Sydney, Australia

When you think of Sydney, probably the first things that come to mind would be the iconic Opera House, the Harbour area with its famous Harbour Bridge, the amazing firework display during the New Year celebrations and the renowned Bondi Beach!  It has a lot to offer the short stopover tourist as well as the long-stay explorer, with a wide variety of diverse attractions, activities and adventures to experience.


The cosmopolitan city of Sydney, located on Australia's south-east coast, is the largest urban conurbation and has the highest population of any city in Australia, with over 4,000,000 inhabitants.  Although it is the biggest city in modern Australia, and the state capital of New South Wales, it was not named as the continents' capital.  Due to intense rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne, which was larger at the time due to the Gold Rush, a compromise was made and neither were selected as the country's capital city.  The non-existant town of Canberra was chosen in 1908, and construction on the new architect-planned Capital City started in 1913.  Sydney lost out, but continued to grow and overtook Melbourne in the 1920's.  It has since become a melting pot for numerous nationalities from all over the world, each one adding its own influence to the communities and culture.


Originally founded as a convict settlement in the late 1700's, the city grew slowly in the beginning, but by the 1820's, it was a bustling, well-establised town with banks, shops, markets, a well laid out road structure and an organised police force.  Roads, bridges and public buildings were constructed at this time using the British and Irish convicts that had been transported to 'The New World'.  In the 1830's and 40's the city expanded rapidly, as more and more ships arrived full of British and Irish immigrants looking for a new life in this promised land they had been hearing fanciful stories about.


Sydney is built on and around the hills and plataeus that surround the main harbour, whose real name is Port Jackson but is usually referred to just as Sydney Harbour.  The Harbour is actually a deep, river-eroded canyon that was filled with seawater when ocean levels rose, and is an intricate fjord-style network of bays, inlets, rivers and beaches, that stretches west inland until it meets the freshwater rivers that carved the steep valleys in the hawkesbury sandstone millenia ago!


Sydney is a vibrant and dynamic city that has an endless supply of things to see and do for all ages, including a fine repertoire of experiences for everyone that cost absolutely nothing. Some are natural from beaches, views, walks, sunset on the harbour to parks and gardens. Others are cultural with fine museums, art galleries and fun precincts open to everyone for free.


Things to do

  • Stroll across the Harbour Bridge for Sydney's best city and harbour views, then continue past the clown face of Luna Park to Lavender Bay.
  • Head for Sydney's city beaches - ideal for a day out at any time of the year. The sheltered harbour beaches, headlands and parks are tailor made for walking.
  • Wander through the Royal Botanic Gardens, a 30 hectare treasury of tropical plants, green lawns, ponds and shady trees, overlooking the harbour, and with free guided walks every morning.
  • Discover Darling Harbour, Sydney's vital, vibrant, all-seasons playground, featuring free entertainment from buskers to outdoor shows and annual events like New Year's Eve and Australia Day concerts and fireworks.
  • Visit the National Maritime Museum at Darling Harbour for a thrilling display that ranges from dugout canoes to a jet powered hydrofoil and a historic collection of naval vessels.
  • Learn about new and traditional art at the Art Gallery of NSW. There's a whole world of art to discover through free performances for kids every Sunday.
  • Keep everyone active at Sydney Olympic Park. Go for walk through wetlands to the bird hide, take your bike for a spin along the cycle tracks or enjoy a picnic in the 40 hectare parklands.
  • The Rocks Discovery Museum, Kendall Lane, The Rocks
  • Views of the city from Mrs Macquarie's Chair carved out of a rock ledge directly east of the Opera House on the eastern edge of the Royal Botanic Gardens
  • The ground floor of the Customs House, where you can walk on a glass floor above a 1:5000 scale model of the city centre. The library upstairs has a great children's collection too, and free kids' events, especially during school holidays.

Sydney serves up plenty to keep teenagers entertained with action and adventure, food and entertainment.


Action and adventure

  • Dive with sharks, stingrays and sea turtles on a Shark Dive Xtreme at Oceanworld Manly. Kids (14 to 17) must be accompanied by an adult.
  • Get a charge from a high-speed jet boat tour on Sydney Harbour - minimum height is 1.3m.
  • Climb Sydney Harbour Bridge on a BridgeClimb. For kids over 10, and a parent or guardian must accompany kids 10 to 16.
  • Daring and speed are guaranteed at Luna Park, Sydney's harbour side fun park. Height requirements apply.
  • Learn to surf at Bondi or Manly beach.
  • Cycle along the cycle paths, boardwalks and mangroves of Sydney Olympic Park.
  • Take to the Manly Beach promenade on roller blades, skateboards or roller skates with Skate HQ.
  • Go horse riding or take lessons from the experts at the Equestrian Centre in Centennial Park.
  • Cockatoo Island is an urban playground with fabulous views of Sydney Harbour.
  • Do the self guided audio tour, or a guided tour of the Island's historic sites.
  • Take a picnic, the makings of a BBQ lunch (there are coin operated BBQs on site) or order from the Muster Station cafĂ©.
  • Play tennis on what's arguably Sydney's most spectacularly-sited tennis court.

Sydney city


All roads, rails and waterways lead to and from Sydney. You can get to the city centre by ferry, bus or train and spend Sunday taking in one of the many family attractions.

  • Meet the new babies at Taronga Zoo, a short ferry trip from Circular Quay.
  • The current stars of Sydney Aquarium's Mermaid Lagoon are two dugongs.
  • Entry is free to Luna Park, accessible by ferry from Circular Quay, so take your time choosing which rides to brave.


What's in and what's out changes daily with teenagers but some things are reliable entertainment for both boys and girls, as well as keeping the rest of the family entertained, as well.

  • Imax Theatre, Darling Harbour is action-packed, big screen cinema at its most thrilling.
  • Kinokuniya bookshop has Manga comics, fabulous kids' fiction and magazines from around the world.
  • Shop for everything cool at Westfield Bondi Junction, Queen Victoria Building or Paddington markets on Saturdays.
  • Apple Mac's only retail outlet in Australia has free youth workshops (10-13) using photos, music and film software.
  • Oztrek, at Sydney Tower, gives you a taste of Australia - with crocodiles, the outback and Aussie Rules matches on a cinema screen with special effects.
  • Visit the Powerhouse Museum at Darling Harbour, a fascinating, hands-on assembly of technical, scientific and industrial wizardry housed in the former generating station that once powered Sydney's trams.
  • Sit back and experience the world's biggest IMAX movie screen at Darling Harbour. Head off on a voyage of discovery - into space, under the sea or through the human body.
  • Take the express lift to Sydney Tower, the city's tallest structure at a height of 250 metres. Be wowed by the views from the observation deck, take the Skywalk on a glass platform outside the tower, or the virtual Oztrek expedition.
  • Take a virtual journey to the moon, another planet or another solar system at the Sydney Observatory in The Rocks.
  • Book 'em, charge 'em, then lock 'em up in  the police cells at the Justice and Police Museum, a thrilling and highly realistic exploration of law and order in NSW.
  • Take a trip through the time warp at Susannah Place Museum, a  working-class terrace house from the 1840s in The Rocks.
  • See what convict life in early Sydney was like at the Hyde Park Barracks Museum. Swing in a hammock, listen to the spooky SoundScape and learn about everyday life in 19th century Sydney.

Transpacific's recommended hotel selection
Novotel Darling Harbour

Novotel Darling Harbour

A great hotel for a reasonable budget and prime location for your stay in Sydney

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