Thursday, March 27, 2014

Sydney - The Harbour City

I have only to hear the word "Sydney" and immediately my mind conjures up the image of the harbour with the Sydney Opera House and the Coathanger (Sydney Harbour Bridge), one of the most recognisable scenes in the world.  I don't believe that any trip to Australia could ever be complete without a visit to Sydney.  Of course, for many international travellers, Sydney is often their point of entry, making it very easy to incorporate into their holiday.  I know that when that plane banks and I get a view of the harbour just after dawn, that I've finally arrived home again.
The Sydney Opera House
Let's start with a few facts.  After many years in the travel industry in the US, I've noticed that it's a pretty common misconception that Sydney is the capital of Australia.  As the most populous city in the country and the most well known, I can see where people get that idea from.  Although Sydney is the capital of the state of New South Wales, Canberra is in fact the nation's capital.

Sydney was established in 1788 on January 26th (celebrated annually as Australia Day), by Arthur Phillip, as a penal colony for Britain.  From such harsh and humble beginnings, a true multicultural metropolis did grow.

There's plenty to see, do and experience in and around Sydney. For a start, you can check out the Sydney Tours Sightseeing and Activities page on our website.  One of my personal favourites is the jet boat tour on the harbour.  If you love speed, you'll love this!  Of course, for a more sedate pace, there's always a lunch or dinner cruise.  If you're not leery of heights, try the Harbour Bridge climb.  The view from the top is spectacular!  The regular climb takes 3 and a half hours, but they've added an express climb which can be accomplished in 2 hours and 15 minutes.

The Sydney Aquarium located on Darling Harbour is currently undergoing a face-lift and 3 new areas have recently opened.  This large complex is a great place to spend a day viewing and interacting with some unusual sealife.   Across the harbour from the Opera House you can find Taronga Zoo.  It's easy to catch a ferry from Circular Quay and be there in just over 10 minutes.  A word of warning,'ll probably be pretty knackered after a full day of walking around all the great exhibits since the zoo sits on an incline.  It's totally worth it though, as the views from the zoo, and my favourite spot - the amphitheater where they do the free flight bird show, will knock your socks off!
Sydney Skyline at Dusk
When you're looking for a place to stay, remember, it's a huge city.  It really does help to have an idea of what you want to see and do before picking a place to stay, so that you can find one conveniently located.  Have a look at our Sydney Australia Hotels page to get a better understanding of what's what and to book your hotels in advance at a great price. 

Sydney is a great city to walk around, and you could walk for miles and not see everything.  The Royal Botanic Gardens are right in the heart of the city, and just a short walk from there is Mrs Macquarie's Chair, located on the peninsular, a sandstone bench carved by convicts in 1810.  It's a good place to stop for a breather and admire the view of the harbour.  If you head east, you have to stop for a real Australian meat pie at Harry's Cafe de Wheels near Finger Wharf (the original location).  Or, if you're heading west, you can stroll around to Bennelong Point, where the Opera House sits, and continue on to Circular Quay.  To get a really top notch view of the entire area, zoom to the observation deck of Sydney Tower (sometimes known as AMP Tower or Centrepoint Tower), which stands 309 m (1014 ft) above the CBD.  A stone's throw from the tower is Hyde Park, a lovely, green respite from the concrete and buildings (although it's not quite on the same par as London's Hyde Park).  At the northern end of the park is the Archibald Fountain and at the opposite end you'll find the ANZAC War Memorial.

These are just a few of the many options of things to see and do in Sydney.  I could write pages and pages of stuff, but what fun would that be?  You need to get out and discover some on your own!

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