* Prices may differ from that shown
Last year I spent a year in Australia which included me living in Sydney for around 7 months on two occasions. I therefore am writing this review on the city from both a visitor and living perceptive.
Sydney was first settled in 1788 although it is thought to have been inhabited by the indigenous population for over 30,000 years! Situated in the state of New South Wales on the East coast it is the largest city in Australia with a population of 4.5million including the suburbs.
It is often mistaken as the nation's capital and it is easy to see why. Apart from its size it has the icons, the beaches and culture. It was ranked this year 10th in the world for quality of living.
Tourist visas can be obtained for up to 3 months/12 months and working holiday visas for those under 31 wishing to spend time working there.
Currency is the Australian dollar and at the time of writing is 1.6 dollars to the pound which is very low!
I myself had two flights to get there. I went from Manchester to Singapore (stopping in Abu Dhabi, spending a week there and from Singapore to Sydney (quick stop at Darwin airport). The first flight was with Qatar Airways and the second with Jetstar which is a budget airline in Australia. Most people visiting Australia will go there direct and you can do so with most major airlines. Having a quick look on skyscanner.net shows that a flight from London to Sydney in February next year costs around the £900 mark the shortest being 24h 20m with a stop in Hong Kong.
A lot of people will not forward to a 24h flight however I didn't find them too bad. For one the journey is split up as you have to stop somewhere for fuel and then there is much to keep you occupied. For me I watched a couple of films on the TV in the back on the headrest and went to sleep!
Sydney has opposite seasons to us. So now as we are getting into the cold months Sydney is at the beginning of spring and summer where temperatures reached 42 degrees when I was there. It was like walking in an oven! The autumn and winter can be a bit dull and wet but it's not as cold as here!
So for me it was a friend of the family's apartment and hostels. Hostels range from $14 to $45 for a dorm with double and private rooms available. In the city I stayed in Wake Up costing $30 a night currently. As for hotels, for a double room, it could cost anything from $79 to over $400 a night. The Ibis has rooms for $169 on some dates in October. Booking ahead you can get a decent hotel for under $200 a night.
From the airport you can either get a taxi, train, bus or airport pick-up (a lot of hotels/hostels will do these). Getting the train is pretty easy; follow the sign for the train and get a ticket to Central Station which will take you straight into the city.
There are a few stations in the city most of which are underground. If you want to be near the opera house/bridge you will need Circular Quay, the aquarium/main shopping you will need Town Hall or Museum station.
A single trip within the stops in the city will cost $3.20 which is a little expensive for the distance it is. For only a little bit more you can take a longer journey to the suburbs on the north shore or in fact anywhere around Sydney.
The ferries are a great way to get from A to B in a different style which can make for a fun trip too. I did a couple of trips; one from Circular Quay to Darling Harbour (both in the city) and another from CQ to Manly. The Manly trip cost approx $12 return and is a lovely boat ride. It takes approx half an hour in which time you get to see some of the coastline of the area.
George Street and Pitt Street running from the bottom to the top of the city house all the main high street shops in Australia with Elizabeth Street being home to some of the classier labels. The main department stores are Myer and David Jones. The thing I loved here was that there were so many shopping centres to discover. You have the obvious ones such as Pitt Street Mall and Darling Harbour but then there were loads underground adjoined to the train stations often interconnecting. It was like another world underground and I was constantly finding a new one I had never seen before!
The main food shops in the city were Coles and Woolworths. Woolworths is right in the middle of George Street on many floors where you can also access it from Town Hall station. Coles had a few shops, with the main one being in the centre in World Square.
Shops open late here, even some of the clothes shops wouldn't close until 9pm most nights! There are small 24/7 shops all around.
For cheap fresh fruit and veg and souvenirs head to Paddy's Markets near Darling Harbour. Located underneath (you guessed it) a shopping centre it has a lot of stalls selling most things, a popular choice being souvenirs. Head to the left-hand side and you will find the fruit, veg and meat stalls selling at a much reduced price to the supermarkets. When I discovered this I used to go every week for my fruit and veg. Prices did fluctuate but I would often pay half the prices for apples and bananas for example.
One of the advantages Sydney has over its rival Melbourne is the fantastic beaches.
Everyone has heard of Bondi Beach (home to the TV program Bondi Rescue).
Coogee beach I love. Coogee was where I stayed for my first week in Sydney on OzIntro and is a lovely suburb with a perfect manageable sized beach. You can get here from Sydney for $4 each way on the bus.
Manly beach on the northern shore is reached by ferry from Sydney as mentioned above. The trip there is lovely but don't make the mistake my friends and I made. Getting off the ferry and seeing a beach right there we settled for the day. Upon getting back to the flat we discovered from out flat-mates that that was not Manly beach! You have to walk through the town where you will see the proper beach which is huge! Whoops!
Palm Beach is further north but is probably worth the trek if you are a fan of Home and Away as this is where it is filmed.
As mentioned earlier smaller beaches are located in between Bondi and Coogee. I would imagine these would have more locals at them rather than tourists.
All the beaches I have been too have barbeques you can use.
Being a backpacker I didn't sample many restaurants but I know that they are many and varied. Every type of food is available. Darling Harbour houses a few nice seafood restaurants which I tried once. Calamari is on all the menus, which I'd never tried before but is lovely.
One of the best things about food in Australia is the food courts. To be found in every shopping centre you can get all your fast-food including MacDonald's, KFC and Burger King to food served by individual vendors such as Chinese, Korean and Mexican food. I love food-courts as everyone can have what they want but sit together.
I found eating out to be cheaper than at home but supermarkets in general to be more expensive.
Opera house/bridge - These are the two images that spring to mind when one thinks of Australia. They are both in the same area, Circular Quay. The opera house run tours of the inside. For the bridge there is the famous bridge climb. I completed this but it was quite costly, currently costing $198. It gives spectacular views but you can get similar ones for cheaper going up the sky tower (see below). The other alternative is going up on the towers of the bridge which costs $10.
Sky Tower - This tower revolves from the inside and is a great place to have a meal whilst taking in the view which goes for miles. It is quite funny to get up to go back to the buffet to find it has moved! I'm not sure of the exact price as I did this as part as my OzIntro week but it is a lot cheaper than the bridge!
You can take a trip to the observation deck for $24.99 for an adult which includes a reality ride across Australia!
One of the other things you can do here is the Skywalk which takes you to the roof of the tower! I didn't know this but here it is double the height of the bridge! This is $64.99 for adults but you can combine this with the observation deck to make it cheaper.
Sydney Aquarium and Wildlife World - Situated in Darling Harbour these can be visited in the same day.
It is worth mentioning that if you wanted to visit these attractions you can purchase a combo pass letting you into the skytrek tower, aquarium, wildlife world and oceanworld in Manly for $49.99. This is excellent value considering entry into the Aquarium costs $34.99!
Discounts can also be found in booklets about the city from tourist information.
Museums - The Australian museum is housed near Hyde Park (which itself is a nice walk through with the huge fountain and Anzac memorial with Sydney Barracks and St. Mary's cathedral at the side). It has natural science and world cultures including a huge dinosaur!
The Powerhouse Museum located on the other side of Darling Harbour has science, technology and design with temporary exhibitions such as fashion, AC/DC and Star Wars!
The Museum of Contemporary Art or MCA is in Circular Quay with free entry though I can't tell you much about this one as art it not my thing!
Luna Park - Located on the other side of the bridge, this is free to walk around. Created in 1935 this is an old-style amusement park where Coney Island funhouse, wild mouse ride, dodgems, carousel, ferris wheel are among the older style rides with newer ones mixed in. One of the ones we went on made me feel a little queasy after and I normally love rides! It's not that cheap to buy ride tickets individually like we did as we were short on time; rather, getting an unlimited pass is much better. Everything (though not the size of the park) is very big and colourful here and you can see it all lit up in the evening from the other side of the water. The entrance is a big lit up smiley face and there is also a Luna park in Melbourne.
Blue Mountains - Covering an area of over 1400 square kilometres and 50 minutes away from Sydney this is perfect for either a day or longer trip. Attractions include the three sisters of aboriginal legend and Scenic World which has a VERY steep railway and a scenic skyway taking you across some of the mountains in a glass-bottomed cart in the air. The name comes from the blue haze that comes off the forest from the eucalyptus trees.
Coogee to Bondi walk - This walk taking approx 2 ½ hours takes you along the scenic coastline from the beaches of Coogee and Bondi taking in small quaint beaches along the way. I loved doing this walk as I discovered beaches I didn't even know existed. I just wish I had done it earlier!
Darling Harbour - The shopping centre here has a huge food court and the harbour has an IMAX cinema, a playground and park where events are often held, the Maritime museum and a range of bars and restaurants including the Lindt café looking onto the harbour! As mentioned the Maritime Museum is located here and so lots of historic vessels and ships can be seen in the harbour. Darling Harbour was one of my favourite places to go.
Fish market - Where the fish is bought in Sydney for trade but where they have lovely stalls displaying all the fresh food for you to buy. You can have a lovely fresh lunch here.
Walk across the bridge - Take a walk across the bridge where you will share it with the traffic and the train line. The other side of the bridge and water brings you into the village of Kirribilli. Here you will feel like you are in a different world yet you are so close to the city!
Circular Quay/The Rocks - Take a walk around here one afternoon and walk round the opera house, along the front watching the ferries and looking at the huge cruise liners that are often moored here. Take in the view of the bridge whilst walking to the Rocks which is the oldest part of Sydney.
Housing Sydney's oldest pub from 1828, the cobbled streets are lined with small shops, restaurants/cafes, pubs and trendy bars. The tourist information centre is located here.
At the weekend it hosts a fabulous market where you can pick up gifts or treats for yourselves that are often unique and hand-made. Looking at the Rocks website it says there is now a farmers market on the Friday which wasn't there when I was there, but you can be sure that it will be more upmarket than the ones that happen in my town every month! Coming up to Christmas they have the markets by moonlight on Friday evenings with live music.
Botanical Gardens - Being over 30 hectares and in the east side of the city these are a great place for walking and relaxing taking in the lakes, pyramid glasshouse, flowers and rose garden. There are various places to access the gardens including next to the opera house and further up near Hyde Park. Here and in Hyde Park you can see flying fox bats hanging from the trees!
Olympic village - Catch a train to where the Sydney 2000 Olympics were held and have a wander round. The various sporting places are now used by the public. One night we went to the ANZ stadium there and watched an AFL game with the Sydney Swans for a reasonable price. It doesn't take long to pick up the rules of this game but I still prefer football!
---Living and working in Sydney---
As I lived here for 7 months in total I thought it fit to include a little summery of what it is like to live in the city.
A friend that I met in Singapore and I decided to get a flat together so when she arrived we went flat-hunting. We found ours on gumtree and after a few viewings went with the first flat we saw. We were to share with four other people but had a room of our own. It was a posh apartment block, which was actually attached the Radisson hotel and had a gym, pool and jacuzzi to use! The next flat I lived in was with two girls I met on OzIntro. This flat was shared with six other people of which two were in the partitioned off living room!
I found work within a few weeks of registering with an agency in an office in North Sydney. It took about an hour door-to-door on the train. I was an administration assistant and earned $21 an hour which at the time was about £10.50 an hour! So wages were great but as some-one on a working-holiday visa you are taxed a lot.
Living in the city there was always something to do whether it was going to a free festival/parade/event, going to the cinema, the beach or wandering around the Botanical Gardens.
Going to the cinema was a regular thing and although they are expensive over there with the big one on George Street costing $18.00 the trick is to go on Tuesdays were it is only $10. Go to the cinema in Randwick (lovely suburb near Coogee) and it is only $7!
Getting away for the weekend or longer is easy by train, bus or plane. There are a few budget airlines that will get you from city to city for as little as $39. Places to go for the weekend from Sydney include Melbourne, Tasmania and the Gold Coast.
I watched the fireworks in Sydney on New Years Eve and that was a great day. Arriving at Mrs Macquarie's Chair in the Botanical Gardens at 8.30 in the morning we queued for over 2 hours just to get into the gardens and grabbed a spot. We sat there all day chilling out, reading and playing games until the evening and it was time to see the family fireworks at 9pm and the main ones at midnight. So the tip here is get to wherever you are wanting to view them from early!
It was great to be in the thick of it where everything was open late but sometimes the busyness was too much and you just wanted to escape to a nice quite suburb. Indeed if I was to go there again I would live in the suburbs - if only to actually meet some Australians!
I thoroughly recommend Sydney as a destination to start or finish your Australian holiday in. You could easily spend at least a week there without being bored as there is something for everyone with a mix of paying activities and free ones. Everyone knows of the Sydney Bridge, Sydney Opera House and Bondi Beach but there is a lot more to this city and you should come and find out!
Whether it be the sophistication of Darling Harbour, the class of the Rocks, the culture of Circular Quay or the Backpackers delight of Bondi Beach there's something to please everyone in Sydney.
This is part of the world that shows how great a city should be. Within 30 minutes of the centre of the city you can be at some of the most beautiful beaches you'll ever see, or you can chill out down by the harbour and watch the world go by on a Saturday afternoon.
I was lucky enough to visit this fantastic city in 2007 and fell in love, I am now hoping to be eligible for emigration within a few years so that I can make Sydney and Australia my future home and here's why.
Unlike a lot of cities in the UK, Sydney offers everything a Brit could want. You have a range of shops and activities to choose from in the CBD and when you want to kick back and relax you can take a short journey to the likes of Bondi beach or the Northern Beaches which are simply stunning. Sydney is more than just a city it's a way of life and one that epitomizes the Australian way of life.
So here's a quick guide to what I'd recommend in Sydney:
Where to Stay:
When I first arrived in Sydney I stayed at the Wake Up Hostel that's on the corner of George and Pitt Street (these street names always make me think of George Clooney and Brad Pitt!) The hostel is definitely one of the best that I've stayed in and is more like a hotel than a place where backpackers hang out. This is also the only hostel that I've stayed in that has an elevator in it! Very handy if you've got a suitcase!
Prices start from $30AUD for a 10 bed dorm.
From here I went to stay at the Maze Backpackers, I chose to have a single room and it came with a single bed and nightstand but that was about in and cost a total of $300AUD for a week, I probably wouldn't stay here again as it wasn't as clean or nice as Wake Up.
The third hostel I stayed at in Sydney was Funk House Backpackers in Kings Cross. I didn't realise at the time of booking that Kings Cross was the red light district of Sydney but I had no problem here at all and it's actually a nice neighbourhood. Just ignore the prostitute trying to sell herself as you walk home!
Where to go:
There's so many places to go it's going to be hard to narrow it down but I'll do my best.
You can't visit Sydney and not go to the Northern Beaches. This is perhaps most well known in the UK as it's where Home and Away is filmed (in Palm Beach more specifically). You can catch the bus from outside the Burger King on George Street and it'll take you direct to the beaches. You can see popular filming spots for H&A as well as relax on a white sandy beach.
The Opera House is also another place one definitely has to see. I didn't go inside the building as I think it was too expensive for me at the time but I always enjoyed sitting in the park at the weekend with my fiancee and he proposed with the Opera House in sight, so it's a special place for me. There's a nice walk round the lake where you can find the spot to get the perfect tourist photo. There's so much on offer though at Circular Quay, you can see street performers who entertain the tourists, you can listen to Aborigines playing didgeridoos and go to some stylish restaurants for lunch.
To get here you can take a train from Central Station or Town Hall Station and get off at Circular Quay and it's pretty much right in front of you.
There's also barges at Circular Quay that'll take you across the water to Manly which is another beachtown that's worth a day trip at least.
Also if you're in Sydney for Australia Day (mid-end of January) or New Years Eve they always have fantastic firework displays. I haven't seen the fireworks at NYE but it's one of those things that are on my bucket list!
It's probably best to fly to Sydney from London as it's already a really long flight (approx 30 hours). If you're under 35 you can get a working holiday visa - which is what I did - and stay and work in Oz for a year. These are available from BUNAC or STA Travel but you only get to use it once, so if you fall in love with Australia find permanent employment while you can and don't wait six years like I have to do!
The train system in Sydney is incredibly good as is the bus system. The main station in the CBD is Central Station but I preferred to use Town Hall Station as it was more handy. Unfortunately there's no trains to the Northern Beaches so you do have to rely on the buses to go there unless you decide to rent a car.
If you decide to go to Australia for a year and rent a room then there are some reasonable places outside of Sydney but I found all the rooms in the centre were way over priced and you'll end up sharing a room with someone else which wasn't for me as I was working, so I had to look outside the city for a reasonable price on rent. Rent is usually paid weekly here though rather than monthly as in the UK. Jobs are also easy to find for the backpacker however, I was there before the recession so I don't know if it's different now but I never had to wait long to find work.
All in all, Sydney is certainly a place to add as a place to visit to your Bucket List (if you have one that is!) Also if you want to visit other places in Australia there's reasonable prices on domestic flights as well as international.
Best time of year to go would be during the Australian spring time as the summer can get incredibly hot and this is usually in the January/February time, but if the heat gets too much you can always grab a surf board and hit the waves!
Sydneyside - sydney is one of my favourite places in the world it really has everything - Spectacular views, stunning natural attributes and a laid back atmosphere, what more could you want from a stylish city? Sydney is an instant hit, with warm summers and cool winters this vibrant hip city makes you feel healthier immediately and that can't be bad!
Sydney is easy to navigate around, the city is compact with most sights within walking distance of the harbour. An excellent ferry network allows you to take advantage of the waterfront setting and gives easy access to the beaches and north and south shores.
What to see?
The iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge should not be missed. Tours of the Opera House are available and worth it if you have the time. (www.sydneyoperahouse.com) For those with a head for heights you can do the Harbour Bridge Climb for some of the most amazing views of Sydney Harbour. (Be warned you are breathalysed before Bridge Climb) (www.bridgeclimb.com)
For a zoo with a view take a trip to Taronga Zoo for koalas, kangaroos and a Sydney backdrop. (www.zoo.nsw.gov.au) Sydney's beaches are some of the best in the world with plenty of people watching opportunities. For the more energetic try a surf lesson or if you feel like a walk do the Coogee to Bondi walk along the cliffs and coastline.
Where to shop?
Shopping is excellent with the city centre having all the usual international designers, but for Sydney's answer to Buchanan Street head for the fashionable Oxford Street and Paddington area. You will find there all the stylish home grown Australian design talent like Zimmerman (www.zimmermannwear.com), Sass & Bide (www.sassandbide.com), Scanlan & Theodore (www.scanlanandtheodore.com.au) and Collette Dinnigan.
For up and coming designers, crafts and arts take a trip to the Paddington Market, held every Saturday on the corner of Oxford Street and Newcombe Street (www.paddingtonmarket.com.au). Or if you are looking for a bit of Australiana arts & crafts head to the Rocks market held every weekend in this historic area (www.therocksmarket.com).
Where to eat?
A gourmet lovers paradise, Sydney prides itself on its food. A melting pot of cuisines you can find good quality food to suit all budgets and palates, including for the adventurous skippy & chips.
For some of the best fish & chips in the southern hemisphere with stunning views try the Sydney institution, Doyles on the Beach at Watson's Bay (www.doyles.com.au).
Bills, in Darlinghurst, Surry Hills and Woollahra, is laid back café style serving a perfect Sydney breakfast and lunch. Try the sweetcorn fritters with roast tomato, spinach and bacon or the creamy scrambled eggs, so many yummy options to choose from (www.bills.com.au)
Longrain on Commonwealth Street is a great Asian Thai restaurant, with long communal tables this is a great place for its atmosphere, cocktails and food. (www.longrain.com.au).
Where to stay?
Sydney has a wide variety of accommodation available from back packing hostels to exclusive luxury. Ravesi's on Campbell Parade in Bondi is a boutique hotel, with an ideal location, a fab bar and restaurant this is a bit special (www.ravesis.com.au).
For that special occasion or if you are feeling really flush book into the Park Hyatt, located on the Harbour and looking directly over to the Opera House this hotel is one of the most exclusive in Sydney and its all about location, location, location (www.sydney.park.hyatt.com)
Need to know?
For more information on visiting Sydney see. www.sydneyaustralia.com
After a huge plane journey from England you would be glad to land just about anywhere in the world, but when you step out of the plane into Syndey, you realise that the long wait was more than worth it.
Sydney is the capital of New Soth Wales, not Australia as i had been led to believe, however it may aswel be.
Sydney is iconic in itslef, you think of Australia and you imagine the Opera house with Tower bridge, as pictured above, Sydney optimises Australia.
Im from a quiet town and dislike the citys, however when i first went to Sydney i just knew that this would be different. It is quite busy, nowhere near as busy as London and the like, but busy compared to other places in OZ. Despite the busyness, you never feel like a tourist, everybody is always willing to help you out and talk to you, your able to strike up a conversation with absolutly anybody about anything, you really do feel welcome.
If your visiting as a tourist then there are plenty of things to do. The most obvious is to get down to Circular Quay and see the Opera house, maybe catch a show. For something different my girlfriend and I decided to walk acrosee the top of the Bridge, quite expensive but certainly worth it considering the views you get.
If money is a bit of an issue then there are plenty of other things to do. Visiting the Botanic gardens during lunch time is a must to see everybody working out, and trawling through the shops is an obvious choice for girls!
The night life is good too, many good pubs and clubs out which are not too expensive compared to the rest of Australia.
There is always something on too which gives a great 'community' style feel to the city. Whilst i was there a food and arts show was hosted at night where you could try food from many different cuisines and portraits were hung up around the parks.
Overall i believe Sydney to be different from other cities, it just has a magical feel to it. If visiting Australia, Sydney is a must.
You've been on the plane for close to 30 hours, you're exhausted and can't wait to be out of the confines of the aeroplane. It's only when you look outside the window you realise that you've landed on the other side of the world.
Sydney is the capital of New South Wales, it lies close to the water and has a population of approximately 4million people.
It's a havana for backpackers and tourists but manages to maintain normality for the residents who call it home.
From the airport you can either catch the train or a taxi to the centre of town.
Once in the city the train system connects you to pretty much anywhere you want to go. There's numerous stops in the CBD to make getting around easier and if you want to head up to the Northern Beaches there's the 120 Bus that stops outside McDonald's on Pitt Street.
If you want to go to Manly there's a regular ferry service that only costs $10 or so.
The best hostel in Sydney by far is Wake Up. I stayed here for four nights when I first arrived. The staff are friendly and the atmosphere is excellent! It's more like a hotel than a hostel!
There's also a Hilton and numerous other places that any good travel agent can suggest.
Where to start? There's so much to do you'll be spoilt for choice.
Sydney Opera House:
The heart of Sydney and Australia! The Opera House is located in the chic area of Circular Quay, there's everything from street performers to fancy bars. You can sit at a cafe opposite the harbour and enjoy the night time atmosphere.
During the day you can see performances from aborigines and the occasional circus act! Best way to get here is getting off at Circular Quay station where you can get a train from Central.
The aquarium hosts some maginificent creatures and host great exhibitions, definately something for both adults and kids to enjoy.
Manly is a cute little town popular with the young and old, it has a range of shops on the high street and areas are cornered off on the ocean for a good swim.
If you fancy a full day out and don't mind travel then the Northern Beaches is the place to go, it's about an hour from the city and has some amazing beaches. There's also Palm Beach where they film Home and Away.
----Shopping and Eating----
There's plenty of shopping to do in Sydney, there's Pitt Street Mall or the thrift shops on George Street. There's the Chinatown markets where you can find great bargins and there's loads of cafe's to stop and have a bite to eat.
Sydney is a fantastic city and if you stay long enough you'll definately fall n love with the heart of Australia
From the moment you step foot in this city there is something special about it, although maybe I was bias as I had wanted desperately to go to Australia for years. Set around a beautiful harbour on the southern part of the east coast of Australia, Sydney is the cleanest city I have ever visited.
When working out where to stay, the closer you can get to the harbour the better as this is where the city really comes into its own. Though be aware, the closer to the harbour the more expensive everything becomes, especially restaurants. If you're on a budget though, Australia has lots of cheep but perfectly decent youth hostels. Apparently us Brits always give ourselves away by seriously overacting to seeing a tiny little cockroach in a building, which over there is like seeing an ant. Fortunately I had the sense to check my hostel shower before getting in and had a braver than me companion to remove the offender before getting in. So no one else needed to know that I too was so squeamish.
I stayed in a hostel near Hyde Park which made for pleasant daytime and evening strolls, with the avenues of trees being lit up with fairy lights. Whilst cheaper than being near the harbour it did mean I found myself doing the same 25 minute walk along the road to the harbour every day.
One of my favourite experiences in the city was dining in the Top of The World restaurant in the Sydney Tower. The tower, architecturally much like the Stratosphere in Las Vegas, provides the ultimate views of the city and beyond. The dining room takes an hour to rotate 360 degrees, and is a great place for taking photos. I recommend going for lunch as it's about half the price of dinner and provides the best light for seeing miles into the distance.
Running along side the main part of the city is the Sydney Botanical Gardens, my favourite that I've come across in any city so far. Among an array of tropical plants are the most amazing twisted trees, which have spurred a personal interest in the beauty of these great kings of the plant world. You can get lost meandering through the garden for hours and as it runs down to the harbour it provided an excellent alternate, though somewhat longer, route from my hostel.
When you reach the harbour you find the two main landmarks of the city: Sydney Harbour Bridge, and the Sydney Opera House. Unfortunately I was on too tight a budget to see anything performed there, I'll have to save that for next time. At night you can see swarms of bats soar above its striking architecture. Rather than paying the high price to climb the bridge, I opted for simply walking across it. Just being near these iconic landmarks made me smile, and added to the joy of sitting by the harbour waters.
The harbour is a great place to hang about both during the day an evening, and is lined with trendy bars and cafes. Like any city there are a number of homeless residents, and it seems evening by the harbour is the most likely time to be approached. However, those who did approach were courteous and nothing in the city ever made me feel anything less than safe.
The shopping's ok, nothing particularly special for a city, but then it's not really my thing anyway. I did enjoy wandering through the market in the old part of the city, near the base of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. This is the best place to pick up unique crafts and souvenirs.
If you want to get out of the city then catch a bus to the famous Bondi Beach. Whether you want to bathe on its white sands, jump the waves, or, for those of you who can, surf, then this is the place to go. However, I went at Easter outside the main season and I imagine it can get all too busy and touristy during its hottest months in December and January. Slightly closer to the city, and just a quick ferry trip from the harbour, Manly Bay is right on the coast and offers golden sands and lots of shops and cafes. It is here where I got to see the most amazing sand castle ever being created of a dragon. The ferry trip is great in itself as you get to see the city from the water.
Another day trip must is going out to the Blue Mountains. A magnificent mountain range with some stunning waterfalls, although global warming is greatly reducing their flow. By the Three Sisters rock formation there is also the steepest railway in the world, which is more like the steep drop on a roller coaster (this is not to be confused with the steepest funicular railway in Chattanooga, Tennessee).
If I was going to live in a city then Sydney would be the one, as its set within beautiful surroundings and feels cleaner and less polluted than most. It's definitely worth a visit if you're heading to Australia, but it's the natural aspects of the country, rather than its urban areas, that make it amazing. I would however love to head back and see in the New Year with the amazing fireworks display they have over the harbour.