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Where to Play

 Sydney Harbour 
The famously scenic natural harbor that defines Sydney is one arm of a large Pacific estuary known as Port Jackson, which has been a locus of human settlement for thousands of years. Although some 4 million people now call Sydney home, much of the Port Jackson shoreline remains remarkably green and accessible. Pleasant waterfront promenades include Circular Quay from The Rocks to Bennelong Point (location of the Sydney Opera House), the Royal Botanic Gardens, Darling Harbour and the pedestrian walkway on the Harbour Bridge. Various companies offer sightseeing cruises and jet boat rides on the harbor, or you can travel by ferry from Circular Quay to Manly, Watsons Bay, Mosman and other attractive waterfront communities.
Information: Sydney Harbour,
 Sydney Opera House 
The significance of this iconic modern masterpiece, which rises gracefully over the harbor at the edge of Sydney's central business district, transcends its role as venue for live music, opera, dance and theater. Danish Architect Jorn Utzon's fanciful creation has become an integral part of the city's international identity, and a major tourist attraction even for visitors who never set foot in any of the five performance halls housed under the soaring vaulted roof. One-hour guided tours and two-hour backstage tours offer visitors a close-up look at the building and its inner workings, and the structure houses several bars and cafes along with a high-end restaurant, Guillame at Bennelong.
Information: For more information,
Even travelers on a tight budget should consider splurging on this extraordinary tour, in which visitors scale the massive Sydney Harbour Bridge that has linked the city's central business district to the North Shore suburbs since 1932. The 3 .5-hour guided climb begins with an orientation session and safety briefing at the base of the bridge (including a breath test for excessive blood alcohol levels), after which participants are led along a series of catwalks, stairs and ladders to the top of the massive steel arch, 134 meters (about 440 feet) above the harbor. Climbers are harnessed to fixed safety lines for duration of the climb, and all equipment is provided, including protective coveralls, radio headsets for receiving commentary and instructions from the guides, and head-to-toe foul weather gear as required by current conditions. Rates vary by season and by time of day, ranging from AU$169 to AU$295 for adults, or AU$100 to AU$195 for ages 10 to 16. Book as far in advance as possible, either online or by phone.
Information: BridgeClimb Sydney, +61-2-8274-7777
For an even more vertiginous thrill, have a go at the new Sydney Tower Skywalk, a 1 .5-hour guided excursion along a series of open-air walkways and glass-floor viewing platforms suspended 260 meters (about 850 feet) above street level at the top of Sydney's tallest building. As with Bridgeclimb Sydney, participants must be at least 10 years old and pass a breath test measuring your blood alcohol level. Protective clothing and mandatory safety harnesses are included in the admission fee, which ranges from AU$109 to AU$139 for adults and AU$85 to AU$105 for ages 10 to 15.
Information: Sydney Tower Skywalk, +61-2-9333-9222
Sydney's multifaceted beach scene ranges from busy city strands to quieter seaside hamlets scattered along the Tasman Sea coastline to the north and south. Bondi Beach, about 5 miles east of the central business district, is a magnet for surfers, inline skaters and other outdoorsy youth, with a lively commercial strip facing the waterfront where you can get outfitted with appropriate wheels or surfing gear. Joggers and hikers can follow a cliff-top trail along the coast from the southern end of Bondi Beach, passing several nice suburban beaches before the trail ends at Coogee Beach several miles to the south. The northern suburb of Manly near the harbor entrance (easily accessible by ferry from downtown Sydney) rivals Bondi as a popular beach hangout, with a fun pedestrian commercial strip that links the harbor-side cove where ferries dock and a long ocean beach on the opposite side of a narrow isthmus. Whichever beach you choose, bear in mind that rip currents and occasional infestations of stinging jellyfish can be a serious concern if you enter the water, so pay strict attention to warning signs posted at the beaches, and always remember to protect yourself from the intense Aussie sun.
If you won't have a chance to head out into the bush for a gander at Australia's unique native animal and plant species, consider paying a visit to the Featherdale Wildlife Park (,  about 45 minutes by car from central Sydney, where visitors can enjoy close encounters with koalas, kangaroos, wombats, wallabies, dingoes, emus and Tasmanian devils. Without leaving the city, you can see some of the same exotic critters (along with a larger collection of familiar zoo animals) at the Taronga Zoo (, which is accessible via a scenic ferry ride from Circular Quay. The splendid Sydney Aquarium at Darling Harbour ( houses impressive displays of Down Under marine species, including many of the fish and invertebrates you might see on a diving trip to the Great Barrier Reef. Finally, don't miss the expansive and well-manicured grounds of the Royal Botanic Garden (, which preserves endemic plant species in a special area that can be visited independently or with Aboriginal guides.

Information: Sydney Aquarium,
This magnificent wilderness area west of Sydney is not really a mountain range, but a high sandstone plateau marked by steep cliffs, deeply cut gorges, and vast expanses of dense native eucalyptus forest. The rugged terrain harbors an exceptional diversity of plant and animal life, and makes the Blue Mountains a prime year-round destination for outdoor adventures. Local outfitters and adventure guides can arrange superb wilderness treks, rock climbing, spelunking, mountain biking, horseback riding or river rafting. The area is easily accessible by rail or by car (about 1.5 to 2 hours from Sydney), and accommodations range from simple backpacker lodges, B&Bs and cottage rentals to full-service spa resorts.
Information: The Blue Mountains,