Before I get into this post, I want to warn you that I visited Sydney back in 2007 and some most of my images are pretty crappy. Nevertheless, the goal of this post is to give you an idea of some of the many sites there are to explore in Sydney. And although there are many Sydney attractions, I think that Sydney is a city whose major sites can easily be explored in 48 hours, especially given the fact that the city’s public transportation is accessible and pretty reliable.
So here are some of the sites that I saw during my short time in Sydney…
Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens is one of three botanical gardens that are open to the public in Sydney. The great thing about this botanical garden is that it’s free to enter, and it’s open 24-7/365. Spanning across about 74 acres, the Royal Botanic Gardens offers a relaxing green space in the heart of the city that features a rather large pond. It goes without saying that the garden is full of plants and trees, but it’s also full of Grey-Headed Flying Foxes – a species of large fruitbats. That’s not fruit hanging from the branches…
Circular Quay is Sydney’s tourist hotspot that’s full of pedestrian malls, parks, and restaurants. Additionally, Circular Quay is a transportation hub as it has a large interchange for the city’s rails, buses, and ferries. From the quay, you can catch a ferry or water taxi around Sydney Harbour and to Fort Denison. Because Circular Quay is smack in the middle of the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, it’s the ideal spot for the city’s big celebrations. Other points of interest at Circular Quay include the Museum of Contemporary Art and the City of Sydney Library in the Customs House.
Named after Lieutenant-General Ralph Darling who was the Governor of New South Wales back in the 1800s, Darling Harbour is a large pedestrian and recreational area that’s the site of many shopping and touristic attractions.
One key site that you’ll find at Darling Harbour is the Chinese Garden of Friendship which is one of few Chinese gardens outside of Asia. The garden, which is a symbol of friendship between Sydney and Guangzhou, China, was implemented by the local Chinese community to celebrate Australia’s bicentenary. The garden’s lakes, waterfalls, plants, and teahouse will leave you thinking that you’re actually in a serene garden in China.
When I was in Sydney, I was able to check out the house where the MTV reality hit, “The Real World: Sydney” was filmed back in 2006-2007. This house was formerly home of OneWorld Sport – a former sports themed venue. In late 2008, the house and the rest of the Darling Walk Complex were demolished and an office development was built in its place. So although “The Real World: Sydney” house is no longer standing, I thought I’d include a picture of it here.
When in Darling Harbour, be sure to check out the Gavala Aboriginal Art Centre, a cultural center that’s owned and operated by Aborigines. Here, you’ll find Aboriginal art pieces available for purchase, and the center also offers sessions to educate the public about Aboriginal history, art, and culture. During my visit, I was able to catch one such session, and the speaker even played the didgeridoo.
While in Sydney, take advantage of a free tour of Government House, a living museum that serves as an example of a Gothic Revival building. The State rooms downstairs feature furnishings from the 19th and 20th centuries while the upstairs rooms are used by the governor and have accommodated Queen Elizabeth and other visiting members of the royal family and heads of state. The Government House overlooks the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Sydney Opera House.
Captain Arthur Philip named this beach for the “manly behavior” of the indigenous people he found living there. Manly Beach is a 30-minute ferry ride from Circular Quay and the area is full of shops, restaurants, and nightlife. Divided into three main sections – Queenscliff, North Steyne, and South Steyne – Manly Beach is a great spot to relax and bask in the Aussie sun.
Although it’s a suburb of Sydney, Paddington, or “Paddo”, as the locals call it, is only less than two miles away from the center of Sydney’s business district. This gentrified neighborhood is known for its Victorian terrace homes, many of which remind me of homes in New Orleans. Be sure to check out the Paddington Markets, an open-air market held on Saturdays at the Paddington Uniting Church on Oxford Street. At the market you’ll find hundreds of stalls selling local contemporary arts and crafts and fashions.
Sea Life Sydney Aquarium
When I was in Sydney, this aquarium was simply known as the Sydney Aquarium, but it was rebranded as Sea Life Sydney Aquarium last year as part of a $10 million renovation project. What impressed me most about the aquarium was the Open Ocean Oceanarium which has the largest collection of sharks in captivity. I’ve never seen such large sharks in person before. At Sea Life, you’ll also find more than 650 species of fish and other sea creatures representing most of the country’s water habitats.
An inlet of the South Pacific Ocean, Sydney Harbour is known for its spectacular beauty, mainly because it offers the perfect vantage point from which to witness the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House, and the Sydney skyline which includes the Sydney Tower. Many events occur on or around the Sydney Harbour including the city’s New Year’s Eve celebrations and the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.