Sydney Sites and Surrounds

By: Robert Thomson

Sydney, Australia is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and its citizens have voted it as one of the Top Ten best places to live for many years now. The city was planned carefully and has many fantastic man-made structures, and even better natural wonders.

Sydney is well connected regarding transport, with a good train system, buses, taxis, trams (inner city), monorail, and an extensive ferry system. The city also has one of the most vibrant and varied night-life around the world. The Darling Harbour area is not only a beautiful sight at night but also provides a pleasurable experience for all palates, with Italian, Indian, Chinese, Continental, Mongolian and many other restaurants available. Sydney is also lined up with several pubs and some of the oldest bars and pubs in the world.

Other from offering the regular attractions like a zoo, aquarium, botanical gardens and museums, Sydney also boasts the well-known Opera House, Harbour Bridge and the AMP Tower. The city by itself maintains numerous attractions and will take-up close to three-five days to experience.

Apart from the City attractions you may wish to visit some places near Sydney. Here is a list of the Top Ten places to visit near Sydney. All are equally beautiful and a must see.

1. Akuna Bay
A very beautiful and secluded bay situated only 38 kilometres north of the Sydney central business district. You can hire a house boat and float around for days around the bay or head into the pacific. If you prefer solid ground, there are camping sites close to the bay where you might want to stay, or you can Rent A Home. Akuna Bay is in the Kuring-gai Chase National Park and can be accessed by the marina on the bay or by Liberator General San Martin Road.

The waterways in and around beautiful Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park are a leisure seeker's delight. Amongst a labyrinth of river valleys and headlands, wide estuaries and sheltered coves, the beautiful Akuna Bay is a bustling agglomeration of marine vessels and their enthusiastic skippers. Luxury yachts, houseboats and family cruisers come and go all day. And if owning a boat is just a dream, you are able to hire one for a few hours, or a weekend (a boating licence may be required, depending on the size. There are also boat repair, cleaning and detailing services aplenty. And if your hope is to catch the fish of the year, you can purchase a fishing licence, bait and ice. And, of course, there are several fabulous restaurants in the township.

2. Batemans Bay
Are you a fishing nut? This is the best place in Australia for a fishing holiday. There are many things for everyone to do in Batemans Bay, so you can all be happy while the fisherperson has 'me time' fishing! The 27-hole Catalina Country Club has one of the finest courses on the South Coast. From watercolour artists and rock fishermen to sandcastle builders, there’s something for everyone both in Batemans Bay and along its beautiful stretch of coastline. For example you can experience the following:
* Take a cruise along the Clyde River from Batemans Bay as far as Nelligen, 11 km up-river. Or hire a houseboat and stay overnight.
* Drive south from Batemans Bay along Beach Road, which winds past a string of quaint coves and beaches.
* Drop a line off the rock wall and hook a bream.
* Explore Murramarang National Park, with its friendly eastern grey kangaroos.
* Savour Clyde River oysters fresh from the estuary.
* Browse the local art and craft galleries.
* Walk along the Durras Discovery Trail.
* The George Bass Marathon, held each January in even-numbered years, is the world’s toughest surfboat race. After an exciting send-off from Batemans Bay, crews row 170 km south to Eden.
* Birdland Animal Park, which has a fabulous collection of Australian native birds, an animal nursery, duck ponds, waterfalls as well as rides on the Birdsville Express train through 3 hectares of parkland.
* Browsing in the local art and craft galleries.

3. Bondi to Coogee Walk
This is more than just a walking trail -it may be one of the best walks of your life! The trail meanders through coastal paths and cliffs -a combination of beaches, parks and spectacular views. This walk was has been around since the 1930’s and is one of the hidden gems of Sydney’s eastern suburbs. It includes Bondi, Tamarama, Bronte and Coogee beaches with a medium gradient clifftop path from Bondi to Tamarama, with occasional seats and several staircases. The beachside parks offer picnic shelters, coin-operated barbecues, play areas, kiosks, toilets and changerooms. The total length is 6 km and you should allow a minimum of 2 hours.

The walk contains many opportunity for swimming, with excellent beaches throughout. Always swim between the flags. Lifeguards are available all year at Bondi and Coogee, and from September through to April at Tamarama and Bronte. At various times of the year, a number of events happen at locations on the walk. These events include the Sculpture by the Sea, the City to Surf Fun Run, the Festival of the Winds Kite Day and the South American Festival.

4. Jenolan Caves
A vast cave system with some beautiful natural calcite and stalagmite formation that has been well kept. Located 177 km west of Sydney, Jenolan Caves are, without question, Australia’s most spectacular limestone caves, and are part of the World Heritage Greater Blue Mountains Area.
Open to the public are 9 caves with spectacular lighting, underground rivers and cave formations that amaze viewers.

The complex system is one of the largest underground cave systems in the world. Recently it was proclaimed as the oldest open cave system in the world. In 1838, James McKeown, an escaped convict and bushranger, became the first European to enter the caves when he used them as a hideaway, and then James Whalan saw the opening to the caves in 1840, but it was his brother Charles who eventually discovered the breadth of the system. The fame of the caves spread, and early tourists took away quite a lot of the ancient limestone as mementos. The precinct was named Jenolan Caves in 1884, which in the local Aboriginal language means 'High Mountain'. Visiting the caves in the early days was a primitive experience: candles provided the only light and visitors staying overnight had to sleep on the damp ground beneath the Grand Arch.

* If you only have time for one tour, visit the Lucas, Imperial or Chifley caves. The Lucas Cave is the longest while the one-hour Imperial Cave is the easiest.
* For an easy two-cave combination, visit Lucas Cave followed by the Orient Cave. The highest and widest chambers are in the Lucas Cave while the Orient has fragile crystalline decorations.
* Carols by Candlelight at Christmas is an unforgettable event because of superb acoustics.
* Jenolan Caves Concerts Series, performed throughout the year in the Lucas Cave's Cathedral Chamber.
* Afternoon tea at historic Jenolan Caves House, an architectural beauty from a bygone era.
* Starting a major bushwalk on the Six Foot Track from Jenolan Caves to Katoomba.
* Stopping at lookouts along the winding road from the caves to photograph the rugged scenery.
* Getting goosebumps on a ghost tour in the caves.

5. Kangaroo Valley
Kangaroo Valley is one of Australia's most beautiful valleys, with something to do for everyone! There are great campsites by the river. It has wildlife aplenty and some of the best wineries. Kangaroo Valley is both beautiful and dramatic -areas of rainforest cling to the steep escarpment, while the Kangaroo River and small creeks criss-cross the valley. Here you can enjoy the ideal features of time out -cafés, galleries, pubs, cabin in the bush and bushwalks.

The small township of Kangaroo Valley developed around the river and, when the beautiful sandstone Hampden Bridge was built in 1898, it opened up the valley to visitors. Hampden Bridge, now the oldest surviving suspension bridge in Australia, is supposedly the most photographed in the country.

You can:
* Explore the upper reaches of the Kangaroo River by canoe or enjoy a picnic by the clear cool water.
* Wander over the historic Hampden Bridge, past the cemetery and through the heritage-listed village.

Don’t miss:
* The Pioneer Farm Museum, based on a typical 19th century farmhouse.
* The spectacular views of the Shoalhaven River and Kangaroo Valley from Cambewarra Mountain lookout.
* A tour around one of the working fruit farms.
* Joining a kayaking or canoeing safari to Kangaroo River and Shoalhaven Gorge.
* Freshly baked bread from the Kangaroo Valley Bakehouse.

6. Nelson Bay
This is a beach 223 km north of Sydney which offers some of the best adventure sports. The diving and snorkelling here is exceptional. Just east of Nelson Bay, the tiny promontory of Fly Point is an aquatic reserve with prolific marine life. Divers have another superb site just off the coast at Broughton Island, with such outstanding features as the ‘Looking Glass’, a split that runs through the middle of the island, crowded with marine life.

Nelson Bay is the main town for Port Stephens and it would be difficult to find anywhere that is better equipped for aquatic pursuits – plus a great array of accommodation and dining options. On the town’s doorstep within the sheltered arms of the bay there are safe, calm beaches that are ideal for small children, while the coastal beaches just a five-minute drive away are washed by booming waves. You can also take a dolphin-watch cruise and marvel at the antics of these aquatic acrobats, or hand feed the blue gropers at the Fly Point-Halifax Park Aquatic Reserve.

The Festival of Whales in March celebrates the beginning of the annual whale migration along Australia's east coast. This festival includes art, music, displays, street entertainment and daily whale-watch cruises.

Don’t miss:
* The views from the walking trails of Tomaree National Park.
* The local oysters, fresh from the bay.
* The canoe trees at Little Nelson Beach.
* The lighthouse and buildings at Nelson Head.
* The view from Gan Gan Lookout

7. Snowy Mountains
If you are considering a skiing holiday, this is the place to go. Be sure to take note of the winter season in Australia (July-September). The Snowy Mountains also offer numerous attractions, from The Thredbo Bobsled, which is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face with 700 metres of luge style track as the bobsled twists and turns its way down the mountain whilst you control the speed with a many heritage bridges and monuments, galleries and wine and food trails.

8. Tumut
Another gem that is tucked away. One of the main towns in the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme, Tumut is located in the Tumut River valley. A beautiful riverside town close to||near limestone caves and thermal pools. Famous for its colourful autumnal landscape, it is five hours drive south-west of Sydney. One of the best places to stay in Tumut are in wood cabins by the Tumut River. They are also close to the Snowy Mountain range and offer affordable accommodation options.

Play golf at one of the areas five lakeside or mountain golf courses, where wildlife such as kangaroos share the greens.
You can also:
* The Tumut Three Power Station Display Centre at Talbingo, to learn about turbine generators.
* Tucking into fresh mountain trout from the rivers around Tumut.
* A tour of the Old Butter Factory.
* Festival of the Falling Leaf in April.

9. White Sand beaches around Sydney
There is a coastal belt south of Sydney called the Shoal Haven region. These beautiful beaches have some of the whitest sand in the world. There are several beaches in this area, each one unique in its own way: Seven Mile Beach, Cave Beach, Jervis Bay, Pebbly Beach, Hyams Beach and more.

10. Wollongong, Illawarra Coast
This is more like the little sister of Sydney that is equally beautiful and has so many attractions around it. From fabulous beaches and rock pools, to the quaint coastal villages and exceptional cuisine, to the impressive escarpment and range of thrilling adventure activities, to the Grand Pacific Drive which offers 140 kilometres of coast-hugging scenery, Wollongong will not disappoint.

Wollongong has an international reputation for excellence in the arts. This is not surprising, as over the centuries many famous artists have been drawn to the Illawarra region for inspiration. Among Wollongong artists are Arthur Streeton, Tom Roberts, Norman Lindsay, Banjo Patterson, Brett Whiteley and Eugene Von Guerard. Wollongong City Gallery is a strong presence in the centre of the city and is one of the largest regional art galleries in Australia. Part of the cultural precinct, it is recognised as the best regional gallery in Australia for its innovative and thought-provoking exhibitions and programmes.

Wollongong is fortunate to have such wonderful artists in Wollongong and to add to that resident artists like John Vander celebrates 40 years in Wollongong, giving the arts community a strong and respectable reputation and a strong future.

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Sydney is a large city by world city by world standards, it is reasonably safe to walk the streets at night without an escort.Sydney also has excellent public transport and infrastructure. For more details,

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