6 Memorable things to do in Sydney

2018-06-21 11:32 - Adele Hamilton
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Got a free weekend in Sydney? See a wombat, ride a ferry and drink an extra hot flat white. And that's before you've even visited the Opera House. Here are six suggestions to get the most out of a visit to this world class city. 

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1.Visit that big building with the curved roofs

The dramatic soaring sail shape of the Sydney Opera House deserves its reputation as a must-see landmark. Best seen at sunset as the sun glimmers off its roof tiles, it was designed by Danish architect Jorn Utzon who won a competition in 1957 to design a performing arts centre for the Circular Quay. The story goes that he left Sydney in a huff after budget disputes, and never returned to see the finished building, according to sydneyoperahouse.com.  

2. Judge for yourself that wombat poo is square

This furry, sometimes ferocious beast looks like a dassie on steroids but is not a close relative of the hyrax. It’s a marsupial like the kangaroo and the koala bear, and its faeces forms easily stackable blocks. You can see this and other unique forms of indigenous wildlife at the Taronga Zoo, reached by ferry from Circular Quay. You could also, if you really wanted to, spend R500 or so on a kangaroo testicle keyring at the Sydney Airport.

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3. Find out why ferries are the minibus taxi of Sydney 

With a population of around 5 million making it just 25% bigger than Cape Town, many people avoid the traffic by taking a large ferry to work in the city centre from outer suburbs like Parramatta and Mosman Locals will tell you that the cheapest way to appreciate the whole of the bay is to take the ferry to the famous surfing spot at Manly Beach and back again. The guided Captain Cook harbour tour is worth the extra expense for historical facts and insights into the rich and famous residents and visitors to city suburbs such as Kirribilli where the Australian prime minister has a grand home and Britain’s Prince William and his wife Kate the Duchess of Cambridge stayed in Admiralty House, a mini castle away from home.

sydney bridge

Take a ferry to get around Sydney.  (Photo: Adele Hamilton) 

4. See art and light meet at #vividsydney

The Vivid Sydney festival lights up the city for a month every winter, attracting families and frolickers to the city centre. Highly artistic and stirring light displays are scattered around the streets and light up major landmarks like the bridge and of course the Sydney Opera House. Some of the most striking artworks are found in the historic region of the city, known as The Rocks, projecting on older buildings in the shadow of the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge This area was not only the first place European settlers took root in Australia, but also the traditional home of the indigenous Gadigal people, who are acknowledged at a number of different locations in the city as being the original custodians of the area now called Sydney, according to therocks.com.

5. Take a Choo-choo ride to a chair

The Royal Sydney Botanical Gardens cover 30 hectares and offer a glimpse into the natural flora of the area as well as the history of its indigenous people. Guided tours give background to how indigenous plants were used. Jump aboard the little red Choo-choo for a fascinating hop-on hop-off circuit, and don’t forget to stop at Mrs Macquarie's chair, carved out of rock for the wife of the governor in 1820. Not the comfiest chair for someone who was instrumental in marking out this area for botanical gardens.

Mrs Macquarie's Chair in sydney

Trek by train to check out Mrs Macquarie's chair in Sydney. (Photo: iStock)

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6. Drink an original Australian hot beverage (maybe)

Coffee is serious business for Sydney office workers, who flock to the city's coffee houses to get their fix of the flat white, a version of a cappuccino invented either in Australia or New Zealand, depending which side of the controversy you want to land on. To fit in, make like a Sydney coffee insider and order it extra hot. Tasty food options are everywhere too, thanks to innumerable eateries ranging from Modern Australian, Chinese and Vietnamese to a lone Icelandic establishment. Vegetarians are well catered for, and on a random Thursday in Wynyard Park you might even stumble across people queuing for Sydney’s biggest meat-free barbecue, hosted by Masterchef favourite Callum Hann.  

Plan Your Trip to Australia:

Do SA residents need a visa: Yes - Visitor visa (subclass 600). Apart from the ‘Transit', this is the most basic visa you can apply for and allows you to visit Australia for a holiday, recreation or to visit family or friends. It can also be used for other non-work purposes, including study for less than three months.  Passport must be valid for up to six months after date of departure.  Click here for more info.

UK, US and Australia visa costs: What South Africans can expect to pay in 2018 

Currency & exchange rate: AUS$1 – R10.12 (at time of publishing)

Main Airport: Sydney Airport, New South Wales; Melbourne Airport, Victoria; Brisbane Airport, Queensland and Perth Airport, Western Australia.

Airlines that travel there: SAA flies direct to Perth and Sydney.  1-stop fligths via Emirates, Qantas Airways, Singapore Airlines  and  Etihad Airways. Search more flights here.