Our last stop in Australia was Sydney. After the remote Outback and steamy Queensland, Sydney was a breathe of fresh air literally. It was a cool 55 degrees when we got there, though the days’ temperatures rose to a comfortable 70 degrees.
Sydney is the state capitol of New South Wales, Australia’s largest city, but not its capitol city. Greater Sydney sits on Australia’s eastern coastline on the Tasman Sea with over five million people living in the city and over 650 suburbs.
The explorer James Cook found it in the 1770s but Australia’s indigenous people had already been here over 30,000 years before him. We spent two days exploring the city.
Sydney’s Harbor Bridge
Sydney is built around a wonderful natural harbor, and this bridge built in 1932 is a focal point of the city. The views of the city from the bridge were awesome.
The steel-through arch bridge crosses between Syndey’s central business district and its north shore suburbs with lanes that carry rail, vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians.
Sydneysiders (that is what they call themselves) nicknamed the bridge “The Coathanger.”
For the really adventurous, one can climb the bridge from the south side for $400. Climbers wear special clothing and are attached to the bridge by a wire.
They climb in groups with a guide the upper eastern arch of the bridge to the summit, cross to the western side and then descend down the upper western arch. It takes about 3 1/2 hours. There were no takers from our group.
We’re told the best views of the city are from this climb. Still no takers.
Sydney Opera House
Opera House might be in its name but the center is a multi-venue performing arts center sitting on a promontory in Sydney Harbor. Its distinctive modern expressionism architecture makes it an iconic Sydney focal point, and a visit and tour became one of the highlights of visiting the city.
Outside are pre-cast concrete shells covered in tiles which are striking in the sun. The building itself covers over four acres.
The inside of the center is made of glass curtains and Australian birch. Walls are also of pink granite. We loved its lines and views of the harbor.
It houses several theatres, a playhouse, a recording studio, gift shops, cafes, bars and restaurants. We had lunch there and enjoyed the views of the city, its harbors, and its harbor bridge.
Originally estimated at $7 million, the finished Opera House cost $102 million in 1973.
Harbor Tour & Luncheon
One great way to tour the city is from the harbor. We took a harbor boat tour and viewed many of its suburbs from the water. Later, we took a bus and toured the suburbs from within.
Of course, the best way to view Sydney was on our own by foot. We found its downtown streets to be clean and safe, even at night. It is full of good restaurants and shops, too.