Sydney - What I bet you don't know - and wish you did!Jun 2, 2001 Write an essay on this topic.
The Bottom Line more than just a harbour, bridge and Opera House
Mention Sydney to most people on this planet and they immediately think of the harbour, bridge and Opera House.
But what is Sydney really? Just a reasonably large cosmopolitan city in Australia, surrounded by kangaroos and the Outback, or is there just a little more to see than that? Well read on good person because we are going to have a look around, not at Sydney city, or downtown, but at just what there is immediately outside the built up area.
So, we will start in the south and follow the compass around in clock like fashion.
For a start we need to understand Sydney and its extremities, and this is very simple. The city spreads fifty miles south, west and north but only about fifteen miles east due to the rather limiting factor of the Ocean. The Sydney area is undulating, lush and green pretty much all year round and contains Sydney's four million people.
Heading out of that area to the south we come almost immediately to the City of Wollongong, really only separated by a couple of national parks. The "Gong" is a city of over 300,000 with a mainly industrial base.
Being located on a beautiful stretch of the southern coast to the east and the very steep, almost vertical Illawarra escarpment to the west, the city and suburbs are really quite beautiful.
The escarpment offers a great network of walking trails and dazzling views of the coastline and across to the United States, on a clear day.
Wollongong is the eighth largest city in Australia and is largely known for its history of farming, coal mining and steel making, however Wollongong is rapidly emerging as a city looking towards education, information technology and telecommunications, manufacturing and tourism as the industries of the future.
The largest industrial complex in the Southern Hemisphere. is just south of the city at Port Kembla with its Grain Terminal, Coal Loader, harbour operations, and construction basin. The Sydney Harbour Tunnel was built here before being floated out to sea and put in place under Sydney Harbour.
Wollongong is an easy train ride from Sydney City, taking only around one and a half hours and makes an ideal day trip.
Swinging towards the west we see the Blue mountains. This area is so rugged it took the early settlers over twenty years to find a way across. The highest point is Katoomba with a myriad things to see and is just as easily accessed by train as Woollongong. A large population live on the eastern side of the ranges in very beautiful bushland settings. If you like the natural, unspoilt environment then the Blue Mountains are a must, and once again make an ideal day trip.
Finally there is the area immediately to Sydney's North, easily the most populous and in most respects as beautiful as could be found anywhere on the planet. The Hornsby area is regarded as the end of the major Sydney metropolitan area and a train ride at least from here north is all but compulsory. From Hornsby the train travels through natural untouched bushland for about fifteen minutes and then the track descends down to the Hawkesbury River. This area could easily have been the location of Sydney except each side of the river is a little to steep, especially for the 1788 mob! Compared to Sydney Harbour the Hawkesbury is much wider and absolutely breathtaking on the usual sunny day.
The train proceeds past a multitude of Marina's and crosses the wide river and then follows the northern bank so close it seems as if it is actually travelling on the water. Perhaps it is! Natural bushland and pristine water are all passengers can see and it is a truly wonderful twenty minutes into the city of Gosford. Approximately two hundred thousand live in this beautiful area with many commuting back and forth to Sydney for work. To reach this point takes a little over an hour but we shall continue on.
Speeding through the Gosford suburbs the train quickly is back in unspoilt bushland again - but it is not long at all before the southern suburbs of Newcastle appear.
Newcastle is a city of around half a million and is well known for shipbuilding and all manner of heavy industry. The suburbs are quite hilly and generally very well maintained houses give a glimpse of themselves through mostly native and therefore evergreen trees. Newcastle has its detractors but to me it is as pleasant a place as any I have seen, and not only in Australia.
The harbour is not as large as many, but certainly quite large enough for ships of virtually any size and there is always plenty of activity. The forefathers rather wisely planned Newcastle so all industry is on the north side and all residential, including downtown, is on the south side of the harbour. The two therefore really don't conflict.
Once again Newcastle is an ideal day trip, all too easy by train.
In reality all of these places are not far off joining, so some argue its all part of Sydney. While officially they are all separate there is certainly merit in the argument, and that would make Sydney well over five million people in an area extending well over a hundred miles south, west and north.
And speaking of Sydney, there is always some movement to change the name. Sydney is really a mans name, so why not George or Henry?
To me it just wouldn't sound right (Boeing 747 approaching Sydney) "This is the Captain speaking - we are on final approach to Henry". Or I suppose to avoid being sexist maybe it should be called Ellen! Or better yet kangaroo, emu - sufferin snakes, I'm staying out of it!
When we lived in Sydney throughout the 1980's we never tired of our Sunday drives to any of these places. There is simply so much to see and do they are not really simply day trips, but for most overseas tourists the time factor has to be realistically considered.
If only one day is available, north is definitely the way to go and whatever you do don't miss the train ride at least to Gosford.
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