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Neighborhoods in Brief


Circular Quay This transport hub for ferries, buses, and CityRail trains is tucked between the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. The Quay, as it’s known to the locals, is a good spot for a stroll, and its outdoor restaurants and buskers (street musicians/performers) are very popular. The Rocks, the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Contemporary Art Museum, and the start of the main shopping area (centered on Pitt and George streets) are all just a short walk away. To reach the area via public transportation, take a CityRail train, ferry, or city-bound bus to Circular Quay.

The Rocks This small historic area, just a short stroll west of Cir-cular Quay, is closely packed with colonial stone buildings, in-triguing back streets, boutiques, popular pubs, tourist stores, and top-notch restaurants and hotels. It’s the most exclusive place to stay in the city because of its beauty and its proximity to the Opera House and the harbour. Shops here are geared mostly toward Sydney’s yuppies and wealthy Asian tourists—don’t expect many bargains. On weekends, a portion of George Street is blocked off for The Rocks Market, with its many street stalls selling tourist-oriented souvenirs and crafts. To reach the area via public transportation, take any bus bound for Circular Quay or The Rocks (via George Street) or a CityRail train or ferry to Circular Quay

Town Hall Right in the heart of the city, this area is home to all the main department stores and to two Sydney landmarks, the Town Hall and the Queen Victoria Building (QVB). In this area are also the AMP Centerpoint Tower and the boutique-style chain stores of Pitt Street Mall. Farther up George Street (on the same side of the street as the Town Hall) are major cinema complexes, the entrance to Sydney’s Spanish district (around Liverpool Street),
and the city’s small Chinatown. To reach the area via public transportation, take any bus from Circular Quay via George Street, or take a CityRail train to the Town Hall stop.

Darling Harbour Designed from scratch as a tourist precinct, Darling Harbour now features Sydney’s main convention, exhibition, and entertainment centers; a huge waterfront promenade; the Sydney Aquarium; the giant screen Panasonic IMAX Theatre; the Sega World theme park; the Australian Maritime Museum; the Powerhouse Museum; a major food court; and plenty of shops. Star City, Sydney’s casino and theater complex, opened in Darling Harbour in late 1997. Until Cockle Bay Wharf opened in early 1999 (near the Sydney Aquarium on the city side of Darling Harbour) and brought with it a few good bars and restaurants, few Sydneysiders ever visited the place. To reach the area via public transportation, take a ferry from Circular Quay (wharf 5), the monorail from Town Hall, or the light rail (tram) from Central Station. Or, you can simply walk down the side road to the right of the Queen Victoria Building as you are facing it, and across the pedestrian bridge which spans the water.

Kings Cross the Suburbs Beyond "The Cross," as it’s known, is famous as the city’s red-light district—though it’s also home to some of the city’s best-known nightclubs and restaurants. It also houses plenty of backpacker hostels, as well as some upscale hotels. The main drag, Darlinghurst Road, is crammed with strip joints, prostitutes, drug addicts, drunks, and street kids. Fortunately, there’s a heavy police presence. Beyond the strip clubs and glitter, the attractive suburbs of Elizabeth Bay, Double Bay, and Rose Bay hug the waterfront. To reach the area via public transportation, take bus 324, 325, or 327 from Circular Quay; bus 311 from Railway Square, Central Station; or a CityRail train to Kings Cross station.

Paddington/Oxford Street This inner-city suburb, centered on trendy Oxford Street, is known for its expensive terrace houses, off-the-wall boutiques and bookshops, and popular restaurants, pubs, and nightclubs. It’s also the heart of Sydney’s very large gay community (the world’s largest after San Francisco) and has a liberal scattering of gay bars and dance spots. To reach the area via public transportation, take bus 380 or 382 from Circular Quay (via Elizabeth Street); 378 from Railway Square, Central Station; or 380 and 382 from Bondi Junction.

Darlinghurst Wedged between grungy Kings Cross and upscale Oxford Street, this extroverted and grimy terraced suburb is home to some of Sydney’s finest cafes. It’s probably wise not to walk around here at night. Take the CityRail train to Kings Cross and head right from the exit.

Central The congested and badly polluted crossroads around Central Station, the city’s main train station, has little to recommend it. The Sydney Central YHA is located here.

Newtown This popular student area is centered around car-clogged King Street, which is lined with many alternative shops, bookstores, and cheap ethnic restaurants. People-watching is an interesting sport here—see how many belly button rings, violently colored hair-dos, and Celtic arm tattoos you can spot. To reach the area via public transportation, take bus 422, 423, 426, or 428 from Circular Quay (via Castlereagh Street and City Road), or take the CityRail train to Newtown Station.

Glebe A mecca for young professionals and students, this inner-city suburb is known for its cafes, restaurants, pubs, and shops spread out along the main thoroughfare, Glebe Point Road. All this, plus its location just 15 minutes from the city and 30 minutes from Circular Quay, makes it a good place to stay for budget-conscious travelers. To reach Glebe via public transportation, take bus 431, 433, or 434 from Millers Point, The Rocks (via George St.), or bus 459 from behind Town Hall.

Bondi the Southern Beaches Some of Sydney’s most glamorous surf beaches—Bondi, Bronte, and Coogee—can be found basking along the South Pacific Ocean coastline southeast of the city center. Bondi is a disappointment to many tourists who are expecting more than this former working-class suburb has to offer. It does have a wide sweep of beach (which is crowded in summer), some interesting eateries and drinking holes, and plenty of attitude. On weekends, it’s a favorite with macho suburbanites, who stand next to their souped-up cars and attempt to look cool. To reach the beaches via public transportation, take bus 380 or 382 to Bondi Beach from Circular Quay or a CityRail train to Bondi Junction to connect with same buses; bus 378 to Bronte from Railway Square, Central Station (via Oxford Street); or bus 373 or 374 to Coogee from Circular Quay.

Watsons Bay Watsons Bay is known for The Gap—a section of dramatic sea cliffs—as well as several good restaurants, such as Doyles on the Beach, and the popular Watsons Bay Hotel beer garden. It’s a terrific spot to spend a sunny afternoon. To reach the area via public transportation, take bus 324 or 325 from Circular Quay, or a ferry from Circular Quay (wharf 2) on Saturdays and Sundays.


North Sydney Just across the Harbour Bridge, the high rises of North Sydney attest to its prominence as a major business area. That said, there’s little on offer for tourists here, except the possibility of being knocked down on some extremely busy thoroughfare. Take a CityRail train to the North Sydney stop. Chatswood (take a CityRail train from Central or Wynyard stations) has some pretty good suburban-type shopping, and Milsons Point, just across the bridge, has a fairly decent pub called the Kirribilli Hotel and a couple of restaurants and cafes worth checking out if you’ve walked across the Harbour Bridge.

The North Shore Ferries and buses provide good access to these wealthy neighborhoods across the Harbour Bridge. The gorgeous Balmoral Beach, the Taronga Zoo, and upscale boutiques are the main attractions in Mosman. Take bus 250 from North Sydney to Taronga Zoo, or a ferry from Circular Quay (wharf 2) to Taronga Zoo and a bus from there to Balmoral Beach.

Manly The Northern Beaches Half an hour away by ferry, or just 15 minutes by the faster JetCat, Manly is famous for its beautiful ocean beach and scores of cheap food outlets. Farther north are more magnificent beaches popular with surfers. Unfortunately there is no CityRail train line to the northern beaches. The farthest beach from the city, Palm Beach, has magnificent surf and lagoon beaches, nice walking paths, and a scenic golf course. To reach the area via public transportation, take the ferry or JetCat from Circular Quay (wharves 2 and 3) to Manly. Change at Manly interchange for various buses to the northern beaches, numbers 148 and 154 through 159. You can also take bus L90 from Wynyard Station.


Balmain Located west of the city center, a short ferry ride from Circular Quay, Balmain was once Sydney’s main ship-building area. In the last few decades the area has become trendy and expensive. The suburb has a village feel about it and is filled with restaurants and pubs and hosts a popular Saturday market in the grounds of the local church. Take bus 441, 442, or 432 from Town Hall or George Street, or a ferry from Circular Quay (wharf 5), and then a short bus ride up the hill to the main shopping area.

Homebush Bay This is the main site of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Here you’ll find the Olympic Stadium, the Aquatic Center, and the Homebush Bay Information Center, as well as parklands and a water-bird reserve. To reach the area via public transportation, take a CityRail train from Circular Quay to the new Olympic Park station.


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