The amazing city of Sydney in the heart of beautiful Australia — is home to 20% of the entire population of this continent nation. That amounts to 4.6 million people. As such, Sydney offers you everything and anything you can imagine to make your vacation really unique. The fireworks display that occurs on New Year’s eve, in Sydney Harbour, is one of the most magnificent in the world, and attracts tourists from all points of the world.
Europeans in the 1500’s, during the golden age of exploration, believed that there had to be a “southern continent” because there were so many continents in the Northern Hemisphere. Ironically, it was the famous explorer, Captain Cook, who was the first to map the east coast of Australia, and bring that discovery back to England. But this discovery was not acknowledged as the suspected southern continent for many years — until well after Captain Cook’s death in Hawaii (on his last pacific voyage).
Captain Cook was greeted by the Aborigines, the native peoples that lived on the continent for an estimated 50,000 years. Initially, the relationships between the native people were very good — and the Aborigines taught colonists how to survive in a wild and rugged land. But as more colonists came for free land, the Aborigines were gradually pushed west, and the very last full blooded native died in 1933. A number of residents of Australia today, can claim a family tree that includes Aborigine ancestors, including the young man pictured here — playing the didgeridoo. Since the 1980’s, Australia has newly welcomed Aborigine people and their art, music, language and culture into its own.
Many know that Sydney was the site of the very first colony in Australia, which started in 1788, because of the magnificent and Sydney Harbor. And many also know that the first residents of Sydney were convicts. Sydney was named after Thomas Townsend, also known as Lord Sydney, who suggested (and later approved) that convicts be relocated to Australia. So Sydney started as a penal colony — as a fast means to claim and secure the land for England and begin to build a new country. This institution included non-convicts who were willing to sail to Australia as contracted servants for specified period of years. This institution, which lasted well into the 1900’s, was responsible for bringing more than 170,000 new residents to young Australia that helped build a new country. Many of those early settlers, ended up living very good and prosperous lives after their sentences were complete. Some secured free land for themselves and their ancestors, many of whom still reside in Australia today.
Whether its the lively arts available in the iconic Sydney Opera House, the unique shops and restaurants in the “Rocks” area of the city, or taking in the views of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House from one of the harbor cruises, your visit will be memorable. Don’t miss the 220 shops in the historic 1898 Queen Victoria Building, a visit to Manly or Bondi beach, the Australian Museum, the preserves where you can play with kangaroos and koalas up close, or beautiful Hyde Park.
The restaurants around the harbor offer stunning views, great food, and great people watching. No matter what you do each day, you can be assured that you will come away from this vacation with memories to last a life time. And Sydney is a great jumping off point for tours to other Australian landmarks like Ayers Rock, Cairns (the Great Barrier Reef), a visit to the outback, or train rides to the more rustic west coast.
The best time to visit Australia, of course, is during THEIR summer. The Australian spring and summer starts around late November and goes to late April. Their spring can be rainy, but temperatures hover in the upper 60s to low 70s. Summer temperatures can soar into the 90s. And the sun is very strong in this part of the world, so pack plenty of wide brimmed hats and sun tan lotion. Many believe that Sydney is Australia’s capital; however that distinction goes to Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory which is the home of Australia’s federal government
Perhaps Sydney’s most famous icon, the Sydney Opera House was completed in 1973, taking 14 years and 10 thousand construction workers to build, with a final total cost of $102 million – more than 14 times the originally intended price. Residents, who were more of an outdoorsy group — enjoying hiking in the outback, never understood why Australia needed an Opera House. The Opera House is just a name, and in fact the complex offers all sorts of performing arts, from rock concerts to broadway plays and musicals. In a very short period of time, the Sydney Opera House became a worldwide identifiable icon, right up there with many of the world’s landmarks. The Opera House is about undergo its first major renovation starting in late 2016 and early 2017.
The “sister landmark”, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, was finished in 1932 and took 272,000 litres of paint to cover – just for the first coat. You can climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge as part of an adventure experience in the morning, evening or at nightThe best views of Sydney and its surrounds can be had from atop Sydney Tower Eye in the heart of the city. The tower (formerly known as simply “Sydney Tower”) is located at 100 Market Street and allows you to stand 250 metres above sea level with 360 degree views of the Sydney skyline, Darling Harbour, and the Blue Mountains in the distance.
The blog 2Cruise is written by Mike Cohen, who has been a worldwide traveler for more than 40 years, plus a successful and Cruises Inc. travel agent for nearly 7 years. For information about cruising or touring Australia, email Mcohen@Cruisesinc.com
So the best way to see a large proportion of Australia, and neighboring New Zealand, is by cruise ship. A 14 day cruise will take you to at least three major Australian cities, plus a stop in Tasmania. Tasmania is a separate island just south of New South Wales and it looks much like Australia did in its early days — with huge gorgeous vistas at every turn. Cruises typically begin in Sydney, and you can do a pre-stay to explore the city for a few days, and then hop on your cruise. A typical cruise, including Royal Caribbean, Princess and Celebrity Cruises, starts at approximately $1199 per person, inside cabin, early booking fare, for a 14 day cruise, inside cabin. United Airlines, New Zealand Air, and American Airlines flies to Sydney, non-stop from the US west coast. And you will cross the international dateline which puts you one calendar day ahead than it is in North America. A typical flight from the west coast runs 12 to 14 hours, in a wide range of prices. You may also use frequent flyer points to obtain your ticket.
There are many fine hotels and hotel chains around Sydney Harbour in all price ranges. The Sydney Harbour Marriott — Quay Circle is a short walking distance to the waterfront and offers spectacular views from some of the floors on the upper levels. Australia is a very casual country, where most people, from children to young adult to working folks, where comfortable casual to smart or country club casual clothing. But you will see some downtown professionals in a suit and tie or dress, just like in the US.
You should get some Aussie dollars before you go and the change rate fluctuates to be on par with the US dollar, to be equivalent to 80% of value to the US dollar. Darling Harbour is a great place to tour with its fine museums, an historical replica of Captain Cooks ship, the Endeavor which is really cool, and the new Maritime Museum. Or head up to the Queen Victoria Building for some amazing shopping or just for tea at many of the fine tea places. There is a wonderful Jewish Museum as well as the National Australian Museum that has an excellent exhibit about the Aborigines.
Finally do not miss a tour of the Sydney Harbour Opera House, as both its exterior and interior are quite unique, plus there are some amazing views of the harbor for photo buffs. More more information about Australia, please visit The Australian Visitor Office
Happy Travels, Mike