Sydney, the largest city in Australia, was home to aboriginal peoples for at least 50,000 years prior to European settlement spearheaded by the arrival of the English explorer James Cook in 1770. When the “First Fleet” arrived 18 years later, settlement of Sydney began; of course, not with the hope of creating a gleaming new city, but a place to emprison British convicts. In 1840, the practice was ended and two years later the city of Sydney was established.
Today, the city’s iconic image is not that of convicts serving time but the Sydney Opera House sparkling on Sydney Harbour. The Sydney Harbour Bridge offers a fine view of the city and harbor, along with the numerous beaches and parks along the waterfront for enjoying the warm Sydney sun. To explore a bit of the city’s history, venture to The Rocks in the heart of the city, where the first British convicts stepped ashore. Some of the oldest surviving buildings in the country stand in this neighborhood, their colorful tales of a gritty past now mixed with fine restaurants, artisan shops and galleries.
Other destinations of interest include Bondi Beach, perhaps Australia’s most famous, the Royal Botanic Gardens for a place to wander among trees and flowers, and the Sydney Aquarium to view some of the finest specimens of sea life down under.