Sydney has beaches by the bucket-load, must-see icons and a climate to die-for. But it also has a big brash heart that's certain to bowl you over.
Sydney, the capital of Australia's most populous state (New South Wales), has plenty of eye-candy for the visitor. It sits in geographic wonderland, a submerged ancient river valley that gifted it more than 70 beaches and pretty coves. Its plucky residents have spent the last two centuries building on that natural splendour. The solid arch of the Sydney Harbour Bridge now nicely sews together the two halves separated by the sea. Sydney's cultural coming-of-age is anchored in-place by the sculpted white beauty of the Sydney Opera House. And the needle of the Sydney Tower provides a 30-metre vantage over it all, opening the city out for your viewing pleasure.
But your stay in Sydney really should dip into the less well-known, if you want to find its heart. To take in the charm of the rough-edged diamond of The Rocks, the city's oldest and hardest-done-by district. To share a crooked smile with the Syndeysiders at their beloved Luna Park, an amusement park stuck in a 1930s time-warp. Or to pick up a board and test the surf at one of Sydney's two iconic beaches: the trend-setting Bondi Beach on the south shore. Or the scene-defining Manly Beach to the north, where surfing was born, and men (apparently) are made.
Sydney has also done a superb job at helping conserve Australia's wildlife, with two innovative zoos and a world-class aquarium. Taronga Zoo shows how zoos should work, with a wide expanse of bush-land for its denizens to roam, and ground-breaking conservation projects. And the Sea Life Centre, located next to Sydney's window on the sea, Darling Harbour, does its bit too. Both by astounding and educating its thousands of visitor to the wonders of Australia's rivers, seas and oceans. And by making them aware of their vulnerability.
With its sun, sea and sand, there's no shortage of reasons to come to Sydney. And it's pretty easy to sum up Sydney in a few snapshots. This is a city that wears its icons on its self-cut short-sleeves, after all. But Sydney is far more than just a folder in your photo album. It's an attitude. A brash prankster with a devilish glint in its eye. A caring custodian of the spectacular (and quirky) natural world that this continent has bred, in its 100-million years of isolation. A big-hearted bloke that welcomes the world in, with a barbie and a tinny. Look Sydney in the eye with a smile, and you'll be paid back ten-fold.