One inescapable fact is Sydney is an ocean front city. The Harbour is everywhere with 4 of the 5 central districts on the water. The Greater Sydney area has many pristine miles of coast line. Did you know there are well over 100 beaches in Sydney? Sydney also enjoys over 300 sunny days each year. Sydney has it all – beach lifestyle, culture, food and wine, and history.
Speaking of history – Indigenous Australians have inhabited the area for over 30,000 years and thousands of engravings remain throughout this region, making it one of the richest for aboriginal archaeological sites in Australia.
In 1770, James Cook and his crew became the first Europeans to visit the area. It didn’t take long for more people to arrive when in 1788 the First Fleet arrived to found a penal colony here. British convicts were originally transported to the 13 colonies in North America, but after the American War of Independence ended in 1783, the newly formed United States refused to accept further convicts. Between 1788 and 1868, roughly 162,000 convicts were transported from Britain and Ireland to various penal colonies in Australia. Most were transported for petty crimes with sentences ranging from 7 years to life. If well behaved, freedom was granted at the end of your sentence however very few had the means to return to Britain and therefore became settlers.
Enough of the history lesson though – let’s get back to modern Sydney. It’s easy to get around with 5 fantastic neighborhoods in the Central district
- City Centre -Home to government and finance offices but also to many of the most famous attractions including the Sydney Opera House and Royal Botanic Gardens. Fine restaurants and shopping are found throughout.
- The Rocks – Once the colonial village of Sydney, the Rocks is now a cosmopolitan area with great old pubs, history, vies and shopping. It’s the gateway to the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge
- Darlin Harbour – It’s an extensive leisure and entertainment area with fish markets, boardwalks, aquariums, hotels and museums.
- City South – The haymarket, Chinatown and central station area is home to markets, cafes and Chinese culture.
- City East – Busy nightlife, coffee shops, fashion and entertainment district.
“Alone of all the races on earth, they seem to be free from the ‘Grass is Greener on the other side of the fence’ syndrome, and roundly proclaim that Australia is, in fact, the other side of that fence.”
Let’s talk about 2 sites which cannot be missed. In fact it seems everywhere you look – there they are – the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge
The Sydney Opera House is one of the 20th century’s most famous and distinctive buildings. Designed by a Danish architect, but completed by and Australian team the building formally opened in October 1973. In 2007, the Sydney Opera House was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The building covers about 4.5 acres of land with the highest point at 22 stories. It is supported by 588 concrete piers sunk over 80 ft below sea level. The roof itself is made of over 2000 concrete sections which weigh upwards of 15 tons each covered with over 1 million tiles. Inside is the main concert hall, with 2 smaller theaters, 1 playhouse, and a recording studio.
Want to see the what it’s like on the inside – check out the Google Arts and Culture street view
Formally opened in 1932, the Sydney Harbour Bridge connects the central business district with the North Shore. It carries rail, vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian traffic and is nicknamed The Coathanger based on its arch design. It is the widest long-span bridge, the tallest steel arch bridge and the 6th longest spanning-arch bridge in the world. Since 1988 it has been possible for tourists to legally climb the bridge. Tours run throughout the day from dawn to night and are only cancelled due to electrical storms or high wind. Over 3 million people have now climbed the bridge including yours truly!