Best of Australia: Part Two

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As promised, here comes Best of Australia Part Two, with pictures from Sydney Darling Harbour and Central Business District (CBD).

Above: Darling Harbour at sunset.

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Darling Harbour is one of the adjacent harbours to the city centre of Sydney, but also a large recreational and pedestrian precinct situated on the outskirts of the Sydney Central Business District (CBD). 

There are a lot of shops and restaurants in the area, as well as other tourist point of interest such as the Sydney Entertainment Centre, the Chinese Garden (will feature a series of photos from that garden in a separate blog post), the Australian National Maritime Museum, the LG IMAX Theatre, Sydney Wildlife World and Sydney Aquarium (these last two will be featured in a future post).

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Darling Harbour is named after Lieutenant-General Ralph Darling, who was Governor of New South Wales from 1825 to 1831, and was originally part of of the commercial port of Sydney.

The area had become derelict by mid-80s, and it was then redeveloped as a pedestrian and tourist precinct. The Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, also located in Darling Harbour, was a venue of the 2000 Summer Olympic Games.

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One of the many Sydney water taxis in the harbour.

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There are several hotels in the area and Darling Harbour is actually a great location as there's always a lot of fun activities in the harbour, day or night, and most of them are actually within walking distance. There are also lots of restaurants specialised in many cuisines, and during my month-long stay there I have not eaten twice in the same restaurant. 

It's also very close to the city centre and all other Sydney attaractions.

A short video of Darling Harbour featuring big time celebrations in the harbour.

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The Strand - an absolutely lovely Victorian-style shopping arcade in the heart of Sydney Central Business District. The Strand was built in 1891 after the plans of British architect John Spencer, and opened in 1892

It was the fifth and last of the arcades built in Sydney in the Victorian era, and is today the only one remaining in its original form.

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The arcade was one of the first Victorian buildings in Sydney to take into the account the harsh Australian climate. The roof was made of glass, specially tinned to reduce glare, and the access gallery of the top floor was projected to shade the lower levels.

The building is a fine example of Victorian architecture, featuring delicate ironworks brackets, finely carved cedar balustrades and shopfronts, marble columns and richly tiled flors. The arcade was one of the first places in city to be lit by electricity.

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Sydney city centre, buzzing with life in the summer.

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Glass skyscrapers in Sydney Central Business District (CBD).

The Sydney Central Business District, also popularly referred to as the City, is the main commercial centre of Sydney. The CBD contains many of Australia's tallest skyskrapers, with the tallest being Sydney Tower at 309 meters (seen in the picture below, with the golden top).

CBD is home to some of the largest Australian companies, as well as serving as Asia-Pacific headquarters for many large international companies.

But there is also a large concentration of cultural institution in CBD such as the Museum of Sydney, the State Library of New South Wales or the Theatre Royal.

Others are located just at the edge of the CBD e.g. the Sydney Opera House, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Australian Museum or the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

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The Sydney Tower, 309 meters high (915 feet),  is the tallest free-standing building in Sydney, and the second tallest in Australia (the Q1 building on the Gold Coast is the tallest). The tower is open to public, and it's one of the most proeminent tourist atractiosn in the city.

The constructions began in 1975 and public access tot he tower started in August 1981.

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Travel from the ground to the tower is via three high-speed double-deck elevators that reach the observation deck in about 40 seconds if at maximum speed (which depends on the wind conditions). The elevator taking you to the tower displays the travel status … "Travelling through Tower". Pretty cool.

At the top there are the observation deck, offering a breathtaking view over Sydney, and several restaurants and event facilities. 

There's also Skywalk, an open-air, glass-florred plattform encircling the tower at a height of 268 meters (879 feet). I did not dare to go out on that actually. I do suffer from vertigo, and, even if in most cases I can dismiss it with a casual  "oh, it's just in my brain", this time I didn't think it would work. The view is stunning I'm told.

The highest working post box in the Southern Hemisphere is operating in the Sydney Tower. The box is cleared by Sydney Tower staff and delivered to the St. James Post Office for processing. I wish I had a postcard to post!

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Darling Harbour viewed from the Sydney Tower observation deck. 

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The view over Sydney from the observation deck is stunning. Trivia: in the film "Mission Impossible: 2", the tower is seen in several stunning shots. It is usually shown whenever the CBD of Sydney appears.

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Metro Monorail with the Sydney Tower in the background, on its way from CBD to Darling Harbour - Sydney inhabitants seem to have a love-hate relationship to it.

The monorail system connects Darling Harbour, Chinatown and Sydney central business and shopping districts. There are just eight stations on the 3.8 kilometres (2.2 mi) of track, with four trains operating simultaneously. The system was supposed to operate automatically, but after a number of breakdowns soon after opening, it was decided to retain the drivers. This system is said to be one of the most expensive public transport systems in the world, with a $5 flat charge even when travelling a mere 150 meters (490 feet) between two stops in Pitt Street.

The Metro Monorail opened in July 1988 and it will cease operations in July 2013, to be replaced by the light rail system.

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Darling Harbour buildings reflected in the Australian Maritime Museum.

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Darling Harbour, the Sydney Aquarium, the Sheraton Four Points Hotel and the Sydney Tower.

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Darling Harbour buildings reflected in the Australian National Maritime Museum. In the background, the CBD buildings and the Sydney Tower.

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