Welcome to MetroGuide Networks' overview of Sydney-area attractions. A sojourn Down Under to
Sydney and its myriad attractions can make visitors feel all is right-side-up with the world.
As the gateway to Australia, hilly Sydney is the country's largest, oldest and liveliest city,
historically textured by a somewhat scarlet past. In 1800, nearly half of Sydney's scant 5,000
population was composed of convicts and women transported in for prostitution. Convict labor
created some of the sprawling city's finest buildings. Red-light King's Cross remains a magnet
with trendy clubs and cafes along with colorful sleaze for ogling. To jump start the day,
head toward Victoria Street and its coffee houses. For shopping, especially for quality
Australiana, Sydney brims with malls, arcades, department stores, gift shops and boutiques
yielding opals and other stones, leather goods, paintings and Aboriginal artifacts.
Sydney dining can be an adventure, with options ranging from fine, contemporary fare to bush
cuisine including emu, kangaroo, wallaby and more. Crab lovers can sample Blue Swimmers from
the eastern seaboard or Queensland Mud Crabs, and while Australian crayfish are missing claws
of northern hemisphere lobsters, nothing is amiss on flavor. As a multicultural haven,
Sydney has ambrosia for kosher or vegetarian preferences as well, and heritage pubs serve
award-winning wines and boutique beers, some of the latter brewed on premises.
Below is a list of some suggested things to do in the Sydney Metropolitan Area,
with links to more details when available.
- Art Gallery of New South Wales
Enjoy collections of Australian, Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, and Asian art among other works at this world-class fine arts museum, also serving as a venue for chamber music concerts.
Art Gallery Road. 61 (02) 9225-1700
- Australian Museum
Established in 1827, Australia's first museum has a remarkable reputation in the field of natural history and indigenous studies. Here you can check out spiders and other creepy crawlies, dinosaurs, fascinating studies on Aboriginal life, art and more. Trace 4 million years of human history with the Tracks Through Time and Skeletons exhibit.
6 College Street. 61 (02) 9320-6000
- Australian National Maritime Museum
Displaying all things maritime for the world's largest island and surrounding seas, this museum's wharfs allow some exhibits to be seen from a floating vantage point. Among scene-stealers is a cannon jettisoned by Captain Cook's Endeavor on his 1770 voyage along Australia's east coast.
2 Murray Street, Darling Harbour. 61 (02) 9298-3777
- Blue Mountains
Rising from the coastal plain about 50 miles from Sydney are the famed Blue Mountains, creating a backdrop almost as spectacular as the harbor. Eucalyptus trees by the thousands constantly release fine droplets of oil into the atmosphere, reflecting blue light rays to create the azure haze. Blue Mountains National Park is surrounded by resort villages for longer stays, yet mere day-trips from Sydney can be rewarding. Trains for the mountains leave several times daily from Sydney's Central Railway Station.
- Bondi Beach & More
Tan, swim or surf along famed Bondi Beach, renowned for bronzed skimpily clad bathers, and only minutes from Sydney's center. To the north are more calming beaches with names like Dee Why, Manly and Curl Curl.
- Chinese Garden of Friendship
This horticultural and architectural masterpiece, designed by specialists from Guangdong Province, is the largest and most elaborate outside China. A two-story pavilion serves a hub for lakes, waterfalls, tranquil walkways and bridges. A dragon wall symbolizes the bond between New South Wales and Guangdong, and a tea house is open daily serving traditional Chinese tea, cakes and other refreshments.
Darling Harbour. 61 (02) 9240 8888
- Darling Harbour
Viewed as the greatest urban redevelopment project in Australian history, Darling Harbour, on the western dockside region, is a scenic entertainment complex filled with shops, restaurants, museums, gardens, promenades, and more, all connecting to downtown via monorail.
61 (02) 1800 067 676
- Flight & Lunch to Cottage Point Inn
About 20 minute's flying time from Sydney Harbour lies the Cottage Point Inn within Ku-Ring-Gai National Park. After arrival at this secluded tranquil site, flight-lunch package participants enjoy a three-course a la carte meal in the restaurant before reboarding the aircraft for a journey back to Sydney that includes a circuit of the Harbour near the famed bridge and Opera House.
Art Gallery Road. 61 (02) 9371 7605
- Government House
Constructed between 1837 and 1845, Government House is the most sophisticated example of a Gothic Revival building in New South Wales. State rooms house an extensive collection of 19th and 20th century furnishings.
Macquarie Street. 61 (02) 9931-5222
- Hyde Park Barracks Museum
Constructed between 1817-1819 by convict labor, the barracks is among the finest works by colonial architect Francis Greenway. This landmark, once a government-run mental asylum, also was from 1848 to 1886 an Immigration Depot for single females seeking work as domestic servants, and has housed convicts and Irish orphans, as well as ill, impoverished women.
Queens Square, Macquarie Street. 61 (02) 9223-8922
- Justice & Police Museum
Originally the Water Police Court (1856), Water Police Station (1858), and Police Court (1886), this museum charting Sydney's criminal history has been restored to 1890s character with spiked gates, winding steps and a corridor of cells to reinforce themes of law and order Aussie-style. Inside are a gallery of mug shots, spine-chilling weapons, and relics from notorious crimes including the Shark Arm Murder, the Pyjama Girl Case, and the Graeme Thorne Kidnapping. Mock trials in an authentically restored Magistrate's Court allow booked groups to participate. Guided tours also are available.
Albert and Phillip Streets, Circular Quay. 61 (02) 9252-1144
- The Mint
The mint was constructed between 1811-1816 as the southern wing of the Sydney Hospital, known as Rum Hospital since it was built by private contractors in exchange for exclusive license to import rum. This first branch of the Royal Mint outside England opened after gold surfaced in New South Wales. The wing was converted to quarters for the Deputy Mint Master and a coining factory was built at the rear using prefabricated cast iron columns, girders and roofing components imported from England. The Mint operated until 1926, when the new Commonwealth Mint opened in Canberra, and now the coining factory is being redeveloped as a public library and resource center.
10 Macquari Street
- Paddington Street Market
The Paddington Street Market, unfolding on Saturdays around Paddington Church, typically yields more than 250 stalls with a notable array of flea market finds from bowls made of Australian timber or labels from emerging designers to chemical-free fruit, veggies, and nuts from organic farms.
395 Oxford Street. 61 (02) 9331-2923
- Powerhouse Museum
Displays in this converted power station, including a half-dozen aircraft suspended from the ceiling along with trains and autos, represent a combination of arts, science, technology and social history. The museum is regarded as the continent's largest, most exciting complex.
50 Harris Street. 61 (02) 9217-0100
- The Rocks
With grim origins as a penal colony, The Rocks today serves as nirvana for anyone appreciating cobbled streets and waterfront warehousing transformed into shops and galleries. The Rocks Market, with more than 170 stalls, unfolds weekends at the northern end of George Street. The Rocks is within easy walking distance to hotels such as the Regent Sydney and Circular Quay, the city's major transport hub for bus, train and ferry services.
Sydney Visitors Centre,The Rocks, corner of Argyle and Playfair Streets. 61 (02) 1800 067 676
- The Rocks Discovery Museum
Explore the history of The Rocks in a unique collection of images and artifacts found in the area, which includes touchscreens and other interactive exhibits.
Sydney Visitors Centre, The Rocks, corner of Argyle and Playfair Streets. 61 (02) 1800 067 676
- Southern Cross Seaplanes
Taking off from Rose Bay at Sydney Harbour, Southern Cross Seaplanes head to the world famous Bondi Beach, then back in the Harbour for a circuit in front of the famed bridge and Opera House. On descent to Rose Bay, the skilled pilot points out homes of the rich and famous before a gentle splashdown.
Art Gallery Road. 61 (02) 9371 7605
- State Library of New South Wales
Collections valued in excess of $1.5 billion include manuscripts, art, photography, oral histories, rare books and more at this free resource providing a an excellent springboard for planning a stay and gaining insight into evolution of the harbour city. Major subject strengths are Australian history, culture and literature including Aboriginal studies, Antarctic exploration, family history and genealogy, applied science, biography, health and law. Maps date from the 15th century. The library building, dating to 1826, was designed by Walter Bunning.
Macquarie Street. 61 (02) 9273-1414
- Sydney Cricket Ground
Spiked boots echoing with hallowed action spring to life during Coca-Cola Sportspace Tours, where participants prepare for the big game in dressing rooms, run down the Aussie Stadium Players Tunnel, monitor crowds from the Security Control Room and experience the panorama from an Aussie Stadium Private Suite. After the action, take in refreshment at the Pump Café.
Driver Avenue, Moore Park. 61 (02) 9380-0383
- Sydney Fish Market
Count on seeing huge quantities of fresh fish and more in mind-boggling variety, from John Dory (a bottom-dweller caught on the southern continental shelf) to barramundi, pink-fleshed Tasmanian salmon, Coffin Bay scallops, Australian black lip abalone, and that's only for openers. Locals buy here, so it's a great place to browse and feel like a Sydneysider. If you don't mind cleaning and gutting, the Sydney Seafood School, at the market, has hands-on classes in specialties such as Seafood Barbecue and Chili Crab.
Corner of Pyrmont Bridge Road and Bank Street.
- Sydney Harbour & Bridge
Secluded beaches, quiet coves and soaring headlands predominate this harbor, one of the world's most beautiful. The world's largest (but not longest) steel arch bridge spanning the harbour hosts eight vehicle lanes, two train lines, a footway and a cycleway. Reserve 3.5 hours for the climb of your life to the top of this engineering achievement with BridgeClimb.
5 Cumberland Street, The Rocks. 61 (02) 8274-7777
- Sydney Jewish Museum
Considered among the best of its type worldwide, exhibits relate to the Holocaust and Jewish culture (particularly as it pertains to Australia), accompanied by a resource center, theater, museum shop and a kosher café.
148 Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst. 61 (02) 9360-7999
- Sydney Observatory
On a hill next to Harbour Bridge, this magnet for star gazers, dating from 1858, is an ideal place for visitors from the northern hemisphere to expose themselves to wonders of the southern sky. The Observatory also has a state-of-the-stars 3-D Space Theatre where viewers with 3-D specs go on a virtually-there tour of our solar system, planets and galaxy.
Watson Road, Observatory Hill. 61 (02) 9217-0485
- Sydney Opera House
Opened in 1973 after taking 17 years and $102 million to build, the city's signature landmark with its famous shells has become the most frequented performing arts center in the world and quite possibly the most photographed as well. Companies performing regularly at four venues within include Opera Australia, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and the Sydney Theater Company.
Bennelong Point and Macquarie Street. 61 (02) 9250-7777
- Sydney Tower & OzTrek
Sydney Tower stretches 1,000 feet skyward where the city's highest observation deck offers 360-degree views. Tickets include OzTrek, a virtual adventure ride across Australia with 3D holograms, 180-degree cinema screen, surround-sound, and real-motion seating.
Corner of Market and Pitt streets. 61 (02) 9333-9222
- Taronga Zoo
Apart from koalas and meerkats to dingos and more on some 75 acres of bushland park, the hillside Taronga Zoo (a short ferry ride from Circular Quay) has a spectacular view of Sydney Harbour. Check out the platypus house or the rainforest aviary. The underground building turns day into night for observing Australia's nocturnal creatures in action. Try taking the Sky Funicular to the top and working your way down to the pier.
Bradleys Head and Military roads. 61 (02) 9969-2777
- Vaucluse House
Surviving as one of Sydney's only 19th century harbourside estates with house, kitchen wing, stables and outbuildings, the elegant sandstone Vaucluse House was built in 1803 and was once owned by William Charles Wentworth, father of the Australian constitution. He lived here with his wife Sarah and their 10 children from 1827 to 1853 and again in 1861 to 1862.
Wentworth Road. 61 (02) 9388-7922
Once a waterfront district slum north of King's Cross, urban renewal has transformed Woolloomooloo's terraced dwellings into chic studios for artisans and others. Among favored watering holes in the ‘Loo is the pub at The Old Fitzroy Hotel (129 Dowling Street), where décor leans toward mismatched vintage furnishings against a backdrop of brick walls with inset bottles, and clientele (a mixed bag of locals and tourists) thirsts for draft on tap by the middie, schooner, pint and half-pint.