Sydney - Timeless Cityscapes
Visitors into Sydney have been seeing images of this beautiful city probably since the day they were born. The colossal Harbour Bridge, the enigmatic Opera House and the pristine beaches are as Australian as kangaroos and Uluru, and pictures of them dominate the pages of any travel feature on this great country. Its no wonder then that first time visitors to Australia, who normally treat Sydney as their initial port-of-call, are expecting a lot - years of anticipation are coming to a head and they dont even consider the option that Sydney will disappoint them. And, of course, it never does. This buzzing metropolis has everything to satisfy even the most critical of tourists- inimitable sight-seeing, friendly faces, an electric atmosphere and a host of attractions lying nearby that add to its diversity.

Its difficult knowing where to begin after touching down in Sydney, but a great way to clear your head and get over the jet lag or the car journey is to head to one of the city's famous beaches and soak up a bit of sunshine. The temperate climate of warm summers and mild winters lends itself well to the beachey lifestyle the city enjoys, and you will find residents here are fiercely proud of their local shoreline. One of the most famous beaches in the world is Bondi, whose horseshoe shaped strip of sand has graced magazine covers and television shows the world over. Bordered by many restaurants and bars, its a fun and relaxing place to spend a day. Manly has a similar vibe, being one of the most popular beachside suburbs in Sydney, and a ferry there from the CBD is a pleasant way to see the city from the water. There are plenty of smaller and more secluded beaches dotted up the length of the city, and asking the locals to point a few out is the best way of finding them. Theyre always willing to help!

Your next excursion should involve getting up close and personal with the sights and sounds of the Sydney Harbour. The two main features that will probably be the subject of the majority of your Kodak moments are the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Whichever way you look at them, they are impressive, but to really appreciate them a guided tour is the way forward. The Essential Tour through the Opera House gives you a glimpse into the inner workings of one of the busiest performing arts centres in the world, and you will learn much about the journey from its conception to the present day. Adventure tours on the Harbour Bridge take you right to its highest point, and although the walk might be exerting the views from up there make it all worthwhile! A knowledgeable guide accompanies you the whole way, passing on information about the sights you see and the history of the city.

From atop the Bridge you have the whole Harbour laid out before you, including the central transport hub of Circular Quay. This is an important teminus where you can access the different parts of the harbour by ferry, and different parts of the city by public transport. Its a bustling and interesting place where you can learn about how to get around the city. Easily accessible from here, and a great place to go if you love shopping, is the Rocks. This is the oldest suburb in the city, and is a beautifully quaint spot whose narrow streets are lined with hundreds of market stalls selling all manner of consumer goods. There are also plenty of bars and restaurants that give the Rocks a unique character and make it a popular entertainment precinct.

For those who wish to travel out of the city limits then the options are just as mind boggling as those within Sydney. To the north and south lie Newcastle and Wollongong respectively, both world class cities that represent a holiday in themselves. Both coastal, a trip to either of these destinations is going to be tied in with beach activities and lots of outdoor adventure. Lovers of the outdoors will also be tempted to drive the couple of hours inland to the Blue Mountains, where rugged views and fresh mountain air await you. Hiking, abseiling and canoeing are some of the favourite pasttimes here, but you can just as easily do very little but appreciate the views!

However you choose to spend your time in and around Sydney each day is going to be as enthralling as the last (except for the day when you have to pack up and leave!). Millions of tourists touch down annually here, and those arriving for the first time always seem to make it their pledge to return soon. Whether you remain within the city or venture away from town, you will find a hirecar gives you the freedom to explore all the attractions you've heard so much about. A holiday here is a sure fire-hit, so when planning your next one give Sydney a lot of thought!

Gavin Wyatt