"Sydney - For the discerning tourist" Top 5 Page for this destination Sydney by iandsmith

Sydney Travel Guide: 6,068 reviews and 14,501 photos

The expectation

My work here will never be satisfied till I make the top 5 (September 2011, finally made it!). To that end I continually go to odd places in an endeavour to point you to places you've never heard of though there is something about water, something about Sydney Harbour that will always make it a focal point.
There's an expectation. An expectation of movement, of something about to happen, of beauty, of rippling waters, of architectural monuments. It doesn't disappoint. Some find the Opera House smaller than they expected but still marvel at its architectural splendour. By day the Harbour Bridge can look a little dull with its fundamental grey paintwork. When draped with fireworks it becomes one of the world's most colourful spectacles. The city itself may suffer from the boring high rise syndrome but treasures such as the Queen Victoria Building, Sydney Hospital, the Strand Arcade and the Rocks contrast mightily with the modern brashness and bold fronts of Darling Harbour.
Started as a colonial outpost it smouldered and steadily grew through the early years of white man settlement then exploded after the Second World War with expatriates from all Mediterranean and European cultures, fleeing their war torn homelands or communist oppression. I was priveleged to spend an apprenticeship working with them and, for a couple of years, played in an ethnic soccer team and got to understand a little of what we had imported. Today there is an Asian "invasion". Australia is viewed by many emerging nations as a good place to go to university and Sydney is a prime target.
Thus it is that you can expect to see all races and hear all languages. A walk along the Manly Corso or Bondi Beach will soon make you aware of that. If you head to the western suburbs on a train you're likely to be in a minority if you speak English.
The dream of living seaside or harbour side has become the reality of only the rich. In the last decade with the advent of even cheaper travel, prices have soared. Yet the magnet remains. Even I, who doesn't live here, find myself enjoying the not infrequent trip to see some of the attractions it has to offer.
I always go to the beach or go to the harbour at some stage.
So should you.

The far side

As with any large city there are many attractions that your travel agent neglected to mention as they don't get the hype that others do. Wherever I travel my curiousity won't let me overlook these so you'll be sure to find the unusual and unheralded throughout my pages.
One of things you can do in Sydney is visit the Serpentine Canal, something very few Sydneysiders ever do.
It happens to be an aqueduct in the middle of Rookwood Cemetery, an attraction in itself. It's one of Sydney's oldest brick works and is currently undergoing restoration. It winds, as its name suggests, through one side of the necropolis and is adorned with classical urns and fountains en route.
Another fabulous place is the Camellia Gardens at Caringbah; hectare per hectare, I rate them as Sydney's finest.
Best of all are the walks around the foreshores of Sydney Harbour, pencil that in as your number one "must-do".

Architectural highlight

I vividly remember returning from my first sojourn to Europe and being entranced by Renaissance architecture, masses of baroque with rococo thrown in here and there.
Then I arrived back in Oz and, for the first time in my life, realised how good were the wrought iron balconies we still had. Sydney has a plethora of them in the near (and older) suburbs. They were features on the working class dwellings of the time and today they have been tarted up in all sorts of ways as can be clearly seen in this shot taken in Surrey Hills.
Since I got to be an older person and can take advantage of cheap fares, I tend to catch the train down to Sydney a few times each year and this has given me the chance to see lots of wonderful things that I've now added to these pages.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:One of the world's great harbours, lots of waterside venues
  • Cons:crowded
  • In a nutshell:Beautiful, cosmopolitan, architectural features, nature, a treat for all
  • Last visit to Sydney: Dec 2013
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
  • Add to Trip Planner (?)
  • Report Abuse

Reviews (152)

Comments (21)

  • xaver's Profile Photo
    Oct 15, 2015 at 2:53 PM

    I found some really interesting ideas in your reviews, thanks.

  • Trekki's Profile Photo
    Oct 16, 2011 at 2:29 AM

    Thank you Ian for your excellent and extensive Sydney tour :-) I saved a lot for my sister who will be there end of the year :-)

  • easterntrekker's Profile Photo
    Apr 3, 2010 at 8:08 PM

    I enjoy your Sydney pages, brings back good memories. Happy easter!

  • jumpingnorman's Profile Photo
    Feb 9, 2009 at 11:07 AM

    Wonderful Sydney pics and tips -- I'm hoping we'll visit again sometime...thanks for sharing, Norman :)

  • junecorlett's Profile Photo
    Feb 9, 2009 at 1:24 AM

    Next destination...Austrlalia. I hope. Stunning picture with all the yachts.

  • dancinbudgie's Profile Photo
    Oct 13, 2008 at 3:05 PM

    I do love your pages Ian!

  • Apr 1, 2008 at 6:17 PM

    One of my favorite cities in the world

  • filipdebont's Profile Photo
    Sep 29, 2007 at 3:12 PM

    What a wonderful city, Ian

  • birchy99's Profile Photo
    Sep 28, 2007 at 4:23 PM

    Good tips, Ian. All that is missing is the "Danny Deckchair" ride. Wonder what the fee would be for that? Mart

  • Sep 28, 2007 at 5:18 AM

    Hi there. I was wondering if it's worth it for me to travel all the way down there. So I found myself reading your nice tips. Interesting place. Lots of money to fly down under...

iandsmith Visits Here Frequently!


“The shortest distance between two people is laughter (note sign in picture)”

Online Now


Top 1,000 Travel Writer
Member Rank:
0 0 0 2 1
Forum Rank:
0 0 4 4 8

Badges & Stats in Sydney

  • 152 Reviews
  • 383 Photos
  • 75 Forum posts
  • 9,961PageViews

Have you been to Sydney?

  Share Your Travels  

Latest Activity in Sydney

Travel Interests

See All Travel Interests (5)