Sydney: Southern Cross

A host of brand-name hotels ring Sydney harbor. On a celebration trip to this leisure city, you want to be close to the non-stop action.

When the British established a colony in Sydney in 1788, Aboriginal villages ringed the harbor and flourished for 50,000 years. Today Sydney is a vibrant, bustling metropolis with a stunning amenity: 34 beaches twenty minutes from the city center.

In this leisure-oriented city, you can cruise the harbor, ride ocean waves and savor fresh lobster at a boisterous sidewalk café or in solitude on the golden sand.

Kayakers in Sydney Harbour enjoy the sights.

Circular Quay (pronounced “key”) and the Rocks are day-and-night hubs of activity. Stay at the Shangri-La or the newly renovated Park Hyatt in The Rocks or the Inter-Continental above Circular Quay.

You can brave the heights of Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb and earn bragging rights after the heart-pounding walk across catwalks, ladders and arches to the top. If the climb hadn’t already, the view of Port Jefferson inlet will take your breath away.

A beach picnic is an instantly relaxing. Pick up supplies and fresh fish at the Sydney Fish Market in Blackwattle Bay. Stacked in neat rows, the lobster, prawns, barramundi, salmon and oysters couldn’t be any fresher. The market has a dozen restaurants and a wine shop.

The Aussie symbol of outdoor leisure is a sun-drenched beach with mile-long combers. One of Australia’s top beaches, Bondi Beach (pronounced “bon-dye”) has an arcaded pavilion, promenade and park that retains the charm of its heydays in the 1930s.

With a well-stocked hamper, you can while away the afternoon on the sand, picking freshly cooked lobster from the shell and washing it down with a Hunter Valley Semillon, the Australian word for sunshine.

If those perfectly curling waves call to you, head over to Let’s Go Surfing. The two-hour session is designed to get ‘surfies’ of all ages skimming the waves.

After nightfall, check out a performance at the hot new Sydney Theatre at Walsh Bay. The Sydney Dance Company and the award-winning Sydney Theatre Company both perform at this 850-seat venue. When the curtain falls, take a cab to Glass Brasserie where the dining room includes a kitchen theater and floor-to-ceiling glass windows.

On the Inter-Continental terrace at sunset.

In this vibrant setting, chef Luke Mangan creates culinary magic in dishes such as truffle-poached jewfish with peas and white asparagus. He has won a worldwide following by using the freshest Australian products from farm and sea. The late-night bar scene at the plush Hemmesphere Lounge.The living room seating creates a good vibe and you’ll want to linger over the excellent martinis.

After a few soul-satisfying days and nights around the harbor, it’s no mystery as to why the Aussie heart beats fondly for their seaside city. Yours will, too. For more information, visit Australia online.

—by Donna Peck. Photography by Donna Peck and Tourism Australia

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