Sydney

Sydney, Australia's gateway city and the capital of New South Wales, is built around one of the largest, most beautiful harbours in the world with miles of golden beaches stretching north and south of the city on the shore of the Pacific Ocean.

With a population of over 4 million, Sydney is a vigorous, cosmopolitan city, a major industrial, business and commercial centre and is endlessly fascinating in its variety and its beauty.

Perhaps the most famous of Sydney's landmarks is the spectacular Sydney Opera House with its graceful 'sails'. The Opera House has become Sydney's cultural centre, offering opera, ballet, drama and film. The historic 'Rocks' area, site of the original European settlement, is nearby, and this part of the harbour foreshore is a hub of activity for both local residents and visitors alike. Souvenir hunters should visit the Rocks Market which is open every Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm.

The Powerhouse Museum is Australia's largest and most popular museum. It is located in Darling Harbour, near the Congress venue. Its unique and diverse collection of 385,000 objects spans history, science, technology, design, industry, decorative arts, music, transport and space exploration. Nearby, too, is the National Maritime Museum. Take a ferry from Circular Quay across the harbour to Taronga Zoo, with its collection of about 340 species and over 2600 individual animals of Australia and around the world, including the Australian sea lion, koala, kookaburra and platypus (a burrowing egg-laying mammal). Also well worth a visit are the Australian Museum, the Museum of Sydney and the Art Gallery of New South Wales, which has fine collections of Australian art including Aboriginal art, Asian art and Western (international) art.

The beaches and harbour play a major role in the leisure and sporting lives of Sydneysiders - yachting, surfing, sailboarding, swimming, boating, fishing and waterskiing are all popular activities.

Many national parks and protected areas of natural bushland surround the city and the beautiful Blue Mountains are a short journey to the west.