Sydney, the capital of the Australian state of New South Wales, is located on the southeastern coast of Australia and situated on a magnificent harbour.
This city is Australia's largest and offers many attractions including:
-- more than thirty surf beaches on the Pacific Ocean -- including (on the northside) Palm Beach and Manly Beach and (on the southside) Bondi Beach and Coogee Beach
-- the beautiful expanses of Sydney Harbour, which is visible from dozens of Sydney's suburbs and where many Sydneysiders spend their weekends yachting
-- the magnicent Sydney Opera House with its distinctive shell-shaped roofing -- this building has been nominated a number of times as the most influential architectural design of the 20th century
-- splendid Victorian era terraces in Paddington and other inner city suburbs
-- the Sydney Harbour Bridge, a magnificent arch bridge built in 1932 which these days many visitors climb to the top (BridgeClimb)
-- great cuisine drawing on the talents of Sydney's numerous migrants -- from Greek and Italian to Lebanese and Vietnamese
-- the Taronga Zoo with its resident koalas, kangaroos and other unique wildlife (alternatively, there are several excellent wildlife parks such as the Koala Park Sanctuary and the Featherdale Wildlife Park)
-- the nearby World Heritage area of the Blue Mountains -- magnificent vistas of unspoilt forests and sandstone formations, such as the The Three Sisters
-- the vineyards of the Hunter River Valley just a two hours' drive away from Sydney CBD
-- great pubs and clubs (hundreds of them) and loads of friendly people to meet there
-- the Sydney Festival held in January every year, with lots of music and dramatic events, including dozens of outdoor concerts
-- fantastic sporting venues, where you can watch rugby league football, cricket and many other sports
History of Sydney
Sydney was founded just over two hundred years ago, in 1788, by the British as a penal colony where Britain would send convicts and political prisoners.
The settlement of Sydney was originally planned to have been built on Botany Bay; but that site was abandonned as it was too sandy and the magnificent Sydney Harbour (Port Jackson) was chosen instead.
Overseas visitors have had mixed views on Sydney. Captain Arthur Phillip, the commander of the British colony in 1788, called Sydney Harbour "the finest harbour in the world".
The biologist Charles Darwin, who visited in 1836 during his scientific journey on the H.M.S. Beagle, wrote:
"At last we anchored within Sydney Cove. We found the little basin occupied by many large ships, and surrounded by warehouses. In the evening I walked through the town, and returned full of admiration at the whole scene. ... Upon seeing more of the town afterwards, perhaps my admiration fell a little; but yet it is a fine town. The streets are regular, broad, clean, and kept in excellent order; the houses are of a good size, and the shops well furnished. It may be faithfully compared to the large suburbs which stretch out from London and a few other great towns in England; but not even near London or Birmingham is there an appearance of such rapid growth".
In his More Tramps Abroad (1897), Mark Twain, the great American writer and traveler, quoted a citizen of Sydney, who saw a beautiful and a dark side to the city:
"It's beautiful, of course, it's beautiful -- the harbour, but that isn't all of it... God made the harbour, and that's all right, but Satan made Sydney."
The celebrated Australian poet, Henry Lawson, who experienced his share of hard times on the streets of Sydney, wrote a poem entitled "The Spirit of Sydney", in which he called the city "soulless" and characterized her as "greedy, luxurious, corrupting".
In 1901, the British colonies in Australia united to form one country, the Commonwealth of Australia, with Sydney becoming the capital of the state of New South Wales.
During the twentieth century the skyline of Sydney changed dramatically with the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House in the CBD and a suburban sprawl spread out as far as the Blue Mountains 60 miles to the west of the CBD.
Sydney's population which had been mainly Anglo-Irish until the Second World War changed with waves of migrants from Italy and Greece, and later from other parts of Europe, from Vietnam, Lebanon, and many other parts of the world.
Free Activities for Families in Sydney