite making this journey many times, I never had the
time or the opportunity to do a stop off. You can fly with British Airways, Qantas or Singapore Airlines. To be absolutely frank, the journey is horrendous no matter who you fly with, so I wouldn't get too hung up on this aspect. Just see it as the means to an end. I always flew with British Airways, in Business, thankfully, but it still isn't the most comfortable ride of your life. Now because of the time differences, by the time you land, it will be about 34 hours from the time you actually took off, and if you catch the 2205Hrs flight from Heathrow, you will lose a whole day in the air. British Airways and Qantas are part of the OneWorld Alliance, and you will often see flights advertised for about £700, including three stop overs in Australia. (For my money, these would be into Perth, then Uluru, Sydney and Great Barrier Reef). I always bought Round the World tickets, (RTW), as these are invariable cheaper than a direct return flight. Sometimes the savings for me was as much as $2500 AUS. Many specialist travel companies such as Trailfinders have good reputations in tickets of these types. However the cheaper the ticket, the more restrictions, so be sure, before you book anything. Oh, and don't forget to get your Visa. Everyone who wants to gain entry to Australia must have a Visa, unless you are a New Zealander. When you land, you could get a coach to the city for a few bucks, or alternatively just get a cab, which typically cost me about $35 to North Sydney. Accommodation -------------------- Now thankfully, this was always taken care of for me, on my initial trips, until the company found me an Apartment. (It was on the 7th floor in a brand new block in North Sydney, and if you leaned out far enough, you could juussstttt see the bridge!). However, there is plenty of accommodation to be had from the luxurious to the borderline habitable! All the major hotel chains have hote
ls in Sydney, although I would avoid the Hilton as it is a wee bit dated, (but nothing wrong with it, so don't panic if you have already booked it!). Some of the best hotels are around the Darling Harbour area. If you want to go real cheap, there is always the Youth Hostel. Quick Geography lesson: the Harbour Bridge connects the Area North Sydney, with the Main City. If you are going for a holiday, don?t get a hotel in North Sydney, as it is really just a Business District, and not a lot happens in the evening. Oh and the place is totally deserted on the weekend, as I know to my cost having spent 104 weekends there! Not only that, but you will forever be crossing the bridge into town! Probably the best Hotel in North Sydney, however, if you must stay there, is the Duxton. This is so close to the Harbour Bridge that you could almost touch it. The other two are the Rydges, and what was the Centra, and both are ok, but not fabulous. The main north train line runs under the Centra and you can feel them rumbling through at all hours of the day and night. This hotel has wonderful views of the harbour however. Weather --------- During the winter, (June July), the temperature can drop to about 10 degrees C in Sydney. It also goes dark quite early, similar to our own winters, and this definitely isn't the best time for a trip. In the summer, temperatures are normally in the 30's range, although they can obviously get even warmer. Sydney is relatively humid too. Time Difference ------------------- Well it obviously depends on what time you go. Sydney has Daylight Savings Time too. During our winter period (Oct-Mar), there is an eleven hour difference, and during our Summer Period (Mar-Oct), there is a nine hour difference. Australia is ahead of us, of course. Currency ----------- The Australian Dollar. Australia only abandoned Pounds, Shilling and Pence, in 1966. Their money
is brightly coloured and plasticky in feel. The exchange rate is currently about $2.6 AUS to the £1 GPB. During my two years there, it varied from $2.25 - $3 to the pound, but I used to use $2.5 as my rule of thumb. (Probably because I cannot divide by $2.61 in my head!) Important Dates ------------------- Australia Day - End of January. Lots of celebrations and fireworks, and you will need to practice the National Anthem Advance Australia Fair. Anzac Day - 25 April Commemorating Soldiers lost in the War, Australia and New Zealand Army Corps. Otherwise, Public Holidays are generally what you would expect at home. Shopping ----------- Now trust me when I tell you this, Sydney is not really a place to go shopping, well not for clothes anyway. The Queen Victoria Building, in Sydney is a restored building, containing lots and lots of the nicest shops and boutiques however, and this was where I whiled away many a Saturday afternoon, people watching. And if you do go, say hi to Emilio, the hairdresser on the third floor for me would you? The QVB building takes up a whole block on George Street. It started life as a vast market, and included a hotel, but was converted in the 1930's into offices and a library. In the 1980's a Malaysian company took it over and restored the Stonework. It is linked, underground to a shopping centre, which is at the base of the vast Department Store, Grace Brothers. There are two big department stores in Sydney, Grace Brothers and David Jones. I especially like the Grace Brothers store, it was given a face lift a couple of years ago. Another arcade dating back to the same time is the Strand Arcade. Popular tax free buys are Diamonds and Opals. These can be bought down the specialist shops in the Rocks, all of which are reputable stores. Aboriginal Artwork is also popular. And of course, there is loads and loads of trashy souven
ir stuff, and badly made clothes! Church ------ Well I know you wouldn't want to miss now would you? There are two cathedrals in Sydney, St Andrews and St Mary's. And if you want to go to the best Mass you might ever attend on the planet head for Francis Xaviours in North Sydney, Lavender Bay at 6.15pm every Sunday. Fantastic Folk Mass. This is a Catholic Church, but attracts christians from far an wide. Sight Seeing in Sydney --------------------------- 1. The Sydney Harbour Bridge. One of the World's most well known landscapes is Sydney Harbour and Bridge. The bridge was opened in 1932. Probably the best way to see a little of the Harbour and Bridge is by catching a boat from Circular Quay. There are a couple of two hour sightseeing trips, which are reasonably priced. You can also go to the lookout point, at the top of one of the Pylons. And if you are really brave, or stupid, you can walk over the top part of the bridge itself (yes the curvy part). This will cost you about $100, and will take about three hours. It opened as an attraction only two or three years ago. You should not have any alcohol, and you will be required to change into a regulation jumpsuit. You are not allowed to take any personal possessions with you either. Imagine what would happen if you dropped something below. The bridge, of course is a major thoroughfare for traffic coming into and out of the city, and despite the eight lanes, it is still really busy. Let me tell you, when you live there, the novelty wears off after a while! 2. Sydney Opera House. Another fantastic attraction to this city. Sydney Opera House stands in the Harbour, and this is a great place to visit. You can do a tour of the Opera House itself, or you can just wander around the grounds surrounding it. The Opera House was the result of a competition, which a Danish Architect won. However, it went massively over budget, from $7 million initially t
o over $100 million. There are five theatres within the building, and I managed to get to one or two shows, thankfully. 3. Sydney Harbour. Just relax, get on a boat, and enjoy being in the water. There are many ways you can do this, including the ferries that cruise, the regular ferries between two points, or charter something for the day! Go on, indulge yourself! 4. Taronga Zoo. I believe this is the second largest Zoo in the world (and San Francisco the largest). Taronga Zoo can be reached by ferry in twelve minutes from Circular Quay. You can buy an all inclusive ticket. The Zoo's location is fabulous, looking over the harbour to the skyscrapers in the Sydney CBD. Oh, and you can cuddle a Koala here too. 5. Sydney Tower. This is that very tall building you will have seen on any photos of Sydney Skyline. It is sometimes known as AMP Tower, as AMP Insurance have a connection. It is the highest point in the Southern Hemisphere, and stands 1000ft above street level. You go to the top, in ultra fast lifts. At the top as you might expect, you will find revolving restaurants. Make sure you go on a clear day though. You can see as far as Wollongong, which is about 100km, South of Sydney. 6. Darling Harbour. Another great place to let time pass idly by. Darling Harbour is linked to the CBD via the monorail, and it is the harbour next to Circular Quay and the Opera House. Here, you will find street artists, hotels and restaurants and there is also a large IMAX theatre. 7. Sydney Aquarium is also a popular attraction, and is a good place for kids. You can see crocodiles and fish that normally inhabit the Great Barrier Reef. 8. The Rocks. This was my favourite place to hang out on Sundays. This is where the founding fathers came ashore in 1788. The area contains some of the oldest buildings in Sydney. There is a visitor?s centre, and The Story of Sydney Attraction is popular. There are loads of pubs and restaura
nts and there is a market on Sundays, selling lots of wonderful artwork, including many wooden bowls and the like. 9. Parks. If you need to slow down the pace a little, spend some time in Hyde Park, complete with the Anzac War Memorial or the Royal Botanical Gardens, this is just to the East of Circular Quay, and the Opera House. 10. Star City. Australians are into their gambling and casinos more than the Brits are, and if you want a glitzy night out, it is worth going for a trip to the Casino at Star City, and gambling a few dollars away. You might even win something - we won $400! Wining and Dining ----------------------- Wow, what can I tell you here? I spent two years in this place. You can find any kind of cuisine you like, here, although there is a strong Asian influence. There are loads of great Modern Australian Restaurants too, although I am struggling to remember them all - nothing to do with the vast quantities of South Australian Merlot, I consumed whilst visiting them all, I assure you. Well for real character; go along to the Orient Hotel in the Rocks area. This consists of a large pub, and a large restaurant upstairs. If you are feeling brave, you can try a bit of Kangaroo steak, although I would be careful where I did try this in Australia, as it can be tough if not cooked to perfection. Al Porto Italian Restaurant. This is a delightful restaurant at the Star City complex, and worth it if you manage to win enough to pay for dinner, like we did. L'Incontro. This restaurant is actually in North Sydney, on the corner of Miller Street. It is housed in an old Federal building, and is really cosy, with a great intimate bar. There is some seating undercover, but actually open to the elements. Oh, and the best part, it was two minutes from my home. Wockpool. This is an Asian restaurant in Darling Harbour; it can be quite hard to get a table without a reservation though. The f
ood was fantastic, so I can see why Bel Mondo. My sister treated me to dinner here, as she had read about it in her guide book, when she visited. Another Modern Italian feel, absolutely fantastic, but pricy, especially the wine. Lowenbrau Keller. A more relaxed café/restaurant, with mainly outdoor seating, and reasonably priced, this was where I whiled away my Sunday lunchtimes. The restaurant is in the Rocks Area, and so it is a very lively part of town. Doyle's on the Beach. This is one of those restaurants that everyone flocks too. It has a great view of the city, from Watson's Bay, this time, and it isn't mega expensive. Slightly further afield, the areas of Glebe and Balmain were good areas for eating, in particular Darling Mills Restaurant in Glebe. And I am afraid that is all I can remember for now. I have a few more, where I could walk you to them; however I cannot remember their names! Just avoid those places around Circular Quay and you will be ok. Beaches --------- Well of course all tourists flock to Bondi beach, don't they, although it isn't one of my favourites, it is an extremely busy location at weekends. Alternatively, if you are prepared to drive a bit further north try Palm Beach, which is where they film Home and Away. It never seemed to be that busy either. Manly is another popular seaside spot and you can get the ferry here from Circular Quay. Because, I had a car, however, I tend to drive further north, and find the quieter and less spoilt locations. Further Afield ----------------- The Blue Mountains is an extremely popular location which is easy to reach from Sydney. It gets its name from the Bluey Haze, which seems to exist when looking at the mountain ranges from a distance. The main town, Katoomba, looks out over the Three Sisters rock formation. You can also see the Jenolan caves close to Katoomba, and take guided
tours. If you don't have a car, there are loads of tour buses that leave for these locations every day. And you can find out more information at the information point near Circular Quay. The Hunter Valley is the Wine Making region of New South Wales. Now I have to admit, that they don't make my favourite Australian wine in this region (Unless it is Rosemount Hills of Gold Mudgee, but that's another op). However the countryside is pleasant and it is always fun to taste new wines, and perhaps have lunch at one of the vineyards. Fair Dinkum --------------- Now you are armed with all this tourist information, it only remains for me to teach you the language. The Australians speak "Strine" short for "Australian", and just to get you through those initial few days, here are a few words to help you understand and communicate: Back of Beyond - The Outback Beaut - Very Good Billabong - Water hole Bush - Country Area Dinkum - Honest Footy - Aussie Rules Football Kiwi - New Zealander Matilda - Swag Ocker - Stereotypical Aussie Tinny - Can of beer Ute - Truck And finally .. Root - If you don't know, I'm not telling you!
Having been travelling to Sydney for all of my life, I have seen the changes that have taken place since events such as the Olympics, I can honestly say that I wish my relations lived somewhere else. Sydney, post 2000 Olympics, is very clean, and navigating once in the the city is easy. Busses are cheap, and the monorail is a fun way to view Darling Harbour. If you are staying out of the city, the trains going north are notorious for muggings at night, so be careful. The Aiport is about 20 minutes south of the harbour bridge by car. Train - go to Central and change. There is actually not a great deal to do in Sydney. There is no real history to speak of: in my opinion the "Rocks" area where Cook first landed is simply a tourist trap, and is not worth seeing. There is really veyr little there now. The Harbour Bridge, has to be seen, as does the Opera House, but once you have been inside the Opera house and seen the brown pebbledash, you will wish you'd stayed outside. On a slight side issue, going out to the theatre, or a concert anywhere, is amazingly expensive: more expensive than London or NY. South of Sydney, there is not a lot to see. Cabramatta, to the south West, is where rival Korean and Tiawanese immigrant gangs fight most nights. The average is more than a shooting a night. You have been warned! Australia, thanks to the weakness of its currency, makes shopping quite cheap, but for Brits going over there, don't buy designer labels, as for the most part they are European, and so you can get them for quite a bit less even in London. Food is cheap, but with only a few restaurants of note, the gastromones amongst you will be sadly dissappointed. The best restaurant is on the corner of Circular Quay towards the Hyatt hotel, and is one of the best fish restaurants in the world allegedly. Art is prohibitively expensive, especailly Aboriginal works, and there are many unscrupulous dealers turning out m
uck. Real Estate is very cheap however! Electronics are also cheap as there are plenty of cheap Japanese imports. Avoid the museum of contempory art at all costs. Tate Modern, The NY Metro, even the Saatchi gallery trounce it. I could not get over how small it was, and how poor the installations were. Those looking for a cultural trip will find nothing. If you know of somewhere which I do not, please let me know! The thing I enjoy most in Sydney is taking the ferry from Circular Quay to Manly. You go out to the Heads and get wonderful views on what is always a very smooth ride. It costs very little, but don't try it at school coming out time or rush hour as they are always packed out. My advice is go to Sydney once, and decide. I still find it very artificial and characterless, albeit sunny and modern. However, the flight is appallingly long, so make sure you choose an airline which has decent inflight entertainment, as well as a stop off somewhere which interests you. I cannot recommend Japan Airlines (JAL) highly enough, although if you want to see Tokyo or Osaka, you'll need to stay longer than one night as both airports are a good 40 miles out from the city. Do not hesitate to get in touch should you require more info. I will be only too happy to write to you. I hope I have not put you off, but I genuinely cannot understand the basis of the fascination which Sydney holds for some people.
Sydney is probably Australia's most well known and well renowned city, if not one of the most well known throughout the world! It is situated perfectly on Sydney harbour, which has one of the most famous attractions in the world, the Sydney harbour bridge! Whilst here you have the amazing opportunity to walk right along the top of the bridge, (connected up mind you, just for the safety), and experience the amazing views of Sydney! (Mind you, it's not for the faint hearted at this height!) Many people might have witnessed the firework spectacular that took place on the Harbour bridge during the millennium celebrations, unfortunately i was one of the ones who witnessed it on TV, but this gave people the perfect view of the bridge! Another famous attraction here in Sydney has to be the Sydney Opera house! The Sydney opera house was designed back in 1957 though it has what some people might call a futuristic look to it. But it did cost over 100million dollars to build, some might say that it wasn't worth it but i think that every penny was well spent! Other attractions include the quay, the rocks area and Hyde park/domain all of which are well worth a visit!
Whatever you do don't let the travelling time or distance put you off going to Sydney. Providing you go for 2 or more weeks, you will enjoy it. It is a long journey so allow yourself a day to recover. I was lucky that I stayed with friends, they forced me to stay awake till 8/9 pm on the first night (at which point I had been awake for nearly 40 hours) and I slept like a log and woke at 8 the next morning - perfect! Sydney itself is a big place, but ever since the city got the olympics the public transport system has improved, and is possibly the best I've ever used. There are ferries which go from the main harbour (close to the Opera House and a short walk from the main shopping area), out to all the other bays and they only cost a few pounds to use. The buses run all over the place and are cheaper - but make sure you have plenty of change. I stayed in the city for a few nights and also in Deewhy (near to Manly and part of what is called the Northern Beaches area) and we also stayed about 2 hours north of the city in a place called Kincumber. The city seems to be busy 24 hours, the shops open very late, the bars are all nice and the people very friendly (most of the time). As far as must do things I would say, have a night in the city - out partying, make sure you go to Taronga Zoo (it is also a great place for scenic photos of the harbour), visit Manly, go to Darling Harbour for lunch/dinner and shopping and take a ride on the monorail (which you can pick up at Darling Harbour) you will get a good view of the main part of the city. The weather in March was spot on, it was between 25-30 degrees and sunny almost every day. But be warned, when it rains it pours!! (but only for a short while) . My main advice would be, if you are thinking about going - go. You won't regret it.
Never mind about Brisbane, if you are travelling up the East Coast from Sydney stop here and stay for a while. This place has everything. Gorgeous beaches, shopping malls for even the poorest of travellers, great little cafes and ice cream parlours. Try a place called Wendy's that do the most mouthwatering strawberry smoothies yummmy. There's an Irish pub on the sea front called O'Malleys and it does the best steak and ale pie we are talking huge portions...not that I eat alot!! The night life is great, its chilling and its happening just shut your ears to the music its a little backward if you know what I mean but the company more than makes up for it. Take a trip up the Nerang river to check out the jet set. This is the Gold Coast baby and these guys are rich, we are talking mansions on the river with jet ski's, boats, beach buggy's.. It makes you sick but you've just gotta take a look. Its a far cry from Pall Mall these people know how to live. If you want to try your luck look in the local papers for lottery houses. These mansions are built by a charity for war Veterans called RSL and you pay $5 for a ticket and if you're picked you win a fully furnished mansion complete with pool, spa, boats, cars you name it. Unfortunately I never won but then I've never been lucky with that type of thing. I lived in Surfers for 8 weeks and after travelling all the way up to Cape Tribulation pined so much for it that I came back and lived their another 2 months! If you need work...no problem. I got a brill job as a promotion girl for the Indie Car Races pouring wine (mostly over myself!) for the jet set whilst they watched the event. Good money, just be careful they don't want a little more! And if you're thinking what I think you're thinking....sorry I'm not that kinda girl! But hey I've heard they pay good money for that sort of thing. Yep I fell in love with Surfers and I am in the process
of emmigrating if they'll have me. You gotta go you never know I may see you there in O'Malleys! Take it easy. R.
Sydney has to be one of the most exciting beautiful functional cities on the globe. Not only is there tons of things to do there but it blends aesthetically with the New South Wales climate and landscape giving the city energy and a real buzzz. Going to work in the morning on a ferry gliding over the crisp blue harbor swell is certainly the most stress free way to start the day. Australians are not only gifted with a paradise but they live in a classless society which allows more access and democracy in the citizens every day lives generating a unique camaraderie around the place. Sport is the concurrent theme to this land and more so here. Theres great cricket and soccer/Rugby stadiums and competitions most of the year at very fair prices. If you like the Track, Randwick (gee-gees) is very accessible with good grade races all year here. The harbor is the main tourist attraction with a busy dock (Circular Key) sending public ferries chugging of in all directions occasionally tossed around by Giant Ocean liners prowling near by. There are affordable passes allowing combinations of public transport efficiently around the grid.$30 OZ dollars is the top price weekly ticket giving you unlimited access to multiple transport methods this bustling metropolis requires to get around. The Powerhouse museum near to the Opera house is a head of its time with frequent new exhibits at a comfortable $10 oz to get in. This area has grown a lot recently especially with it being Olympic year, which has pepped up the city dramatically. The Opera house is worth a nose around. Theres a free shows on Tuesdays for the tourists which is not as tacky as it sounds. Also free in this bayside are is the tropical park that breeds various southern Hemisphere plants and shrubbery with a squatting colony of Fruit Bats some 10-0000 in all that on mass buzz the cities Skyscrapers during the winter rush hours, quite a sight if your used to Sparrows and stuff. The b
eaches are as Australian as you would expect with guys in red and yellow bonnets diving into the surf as the girls coo and TheBrits get dragged out of the waves by em. Bondi is not as sexy as it sounds and quite the English cove with cafes and hotels. If you walk to the far left of the beach theres a boulder weighing 5 tons balancing on the rocks that was dumped there during a storm in 1920.The surf here can be very treacherous with notorious rips and dangerous swells. Obey the flags and buoys or you are in sh***t. The beaches are easy to get to on trains and buses although the late night service to Bondi Junction dies around midnight leaving you four miles out from the center. I stayed in Glebe a mile out from the business hub. It’s a nice studenty rustic area near to the Uni with lots of cheap restaurants and bars with little hassle although you struggle to find any trouble in this city and indeed country, another one of its numerous pluses. Kings Cross is the seedier backpacker zone right in the city which I stayed in on arrival .The hostels are grubby and not recommended with shringes and god knows what laying around. Its noisy to at night as it’s the prostitution and the infamous gay n lesbians hang out. The bridge was my fav bit of the city especially when its open for guided tours up to the top gantry and if you are really lucky the railing walk to the pinnacle if you tag along with a guide at limited times. The hostels on the whole are good but big and around $10,00…$15,00 dollars a night for a dorm in a backpackers to $18,00(8 POUNDS) for the IYHA non-smoking more pleasant surroundings. The city is swarming with Brits and Germans on various work visas so if your looking for graft be patient as most of the UKs student population is hear on “The Year Out”blowing the grant and Daddies credit card. The climate is good here but June to Aug cab be sh**house as the Aussies like to say (An English summer!)
. with the summer months hitting the 90s regular. South and North of Sydney offer surfey resorts and the Blue Mountains linger to the west, well worth a day out .The eclectic metropolis.
I loved Sydney and watching the Olympics last year brought back so many great memories. I travelled there 5 years ago with 4 of my friends for 2 weeks and we wanted to stay there forever. The first thing that struck me about Sydney was the size of everything, especially the Opera House. It is huge and a very impressive building, and there just seems to be more water than I ever imagined! We wanted to try all of the types of transport available but only got around to trying the water taxi and the local buses, both of which were experiences I would repeat if I went back, as they were both reasonably priced, clean and comfortable. The shops were as I expected, but to be honest I am not up to date with what is in the height of fashion, so while my friend thought they were a bit behind the times, and maybe a couple of season behind us, I thought the Aussies had great style. The Kings Cross area of the town was where we headed most nights as there was a good choice of nightlife. We found that fellow clubbers were much more friendly than in this country, because they are either visitors or the very accomadating Sydney locals who made everyone feel very welcome. We stopped over in Bali for 2 days on the way there, and it was the perfect start to a dream 2 weeks, as this was a beautiful place and well worth the stayover. The best time to go is between October and November or March and April, June to August is winter in Australia. So get saving and go see Sydney for yourself.
Having just spent a week in Sydney......I love it Best city I have been in yet I recommend the harbour cruise.........a must Jordans restaurant @ Darling is cool...great lobster Dined @ revolving tower restaurant....a bit wierd the feeling.......geat view, not so great buffet Parramatta is a bit dull recommend Banjo Pattersons once the home the man himself who penned Waltzing Matilda Stadium Oz, looked incredible City very clean, great bars, great skyline, loads to do. very cosmopolitan 5/5...can't wait to go back
Sydney is great, full to the brim of wacky and weird people which is what I like to see in a major city. Variety! There are many areas in Sydney that would take a very long time to explore properly. As you know, the Olympics are here in the year 2000, September! When they won it was beer on the house! Great stuff. One of the most controversial areas in Sydney is Kings Cross, with night-clubs that stay open until 7 am, (just in time for work!), great restaurants and scenes that will probably make your jaw drop. Sydney is the gay capital of the world and things just go crazy when the Mardegra is on, you can see it all in Kings Cross. From Kings Cross, if you wander towards Woomolloo, there is a great pub that plays great live acts. From there, you're not too far from the Opera House and the city. The Opera House is absolutely wicked. Last time I was there, I sat on the steps at sunset, the music was playing was a kind of windy - relaxing type music, man.. That was a wicked sunset and a wicked moment!
I have lived in Australia, and spent quite some time in Sydney. There is no denying it - it is a beautiful place and well worth going to, but once you have done the big things - the harbour cruise, the opera house, they are both spectacular, but other than those there is not a great deal left to do. Of the other things worth considering, the inexpensive ferry trip to Manly is one of them in my opinion. Don't bother going to Bondi beach - there are much better beaches around Sydney. If you do come here, consider starting or ending your trip to Australia in Sydney - spend a few days, enjoy it and then move on before you get bored and fed up of the crowds of tourists. I am not knocking Sydney at all - I love the place, but for more than a few days, no thanks. If you want culture and more things to do - try Melbourne.
Sydney Harbour National Park is a national park comprising parts of Sydney Harbour, its foreshores and various islands. The park lies within the Sydney metropolitan area.