Sydney – Lonely Planet Travel Video
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Sydney is the largest city in Australia, and the state capital of New South Wales. Sydney has a metropolitan area population of approximately 4.34 million and an area of approximately 12,000 square kilometres. Its inhabitants are called Sydneysiders, and Sydney is often called “the Harbour City”. It is one of the most multicultural cities in the world, reflected in its role as a major destination for immigrants to Australia.
The site of the first British colony in Australia, Sydney was established in 1788 at Sydney Cove by Arthur Phillip, commodore of the First Fleet. The city is built on low hills surrounding Sydney Harbour – an inlet of the Tasman Sea on Australia’s south-east coast. It is home to the iconic Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge and its beaches. The metropolitan area is surrounded by national parks, and contains many bays, rivers and inlets. Sydney has hosted major international sporting events, including the 1938 British Empire Games, 2000 Summer Olympics and the final of the 2003 Rugby World Cup. The main airport serving Sydney is Sydney Airport.
Sydney is considered an alpha+ world city, listed by the Loughborough University group’s 2008 inventory and ranked 16th among global cities by Foreign Policy’s 2008 Global Cities Index. According to the Mercer cost of living survey, Sydney is Australia’s most expensive city, and the 66th most expensive in the world. Sydney also ranks among the top 10 most livable cities in the world according to Mercer Human Resource Consulting and The Economist.
Sydney hosts many different festivals and some of Australia’s largest social and cultural events. These include the Sydney Festival, Australia’s largest arts festival which is a celebration involving both indoor and free outdoor performances throughout January; the Biennale of Sydney, established in 1973; the Big Day Out, a travelling rock music festival which originated in Sydney; the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras along Oxford Street; the Sydney Film Festival and many other smaller film festivals such as the short film Tropfest and Flickerfest.
Australia’s premier prize for portraiture, the Archibald Prize is organised by the Art Gallery of New South Wales. The Sydney Royal Easter Show is held every year at Sydney Olympic Park, the final of Australian Idol takes place on the steps of the Opera House, and Australian Fashion Week takes place in April/May. Also, Sydney’s New Years Eve and Australia Day celebrations are the largest in Australia.
In the year ending March 2008, Sydney received 2.7 million international visitors. The most well known attractions include the Sydney Opera House, and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Other attractions include Royal Botanical Gardens, Luna Park, the beaches and Sydney Tower.
Sydney also has several popular museums such as, the Australian Museum (natural history and anthropology), the Powerhouse Museum (science, technology and design), the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Australian National Maritime Museum.
Most Sydney residents travel by car through the system of roads and motorways. The most important trunk routes in the urban area are the nine Metroads, which include the 110 km (68 mi) Sydney Orbital Network. Sydney is also served by extensive train, taxi, bus and ferry networks.
Sydney trains are run by CityRail, a corporation of the New South Wales State Government. Trains run as suburban commuter rail services in the outer suburbs, then converge in an underground city loop service in the central business district. In the years following the 2000 Olympics, CityRail’s performance declined significantly. In 2005, CityRail introduced a revised timetable and employed more drivers. A large infrastructure project, the Clearways project, is scheduled to be completed by 2010. In 2007 a report found Cityrail performed poorly compared to many metro services from other world cities.
Sydney has one privately operated light rail line, Metro Light Rail, running from Central Station to Lilyfield along a former goods train line. There is also the Metro Monorail, which runs in a loop around the main shopping district and Darling Harbour. Sydney was once served by an extensive tram network, which was progressively closed in the 1950s and 1960s.
Most parts of the metropolitan area are served by buses, many of which follow the pre-1961 tram routes. In the city and inner suburbs the state-owned Sydney Buses has a monopoly. In the outer suburbs, service is contracted to many private bus companies. Construction of a network of rapid bus transitways in areas not previously well served by public transport began in 1999, and the first of these, the Liverpool-Parramatta Rapid Bus Transitway, opened in February 2003. State government-owned Sydney Ferries runs numerous commuter and tourist ferry services on Sydney Harbour and the Parramatta River.
Sydney Airport, in the suburb of Mascot, is Sydney’s main airport, and is one of the oldest continually operated airports in the world. The smaller Bankstown Airport mainly serves private and general aviation. There is a light aviation airfield at Camden. RAAF Base Richmond lies to the north-west of the city.
The question of the need for a Second Sydney Airport has raised much controversy. A 2003 study found that Sydney Airport can manage as Sydney’s sole international airport for 20 years, with a significant increase in airport traffic predicted. The resulting expansion of the airport would have a substantial impact on the community, including additional aircraft noise affecting residents. Land has been acquired at Badgerys Creek for a second airport, the site acting as a focal point of political argument.
Water storage and supply for Sydney is managed by the Sydney Catchment Authority, which is an agency of the NSW Government that sells bulk water to Sydney Water and other agencies. Water in the Sydney catchment is chiefly stored in dams in the Upper Nepean Scheme, the Blue Mountains, Woronora Dam, Warragamba Dam and the Shoalhaven Scheme. Historically low water levels in the catchment have led to water use restrictions and the NSW government is investigating alternative water supply options, including grey water recycling and the construction of a seawater reverse osmosis desalination plant at Kurnell. As of May 2009, the plant was 80% completed, and was due to start suppling fresh water to Sydney at the end of the year.  Sydney Water also collects the wastewater and sewage produced by the city.
Four companies supply natural gas and electricity to Sydney: Energy Australia, AGL, Integral Energy and Origin Energy. The natural gas supply for the city is sourced from the cooper basin in South Australia. Numerous telecommunications companies operate in Sydney providing terrestrial and mobile telecommunications services.
Entertainment and performing arts
Sydney has a wide variety of cultural institutions. Sydney’s iconic Opera House has five theatres capable of hosting a range of performance styles; it is the home of Opera Australia—the third busiest opera company in the world, and the Sydney Symphony. Other venues include the Sydney Town Hall, City Recital Hall, the State Theatre, the Theatre Royal, Sydney, the Sydney Theatre and the Wharf Theatre.
The Sydney Dance Company under the leadership of Graeme Murphy during the late 20th century has also gained acclaim. The Sydney Theatre Company has a regular roster of local plays, such as noted playwright David Williamson, classics and international playwrights.
In 2007, New Theatre (Newtown) celebrated 75 years of continuous production in Sydney. Other important theatre companies in Sydney include Company B and Griffin Theatre Company. From the 1940s through to the 1970s the Sydney Push, a group of authors and political activists whose members included Germaine Greer, influenced the city’s cultural life.
The National Institute of Dramatic Art, based in Kensington, boasts internationally famous alumni such as Mel Gibson, Judy Davis, Baz Luhrmann and Cate Blanchett. Sydney’s role in the film industry has increased since the opening of Fox Studios Australia in 1998.
Prominent films which have been filmed in the city include Moulin Rouge!, Mission: Impossible II, Star Wars episodes II and III, Superman Returns, Dark City, Son of the Mask, Stealth, Dil Chahta Hai, Happy Feet, Australia and The Matrix. Films using Sydney as a setting include Finding Nemo, Strictly Ballroom, Muriel’s Wedding, Our Lips Are Sealed, Independence Day and Dirty Deeds. Many Bollywood movies have also been filmed in Sydney including Singh Is Kinng, Bachna Ae Haseeno, Chak De India, Heyy Babyy. As of 2006, over 229 films have been set in, or featured Sydney.
Sydney’s most popular nightspots include Kings Cross, Oxford Street, Darling Harbour, Circular Quay and The Rocks which all contain various bars, nightclubs and restaurants. Star City Casino, is Sydney’s only casino and is situated around Darling Harbour. There are also many traditional pubs, cafes and restaurants in inner city areas such as Newtown, Balmain and Leichhardt. Sydney’s main live music hubs include areas such as Newtown and Annandale, which nurtured acts such as AC/DC, Midnight Oil and INXS. Other popular nightspots tend to be spread throughout the city in areas such as Bondi, Manly, Cronulla and Parramatta.
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