When you shut your eyes and think of Australia, certain iconic images swim inevitably to mind…the sail-staggered roof of the Sydney Opera House against the bright blue of Sydney Harbor…the serried rows of vines that corduroy the hills of the Hunter Valley…the misted contours of the Blue Mountains…the café-lively streets of the Rocks…eucalyptus-mellow koalas and fidgety kangaroos. Encompassing almost everything “Aussie,” Sydney is both Australia’s oldest and newest city, its capital of cool, cuisine and culture. The beautiful state that surrounds it, New South Wales, is crammed with must-see sites, an easy-to-access distillate of this remarkably idiosyncratic continent.
Culturally speaking, there are plenty of treats in store. Sydney is a global events capital with examples including Sydney Festival each January and VIVID Sydney each May / June – the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest annual celebration of light, music and ideas.
When it comes time to leave the bright lights of Sydney, there are plenty of destinations within three hours’ drive from the city – stunning wine regions in the Hunter Valley and Southern Highlands, beaches on the Central Coast and around Wollongong, World Heritage national parks in the Blue Mountains and at Barrington Tops and spectacular coastal and country scenery. Further afield, beautiful and unique, Lord Howe Island is a World Heritage-listed island paradise.