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Sydney is famous for its Harbour Bridge. Check out the bridge close up by walking across it! The views are fantastic, the photo opportunities abound and it's free. The easiest way is to catch the train across the bridge from Wynyard Station to Milsons Point Station (just one stop, takes 2 minutes). At the station exit, you should see signs directing you to the stairs you climb to walk across the bridge. One side is for pedestrians, the other side for bikes. The walk takes only half an hour at an easy pace. When you reach the other side, follow the signs to the Rocks, an historical area of Sydney, which is another "must-see" for visitors. Cobbled streets, historical buildings, authentic souvenirs, great restaurants and pubs are located in this district.
If you want to see the Opera House close up, and you can't afford performance tickets, or everything's booked out, try for a tour (booked through the House itself) or just wander around. Quite a lot is open to the public and you may enjoy coffee or a drink while sitting outside, enjoying the view or the atmosphere. From the Opera House, take a relaxing walk through the Royal Botanic Gardens and head to the Art Gallery of New South Wales . With free admission and five levels of art, allow at least an hour to explore the collections including old Colonial Australian art and Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander art.
Both the Bridge and the Opera House enjoy harbour positions. So take some time to wander around the harbour foreshore of Circular Quay. There is a terrific ambiance on any sunny day, especially weekends. Sydney Harbour is beautiful to look at, but even more fun to ride on. No visit to Sydney is truly complete without a harbour cruise of some sort. There are classy evening cruises with sumptuous food and basic cruises, operated by Sydney Ferries, that cost very little and offer an informative recorded guide as well. The easiest option, however, is to take an ordinary ferry. These run all day, every day, and go to various destinations. Head to Manly (30 minutes). When you alight, walk straight ahead onto Manly Corso and enjoy the buskers, the ice-cream shops, cafes and restaurants. Stroll the length of the Corso and you'll find yourself at Manly Beach. You'll easily understand why it's world-famous.
If you have more time, check out Darling Harbour, Taronga Zoo (accessible by ferry), the Powerhouse Museum, tour the Olympic Park site with its world-class sporting venues (at Homebush) or venture further to the beautiful Blue Mountains. Just 3 hours south-west by car will take you to the nation's capital, Canberra , which has lots more to offer, including the National Gallery, Australian War Memorial Museum, and both Old and New Parliament House. Or travel directly south to beautiful Wollongong, with its rugged coastline and uncrowded beaches via the Grand Pacific Drive which is well signposted.
Want to touch koalas, kangaroos and other Australian marsupials (if at all possible)? Then head to Koala Park Sanctuary at West Pennant Hills in Sydney's North-Western suburbs. A well known attraction to locals but not so well known to foreign visitors, here you can feed and may be able hold all manner of Australian wildlife. You can get into the enclosures with kangaroos and wallabies for the real contact experience. This may also be an opportunity at Featherdale Wildlife Park at Blacktown. Whilst you cannot hold Koalas (it is illegal in NSW unless you are a keeper), you can take photos and are allowed to pat a koala held by its keeper. Tours run to Featherdale or you make your way there independently. Only have a short time and you're in the city? Then consider WILD LIFE Sydney instead. It's next door to the Sydney Aquarium at Darling Harbour.