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Things to Do in New South Wales - page 4

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State Library of New South Wales
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Opened in 1826, Sydney’s State Library of New South Wales is the oldest library in Australia and a repository for a huge and diverse collection of books. The iconic building is also home to over 1 million photos, maps and manuscripts. Architecturally grand from the outside, inside is modern, bright and attractive, and the Mitchell Library looks straight out of a movie with its book-lined walls.

The library also has five historic galleries in the Mitchell Wing which host both permanent and temporary free exhibitions — from collections of 18th-century Australian natural history illustrations to the diaries of Australian men and women writing in WWI.

Next to Parliament House and the Royal Botanic Gardens on Macquarie Street, the State Library of New South Wales also has its own book club. And on a regular basis there are also talks on literary, historical, and contemporary issues. Film screenings and workshops are often held at the library too.

You can also get to know the library better on one of its tours — there’s an introductory one if you want to get to know the services and resources, and there are also regular history and heritage tours. In the verandah and reading rooms are express computers that can be used for up to half an hour without a library card. There’s also free wifi available throughout the library, and, as well as having an onsite bookstore and gift shop, the library has its own cafe, Cafe Trim where you can pick up coffee and cake or a sandwich.

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Australian National Maritime Museum
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Be it surfers on the beaches, the discovery of Australia via the sea route from Europe or the subsequent commerce and immigration—Australia is closely tied to water. The Australian National Maritime Museum acts accordingly in featuring rich exhibitions ranging from the time of the Eora First People to the First Fleet all the way to the present. Visitors learn how convicts traveled in dark and damp accommodations and how passengers sailing to a new life survived long ocean journeys through reconstructed stories made up of artifacts and mementos left behind.

Those interested in military history can make their way to the Navy exhibit, which explores naval traditions during war and peace times. Here, visitors get the chance to test a submarine’s periscope and try out a soldier’s cramped bunk bed. The museum even has its own fleet, with many of the vessels accessible via guided tour. Anchored in the harbor are a warship, the destroyer HMAS Vampire, a submarine and an exact replica of the HMB Endeavour, the ship with which James Cook reached Australia in 1770, among others. The submarine was decommissioned only in 1999 and is still in close to operational condition. Its diving alarm often gives visitors quite a fright.

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Sydney Observatory
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The Sydney Observatory is part of the Sydney Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences. Built in 1858, the observatory is one of the most important places in Australian scientific history. Visitors can check out exhibits related to astronomy, meteorology, and timekeeping, as well as the planetarium and the oldest working telescope in Australia.

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Sydney Fish Market (SFM)
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The largest working fish market in the Southern Hemisphere, Sydney Fish Market (SFM) rivals some of Japan’s biggest fish markets. Vendors sell approximately 52 tons of seafood per day, and the market is also home to some of the best fish restaurants and retailers in New South Wales.

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Queen Victoria Building (QVB)
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Sumptuously decorated and timelessly elegant, central Sydney’s Queen Victoria Building is an unforgettable shopping destination. Built in High Victorian Romanesque style in 1898, and now meticulously restored, it stands on the site of the original Sydney markets.

The QVB's soaring central dome boasts translucent stained-glass clad in copper on the outside, and the shopping area takes up several balconied floors linked by grand staircases. Tiled floors, pillars, colonnades, balustrades, and arches. Chiming clocks and interesting historical displays complete the QVB’s flamboyant decor.

Originally the shops included tailors and florists; today there’s a wide range of specialist stores, from stationers to couturiers, cafes and coffee shops.

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Sydney Olympic Park
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In 2000, Sydney Olympic Park hosted athletes from around the world, all of whom arrived hungry for gold. And while these games are now more than a decade behind us, this world-class facility still draws travelers and locals looking to experience the Olympic spirit.

The park is made up of several venues like ANZ Stadium, Sydney Showground, Athletic Centre, Aquatic Centre and Sports Centre.

At the park, visitors can wander through the scenic stretches of well-kept boardwalk that winds through protected wetlands or settle the score in a match at the world-class tennis center. Bikes and Segways are available for hire, which makes exploring the grounds just a little more manageable. The Urban Jungle Adventure Park, with its high ropes course, is a popular stop for families and thrill-seekers, and weekend archery clinics help travelers hit the bull’s-eye. Travelers can explore the park solo or hire a guide for an in-depth Olympic experience.

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Museum of Sydney
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Life in Sydney isn’t all about the beach and surfing, but about culture as well. Located inside the walls of a majestic building from 1788, the former residence of Gov. Arthur Phillip, the Museum of Sydney informs visitors about the history of New South Wales’ capital in an entertaining way. The collection displays archaeological finds, utensils from the everyday life of the Aborigines and the first settlers, as well as documents and pictures about the development of Sydney to Australia’s largest city.

Multimedia presentations and computer animations bring the history of the former penal colony to life, and although the museum mostly informs guests about the city’s history, it also takes a critical look at the clash of cultures that happened between the Aborigines and European immigrants.

The museum's location in itself is deeply symbolic. It was here that in 1788, the Cadigal, a group of Aborigines inhabiting the area, and the English first encountered each other. The sculptures in front of the museum, called the “Edge of Trees,” accordingly symbolize the Cadigal looking on from the edge of the trees as Arthur Philip’s fleet anchored in the Bay of Sydney and hoisted the Union Jack to formally found the first British colony on Australian ground.

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Australian Museum
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While visitors to Sydney do have the option to venture into the outback in search of Australia’s natural wonders, the Australian Museum, located in the heart of Sydney’s central business district, makes getting up close with the wild a whole lot easier.

Wander through air-conditioned hallways filled with more than 40,000 artifacts, including examples of rare native minerals and exotic tropical birds. An all-access pass grants entry to even more galleries filled with ancient archaeological wonders and indigenous Australian artifacts. Popular cultural exhibits also delve deep into the nation’s aboriginal roots and link contemporary time to the far off past. Wildlife fans should be sure to check out the quirky Surviving Australia exhibit, which showcases the country’s weird and wild through six distinct sections that illustrate animal adaptation and survival.

Please note: The Australian Museum is temporarily closed for renovations. The reopening is scheduled for spring 2020.

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Paddy's Market
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With two locations in the heart of Sydney, Paddy’s Market is quickly becoming a must-visit for visitors to Sydney.

Flemington Paddy’s Market is the place to go for local produce. If you’re after some of the best fruit and veggies in Sydney then visit the Flemington location. As well as Paddy’s Market, there’s a flower market in the area. Visit on the weekend to see Sydney’s Paddy’s Market come alive with clothes, gifts and souvenirs vendors, as well as a Swap and Sell Market selling second hand goods.

The Haymarket location is the one most people think of when they think of Paddy’s. The Haymarket market near Chinatown has a flea market vibe with clothes, souvenirs, some produce, jewellery, flowers and more. Haymarket Paddy’s is easier to get to, plus it has the added benefit of being next to some of Sydney’s best Chinese restaurants.

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Milsons Point
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Travelers love Milsons Point because of the uninterrupted views of Harbour Bridge and the iconic Opera House. During hot summer nights, locals gather on this tiny peninsula in Sydney Harbour opposite Sydney Cove and watch the sun dip down over the central business district skyline. This quiet spot has become a destination for those looking to capture a perfect picture of the city.

When day turns to night, young couples can be found holding hands as they stroll along the neon-lit midway of nearby Luna Park. The low-key crowd will appreciate the well-manicured suburbs of the north shore that are ripe with quiet cafes, continental restaurants and plenty of friendly locals.

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More Things to Do in New South Wales

Parliament House

Parliament House

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Sydney’s Parliament House is a complex of buildings that has housed the Parliament of New South Wales since 1829. Listed on the New South Wales State Heritage Register, the site consists of the north wing of the Rum Hospital building (which was built in 1816 as part of the country’s first hospital) flanked by two Neo-gothic buildings.

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Lake Macquarie

Lake Macquarie

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Not to be confused with Port Macquarie—the popular holiday destination just 3 hours north—Lake Macquarie is Australia’s largest coastal saltwater lagoon. Covering an area of 42 square miles, it’s connected to the ocean via a narrow channel that wasn’t discovered until an early explorer made a wrong turn mapping the coast. Today the lake has given rise to the town of Lake Macquarie, which is known as a popular vacation destination for boating and splashing in the water. When visiting the town of Lake Macquarie, hire a sailboat, kayak, or fishing boat and experience life on the lake, or go surfing at one of the white sand beaches just a few miles away on the coast. There are hiking trails paralleling the cobalt shoreline and more in the nearby hills, where visitors can get views of this lake that’s double the size of Sydney Harbor. Or, take a day trip to the heart of Hunter Valley to sample some of Australia’s best wines, before returning for sunset over the water in Central New South Wales.

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Goat Island

Goat Island

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This rocky 13-hectare island in the heart of Port Jackson is as rich in history as it is in sandstone. Once home to an explosives store and later a convict stockade, Goat Island has housed the Sydney Water Police and even served as a film set. What originally served as a destination for some of the nation’s biggest criminals (who were forced to labor in the massive quarries), is now part of Sydney Harbour National Park.

Popular walking tours guide travelers around this much-storied island, with stops at the Queens powder magazine (where ammunition was once stored) and at the old convict quarry and sleeping quarters. Learn about life on Goat Island, the punishments endured by prisoners and their attempts to escape.

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Nielsen Park

Nielsen Park

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Located in the suburb of Vaucluse in eastern Sydney, Nielson Park is a popular attraction in the larger Sydney Harbour National Park. Its tree-lined shores are perfect for spending an afternoon soaking up sun and dipping toes into the surf or picnicking with friends. The netted swimming pool and food kiosk add to this beach’s appeal, but travelers should note thatNielsonPark is popular among the family set, which means the sandy shores are rarely quiet and always filled with energetic kids.

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Shelly Beach

Shelly Beach

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If you’re visiting Sydney and watching the sunset while standing out on the sand, then you must be standing on Shelly Beach—the only westward facing beach on Australia’s eastern coast.

Located south of popular Manly, Shelly Beach is a smaller and quieter place to soak up some sun. The waters here in Cabbage Tree Bay are part of a protected reserve, where a small reef creates calm conditions for snorkeling, swimming, and diving. Over 150 species of marine life inhabit Cabbage Tree Bay—and the shallow waters of 30 feet or less means there’s actually a good chance of finding them.

On Shelley’s western end, out towards the reef, watch as surfers rip apart waves at the surf spot known as “Bower’s,” and even when the waves are overhead, Shelley Beach is still protected when compared to east-facing Manly. On the short stroll from Manly to Shelly, stop to admire the Fairy Bower pool that juts out into the sea, or grab a bite at Le Kiosk restaurant across the street from the sand. Above the beach, on the rocky headland, a small bush trail leads to a viewpoint gazing back towards Manly, where the pine-lined shore and golden sands combine to form one of Sydney’s most classic coastal scenes.

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Royal National Park

Royal National Park

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Known to locals as “the Royal” or “the Nasho,” Australia’s Royal National Park has been a favorite nature escape for Sydney locals since 1879—and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its diverse landscapes range from eucalyptus forests and ancient sandstone cliffs to wildlife-rich wetlands and sandy beaches beckoning for a swim.

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White Rabbit Gallery

White Rabbit Gallery

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Spread out over four spacious floors, Sydney's trendsetting White Rabbit Gallery is the largest collection of Chinese contemporary art found outside of China. Privately owned by Judith Neilson, the gallery features work from hundreds of artists and completely changes every six months to feature a new collection.

The White Rabbit Gallery styles its exhibitions from over 2,000 pieces of modern art personally sourced by Neilson on trips to China and Taiwan. Thought provoking and visually fierce, the featured art has included everything from paintings and sculptures to calligraphy, photography, and games. Opened in 2009, the White Rabbit Gallery as become a fixture in Sydney's art scene and is a popular stop on private art tours in the city.

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Seal Rocks

Seal Rocks

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Located in New South Wales, between Port Macquarie and Newcastle along Australia’s eastern coast, the village of Seal Rocks is renowned for its undeveloped beaches and prime surfing opportunities. Visitors also come to see the impressive Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse, which offers stunning views.

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Vaucluse House

Vaucluse House

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Vaucluse has always been a neighborhood for the wealthy. Wonderful yet outrageously expensive villas, lovingly restored from the colonial era, stand together and increase in cost as the beauty of the view and location increases too. To gain insight into the life of Sydney's former high society, visit the Vaucluse House, a villa surrounded by a landscaped garden and wooded grounds. It was built in 1803 in the Gothic Revival style, with small turrets and battlements that make it look more like a castle than a house.

The Vaucluse House once belonged to ex-convict Sir Thomas Henry Browne Hayes, who got shipped off to Australia for abducting a banker’s daughter and built this estate. It also once served as the residence of writer, explorer and politician William Charles Wentworth, who is known as the first person to climb the Blue Mountains and who restored this former cottage to the mansion it is today.

The house offers everything you’d expect from a manor home—antique furniture, an extensive drawing room, lots of bedrooms, staff quarters, stables and a huge garden. The gardens are often used for wedding receptions and are an ideal place for a stroll. On top of that, the Vaucluse House also serves as a teahouse, where visitors can settle for a refreshment and enjoy the tranquility.

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Bradleys Head

Bradleys Head

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Extending out of Sydney Harbour’s north shore, Bradleys Head overlooks many of the sights of Sydney, and visitors flock here for views of the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and Fort Denison. Many will come and linger with a picnic or a fishing spot, or take off on one of the many hiking trails. The popular Bradleys Head to Chowder Bay walk grants even better views of the bay, with the option to continue a longer walk onto the Split Bridge track.

The mast of the HMAS Sydney, a ship of the Royal Australian Navy that fought naval battles in World War I, is mounted on the headland as a memorial. Cannons left over from past defenses still stand, and the Athol Hall that once served soldiers their meals now operates as a modern cafe. Bradleys Head is part of the Sydney Harbour National Park, and offers a new perspective of the city.

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Camp Cove

Camp Cove

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Camp Cove is a small golden beach popular with swimmers and families. As the turquoise bay is for the most part protected from surf and winds, it is often completely calm. Often less crowded than other nearby Sydney beaches, it is considered a bit of hidden gem by locals. Indigenous rock carvings made by Aboriginals of whales and fish can still be viewed on the rocks lining the beach. Officers of the First Fleet frequently visited Camp Cove as well.

Just sitting on the beach allows for a great vantage point of the surrounding sea and Sydney skyline. Boats docked just off shore dot the coastline. Furthermore, the calm conditions provide an opportunity to easily view the natural wildlife. Fishing, kayaking, snorkeling, and scuba diving from the shore is common.

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Pitt Street Mall

Pitt Street Mall

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A pedestrian area of downtown Sydney, the Pitt Street Mall offers some of the most exciting shopping in the city. In the area of just one block lies several flagship stores and more than 500 retail spaces, housed in some of the most expensive commercial real estate in Australia. Specialty stores to suit all tastes can be found in the seven shopping centers, including The Strand Arcade, Westfield Sydney, Myer, and David Jones. Many of the centers were refurbished as recently as 2011. Shops vary from couture and classic fashion, to budget chain stores, electronics, and the latest in athletic wear.

A visit here will certainly include some of the best shopping in Sydney, along with the bustling activity of this urban center. A footbridge runs across the mall, providing ample opportunities to take in the sights of people passing by. Restaurants and cafes provide replenishment from all the action.

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Lennox Head

Lennox Head

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The coastal village of Lennox Head, located conveniently between Ballina and Byron Bay, has grown in popularity for holiday-goers because of its sleepy seaside feel and luscious surrounds. The beach area around Lennox Point is well-known for its right-hand break, so surfers flock from far and wide to test the waters. In fact, Lennox Head is now considered a National Surfing Reserve.

Adventure seekers will find an outlet in the actual headland (Lennox Point), using it as a base for hang-gliding launches. Grounded adventurous souls will be happy to know that kite surfing and sailboarding are also on the table.

More relaxed outdoor activities at Lennox Head include wildlife spotting (the whale migrations each year are popular), beach walking, and hanging out at Lake Ainsworth – a lake that is permanently stained by surrounding tea-tree tannins and said to contain rejuvenating properties. Here, visitors swim, stand-up paddle board, kayak and enjoy the picnic and barbecue facilities onsite. Near the lake, on the 2nd and 5th Sundays of the month, it is possible to peruse the Lennox Head Markets at a leisurely weekend pace.

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Sydney Jewish Museum

Sydney Jewish Museum

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The Sydney Jewish Museum serves as a moving tribute to Australia’s Jewish community. It’s devoted to telling the story of the city’s Jewish history and heritage, from the population’s first arrivals in 1788 to the almost 30,000 survivors who started new lives in Australia after World War II and the Holocaust.

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