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Things to Do in Sydney - page 2

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Kings Cross
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20 Tours and Activities

Sydney’s late-night revelry hub is east of the city center in raffish Kings Cross. Restaurants, cafes, bars, and clubs throng the main thoroughfare, Darlinghurst Rd, which winds its way north to Macleay St and more-sedate Potts Point.

The focal point of Kings Cross is the gaudy neon Coca-Cola sign crowning William St, which leads east from Hyde Park. Take a walk along the area’s leafy streets, lined with double-story terrace houses fringed with lace ironwork balconies, and stop off for a coffee or refreshing drink at this vibrant area’s many cafes and pubs. If you follow Macleay St north, you’ll catch panoramic views of the harbor and Woolloomooloo; steps lead down to the water and the famous Harry’s Cafe de Wheels pie cart.

When the sun goes down, Kings Cross transforms, with adult entertainment at the fore. The area is busy and well policed, but leave your inhibitions at the door.

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Chinese Garden of Friendship
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The continental city of Sydney offers travelers options that go beyond the strictly Aussie. The Chinese Garden of Friendship, modeled after the private gardens of the Ming Dynasty, is just one of the multicultural experiences this jewel by the sea has to offer.

Opened in 1988 and designed by Sydney’s sister city of Guangzhou, the garden is a nod to the Chinese culture and heritage that already exists in and around Darling Harbour. The lush gardens, tranquil ponds and scenic waterfalls pay homage to the friendship between Sydney and Guangzhou. Travelers can wander between ornamental pavilions and babbling brooks before settling lakeside to enjoy peaceful reflection. Hot tea and traditional dim sum are also served at the garden’s teahouse.

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The Gap
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The Gap is a large and attractive cliff on Sydney’s South Head Peninsula, in the Watsons Bay neighborhood, to the east of the central city. There are walking trails along the top of the cliff that offer great views of the ocean and the area’s layered sandstone formations.

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Hyde Park
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Boasting the title of Australia’s oldest park, Hyde Park is home to the ANZAC Memorial and themed gardens brimming with water features and public art. In addition to almost 600 mature trees, the park also hosts the Archibald Fountain, crowned by a sculpture of Apollo; a Captain Cook statue; and the poignant Pool of Reflection.

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WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo
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From saltwater crocodiles and box jellyfish to poisonous spiders and snakes, Australia is famously known as the home of some seriously dangerous animals. Luckily for visitors to the WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo, this attraction provides the opportunity to see critters like these up close, without the risk and dangers involved of wandering out in the bush.

More than just dangerous species, the zoo also houses cuddly koalas, curious platypus, wombats, possums and wallabies, plus a number of Australia's fun-loving kangaroos. Despite being located right in the middle of Sydney's Central Business District, the zoo recreates the diverse Australian habitats (Daintree Rainforest and Kakadu Gorge included) these animals experience in the wild and transports visitors to corners of the continent from the comfort of an air-conditioned enclosure. To get even closer to the wildlife, join the rangers behind the scenes as they feed and cuddle the animals, all while teaching visitors about the natural habitat they've created in downtown Sydney.

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Coogee Beach
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A family favorite and lower-key than the better-known Bondi, Coogee Beach, in the eastern Sydney suburbs, offers a sheltered arc of sand lapped by waves. Popular year-round with Sydneysiders and visitors alike, Coogee offers surfing, swimming, and snorkeling, as well as shopping, restaurants, and bars.

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Luna Park Sydney
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The harbor-side amusement park Luna Park Sydney has been entertaining locals and travelers with a lively midway, carnival games, rides, and big top concerts since 1935. More than 20 attractions range from the tame to thrilling, and although it’s small compared to modern amusement parks, Luna Park remains a Sydney family favorite with a nostalgic draw.

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Madame Tussauds Sydney
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Take selfies with all your favorite celebrities, right on Darling Harbour. Opened in 2012, the Sydney outpost of the Madame Tussauds museum features incredibly lifelike wax replicas of famous figures—from Australian pop idols to sports heroes, movie stars, and politicians.

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Sydney Tower Buffet
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Lofted above the metropolitan skyline atop the 1,014-foot (309-meter) Sydney Tower, the Sydney Tower Buffet is one of the Southern Hemisphere’s highest revolving restaurants. Soak in 360-degree views of nearby landmarks such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Circular Quay, Darling Harbour, and (on a clear day) the Blue Mountains while enjoying lunch or dinner as the restaurant slowly rotates high above the city.

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Katoomba Falls
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Located between Echo Point and Scenic World, Katoomba Falls is one of the most popular and accessible waterfalls in New South Wales’ Blue Mountains. A beautiful, segmented waterfall, Katoomba Falls drops about 492 feet (150 meters) in two main stages into Jamison Valley and can be viewed from a number of lookouts in the area.

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More Things to Do in Sydney

Palm Beach

Palm Beach

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Aussies know this long, beautiful beach as the backdrop for the popular soap opera "Home and Away," but travelers love the quiet cove at the tip of a promontory for its white sand, calm waters, and relaxed vibe. Some of Sydney’s most exclusive real estate is nestled among the forested hillsides that surround “Palmie,” as locals call it.

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Hyde Park Barracks Museum

Hyde Park Barracks Museum

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The foundations of Sydney were built on convict labor, and the Hyde Park Barracks are where criminals who were sentenced to live out the rest of their days in Australia were housed. Opened to hold male convicts working on the government projects and later to house orphan girls escaping the Irish famine, it was after that also used as a female immigration depot, an asylum for impoverished women and a courthouse. All through history, it was the place where people in Australia certainly did not want to end up. Now, as a museum, the barracks tell the stories of those unlucky enough to pass through its doors.

The building itself was also built with convict labor, after it was decided that housing the criminals in one place would improve productivity as well as their moral character. The structure looks nothing short of imposing with its massive shingled roof standing above a simple, durable façade of sandstock brick. It impressed Governor Macquarie so much that the convict who had been assigned to design it, architect Francis Greenway, got a full pardon out of it. But while he earned his freedom, many others weren't so lucky. A guardsman once described the barracks housing up to 1,400 men as “a perfect accumulation of vice and infamy."

When restoration on the building began in 1975, archaeologists were able to pull thousands of personal items out of cracks and from beneath floorboards. This collection, together with displays and stories, now make up the museum and teach about the living conditions of the men and women who once lived here.

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Sydney Town Hall

Sydney Town Hall

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The steps of this iconic building in the heart of Sydney’s central business district serve as a popular meeting place for both travelers and locals, but it is what’s found within its walls that make a visit worthwhile.

Built in the 1880s, this sandstone structure is the political powerhouse of the city, housing the Sydney City Council chamber and the offices of the lord mayor, the deputy lord mayor and the city’s councilors. But what catches the eye of most visitors is the building’s Sydney Town Hall Grand Organ, the world’s largest pipe organ. Two-hour guided tours include a look at Centennial Hall, the Lady Mayoress’s Rooms, the Reception Room and the former site of the Old Sydney Burial Ground, in addition to a stop at the world-famous organ.

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Rose Bay

Rose Bay

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The Sydney suburb of Rose Bay is one of the city's hottest outdoors and nature regions, with many opportunities for water-related activities. Though it's just four miles (seven kilometers) outside the central business district, Rose Bay can feel somewhat rural and wild with a population of under 10,000 people. That's, perhaps, why it's such a sought-after neighborhood. In fact, actor Russel Crowe is one of those 10,000 residents.

Of course, it's the nature that draws a host of people to Rose Bay every day. Most of those who head out to this eastern suburb do so in search of some sports activity; the area is host to two top-notch golf courses, plenty of tennis courts, a worthy beach and even sailing and jet-skiing.

Moreover, Rose Bay is home to some great shopping, and there are a host of attractions as well. Within the district itself, places like Rose Bay Cottage, Fernleigh Castle and the Convent of Sacred Heart all draw in their fair share of tourists.

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Garden Island

Garden Island

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When Sydney’s original European settlers arrived in Sydney Harbor, they sustained themselves by planting a garden here at Garden Island. Today, after land was reclaimed and filled in with rocks, Garden Island is now a point that juts out into the harbor, and houses the Royal Australian Navy’s eastern fleet of ships. During World War II, a Japanese mini sub infiltrated the harbor and sank an Australian ship—resulting in the death of 21 sailors from the Australian and British navies. Much more history is outlined in depth at the Royal Australian Navy Heritage Center—a fascinating museum here on Pott’s Point that’s a must for history or war buffs. Once finished perusing the Heritage Center, which is fantastically free of charge, take a stroll through the gardens and grounds that are hidden behind the museum, where BBQ grills and views of the harbor make the perfect spot for a picnic. From the elevated viewing platform behind the museum, it’s possible to see the Harbor Bridge as well as the Sydney Opera House, and the view stretches all the way out to the heads and the mouth of Sydney Harbor.

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Kiama Blowhole

Kiama Blowhole

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See (and hear) water from the ocean’s force as it is pushed up into the rocks, creating the spout of Kiama Blowhole — the biggest natural blowhole in the world. Kiaram-a is believed the be the Aboriginal phrase meaning “the noise of the sea.” As water entered the enclosed space in the rock formation, the air is compressed and released with a low sound and the upward spouting of the water. Explosions of water can reach up to 80 feet high — quite the natural spectacle.

Coastal explorers first discovered the blowhole in 1797, though it had been significant to local Aboriginal communities for centuries prior. There is also a lighthouse overhead and a smaller blowhole fittingly called “Little Blowhole” a few minutes walk away. Picnic facilities and rock pools are present beside the blowhole, as well as a small cafe and visitor information center.

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Shark Island

Shark Island

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Shark Island is a 3.5-acre (1.5-hectare) island in the Sydney Harbour National Park that affordssweeping views of Sydney's famous skyline. It’s a popular picnic spot, and visitors can also swim off the sandy beaches and paddle a kayak or other small boat around the shore.

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Sydney Cricket Ground

Sydney Cricket Ground

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Established in 1848, the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) is Sydney's primary venue for cricket and Australian rules football. It also serves as the home stadium for the New South Wales Blues cricket team and the Australian Football League’s Sydney Swans. The SCG holds just over 47,000 spectators.

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West Head Lookout

West Head Lookout

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Just on the outskirts of the city, the West Head Lookout offers panoramic views of Sydney, which many consider the best of the area. The bright, blue waters of the bay, headlands with lighthouses, the Lion Island Nature Reserve, Hawkesbury River, and beaches of the central coast are all visible from this point. Facing directly out from the lookout, one can see Broken Bay on the left and Pittwater on the right. Sandstone signs lead the way, benches allow for rest and relaxation, and an Aboriginal Heritage Walk allows for some insight into the origins of the area. The calm McCarrs Creek flows directly next to the lookout, or walk down to the West Head Beach to enjoy a small stretch of golden sand. In winter and spring, you may even catch a glimpse of some local wildflowers in bloom.

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Observatory Park

Observatory Park

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This elevated perch in the heart of downtown offers sweeping views of the Sydney Harbour and the Harbour Bridge. Dotted with huge Moreton Bay fig trees, grassy ObservatoryPark is a great spot for a picnic and attracts joggers, lunching office workers, and visitors to the Observatory.

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Sydney Chinatown

Sydney Chinatown

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Dating back to the 1920s, Australia’s largest Chinatown is brimming with Asian restaurants, shops, and markets. Bookended by two lion-guarded gateways, pedestrianized Dixon Street sits at the heart of the action and hosts a weekly Friday night market.

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Sydney Fish Market (SFM)

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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Bronte Beach

Bronte Beach

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Just south of Sydney’s famous Bondi Beach, Bronte Beach offers all the appeal of its neighbor—golden sands, surf-worthy waves, and scores of sun-bronzed holidaymakers—but its smaller size and lighter traffic make it a local favorite. Head here to enjoy a beachside barbecue in Bronte Park, paddle in the rock pools, or put your surf skills to the test.

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Balmoral

Balmoral

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On Sydney’s North Shore, the harborside village of Balmoral is a less-crowded alternative to the blockbuster beaches of Bondi, Manly, and Coogee. Home to cafés and restaurants specializing in fresh seafood, Balmoral also offers calm waters ideal for swimming.

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