Sydney Harbour - The symbol of Australia’s cosmopolitan capital (31 May)
Interesting Facts about Sydney Harbour
GETTING OUT ON THE water in Sydney, whether by kayak, sailboat, or ferry, is a requisite part of visiting the city. There, visitors will experience the heart and soul of what many proclaim to be the world’s most beautiful natural harbor. The water glitters. Seabirds swoop. Countless coves, waterfront parks, and hidden beaches beckon. And it’s all backed by the glamorous city skyline, a reminder that this is one of the most cosmopolitan cities on the planet. It’s easy to understand what Australian author Miles Franklin meant when she wrote, “A month would not be long enough to imbibe such beauty.”
Sydney Harbour comprises more than 149 miles (240 km) of spectacular meandering shoreline between the Heads (the entrance to the harbor) and the Parramatta River. For millennia, the Aboriginal Gadigal peoples fished and lived along its fertile headlands and deep channels. But in 1788, a fleet of ships laden with convicts and marines and their families arrived from England—and this was the start of Australia’s first city. It’s said even the convicts cheered when they beheld the beauty of their new home.
The city began at the Rocks, today a neighborhood with tiny cobblestone lanes and historic stone houses that buzz with new life as pubs, restaurants, and inns. Around the corner, Darlington Harbour recalls the city’s industrial past, its revitalized buildings along the wharves now bustling with restaurants and shops.
But Sydney Harbour’s iconic reputation wasn’t secured until two architectural marvels came along to complement it.
The first is Sydney Harbour Bridge. Lovingly dubbed the “coat hanger,” this steel-arched bridge has connected the northern and southern shores of Sydney Harbour since 1932. Measuring 1,650 feet across (503 m), it originally reigned as the world’s longest single span steel arch bridge. Anyone daring enough to climb to the tip-top of the arch will look out on the city’s most spectacular views, all the way to the Blue Mountains and Pacific Ocean.
The second icon is the even more renowned Sydney Opera House, rising in pearly splendor just northeast of the Circular Quay. A masterful feat of architecture, the building’s profile resembles billowing sails, an illusion achieved with multiple interlocking shells set on a pedestal.
The harbor is beautiful any time of day, but a nighttime ferry ride from Darling Harbour to Circular Quay is truly magical. Beneath a star-pricked, licorice-black sky, the ferry passes beneath the lit-up Harbour Bridge, with the luminescent Opera House beyond. It’s like no other scene in the world.