Sydney, Australia: A Beauty Down Under by Ray Raposo


Sydney, capital of New South Wales and one of Australia’s largest cities is located on the southeast coast. It is famously known for its harbor featuring the Sydney Opera House, with it’s distinctive sail-like design.

By Opera House is writer Ray (R-L) with wife Peg and friends Violet and Carlos.

You can purchase tickets for tours of the inside and the different concert venues of this architectural marble. There’s a lovely walkable area all along the harbor along with places to sit and have a drink or a meal.

Friends at Sydney Opera House Restaurant/Bar area by Harbor

Sydney’s Opera House is an architectural masterpiece that is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world. Among the many weekly shows performed here, you can choose from live music concerts, opera, symphony orchestras, ballet, modern dance, and all types of plays.

Main Opera House Concert Hall

The exterior of the Opera House is covered with small diamond shaped ceramic tiles that you can only appreciate upon close viewing.

Ray by the Opera house tiled exterior

As Sydney and Australia’s most recognizable structure, no trip to Sydney is complete without experiencing The Opera House, one of the 20th century’s most famous and distinctive buildings, and learning its history.

Writer Ray and Peg with Harbour Bridge in background

The arched Harbour Bridge is just yards away connecting North Sydney to the city’s main downtown. One can actually climb to the top of the bridge with a tour if you’re not afraid of heights and can afford the steep price.

Climbers near top of Harbour Bridge

The large Darling Harbour and the smaller Circular Quay port are also hubs of the waterside life, and the esteemed Royal Botanic Garden nearby.

Darling Harbour area

Sydney Tower’s outdoor platform, the Skywalk, offers 360-degree views of the city and suburbs. For beach lovers, there’s the golden sand of famous beaches like Bondi and Manly.

Inside the Queen Victoria Building Mall

Sydney has a large range of places to shop, but two Victorian-era malls add a dash of regal beauty to the experience that you won’t want to miss. A mix of luxury and affordable fashion brands at Queen Victoria Building, which has been revived to its 1890’s grandeur with intricate stained-glass windows and its original staircase is a must visit.

The impressive interior of the Queen Victoria Building Mall

The Strand Arcade, a historic glass-domed landmark, just a few blocks away, is where Australian designer brands such as Dion Lee and Aje are among the mix of high-end boutique stores, cafes and restaurants.

One of the many modern shopping areas in downtown Sydney

Besides those two historical malls, you’ll also find a slew of modern shopping centers in the downtown area, including Pitt Street Mall, MidCity Shopping Centre, Martin Place Shopping Mall, and MLC Centre, all located within blocks of each other.

The Sydney Town Hall Building

Also in downtown in between the tall, modern office buildings, you’ll find the Sydney Town Hall, an imposing 19th century building with ornate interiors and stained glass windows. Next door is another interesting Gothic-style building, the St. Andrews Cathedral.

The Sydney Tower from Hyde Park

Enjoy spectacular views across Sydney and the sea in the 360 Bar and revolving restaurant. Found near the top of the 300 meter high Sydney Tower, the bar is elegant with dark mahogany interiors and featuring floor-to-ceiling windows to offer a full view of the city panorama. One full rotation takes well over an hour. Sydney also offers a variety of food choices at the many restaurants all around town.

Another view of the modern skyline and marinas

Sydney offers several museums as well, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, near the Sydney Harbour. Other museums include the Museum of Sydney, honoring the city’s foundation, the Australian Museum of Natural History and the Art Gallery of New South Wales with its Roman Temple designed exterior featuring both modern and indigenous art.

Ray on Darling Harbour’s pedestrian bridge

Another lovely area is provided at Darling Harbour which has a flag-lined pedestrian bridge over the harbor. Several attractions are featured such as the Australian National Maritime Museum, Sea Life Aquarium, Wild Life Sydney Zoo and Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. King Street Wharf on the Promenade has a string of restaurants and bars that get really going as the sun goes down.

Exterior of St.Mary’s Gothic-style Cathedral

Also in the downtown area you can spend quiet time, or play soccer at Hyde Park, a green grass and tree filled oasis. Nearby is the beautiful St. Mary’s Cathedral, a Gothic-style Catholic cathedral built of local sandstone from 1868 to 1928, offering Mass & exhibits. It is definitely worth a visit.

Interior nave at St. Mary’s Cathedral

Australia is in the south hemisphere, so seasons are opposite from the U.S., so Summer here is winter there. Remember that when deciding when to visit and what clothing to pack… Swimsuit & shorts or jacket and scarfs.

View of St. Mary’s Cathedral with feature fountain

Besides Sydney there are other cities, including Melbourne and Brisbane you might consider spending time visiting. Another incredible natural wonder to view is the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system off the coast of Queensland.

Some high risers offer nature right in the city

The Great Dividing Range, or the Eastern Highlands, is Australia’s most substantial mountain range and the fifth longest land-based range in the world. There are also many rain forest areas in Australia you might want to spend time exploring, specially if looking for kangaroo or koalas.

Modern Street Trams in downtown Sydney

Sydney is a large metropolitan city. You can walk most all the downtown sites I’ve mentioned or use the modern street cars that move all over the city. To see the surrounding areas as well as the beaches you’ll have to take a car or a bus. They also have a wonderful Hop-on-Hop-off Tour Bus service that offers great views of the surrounding areas of the city.

Ray overlooking Sydney Harbour and Opera House

Sydney, Australia is another wonderful location to consider when planning your dream vacation.

Some of the modern buildings of the downtown area
One of the entrances to the Queen Victoria Building Mall
Statue of Queen Victoria outside her namesake building
Inside hallways and stairs of the Sydney Opera House
Our historic Grace Hotel with Vapiano Italian Restaurant on corner