Sydney is the largest and most cosmopolitan city in Australia. With a population of over 4 million it is also the country’s most populous city. It is located on the southern coast of New South Wales, on the eastern coast of Australia on the Pacific Ocean. It is situated on Port Jackson, commonly known as Sydney Harbour so Sydney is often referred to as the ‘Harbour City’. The city is the oldest European settlement in Australia and was founded as a British penal colony on January 26 1788. Today this day is celebrated as Australia Day, a national public holiday.
Sydney is Australia’s financial center and an international tourist destination. The city is best known for its landmark Opera House and the Harbour Bridge as well as its numerous beautiful beaches. It is renowned worldwide as one of the most beautiful cities with numerous architectural and historical landmarks. It is also an influential center of culture, art, fashion, cuisine and design. It hosted the 2000 Olympics which raised the city’s profile even higher. This sunny, elegant and clean city has, despite its large population, numerous parks and green spaces. Pristine nature is only a short ferry ride away. Another plus for the visitors of Sydney are moderate prices for food, accommodation and public transport. In addition the city offers numerous entertainment opportunities. The best thing about Sydney is that it combines the best of big-city living with a superb natural environment.
Most of Sydney’s main tourist attractions are concentrated in quite a small area around the downtown waterfront and the harbor. The public transportation is efficient. The system has an excellent suburban rail network and in addition, ferries and passenger jet boats are cleverly used for transportation on the city’s waterways.
Sydney has an oceanic climate with warm summers and cool winters. Rain is spread throughout the year but March is the wettest month. The warmest month is January and the coolest is July. The average annual temperature is 25 °C and the city has 300 sunny days per year, but when it rains it really pours. Summer temperatures can often reach up to 40°C and are accompanied by high humidity. This is also the bushfire season, which is why lighting any kind of fire is often banned by the ‘total fire ban’. Winters are mildly cool with temperatures around 18 °C during the day and around 8 °C at night, but rarely below 5 °C. The last snowfall in Sydney was recorded in the 1830s! Autumn and spring are the most comfortable seasons with clear warm days and mild nights; however in the spring there is a greater chance of rain.
January average temperature 22 deg Celsius, 118 mm rainfall February average temperature 23 deg Celsius, 111.8 mm rainfall March average temperature 21 deg Celsius, 147.3 mm rainfall April average temperature 18 deg Celsius, 119.4 mm rainfall May average temperature 16 deg Celsius, 88.9 mm rainfall June average temperature 13 deg Celsius, 129.5 mm rainfall July average temperature 12 deg Celsius, 53.3 mm rainfall August average temperature 13 deg Celsius, 88.9 mm rainfall September average temperature 15 deg Celsius, 61 mm rainfall October average temperature 18 deg Celsius, 78.7 mm rainfall November average temperature 19 deg Celsius, 101.6 mm rainfall December average temperature 22 deg Celsius, 81.3 mm rainfall
Sydney ’s major airport is Kingsford Smith International Airport (SYD), located 8 km from the city center. It is Australia’s largest and most important domestic and international airport.
The second airport is Bankstown Airport located in the mid-western part of Sydney. It mainly handles commuter and private flights.
Train: the train service connecting the airport to the city is known as Airport Link. Trains depart every 5 – 10 minutes in peak hours and every 15 minutes otherwise. The ride takes 13 minutes. The service connects with the Cityrail suburban rail network at Central Station and Circular Quay Station. At peak hours (especially 7:30 am - 9:30 am) it gets really crowded. Please note that the trains lack luggage storage. Mini bus: Mini buses drive groups of pasengers from the airport to the city’s hotels. Taxis are available outside the terminal buildings and cost around $25 to the city center.
Sydney is a vast city but most of its attractions are conveniently packed into the city center and the best way to explore is on foot.
The network covers a large area but can be rather slow because of Sydney’s congested traffic. There are many different travel passes to choose from.
Underground train is the fastest way to get around Sydney’s city center, but it is certainly not scenic unless you are crossing the Sydney Harbour Bridge and then it is one of the most attractive ways to see views of the harbor you might not ordinarily see.
Ferry is by far the most pleasant and picturesque way of getting around and seeing the city.
Monorail is the fastest way of getting around in the city. Its services are limited to the city center, Darling Harbour and Chinatown. Tickets are available at the stations. The service runs between 7:00 am – 10:00 pm, and 7:00 am – midnight Friday and Saturday.
Parking is a problem in Sydney and the system of one-way streets does not make driving any easier. A better option is to use a taxi. They are rather economical for a shorter ride and easily obtainable.
Catch a ferry from Circular Quay to Manly. You can walk from Manly ferry wharf along the Manly Corso to the famous Manly Beach. The trip is a splendid way to spend a day, afternoon or evening and is much cheaper than the commercial harbor cruise.
Sydneysiders love water sports. There are over 100 swimming pools available in the city however most prefer bathing in the ocean at one of the beaches. The most popular beaches are Bondi and Manly Beach but there are many more that are just as pleasant such as Camp Cove, Balmoral, Chinaman’s Beach, or any of the beaches along the coast from Manly to Palm Beach.
SAILING, CANOEING, WINDSURFING
Spit Bridge and Balmoral are the best places to hire equipment.
Sydney offers many good surfing spots. You can go to Bondi Beach, Tamarama, Narrabeen, North Avalon and Palm Beach.
Sydney and its surrounds offer many walking trails. There are several national parks close to the city: the Royal National Park, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and Sydney Harbour National Park.
There are various agencies offering organized diving adventures suitable for different levels of skill. The best boat diving sites are Wedding Cake Island, and around the Royal National Park. There are also beach dives, the best of which are from Shelly Beach; and shore dives made from Gordons Bay, Shark Point, Ship Rock and Cronulla.
There are over 80 golf courses within a 40 km radius of Sydney Harbour Bridge. 35 of them are public. You can rent golf clubs and carts.
Address: Bennelong Point Phone: (02)92507111 Web: www.sydneyoperahouse.com/ Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Open: Monday – Saturday: 9:00 am - 8:30 pm (box office) Access: Circular Quay Station (ferry, bus)
The Sydney Opera House with its distinctive sail-like roof is the symbol of Sydney. Its construction took fourteen years and cost A$100 million. There was so much controversy during its construction that the Danish architect, Jorn Utzon, never set eyes on his finished masterpiece. The Opera House lies in Sydney Harbor at Bennelong Point. It has an impressive program with up to 3000 performances per year and the Concert Hall which seats over 2,500 people and boasts world's finest acoustics. Guided tours available daily from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm.
Address: Cumberland Street /or Milsons Point (on the north shore) Access: Circular Quay Station, North Sydney Station Web: www.bridgeclimb.com
The bridge is one of Sydney’s most famous landmarks and the locals call it the ‘coat hanger’. It connects the 500m gap between the north and the south shores previously only accessible by ferry. It was open in 1932 and has an 8-lane road, two railways and a pedestrian walkway. You can visit the Pylon Lookout which offers a splendid view and a historical background of the building itself. The more adventurous can join in the organized climb to the top of the bridge. Check their website for details.
Address: Bondi Beach Open: 24 hours Access: Bus 381 from Bondi Junction Station/ or bus 380 from Circular Quay Disabled access
Bondi Beach is Australia’s icon. Your trip simply is not complete without seeing this most famous Sydney beach with its surfers, lifeguards, swimmers and sometimes topless sunbathers. The beach area offers many cafes, restaurants and stores as well as hostels and hotels. The beach promenade is a good spot to do some rollerblading. Swimming is recommended in the areas designated by red and yellow flags. You can take a short walk to the north to see Aboriginal rock engravings.
The Rocks is an historical district of Sydney located at the southern end of Harbour Bridge. This restored 19 th century village was the site of the first European settlement on Australian ground (in 1788). The Rocks, with its cobbled streets, squares and old craft shops also offers numerous historical and cultural monuments. Here you can find the city’s oldest house, Cadman’s Cottage, which was built in 1816 and two of Sydney's oldest pubs; the Lord Nelson and the Hero of Waterloo.
Address: 1 Showground Road Web: www.sydneyolympicpark.com.au/ Phone: (02) 9714 7888 Open: daily: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm Access: direct train, bus or ferry services (additional information on the web page)
The Olympic Park, originally hosting the 2000 Summer Olympics, has now become a popular tourist attraction with over 6.5 million visitors per year. The complex includes 9 major sporting and entertainment venues and parks, offering leisure, entertainment, sporting, and educational activities. The park hosts 1,800 events per year, including Australia’s biggest event – the annual Sydney Royal Easter Show at Sydney Showground. The Aquatic Center offers swimming events and the Stadium Australia holds rugby and soccer matches. Guided tours are available.
Sydney ’s cuisine reflects the city’s multicultural character. In addition, Sydney is a harbor city so there is a lot of good seafood available. The typical Australian cuisine consists of meat pie and beer. Aboriginal dishes have appeared on restaurant menus only recently – restaurants have been allowed to serve kangaroo meat from 1993 onwards.
Here is a basic restaurants guide according to districts:
In the western suburbs you can find Cambodian and Turkish restaurants, in the south Greek and Lebanese, while in the north you can find Indian, African and Japanese places. In the eastern part of the city there are mainly Indonesian and European restaurants.
Sydney Fish Market
Address: Locked Bag 247, Bank Street Open: daily 7:00 am onwards Access: Pyrmont Light Rail
This is the biggest fish market in this part of the globe where fresh fish are sold wholesale or in retail outlets. There are also numerous eateries where you can eat the freshest fish and other seafood. Here you can find anything from sushi to fish n’ chips.
Held in January each year, this is one of the largest cultural events in Australia. The festival brings the finest international and domestic artists to the public eye. There are concerts, theatre performances, gallery exhibitions and street performances. In addition, numerous outdoor free events are held including jazz and symphony concerts in the Domain.
This event commemorates Australia's National Day and the arrival of the first fleet at Sydney Cove on January 26, 1788. There is a parade through the city's streets, a concert is held in the Domain and there are also numerous other activities such as the traditional regatta, and Ferrython. Each year the Australian of the Year and the Young Australian of the Year are chosen. Food and wine fairs are set up in the city and the day ends with a large fireworks display at Darling Harbour.
This is the largest and most popular Christmas celebration in Australia. The event draws families and friends to celebrate Christmas together in the Domain, in the heart of Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens. The program features highlights from Australia’s entertainment industry – from theatre, opera and popular recording artists to Australian best loved TV personalities.
NEW YEAR’S EVE
Date: December 31 Location: Sydney Harbour Time: 9:00 pm – midnight
Sydney Harbour becomes the setting of a magnificent fireworks display. There are events and activities throughout the evening, including the Tall Ships Parade. The spectacle at midnight takes place on the 7km stretch of harbor where fireworks are fired from barges around the Harbour Bridge and from the bridge itself.
GAY & LESBIAN MARDI GRAS
Date: end of February Location: parade starts at College St / events: various locations Web: www.mardigras.org.au/
Sydney has a prominent gay community. The festival is held each year and lasts for three weeks, drawing the local gay community as well as thousands of visitors from around the world. The festival includes a film festival, concerts, art exhibitions and sporting events. It ends with a huge promenade of 8,000 glamorously half-dressed bodies dancing on floats. The promenade itself is the biggest outdoor night parade in the world.
Address: Bennelong Point Phone: (02)92507111 Web: www.sydneyoperahouse.com/ Email: infodesk@ sydneyoperahouse.com Open: Monday – Saturday: box-office 9:00 am - 8:30 pm Access: Circular Quay Station (ferry, bus)
The Sydney Opera House is an international symbol of the city and a world renowned establishment where the most prominent ballet, opera, music and theatre performances are held. It has a rich programme of approximately 3000 performances per year.
BARS AND PUBS
The East Village down Crown Street offers a lively nightlife scene with numerous restaurants and bars. Oxford Street has many popular bars and pubs like Grand Pacific Blue Room and Gillians. You can find many popular spots on Bondi Beach, such as Beach Road and Golden Sheaf.
The clubbing scene changes very quickly, with new clubs opening and closing all the time. In general, Oxford Street is a bustling place where you can party until the dawn.
Sydney is the oldest European settlement in Australia. It was founded as a British penal colony on January 26 1788. The region has been occupied by indigenous Australians for at least 30,000 years before the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788. At that time three main tribes were living in the area of what is today Sydney. These were the Ku-ring-gai, the Dharawal and the Dharug. They spoke three different languages but shared some dialects and traditions. Each clan had territory and nomadic paths that rarely overlapped. They had a sophisticated culture that encompassed religion, history, law, art and behavior codes bound in a complex system of ceremonies. The urbanization destroyed almost all evidence of the settlement, however, rock engravings still exist in certain locations.
The first recorded contact the British had with the indigenous inhabitants of Australia was in 1770 when Captain James Cook landed in Botany Bay. Under the instruction from the British government a convict settlement was founded by Arthur Phillip in 1788. The First Fleet consisted of 11 ships carrying 730 male and female convicts, and officials. They established the colony at Sydney Cove in Port Jackson. The arrival of the First Fleet had grave effects on the indigenous population. Over 20,000 people were killed, many were evicted and great numbers died of diseases previously unknown to them.
The next couple of years saw the arrival of two additional fleets despite the fact that the settlement was constantly on the brink of starvation for the first 15 years. Low morale and poor farming knowledge led to a desperate situation. Towards the end of the 18 th century a large number of military settlers arrived. They were trading in rum and took over control of the settlement. This became known as the Rum Rebellion. Rum became Sydney’s main currency – settlers were paid in rum rather than in money.
During the 1830s and 1840s the town infrastructure developed and suburbs started to emerge. The Government House was erected on the site of today’s Opera House. In 1840 the convict transportation ended and the settlers slowly started to discard their convict label. The town grew rapidly as immigrants began arriving from the British Isles, looking for a new life in a new country. On July 20 1842 Sydney was declared the first city in Australia.
In 1851 the discovery of gold ushered in the first gold rush and Sydney attracted numerous people from around the world. In the last quarter of the 19 th Sydney saw rapid urban development with the introduction of steam powered tramways and railways. Sydney’s development was rapid and by the beginning of the 20 th century it had over 1 million inhabitants.
MODERN (20 TH CENTURY)
Australian Federation occurred in 1901 and Sydney became the state capital of New South Wales. Central Railway Station opened and ushered in commercial development in the south. Electricity replaced gaslight and women gained the right to vote. In 1914 Australia went to war in support of Britain. The economy flourished until the 1920s but as the war ended the economy went into a rapid decline and Sydney was hit by the Great Depression in 1931. During this period one third of Sydney’s workforce was unemployed. In 1932 the wool prices increased and Sydney Harbour Bridge was opened. The economy was back on track.
At the outbreak of WW II Australia sent her troops to the war in support of Britain and Europe. In May 1942 four Japanese midget submarines entered Sydney Harbour and were destroyed. Japanese submarine bombing of waterfront suburbs in Bondi and Rose Bay heightened the fear of war and Sydney saw the introduction of blackouts and rationing. Many residents fled to the Blue Mountains in search of safety.
After the war the immigration from Europe increased, especially from Italy, Greece and Eastern Europe. By 1947 the population of Australia was 99.4 percent European. Later Asian immigration followed with arrivals from India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. More recent arrivals included Lebanese, Turks, Macedonians, Croatians, Serbs, South Americans and East Asians.
During the 1960s Australia was drawn into the Vietnam War under the influence of the USA. The conscription of Australian soldiers provoked a wider civil unrest. During the Vietnam War Sydney became a major stop-over for US soldiers. The result was a development of sleazy entertainment for the visitors to King’s Cross, which is still a red-light district today. In 1973 the Opera House was opened, after much controversy.
In 2000 Sydney won the bid to host the Olympic Games. The city spent large amounts of money for reconstruction and renovations. The architecture of the city is becoming increasingly futuristic and it is ever harder to find traces of the past. The plight of the Aborigines today has not improved much. The deprivation of the land together with heavy drug and alcohol abuse is causing an enormous problem for many Aborigines.
Sydney is now a popular tourist destination visited by millions of tourists every year and a cosmopolitan, culturally diverse and aesthetically beautiful city.
Australians are generally easy-going, friendly and relaxed people, so greetings are usually very relaxed. Australians move to first name basis quickly. Academic and job titles are given little weight to.
Australia is a culturally mixed country with immigrants from 160 countries.
Sydney is like most big cities. It is reasonably safe but be cautious of the usual big city problems such as pick-pocketing.
Take extra care on the rail system at night. The best option is to ride in the carriage closest to the driver. Never leave your car or room unlocked and do not display large amounts of money in public.
Do not walk alone in parks at night and avoid the area of Kings Cross at night or be extra cautious.
Do not leave your drink unattended in a bar. There has been an increase in spiked drinks. The victims are often women who are also sexually assaulted.
Do not go swimming if you are drunk!
Sharks are present but major beaches around Sydney have shark-deterrent nets and warning sirens. Shark attacks are extremely rare, but if you hear the siren while you are in the water get out quickly but calmly.
Another thing you should be wary of at the beach is jellyfish. Some species have occasionally proven fatal.
Visitors are also advised to take precautions against sunburn as the hole in the ozone layer is at its largest and UV rays from the sun the highest in that area of the world.
There are a few poisonous spiders: the funnel-web, the redback and the white-tail. The funnel–web bite has also proven fatal. In the event of the redback bite, apply ice to the affected area and seek medical attention. It’s good advice to check your shoes before putting them on.
If you have been a victim of a crime report it immediately to the nearest police station.
Summer in Sydney lasts from November to March with temperatures often around 30 °C or more. There is a high UV exposure risk in Australia so remember to use good sun protection.
Winters are quite warm, usually around 20°C but it can get pretty damp and the nights tend to be cold.
Autumn (especially March and April) are very pleasant, with warm clear days and mild nights. Spring (September to November) usually brings more rain but the sky clears quickly. Autumn and spring are the best times to visit.