Holiday Information for Sydney, Australia
Sydney is the birthplace of Australia and in world standards, a relatively new city, with settlers first arriving in 1788. This hasn't stopped Sydney from evolving into the vibrant, beautiful and culturally rich city it is known as today. Although not technically the Capital, Sydney is the largest city in Australia and is the centre for finance, banking, retail, health and commerce.
Geographically Sydney is a large city, sprawling about 1600 square kilometres, which is the same size as London and twice that of New York, yet only houses 4 million people. As a consequence there is a large mixture of cultures in Sydney and many distinct areas to discover.
Australia is one of the Worlds oldest land masses, and it is believed was first inhabited by Nomadic tribes who came across from South Eastern Asia around 70,000 - 50,000 BC. These tribes settled, and although they shared some cultural similarities the tribes often spoke different dialects, and had unique traditions and rituals. There were three main tribes that settled in the Sydney area - Ku-ring-gai, Dharawal and Dharug.
The Indigenous Australians were quite an advanced society and were the first ancient people to make edge-ground stone tools and cremate their dead. Geographically Australia has been in its current location and separate from the Asian mainland for 15 million years. Consequently Australia developed some very unique flora and fauna.
Europeans first arrived in the area now known as Sydney in 1770 but did not settle it until 1788. For almost 200 years the British settlers and Aboriginals clashed, as the British viewed Aborigines as 'barbarians' and did not recognise their society or rights to the land. It was only in the late 1960's when Indigenous Australians were recognised as people and allowed to vote.
What to See:
There is a plethora of galleries, museums, sights and places to see in Sydney, and although not comparable to say Rome for history, its vibrancy and energy/liveliness set it aside.
Nicknamed the 'coathanger', the Sydney Harbour Bridge is one of Australia's best known landmarks. It is now possible to climb the 200 stairs to the top and get a breathtaking view over Sydney. If heights are not your thing, you can always take a ferry from Circular Quay to the west and pass under it.
The Opera House sits on a small peninsula overlooking the Harbour and its unique appearance has made it Sydneyís most recognisable icons. The Sydney Opera House hosts live ballet, plays, film, classical music, and of course Opera. The Opera House steps are often used for free live entertainment, including music acts and sporting events shown on large screen. In the area surrounding the Opera House are many exclusive bars and restaurants which overlook the harbour.
Next door to the Opera House is the Royal Botanic Gardens which house plant life from around the world, with particular attention to the South Pacific. A favourite picnic spot with amazing views, the Botanic Gardens are home to the Sydney Tropical Centre, spectacular greenhouse; the Succulent Garden and the Rose Garden.
The Art Gallery of New South Wales in the Domain has an extensive display of Australian, Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander Art, as well as European and Asian Art. The Gallery often has some interesting temporary exhibits which usually have a charge.
Sydney's Taronga Zoo in the North Shore Suburb of Mosman is one of the Worlds most renowned Zoo's. Taronga has many great exhibits, enclosures, shows and talks. Taronga is always acquiring new animals, building new exhibits and has a function room which can be hired out.
Bondi Beach in Eastern Sydney is one of Australia's most famous beaches. The foreshore houses surf stores, upmarket cafes, fish and chip shops and a plethora of ice-cream parlours. Bondi attracts an eclectic mix of people, so itís good for people watching. The walk south to Coogee along the coast past Tamarama, Bronte, Clovelly and Gordons Bay is lovely.
Manly on the Northern Beaches is a 30 minute ferry ride from Circular Quay and has both a harbour and beach front. The area around the wharf, Corso and beach front has an abundance of surf shops, food outlets, bars and pubs which create a great atmosphere in summer.
The Rocks and Circular Quay area was the first settlement area by the British, and hence has some of the oldest pubs, houses and buildings in Australia. The Lord Nelson, Australian, Glengarry and Mercantile in the Rocks are all great pubs worth a visit. The Rocks Market in summer has some nice arts and crafts and often has jazz on summer evenings. Circular Quay is the wharf for ferries and cruises within Sydney. The Museum of Contemporary Art is right beside the wharves.
Sydney Airport is the busiest in Australia, and most international flights will fly through Asia, or possibly New Zealand or the Pacific Islands. There are plenty of domestic flights from other capital cities and regional towns. You can also travel overland by train or bus although it does take a while.
Summers in Sydney are hot and humid, with frequent thunderstorms. Late spring and early autumn are great times to travel as the temperatures have cooled down and there is less rain. The winters are generally mild with the occasional cold snap.
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