Australia is the only country that has a whole continent to itself. World famous for its manmade wonders and natural beauty, Australia’s landscapes and lifestyles are begging to be explored.
Sydney has an enviable reputation as one of the world’s most beautiful and liveable cities in the world. In fact, if you wanted to see all of the famous landmarks and indulge in all of the activities on offer you probably would have to live there. The country capital is the largest, oldest and most cosmopolitan city in Australia and its famous landmarks are not only distinctive structures on the Sydney urban landscape, but also assist visitors and newcomers find their bearings in the city.
Sydney Opera House
Sydney Opera House provides the backdrop to most visitors’ portrait photographs, serving as a cherished memento from their visit to Australia. If asked to illustrate Sydney, this famous shell-like structure is probably the first image that comes to most people’s minds. Located on Bennelong Point at the north-eastern tip of the Sydney central business district, it is without doubt one of the most famous performing arts centres in the world. Built in 1973, this creative masterpiece is the most recently constructed site to be recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Sydney Harbour Bridge
Since its opening in 1932, Sydney Harbour Bridge has been a source of national pride and a focal point of much tourism. As such, it often plays an integral role in national events and celebrations, from New Year’s Eve fireworks displays to ceremonies from the 2000 Olympics. Standing 134 metres above the Sydney Harbour, this bridge crosses from The Rocks to North Sydney. You can walk or cycle across, picnic underneath it, or climb over the Harbour Bridge. The climb to the summit is an unforgettable experience offering you remarkable views of the city and ideal photo opportunities.
Queen Victoria Building
While the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge are the best of the 20th century, the Queen Victoria Building ranks at the top of the 19th century constructions. This elaborate Romanesque Revival building is as aesthetically pleasing on the outside as it is within. It was originally designed to be a grand government building, but instead became a business environment for tradesmen. Today it is a shopper’s haven as it is occupied by upscale boutiques and designer fashion outlets.
Museums & Galleries
Expand your mind and broaden your cultural horizons with a visit to Sydney’s eclectic collection of institutions, museums and historic sites. Start your journey off with the Australian Museum, with an international reputation in the fields of natural history and anthropology it is also recognised as the country’s oldest museum. Move on to the Museum of Contemporary Art, housed in the Art-Deco style former Maritime Services Board Building on the western edge of Circular Quay. For the gadgeteers and button pushers, try the Powerhouse Museum; a hot-bed of science, design and innovation.
In The Wild
Australia has a unique abundance of wildlife and is synonymous with a number of species that reside here. The most famous of which is the kangaroo and wallabies. While you won’t see any kangaroos hopping down the street in Central Sydney, they are common on the outskirts of most urban cities. Other marsupials include the Tasmanian devil, koala, dingo’s and wombats along with a large number of crocodiles, platypus’ and emu’s.
If you are willing to give up the splendour of witnessing these fascinating creatures in their natural habitat in exchange for a guaranteed peek you may wish to choose from over a hundred wildlife and national parks on offer across the country. We recommend visiting Victoria’s three great zoos: Melbourne Zoo, Healesville Sanctuary, and Victoria’s Open Range Zoo. If you prefer reptiles, visit Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo to see in excess of 300 crocodiles as well as some 550 animals across the 20 acre site.
Beaches & Reefs
Australia’s famous coastline is incomparable to any other in the world. Boasting the world’s largest coral reef, a coastline stretching for 37,000 kilometres and more beaches than any other country – you can’t get much better than this. As the home of iconic surf labels Quicksilver, Rip Curl and Billabong and the birthplace of a long line of world surfing champions, Australia could probably be forgiven for taking itself a bit too seriously when it comes to surf culture. Whether you are a seasoned pro carving a heavy (12 foot wave) or a beginner surfing for the very first time, there are plenty of world class beaches to sample.
Learn and understand the unique and mysterious Aboriginal culture and tradition. About 40% of Australia’s Aborigines still follow the traditional hunter-gatherer way of life and can mostly be found in the remote desert areas of Northern Territory. Visit Kakadu – the small section of the vast Arnhem Land region – and take in the ancient rock art, prolific birdlife, river boating, billabongs and extensive wetlands. Those with a bit more time to spare can camp amongst the locals and learn about their customs and traditions first hand.
Australia is an ancient land but a young nation. It is impossible to explore everything that this country has to offer without living here permanently, but if you start with Sydney and then move on to other regions you will at least get a tasty sampler to invigorate further exploration.