Sydney - Metropolis with 2 World Famous Emblems
Sydney is a cheeky, stylish and showy city with a multicultural flair and charme, embossed by an excellent arquitecture and numerous possibilities of leisure. Sydney is a must for all travelers to Australia and for me personally, it was the most beautiful and unforgettable city of the world. It is said that those who have been here once will always come back and who knows, the one or another will probably stay forever at the other end of the world.
General Things about the City - Opera and Harbour Bridge
Sydney is considered as the oldest and biggest city of Australia and counts more than 4 million inhabitants. It is located at the southeast coast of Australia between the Pacific and the famous Blue Mountains and is the capital of the Federal State New South Wales. The city measures a surface of more than 4000 square kilometres.
Sydney is an important touristical place and everybody who travels to Australia will spend a few days in the million metropolis. I really fell in love with this city and after a few days I knew it better than my home city. Those who want to get more introduced to the city should in any case plan at least a week for this.
The emblem of Sydney is the shell-shaped and/or sail-shaped and famous Sydney Opera that is located in front of the Harbour Bridge (wing span approximately 496m). The Opera of Sydney is one of the most famous and markable buildings of the 20th century and of course the absolute emblem of the city and/or of Australia. If people talk about Australia, most of the times, words like the Opera of Sydney and the Ayers Rock are soon mentioned. The Opera was designed by the danish arquitect Jorn Utzon. In the year 2007, the Opera was honored by the UNESCO as the house of the UNESCO.
The Opera has a width of 118 metres, a length of 183 metres and has a surface of approximately 1,8 hectares. The enchanting roof is exactly 67 metres high and has been covered with 1.056.000 enameled white ceramic tiles. These tiles were even imported from Sweden. The building weighted approximately 160.000 tons is carried by 580 concrete columns that are 25 m deep in the ground. There are a total of five theatres in the Opera building with enough seats for, believe it or not, 5532 people. The Opera Teatre has 1547 seats, the Concert Hall 2679, the Drama Theatre 544 seats, the Studio Theatre 364 seats as the Playhouse has 398. In total, the Opera has 100 rooms with 5 studios, a cinema, 60 changing rooms, 6 bars, 4 restaurants and of course numerous souvenir shops.
The electric power supply that this Opera needs would be sufficient for a city with 25.000 inhabitants and comprehends approximately 645 kilometres of eletricity cables. The Sydney Opera was oficially inaugurated October 20th, 1973 by the Queen Elisabeth II., the oficial Head of State of Australia.
The Harbour Bridge is considered as one of the longest arch bridges of the world and as the Opera, it belongs to the emblems of the city. It was oficially opened on March 19th, 1932. It forms the main connection between the north and south coast over the harbour of Sydney (Port Jackson). The local people call this bridge coat hanger.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge has a wingspan of 503 metres, and the parting of the arch rises more than 143 metres over the sea level; When the weather is hot, the height can raise up to 18 cm due to the expansion of the steel. In the arch, 39.006 tons of steel were manufactured. In total, 52 800 tons of steel were used for this building. Therewith, the Harbour Bridge belongs to one of the most heavy and widest arch bridges of the world.
The bridge was built by the bridge construction engineer Dr. John Job Crew Bradfield (1867-1943). Since October 1st, 1998, the bridge is accessible at the so-called Bridge climbing. Many tourist groups are lead to the arch of the bridge on a daily basis. Currently (2008), a 3,5 hour access of the bridge costs 179 A$ (108 €) and 295 A$ (176 €). Not really cheap, but those who love to get the adrenalin flowing is exactly right there.
Before the bridge was built, approximately 40 000 vehicles used the ferries on a daily basis. In the year 1992, they were 181.878 vehicles after the harbour - tunnel construction by the turn of the millennium there were still 161.000 vehicles that daily crossed the bridge. Those who want to travel in direction of Central Business District have to pay approximately 3 A$ (2 €). But the trip to the north is free. On new year's eve, it is an absolute dream to look at the bridge and an absolute must for those who are in Sysdney at that time.
In the area of the Opera there is the enchanting and huge botanical garden, where one can watch a lot of Australians having lunch; Around Sydney, there are a lot of bays, the so-called Sydney Harbour that comprehends approximately 240 km of foreshore. And of course, there are the world famous surfer beaches in Sydney, which are the Bondi Beach and Manly Beach. Sydney also became famous due to the aligned Olimpic Summer Games in the year 2000.
Sydney is a city full of elegance, vibrant, showy, cheeky and very spectacular. It is simply a city of madness that is multicultural. As the emblems and the sightseeings, there are also a lot of excellent restaurants, hip bars and nightlife . Those who want to get here during the main travel seasons should already book the accommodation several months in advance, as specially during the high summer time (December/January), the city bursts at the seams. This is because not only travelers of all over the world come to this place in order to celebrate christmas or new years eve, also many Australians form other federal states get to the metropolis. Sydney is specially popular among the young backpackers.
New Year's Fireworks in Sydney
Those who come to Australia during the high summer months should in any case also plan the turn of the years in Sydney, as this is an unforgettable experience that one does not experience anywhere else in the world. Myself I spent the turn of the year 2006/2007 in Sydney. It was always a dream of mine to experience the fireworks and the huge party at the Harbour Bridge. In order to get a good view to the spectacular fireworks at the Harbour Bridge, one has already to move in the middy hours in direction to the Sydney Opera. We already went at 01.00 p.m. to the harbour and had a fantastic view; we sat on a meadow in the botanical garden with a straight view to the Harbour Bridge and the Opera at the right, everything was right in front of us.
But the disadvantage of this event is that one has to keep the place the whole day through, because as soon as a certain amount of people have passed the security control, it is barried so that nobody can get in in order to avoid overcrowds. Then we spent hours in the heating sun and waited fot the long looked-for countdown, but I can only say the waiting was worthwhile, and it was the most peaceful and genius new year's party with millions of people I ever experienced .
Museums in Sydney
In the inner city area of Sydney there are numerous museums: the National Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of New South Wales that isw located in the west of the botanical garden. There are different artworks of the 19th and 20th century from the gothic up to the present time. In the year 1994, the exhibition Yiribana was opened there. It is denominated as the biggest exhibition of the aborigins as also the Torres-Strait-Islander in Australia.
Those who are interested in a natural history museum should get to the Australian Museum at the William Street, as it is the biggest one in Australia. Here, one can get informed about the culture of the aborigins and the inhabitants of the Pacific.
In the year 1995, the museum of Sydney was opened close to the Bridge Street/Philipp Street. Here, those visitors who want to get informed about the early history and the colony New South Wales get their money worth. Mr Francis Greenway, a former convict arquitect (1777-1837) has designes almost all buildings of the convict area of that time. In this relation, there is a permanent exhibition in the museum of the Hyde Park Barracks, that vividly shows how the living circumstances of the convicts were in the estate times of these times.
Museums at the Circular Quay and at the Rocks
In the Alfred Street, there is the renovted Customs House that has several exhibition surfaces. The architectural Sydney can be senn from the inauguration up to the present time in the City Exhibition Space. In the George Street, there is the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), which shows the international art of the 20th century as also several traditional works of the aboriginis. But the most extensive exhibition of the aboriginies is in the Djamu Gallery.
On the Observatory Hill (Lower Street) one sees an old sandstone building that was arranged by the convicts. In the year 1858, the Observatory was inaugurated, and since 1982, an Astronomy Museum is operated. In the former military hospital, there is the Galerie National Trust with a library, there, the historical heritage is administrated. Those who want to get information about historical estates and buildings and New South Wales is right there.
Museums in Darling Harbour and Darlinghurst
Also travelers who have a proclivity for technology, social history and arts have in the Harris Street of Sydney, in the Powerhouse Museum the possibility to spend some time there. Those who are interested for sefaring should visit the Pyrmont Bridge dem National Maritime Museum, which shows the history and the present of seafaring nations.
In the Jewish Museum that is located at the corner of the Darlington Road and Burton Street, the history of the jewish people and of the holocaust is shown. As one can see, also those travelers with an interest in culture get fully their money worth in Sydney.
The Harbour of Sydney
Port Jackson is considered as the biggest natural harbour of the world and belongs to one of the most important attractions of the city. It is the romping place of Sydney. The metropolis is split by Port Jackson, the harbour expands over a length of approximately 20 km upcountry up to the port of the River Parramatta. At the port entrance, the heads are called "North Head" and "South Head". Those who are in Sydney for a visit should in any case do a harbour trip through Port Jackson, as it straight passes the sail-shaped opera of Sydney.
Sydney has the most centered cruise terminal of the world, as right beside the opera, the luxury liners land. This is why Sydney is a very popular landing point for cruisers in the South Pacific. In the central city district "The Rocks", the cruisers dock at the Overseas Passenger Terminal, that is located at the Circular Quay and in front od the Sydney Opera. Those who are lucky can even have a perfect view to the Sydney Opera from their cabin-window. But there are also a big part of ships that land in the Darling Harbour at Millers Point that is a little aside. Those who have planned a shore leave in Sydney, has an optimal access on foot to all attractions from both landing points.
In the following I will give a few tips how to explore the harbour. There is the possibility to explore the harbour on one's own account with different line ferries or to explore the harbour with the Harbour Cruises Tours. A tour at the east of the Harbour Bridge leads from the Circular Quay to the wonderful bays of Sydney up to the Watson Bay. Those who consider the tour into the opposite direction will get underneath the Harbour Bridge with a view to the Darling Harbour that counts as a shopping-, leisure- and entertainment-complex of Sydney at the Cockle Bay.
Those who want to explore the harbour with getting the adrenalin flowing a little can do this with a 75 km/h fast speed-jet-boat. Those who love it a little more relaxed and cozy have the possibility to do this with a sailing boat named Bounty or an amphibian vehicle called Aussie Duck. There are also round trips with different water taxis and catamarans offered.
Those who want to experience the harbour actively should get at the week-end to this area, as here, the wildest and also most exclusive parties on charted ferries, yachts or sailing boats take place. Here t Sydney's harbour one can spend a lot of hours, as here is always something offered and a lot of local people and tourists meet here at any day and night time.
More Sightseeings of the City
In the following text I will give some further tips concerning other sightseeings of Sydney that should be seen without fail before continuing the journey or flying back home. The centre of Sydney is actually very clear and very easy to access on foot. As already mentioned above, the famous Opera and the Harbour Bridge belong to the main attractions of Sydney, but also specially the oldtown that is called "The Rocks", with a lot of warehouses at the bay of the Sydney Cove.
The central station for buses and railways and of course the harbour ferries is located at the Circular Quay, that borders at the same time with the botanical garden as also the opera that is located there. Here are many street musicians and artists who happily entertain the people. There are also a few cefés and restaurants.
In the city centre, there is the State Theatre that is the venue of the Sydney Film Festivals. The Central Business District, more precisely, the Commerce Center around the city, is arranged with very modern high rises. The Sydney Tower, with a height of 305 metres is the biggest building of Sydney and has a phantastic observation deck that offers an excellent all-around view, specially to the harbour.
The centre around Darling Harbour that can also seen from above with the Sydney Monorail, also offers some entertainments. Here, some culinary rest stops offer numerous viands right at the port basin. In Darling Harbour there is also the Sega World Park, the Theatre Panasoni IMAX that has the biggest cinema screen of the world that is 36 m wide and 25 m high and with a surface of 900 square metres. Moreover, this area offers numerous venues and buildings with alternating programs. The chinese garden also begins there and those who no not dare to get into the sea for diving can watch the fauna of the Great Barrier Reef in the glass-roofed tunnel of the Sydney Aquarium.
Of course, in such a multicultural city, a chinatown cannot be missed, it is located in the south of the city. Those who walk through here gets a feeling as he was not in Sydney anymore but in China, but very nicely arranged, with a lot of Chinese, Asian specialities and surrounded by very friendly people.
The city district Paddington at the east of the city is worthwhile seeing specially because of its Victorian style. The famous fun district Kings Cross adjoins. Here, it is not completely harmless at nights, and as a woman one should not walk alone through these streets.
The main shopping miles are George Street and Pitstreet, located in the proximity of the Central Station. Those who want a central but lso more comfortable and hygienic accommodation are right in the Sydney Central YHA Hostel at a relatively cheap rate. I have been several times there and very satisfied. From here, one gets rapidly anywhere, those who want to walk to the Circular Quay only need approximately 20 minutes, a bus stop is right around the corner, and the central station is at a five minutes walk.
Those who like to go to the zoo should in any case take the ferry from the Circular Quay and go to the Taronga Zoo that is very popular and attractive due to its funicular and the view to the skyline of Sydney. More attractions are of course also the many sand beaches all around the city. The backpackers are mainly present in the surf beaches Bondi Beach and Manly Beach. In Bondi Beach, a dozen of surfers cavort in the water and it is a dream to watch them how they elegantly surf on their surf boards in direction to the beach.
Also the nighlife in Bondi Beach is very popular with its numerous cafés and bars. Those who like to shop surf clothes are also right here. It is said that here and in Manly Beach, the well-heeled people do live. Those who have been there once know what I mean. In order to get to Manly Beach, one has to take the ferry from the Circular Quay. Manly Beach is a small surfing place that is very popular and where a lot of beauties present themselves in their bathing suits and on their surf boards. It is also recomendable, as Bondi Beach is.
As one can see, Sydney is a place where one can spend a lot of time but it is not to forget that the prices are here, of course, a little higher as somewhere else at the coast. Those who travel on their own, I promise that they won't stay alone for a long time, as in Sydney, one meets some backpackers at every corner. During my journey, I have been three times in Sydney, each time for a couple of days, and it was very hard for me to sit suddenly again in the plane on the way back to Germany and only being able to look at the opera form above.
Back to the index Australia
Author: Simone Palm; Copyright: Patrick Wagner, www.tourist-guide.biz