About Sydney

Dramatic, brash and breathtakingly beautiful. We’re all familiar with those images of Sydney’s iconic symbols, the opera house and the harbour bridge. The picture postcard views of a cosmopolitan, buzzy city swathed in brilliant sunshine with vivid blue skies and set against one of the most stunning harbours in the world but Sydney is as multifaceted and as varied as its inhabitants and there is so much more to be discovered.

VirtualVisitorSydney.com is here to help you unearth tips and secrets that only a true Sydneysider can divulge. And you’ll certainly need a guiding hand to plan your stay because being a premier world destination also comes with a hefty price tag.

You have been warned!

Sydney is now one of the most expensive cities in the world. The Australian dollar is riding high fuelled by the recent mining boom. It is the country that didn’t have a recession and the high prices will make a tourist’s eyes water.

You can indulge in the usual tourist activities based around the city and the harbour or explore further afield and dig down beneath Sydney’s glittering surface to find out how the real Sydneysiders live. From world class sporting events to horse racing, from whale watching along coastal walks to the cultural pursuits of grand Opera, from fringe theatre to the hedonism of night clubs and intimate, stylish bars there is an activity to cater to every taste listed in the web pages of the Virtual Visitor.

Start with the great outdoors. With a temperate climate and a short winter, Sydney folk make the most of being in the open air throughout the year. Water is the dominating feature of the landscape. You can swim in it, cool down in it, dine beside it, walk around it , sail on it and gawp at the fireworks high above it on New Years Eve. Sydney boasts around seventy swimming and surfing beaches. Manly and Bondi are the best known but there are also beauty spots peppered around the harbour and along the coast. It’s possible to get away from the crowds and travel a mere 20 minutes from the city centre to find yourself a beach where you will be totally alone, no sound of traffic, only the gentle lapping of the sea at your feet.

Sydney has mushroomed around its harbour since the first British settlers dropped anchor in 1788 at Sydney Cove. The population rapidly began to spread out – first towards Parramatta in the West and then north and south to produce the urban sprawl we have today.

Of course before the British came, Sydney was home to many different groups of indigenous people. The traditional owners of the central Sydney region are the Cadigal people. ‘Eora’ was the name given to the coastal dwellers, and the word means ‘from here’ which is how the Aboriginals described themselves to the British. Their populations were greatly reduced by the colonisation of Sydney but many of their descendants are still living in inner city Sydney. In the last decade a recognition of being on ‘borrowed’ land has become stronger and at public events the traditional aboriginal ownership is usually acknowledged. Now, Sydney is made up of over 600 village-like suburbs. Many have become home to migrant populations where diverse and lively communities have flourished.

These areas are worth exploring for those looking for authentic cuisines. You can eat and sample flavours from all corners of the globe and the best value establishments are located on the most unassuming streets.

Cabramatta in the southwest, for example, has mostly Vietnamese and Chinese owned businesses and restaurants. The signage is dominated by Vietnamese characters and the sights and smells can make you imagine you are in downtown Hanoi. Whilst Homebush has some of the best Sri Lankan cuisine found outside Colombo. Other suburbs such as Marrickville boast a Greek tradition, with lemon trees planted in gardens and delis selling feta and Kalamata olives. Leichardt is distinctly Italian and Auburn is the most multicultural community of all, with residents from just about everywhere. All this diversity has made Sydney one of the foodie capitals of the world.

Sydney is divided by its harbour. On one side is the North shore, an affluent area with a high rise business district and beyond it large sedate homes surrounded by native bushland and secluded harbour inlets. Taronga Park Zoo is located here at Mosman and the best way to get there is to catch a ferry from Circular Quay. There are no other giraffes in the world blessed with such a magnificent view!

On the south side of the bridge is the more loud and brash region referred to as the Eastern suburbs which has stunning ocean surf beaches and is home to Sydney’s glitzy, nouveau riche. Here you will find the inner city, trend setting areas of Woolhara, Paddington and Darlinghust with their pretty Victorian terraced houses, upmarket shops, boutiques and galleries. Many of the major tourist attractions are based on this side of the harbour and directly beside the harbour bridge itself you will find the historic Rocks area, a reminder of Sydney’s colonial period.

Here are many fine buildings made of the local sandstone, each block hand-chiseled by convict labourers. There is also, of course the Opera House and the Botanical Gardens which overlook the water with paths winding around the harbour to the National Gallery of New South Wales which houses collections of both European style collections, aboriginal art and contemporary art.

Down the coast, near the airport you will find Botany Bay where Captain Cook first landed in 1770 and where for the British it all began! Move further South through to the group of suburbs known as the Shires, which is the least ethnically diverse area of Sydney. Most recently it has become the location of a hit reality TV show.

Travel even further south to Sydney’s outskirts and you will hit upon the amazing Royal National Park and the dramatic coastline stretching all the way to the satellite city of Wollongong.

Inland from the CBD (the city and business district) you will find the inner West of Sydney. Traditionally populated by Greek and Italian communities, these areas are undergoing change and now have increasing number of immigrants from China, mostly Shanghai. Sydney’s West, although not graced by sandy beaches like the Eastern suburbs, still has glimpses of water as it does have the inner harbour, the Cooks River and the Parramatta river runnning through many parts of the area. Further West still is Parramatta itself, the original administrative centre of the early settlement which has some of the oldest heritage buildings in Australia.

This brief introduction only touches what Sydney has to offer, to find out more explore the web pages of VirtualVisitorSydney.com to help, advise and guide you from the moment your plane touches down at Sydney Airport to your final hours packing to leave after experiencing the holiday of a lifetime..

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