Sydney

When Captain Arthur Phillip explored the harbour that James Cook had named Port Jackson, he described it as “the finest harbour in the world”. So impressed was he that he ordered the rest of the first fleet and all the convicts to leave Botany Bay and establish their new British colony inside this massive harbour at a small bay he named Sydney Cove. Phillip’s decision was a wise one, the harbour being so fine that the new colony thrived and in the short space of a little over 220 years grew to become to cosmopolitan city known as Sydney, Australia. And every visitor to the modern city can only agree wholeheartedly with Phillip’s description.

Sydney is often described as one of the world’s most liveable cities, and Teddy can see why. It has every modern convenience, every conceivable  luxury, and, if you’re near the water, is unbelievably beautiful. The huge harbour is often cited as the largest natural harbour in the world, and though beauty is always in the eye of the beholder, Teddy has no doubt that it is one of the most picturesque.

Sydney

The city of Sydney still sits on the original site of Sydney Cove

The city itself still sits on the site of the original colony of Sydney Cove. The small creek that provided their fresh water is now only a storm water drain and can’t even be seen. Very little of the early European history remains, which is a distinct pity, with the oldest buildings only reaching back to the 1810’s or so. A visit to the district known as The Rocks will show some of the better examples of the early built history of the colony, and there are a few other examples about, but not many. The human history of the area goes back many tens of thousands of years before that, of course, and there is even a story that as Phillip was exploring the harbour in a small boat the aborigines were running along the hills above him yelling “Go away, go away!”

While Sydney is not the capital of Australia (that honour belongs to the city of Canberra, founded in the 1920’s specifically for the purpose), it is the first city, and possibly the most easily recognised by non-Australians. That is, no doubt, due squarely to the two architectural icons of Sydney – the Sydney harbour bridge  and the Sydney Opera House.

Sydney harbour bridge

Taking a stroll across the Sydney harbour bridge

The bridge (or the coat hangar as it sometimes affectionately known) is the largest (though not the longest) steel arch bridge in the world. Opened in 1932 after around six years of construction, the bridge is one of the most familiar in the world. Today it is still the main means of crossing the harbour for pedestrians, cars, buses and trains. It forms the main backdrop for what is generally recognised to be the best location in the world for fireworks displays (the biggest being on New Year’s Eve every year, where people will camp for days beforehand to secure the best viewing positions).

The bridge can be seen from just about anywhere along the main body of the harbour, as it towers over most of the surrounding hills. Visitors can not only drive across the bridge, but can walk around the sandstone base as well, and can even climb over the steel structure (assuming they are fit and able enough).

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

The Sydney Opera House is just as easily recognised due to its unique, sculptural design.  A long international competition that began in 1956 culminated in the submission by young Danish architect Jørn Utzon being judged the best for the stunning harbour location. It is said that he was inspired by the segments of either an orange or a grapefruit (depending on who is telling the story), though in the final design the wedge shape is reversed. After a controversial design and construction phase that saw the Dane resign the commission, the building was finally opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1973. It is one of the youngest buildings to appear on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.

Patrons can enjoy symphony concerts in the large concert hall, and opera in the smaller opera hall. There is also a dramatic theatre and other performance spaces, and the lower concourse, looking out across Circular Quay to the harbour bridge, there are several bars, restaurants and cafes that are always crowded on a sunny weekend. Tours take visitors through the main parts of the building every hour.

Like any great city, there are parts that are pretty and slick, and parts that are … well, less than pretty. The harbour area is certainly high on the pretty list, and any property with a water view can usually add an extra zero to its value – a berth might add two zeros. As well as being one of the world’s most liveable cities, it’s also one of the most expensive (the car park at Sydney airport has the dubious honour of being the most expensive car park in the world; parking in the central city area isn’t far behind).

Relaxing by Sydney Harbour

Relaxing by Sydney Harbour

Sydney also enjoys one of the largest ratios of parkland and gardens in any modern city. Some of the largest and earliest urban national parks are in Sydney, with huge tracts of manicured gardens and native bushland within the greater Sydney area. The gardens work in well with the relaxed and healthy lifestyle of many Sydney-siders, either jogging around any of the many tracks through the city, or lazing on the grass somewhere shady. The botanic gardens just east of the city have some of the best garden views in the world, and the world famous Taronga Zoo on the north shore of the harbour is one of the world’s leading zoos, and has harbour views to die for.

Bondi Beach

World famous Bondi Beach

The city centre is situated quite a way into the protected waters of the harbour. But greater Sydney spreads from the rough surf of the Tasman sea, all the way up to and into the majestic Blue Mountains that form a natural geographic barrier about sixty kilometres inland. Sydney locals pay a premium for living near the coast, and with good reason. The Sydney beaches are some of the best in the country, and Australian beaches are world renowned. The most famous beach in Sydney is probably Bondi Beach, and while it’s a great beach (by world standards), there are possibly even better along the north shore. No trip to Sydney (especially in summer) is complete without a dip in the ocean (or a surf!) at Bondi, Manly, Coogee or Palm beaches. But keep between the flags, and watch out for rips.

Things you should do:

    • Climb the harbour bridge. This is one for those with reasonable fitness and physical ability, but if you can manage it, then climbing to the top of one of the most iconic bridges in the world really is a must do.
    • Visit Bondi Beach. Swim or surf, you can’t visit Australia without getting in the water somewhere. If Sydney is your only Australian destination then Bondi Beach is probably the one to go for (though there are many great beaches in Sydney). Just be sure to swim between the flags, follow the instructions of lifesavers if necessary, and look out for rips.
    • Visit Taronga Zoo. It’s widely recognised as one of the best zoos in the world, and the tenants have some of the greatest harbour views in town.
    • Visit the Blue Mountains. What a glorious expanse of natural wonder await in these amazing mountains. The huge, unspoilt bushland and stunning rocky escarpments will reward anyone who enjoys experiencing natural beauty, as well as those that like bushwalking or camping.

Sydney has its unfortunate side, like any great city. But for those looking for a beautiful, modern city with all the mod-cons and a relaxed, laid-back outlook, then there’s no going past Sydney. An excellent gateway into one of the world’s most spectacular countries.

Sydney

Sydney city near Circular Quay, from the concourse of the Opera House.

 

4 Responses to Sydney

  1. Daniela says:

    i appreciate you sharing this information here. it was a brilliant post. thanks!

  2. Dagmar says:

    cool presentation []. keep it up.

  3. Daniela says:

    helpful! i love reading your articles, thanks for all.

  4. Cassandra says:

    this is an awesome post, i appreciated it.

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