Sydney is not only the largest city in Australia (3,500,000 inhabitants) but is also the capital of New South Wales, the oldest state in Australia. The city lies along the length of the peninsula from the southern coast of Botany Bay to Port Jackson. The construction of an enormous bridge, at Port Jackson, has made the communication between the two parts of the city much easier and has allowed the city to expand and incorporate the smaller out-lying areas. Sydney now comprises 531km2 (Greater Sydney), made up of 29 districts and various city areas: Parramatta, Liverpool, Penrith, Bankstown, Canterbury and Sydney itself.
Sydney, like any metropolis, is constructed around a densely built-up city centre, however there are many residential areas where trees and plants contend with the buildings for space. These zones of the city give the impression of living in the country-side, with eucalyptus trees growing outside the window and sub-tropical vegetation to complete the picture. The city centre is quickly and easily reachable by car. The sea, with its many beaches and numerous sandy inlets, is only a few minutes away from whatever point in the city. Sydney is best described as a coral-shaped stretch of sea that penetrates inland for kilometres, indenting the land on its way and creating an increasingly wonderful landscape. Frenetic and at the same time romantic, lively and bubbly; Sydney is a collection of attractions, that rarely deludes its visitor.
The city offers numerous interesting sights: the Harbour Bridge, The Rocks and Sydney Harbour. The Rocks, built in 1932, is a splendid example of contemporary architecture and is not only the cultural centre of Sydney, but is also the true heart of the city. This area of old colonial- style shops and elegant residences, complete with verandas, possesses numerous attractions for the visitor: Argyle Cut, Cadman’s Cottage, the Geological and Mining Museum and the Hero of Waterloo Hotel;. the Sydney Harbour Bridge marks the finishing point of The Rocks and the start of the splendid bay, that leads the visitor to the Sydney Opera House, emblem of modern art and symbol of the city. A splendid view over the city can be gained from the Sydney Tower, Marquerie’s Point or the terrace of the Visitor’s Centre at the Australian Museum. The city’s note-worthy buildings include: the Mint (1811), Saint James’ Church and the Queen’s Square Barracks, all from the Classic period, the Byzantine Synagogue, various Victorian buildings and the modern - style Gloucester House(1932), University Student House and the J. Utzon Opera Theatre(1957-1970). The city is a flourishing cultural centre, seat of three Universities; a polytechnic; a Musical Conservatory; an Academy of Fine Arts; an Astronomy Observatory; a library; an Australian Museum, the largest in the country dedicated to natural history and Aboriginal and Melanesian art and the National Art Gallery, which contains European masterpieces from the Renaissance Period and Australian art from the 19th and 20th Century.
Hotels and lodging
The Royal Botanic Gardens, with its collection of South Pacific flora, is only one of the many parks within Sydney. The oldest national park in the world is situated 30 km south of the city . This sandstone high-plain, covered with a mass of low bushes, was devastated by fire in 1994; fortunately the wooded valleys and the beaches have remained intact.
The Hacking River runs through the middle of the park. Audley, situated on the river bank, offers picnic areas and the possibility to hire boats in order to explore the river
. The 26 km trail which starts from Bundeena is spectacular. The best views of the park are obtained from the Illawarra slopes, near the southern border of the park.
A visit to Sydney Bay is a must and is best seen by crossing it on a ferry-boat. Visit the numerous beaches in the city suburbs, all of which are beautiful and suitable for bathing: the closest is Bondi Beach, but equally attractive are Cronulla and Maroubra.
Beach and surf lovers of New South Wales owe their thanks to Manly Beach, for it was here, in 1902, that the editor William Gocher, defied for the first time the state law, which prohibited public bathing.
Manly Beach esplanade is now an area populated by rollerbladers, joggers and cyclists, while the white sands to the south and the golden sands to the north are host to a multitude of bathers and surfers. Manly Beach can be reached by means of a short ferry ride from Circular Quay, or on foot following the Manly Scenic Walkway, which starts from Spit Bridge in the city. The walk can take up to 4 hours, but is rewarding and offers some of the most breath-taking views of the city.
A visit to the Blue Mountains is not to be missed. The easiest way to see them is by car, however there is a train service which leaves every hour from Central Station for Katoomba. The dramatic scenery of the Blue Mountains National Park is a great attraction for nature lovers. There are numerous trails which lead through the fresh forest of eucalyptus trees. The trees give off a blue haze, from which the zone takes its name. The more active visitor can dedicate himself to hiking, horse-riding or mountain-biking. The major attraction of the park is the Three Sisters, a characteristic rock formation, that owes its name to aboriginal legend.
You can find more popular things to do in Sydney, on the official events calendar.
The main shopping area is enclosed within the zone delineated by Martin Place, George Street, Park Street and Elizabeth Street. Here it is possible to find the large department stores: Waltons, Grace Bros and David Jones. The city centre is the pedestrianized Martin Place, where free concerts are held during public holidays. Paddy’s, at Darling Harbour, is a bustling market of fresh produce, flowers, clothes and leather goods. It is held every Friday and Saturday.
Maps and transportation
Getting to Sydney
The city’s transport system of buses, ferries and trains, is well developed, efficient and cheap. State Transit operates both the bus and ferry service. Bus tickets can be bought directly on board the buses. The commuter ferry network, that crosses Sydney Harbour, is one of the best ways to see the port. The ferries run from Circular Quay to 30 separate destinations. City Rail operates the rail network, with high-speed trains that transport passengers from the outskirts to the city. This service is not always convenient for those tourists who wish to visit the city centre. Sydney Metro operates the monorail and the metropolitan light rail. The monorail serves only the city centre, Darling Harbour and Chinatown; while the metropolitan light rail runs between Central Station and Lilyfield. Taxi ranks are located outside most train and bus stations. The fares are subject to increases for the transportation of luggage,booking by phone,crossing the Sydney Harbour Bridge and certain areas of the Eastern Distributor, where a toll-service is in function. Tips are not necessary, however the fare price is usually rounded- up. The Kingsford Smith International airport is located at the extreme northern point of Botany Bay. If you are looking to venture further out of Sydney travelling via raod is generally recommended. Car rental is the one of the easiest ways visitors can enjoy Sydney exploration. Sydney is full of all the major car hire providerslike Avis, Europcar, Hertz & Thrifty are plentyful - to save time consider using a car hire comparison website.
Practical information and resources
- Currency: Australian Dollar
- Electric supply: 240/250 volts, 60 Hz. The plug is a flat, three-pinned plug and necessitates the use of an adaptor.
- Climate: The climate is temperate, with an average summer temperature in Februaryof 21.4 °C and an average winter temperature in July of 12.6 °C. There are however suffocating heat waves in the summer and freezing rainy days in the winter but no snow or ice. Rainfall is heaviest between April and June.
- Language: English
- Opening hours: Shops are open Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5:30 pm On Saturday from 9 am to Midday. Banks are open from Monday to Thursday, from 9:30 am to 4 pm; Friday from 9:30 am to 5 pm Public Offices are open from Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 5 pm
George Street hosts numerous restaurants, sandwich bars and cafés. Thanks to the influx of immigrants, Sydney now boasts a surprising variety of fine restaurants, located throughout the city. It is possible to taste a wide range of fish and meat based cuisine.
Sydney has a very active night-life, especially in leagues and private clubs.
The Old Push at 109 George Street and The Basement at Circular Quay are highly recommended for the jazz enthusiast.
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