From the orange-segments shaped Opera House, the Harbour Bridge off which fireworks dance on New Year's Eve, and, of course, Bondi Beach, Sydney is Australia's most instantly recognisable city.
It's not Australia's capital, but it could be, such is its energy, verve and, some would say, its brashness. It's the top city in the Asia Pacific region for quality of life. With its climate, beaches, parks and gardens, shopping and world-class dining, not to mention the underpinning of any great city, an efficient transport system, Sydneysiders know how to live well.
Sydney is Australia's oldest city. Most of the historic buildings stand in Macquarie Street including Hyde Park Barracks (constructed by convict labour), the Mint Building, Parliament House and Sydney Hospital. At the northeast end of the botanic gardens is Mrs Macquarie's Chair, a ledge carved out of sandstone so that Mrs Macquarie, a former governor's wife, could enjoy the views.
Beyond the city, Sydney is within easy reach of the Hunter Valley vineyards, the Blue Mountains, the beaches and resorts of the east coast, and, for those seeking cheap flights to Sydney during the winter months, the ski slopes of the Snowy Mountains, Australia's winter playground.