Down Under never looked better! ACCESS Sydney highlights the popular sights and reveals the well–kept secrets of New South Wales' capital city – from Circular Quay to Sydney & Darling Harbours, from the Royal Botanic Gardens to the once infamous Kings Cross, this fully redesigned and updated second edition will have everyone saying "G'day, mate"!
Australia's oldest and largest city is also the country's most vibrant and sophisticated. The remarkable natural beauty of its aquamarine harbour, the luxury of 34 golden beaches and waterside suburbs filled with eucalyptus trees and bird life, teamed with the relatively balmy climate for 8 months of the year makes this spectacular city one of the fastest rising international destinations for travellers around the world.
Now, ACCESS Sydney will introduce readers to gregarious Sydneysiders, flamboyant and innovative cuisine, a host of architectural and cultural wonders and much more as it leads travellers street by street into the throbbing heart of this magnificent city. This long–awaited 2nd Edition of ACCESS Sydney will also include a special section for gay and lesbian travellers.
About the Author
Access Press is a team of writers from across the United States that travel frequently, and know what you want and need from a guidebook and what you don't like and don't need.
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By Pollard, Kate
Australia's oldest and largest city is also one of the country's most vibrant and sophisticated. Highlights of Sydney's remarkable natural beauty include a stunning aquamarine harbor, 34 golden and clean beaches, and waterside suburbs filled with eucalyptus trees and birdlife. Add a relatively balmy climate for at least eight months of the year, gregarious Sydneysiders (as the residents are known), innovative dining, and a host of architectural and cultural wonders, and you've got a surefire prescription for a spectacular vacation destination.
A good way to start a visit to this gateway to "Down Under" and the capital of New South Wales is to take the Manly ferry northeast from Circular Quay (pronounced "key") across Sydney Harbour -- past the massive steel Harbour Bridge and the pearl-white sails of the Sydney Opera House on Bennelong Point. Taking in these sites, it's hard to imagine that less than 200 years ago Sydney was considered a brutal British penal colony, filled with colonists, convicts, and cutthroats.
On 26 January 1788, several years after James Cook had claimed Australia for Britain (giving the continent its British name, Terra Australis), Captain Arthur Phillip sailed into Sydney Harbour with his famous First Fleet of 300 free settlers and 700 petty criminals. He and his crew decided that Botany Bay was an unsuitable port, and proceeded 8 kilometers (5 miles) north to the western shore of Sydney Cove, where his motley crew cleared the land and set up tents and bark shelters along the sandstone outcrops to establish a new British outpost. At that time the land was a lush, untamed gray-green forest of eucalyptus, native palms, and fig trees. Today this area around Circular Quay and The Rocks is the threshold to the city and the Central Business District (CBD), and one of the world's busiest ports.
Without regard to the distance and danger associated with journeying to the Antipodes (as the South Pacific was often referred to by its early colonizers), free settlers soon came from Britain in droves to start new lives. Convicts who had been pardone or had served their time also looked for land or sites for family businesses in the new colony. Within 30 years of settlement, Sydney had become a busy trading port long before the rest of the country was explored.
Sydney became more cosmopolitan as the city's wealth of resources -- deep natural harbor, neighboring farmland, and subtropical climate -- drew people from all over. In addition to immigrants from the British Isles, who came in shiploads up until World War II (when the number became a trickle), Greeks, Italians, Eastern Europeans, Lebanese, and Chinese, among others, made Australia their new home. These new arrivals dramatically changed the face of Sydney by introducing new foods and styles, and renovating the Victorian terraces in today's fashionable suburbs of Paddington, Woollahra, and Glebe. More recently, Vietnamese, Thais, Koreans, and Pacific Islanders have added to Sydney's melting pot (with an ensuing increase in racial tension), bringing more new customs and cuisines to the area and establishing ethnic enclaves in the suburbs. Today this diverse population of over 4 million covers a 3,700-square-kilometer (1,430-square-mile) bustling sprawl known as Greater Sydney.
Despite its size, Greater Sydney is a manageable destination for visitors. Most of the city's attractions and public events are in and around the beautiful harbor of sparkling waters and such city beaches as Bondi, Bronte, and Coogee -- all located within a 10- kilometer (6-mile) radius of the city center. Naturally, the harbor view is prized here, although Sydney has been fairly cautious in the last 20 years about its harborfront developments. There are very few skyscrapers casting afternoon shadows over the ocean waters in the bustling CBD, and most of the buildings on the foreshore are low-rise residential. The Royal Botanic Gardens and The Domain, park belts adjacent to the CBD, also preserve the area's tranquillity. Several relatively new redevelopments are tucked away down from the harbor, including the ultramodern Darling Harbor complex of stores, hotels, casino, and exhibition spaces just west of Chinatown at the end of the CBD. And farther west up the Parramatta River is The Inner West, where old buildings have been conscientiously revitalized. Homebush Bay farther up the river was once mangrove swampland that has been reclaimed and is now the site of the Olympic Village for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
The Eastern Suburbs also provide visual diversions, such as the harborfront mansions and blocks of apartments of Potts Point, Elizabeth Bay, and the grander homes of Point Piper, Rose Bay, and Vaucluse.
Across the Harbour Bridge is the North Shore. Much less developed than the southern side, the North Shore has its own set of treasures, including a leafier and greener foreshore. It is also home to North Sydney -- a second high-rise business center of Sydney, the tranquil suburb of Mosman, Taronga Zoo (well hidden behind a dense natural green camouflage), tranquil Balmoral Beach, and the lively tourist beach town of Manly.
While wealthier residents occupy the harborfront and beachside properties, such former working-class suburbs as Surry Hills (south of the city center), Glebe (to the southwest), and Balmain (due west) are now popular because of their proximity to the CBD and their splendid Victorian architecture. Thanks to the local obsession to restore anything built before 1950, many of these suburbs have been transformed into refined neighborhoods, full of beautifully painted Victorian terraces, chic cafés, and stylish boutiques.
Similarly, the neighborhoods of Kings Cross, Darlinghurst, and East Sydney were once far less trendy -- they were known more as the city's red-light district than for the elegant restaurants and happening nightclubs that dominate the area today.
Some of Australia's most interesting landscape can be found within a two-hour drive of the city. Parramatta to the west is most notable for its historic buildings. In the Blue Mountains farther west, towns and small villages are built alongside sheer cliffs that drop into deep green valleys of eucalyptus forest. Southwest of the city and also a part of this mountain range are the Southern Highlands, once the playground for Sydneysiders in search of a milder, more English climate. About 120 kilometers (74 miles) northwest of the city is New South Wales's wine country, Hunter Valley, abounding with vineyards, restaurants, hotels, and historic country towns. South along the coastal road -- the Princes Highway -- are the pristine beaches areas of Kiama, Seven Mile Beach National Park, and Jervis Bay, while north along the Sydney-Newcastle Freeway leads to more populated -- but equally impressive -- beach towns, including Avoca and Terrigal.
Sydney has a rich history, but in many ways it is a city of the future: It is ethnically diverse, environmentally aware, democratic, and cosmopolitan, yet it carefully holds on to its individuality. Beware of comparing Sydney to any other urban area; after a couple of days here, it will become apparent that this metropolis is in a class of its own, as Sydneysiders are eager to remind visitors. It's no wonder that the city was chosen to host the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.Continues...
Excerpted from Access Sydney by Pollard, Kate Excerpted by permission.
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Table of Contents
|1||Circular Quay/The Rocks||20|
|2||Central Business District (CBD)||42|
|3||The Domain/The Royal Botanic Gardens||66|
|5||East Sydney/Surry Hills/Darlinghurst||92|
|6||Kings Cross/Elizabeth Bay/Potts Point/Woolloomooloo||106|
|8||Eastern Suburbs/City Beaches||132|
|9||The Inner West||152|
|10||North Sydney/North Shore||166|