SYDNEYDefined and dominated by water, the city ofSydney curves, coils and loops along theshoreline of its sparkling centre piece, one ofthe world's finest harbours. Sculpturedsandstone cliffs edge the water, topped withmagnificent homes and etched by the elementsinto bays, coves and beaches washed by clearPacific waters. The city had a somewhatinsalubrious start. The first ship discharged itsload of convicts and their jailers in 1788, andthey immediately clashed with the localAborigines: an uproar ensued for weeks. Todaythis famous landing point, Circular Quay, is justas lively but is now filled with visitors andentertainers, a natural starting point for any tourof the city. Until recently the Rocks was aninfested slum: now it is one of the city'ssmartest areas, scrubbed, polished and rich incolonial history and a hive of artistic and culturalactivity. The best way to learn about the region'scolourful history is through one of the guidedwalking tours - spectacular by day and ghostlyat night - that introduce the colourful charactersand incidents that have shaped the city.To experience the Aboriginal culture of past andpresent you can take a walk escorted by anAboriginal Koori guide who will introduce theworld's oldest living culture through an array ofart sites that range from the whale engraving atBondi to the Manly Scenic Walkway that linksancient rock carvings. The city is dominated bySydney Harbour Bridge, dubbed 'the CoatHanger': once you've seen it in the view you cantake the experience further by climbing to itssummit or flying close in a seaplane orhelicopter. The archetypal Aussie pastime of'catching a wave' is seen at its best in Sydney,with Bondi, Bronte and Coogee beachesamongst the most popular surfing centres.Away from the water, colourful areas such asPotts Point, Darlinghurst and Paddingtonsupport thriving and colourful café cultures,their wrought-iron latticed Victorian terracescontrasting sharply with the sky-scrapers of thecentre. Harmoniously blending races andinfluences from all over the world, Sydney'senthusiastic residents generate an unmistakablebuzz, energised by their spectacular setting,easy lifestyle and ideal climate.New South Wales14Whether it is the magic of an Outbacksunset, trying your luck with a fishingline, wandering through a WorldHeritage National Park and marvellingat sacred aboriginal sites or exploringthe thrilling waterfront of its capitalcity Sydney, New South Wales is a stateof contrasts. With its sweeping Pacificcoast stretching from the subtropicalTweed Heads, to temperate Eden in thesouth, fringed with brilliantly squeakywhite sand and clear waters heavingwith fish, you can experience thesensational water-based lifestyle that ispart of everyday Aussie life. 'Go bush',tootle through picture-postcard sceneryas you savour a food and wine trail,take a hot air balloon adventure, climbmountains, follow ancient rainforesttracks and absorb the intoxicating smellof the eucalyptus and seek out thehabitat of wombats, wallabies, koalasand echidnas, or just take the simplepleasures of relaxation.
SYDNEY OPERA HOUSEA gothic church, orange segments or inspirationgleaned from the architect's father, a yachtdesigner? Wherever your imagination takes you,the Sydney Opera House is a breathtakinglyfamiliar sight. Take the Manly ferry, and for afew dollars you can putt slowly out of CircularQuay and around Bennelong Point to view thisalmost floating icon from every angle. If you arenot content to just gape from the outside,attend an evening performance; wanderingoutside during the interval, lights glittering onthe inky waters, you may just forget to returnfor the second half. Small groups of early riserscan take a look behind the scenes, explorerestricted areas, view the architect's originalplans and perhaps even 'tread the boards'. Yourpick of how you explore this distinctive emblemof Sydney is as varied as your funds permit.Park Hyatt, SydneyTwisting out from under the Sydney Harbour Bridge,the sails of the famous Sydney Opera Housedominate the scene; this is one of the best locatedhotels in the world. Not content with occupying aprime position, the Park Hyatt offers the epitome ofservice complete with a 24-hour butler service. Dineat the waterfront setting of 'Harbourkitchen&bar',mouth-watering seafood, just one of the specialities,chomp on a cigar whilst supping a cognac in thetraditional Club Bar or splash around in the rooftoppool: the Harbour Bridge to one side, the OperaHouse the other. The spacious guestrooms leave nocomfort to chance and most have a balconyproviding you with a private view of Sydney's icon.NEW SOUTH WALESREGION |15The Rocks, SydneyBed and BreakfastSydney Harbour, SydneyDiscreetly nestled at the foot of toweringinternational hotels is this enchanting bed andbreakfast, a recent Audley 'find'. The fully restoredbuilding offers visitors the rare experience of genuinewarm hospitality whilst occupying a great position inthe heart of the Rocks. There is a selection ofdelightful rooms, each furnished with hand craftedfurniture and ensuite or private bathroom. Despitethe central location it is very quiet; the only noisecomes from the resident kookaburras occupying thelovely courtyard garden where breakfast is served.InterContinental Hotel SydneyThe Grace, SydneyAn excellent example of 1920s art decoarchitecture, The Grace has a somewhat chequeredhistory; originally the flagship store for the GraceBrothers store impresarios, commandeered by theAustralian Government in 1942 for the use ofGeneral Macarthur during the Second World War,and its latest incarnation as an elegant heritagehotel. Meticulously restored, the hotel fronts three ofSydney's most prestigious streets - York, King andClarence - and is just a short walk from theattractions of the city. Original light fittings, highpressed-metal ceilings, marble floors, wide hallwaysand elegant decorative ironwork complement thestylish guestrooms.InterContinental Hotel SydneyA fusion of colonial and contemporary architecture;a heritage-listed, vaulted courtyard encased by ahigh-rise modern tower. Modern décor, elegantguestrooms and individual dining options completethe five star picture. For a limited number of guestsaccess is granted to a stunning rooftop guest loungecomplete with an exterior observation deck offeringa bird's-eye view of the Opera House, HarbourBridge and the harbour, way, way out to the Heads.We suggest you take a seat on the deck, pouryourself a glass of complimentary wine and marvelat the view.Doyles at Watson Bay