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See Sydney with DIY Car Hire


POPULATION     4,300,000
AREA     1735 km²
LANGUAGE     English
TIME ZONE     GMT +10 hours. GMT +11 hours during summer
CLIMATE     Sub-Tropical
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Getting to Sydney and Where to Stay

Sydney is the capital city of the state of New South Wales and Australia's largest and oldest city (founded in 1788). With a metropolitan area population of 4.3 million and a population of approximately 146,297 people in the city proper (known as the "City of Sydney"), the Sydney metropolis is the larger of the two main financial, transport, trade and cultural centres of Australia (the other being Melbourne, Sydney's long-time rival for the title of pre-eminent Australian city).

Sydney is a significant global and domestic tourist destination and is regularly declared to be one of the most beautiful and liveable cities in the world, admired for its harbour, beautiful coastline, warm and pleasant climate and cosmopolitan culture. Sydney significantly raised its global profile in recent years as the host city of the 2000 Olympics.

Car hire at Sydney airport is available through www.diycarhire.com.au partners, Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz and Thrifty at the International and Domestic terminals. Car rental is are also available throughout Sydney from these companies. Hotel accommodation is plentiful and there is something for every budget.

Sydney History

The area surrounding Sydney Harbour (called Warrane by the aborigines) has been inhabited by Aboriginal tribes, notably the Eora and Cadigal, for at least 40,000 years. Although urbanisation has destroyed most evidence of these settlements (such as shell middens), there are still rock carvings in several locations. European interest arose with the sighting of Botany Bay (now a southern suburb of Sydney) in 1770 by Captain James Cook. Under instruction from the British government, a convict settlement was founded by Arthur Phillip in 1788. Most convicts came from Ireland and England. A great number were in fact not real criminals but were simply sent to the new colony as a harsh punishment by the ruling aristocracy. (See the First Fleet article for more information.) Phillip first landed at Botany Bay, but found it unsatisfactorily shallow for a permanent settlement. After a brief sail north, Phillip founded the colony at Sydney Cove on Port Jackson (the correct name for Sydney Harbour).

Phillip originally named the colony "New Albion", but for some uncertain reason the colony acquired the name "Sydney", after the (then) British Home Secretary, Thomas Townshend, Lord Sydney (Viscount Sydney from 1789). This is possibly due to the fact that Lord Sydney issued the charter authorising Phillip to establish a colony. Prisoners were quickly set to work to build the settlement and by 1822 the town had banks, markets, well-established thoroughfares and an organised constabulary; by 1847, convicts accounted for only 3.2% of the population.

Each day, ships would arrive from Ireland and England with immigrants looking to start a new life in a new country. The first of several gold rushes was in 1851, since which time the port of Sydney has seen many waves of people from around the world. With industrialisation Sydney expanded rapidly, and by the early 20th century it had a population well in excess of one million. Throughout the 20th century Sydney continued to expand with various new waves of European and (later) Asian immigration, resulting in its highly cosmopolitan atmosphere of the present day.

Sydney Geography

Sydney is located in a coastal basin between the Pacific Ocean to the east and the Blue Mountains to the west. Sydney features the largest natural harbour in the world, Port Jackson, and also enjoys more than 70 beaches, including the famous Bondi Beach. Sydney's urban area of 1,687 sq km is similar in size to Greater London, but has half that city's population. The metropolitan area (Sydney Statistical Division) has 12,145 sq km, but much of this area is national park and other wilderness. The geographical co-ordinates of Sydney are 34 degrees South and 151 degrees East.

Sydney can be divided into two geographical regions: the Cumberland Plain, a relatively flat or rolling region lying south and west of the harbour, and the Hornsby Plateau, an elevated (up to 200 m) plateau north of the harbour that is dissected by steep, forested valleys. The Cumberland Plain developed first, and the oldest parts of the city are located in the flat areas. The Hornsby Plateau, known as the North Shore, was slower to develop because of its rough topography, and was mostly a quiet backwater until the Sydney Harbour Bridge was built, linking it to the city south of the harbour. Thereafter the North Shore has become widely upper-middle class suburban in character, although it has developed its own high-rise business districts at Chatswood and North Sydney.

The Sydney central business district (CBD) extends southwards for about 2 km from the point of first European settlement, Sydney Cove. The CBD is an area of very densely concentrated skyscrapers and other buildings, interspersed by several parks such as Wynyard Park and Hyde Park. The CBD is bounded on the east side by a chain of parkland that extends from Hyde Park through The Domain and Royal Botanic Gardens to Farm Cove on Sydney Harbour. The west side is bounded by Darling Harbour, a popular tourist precinct. Central Station marks the southern end of the CBD. George St is the Sydney CBD's main north-south thoroughfare. The streets run on a slightly warped grid pattern in the southern CBD, but in the older northern CBD the streets are less logical, reflecting their random placement in the early days of the city. (See the Sydney central business district article for more detail.)

Although the CBD dominated the city's business and cultural life in the early days, significant other business/cultural districts have developed since World War II, in a radial pattern. As a result of business development in other districts, the proportion of white-collar jobs located in the CBD declined from more than 60% at the end of World War II to less than 30% in 2004. The five most significant outer business districts are Parramatta in the central-west, Blacktown in the west, Liverpool to the southwest, Chatswood to the north and Hurstville to the south.

Although Sydney does not suffer from cyclones, and the earthquake risk is considered very low, many areas of Sydney bordering bushland have experienced bushfires, including ones in 1994 and 2002. The city is also subject to infrequent severe hail storms and wind storms (maybe once every five to ten years, although these appear to be increasing). In recent years, the city has also faced water shortages. Warragamba Dam levels are falling to the extent that the state government has imposed a range of prohibitions intended to reduce consumption. The El Niño Southern Oscillation plays an important role in determining weather patterns, with drought and bushfire on the one hand, and storms and flooding on the other being associated with the two opposite phases of the oscillation.

Sydney Demographics

A majority of Sydneysiders are of British and Irish background. More recent arrivals have included Italians, Greeks, Lebanese and Asians.

1800: 2,540 inhabitants
1820: 12,000
1851: 39,000
1871: 205,800
1901: 487,900
1925: 1,039,000
2003: 4 million
2050: 6 million (projected)

Sydney Government

There is no overall governing body for the Sydney metropolitan area. There is a directly elected Lord Mayor of Sydney and an elected council, but these are responsible only for the City of Sydney, which takes in the central business area and some adjoining inner suburbs. The Lord Mayor, however, is sometimes treated as a representative of the whole city.

The rest of the metropolitan area is divided into municipalities (see list of regions below). As is common in major metropolitan areas of most Australian states, these municipalities all have elected councils and are responsible for a range of functions delegated to them by the New South Wales state government. Most citywide government activities are controlled by the state government. These include public transport, main roads, traffic control, policing, education above preschool level, and planning of major infrastructure projects.

Because a large fraction of New South Wales' population lives in Sydney, state governments have traditionally been reluctant to allow the development of citywide governmental bodies, which would tend to rival the state government.

For this reason, Sydney has always been a focus for the politics of both State and Federal Parliaments. For example, the electoral boundary of the City of Sydney local council area (mayoralty) have been significantly altered by state governments on at least four occasions since 1945, with advantageous effect to the governing party in the New South Wales Parliament at the time. As of 2005, the councils of the City of Sydney and the City of South Sydney are merged.

Sydney Tourism

Sydney is noted for its tourist attractions, including:

Bondi Beach
Fox Studios Australia
Darling Harbour
Chinatown, Sydney
Chinese Garden
New Year's fireworks
King Street Wharf
Oceanworld, Manly
Powerhouse Museum, a museum of science and technology
Sydney Aquarium, Darling Harbour
Sydney Harbour, more correctly known as Port Jackson
Sydney Tower (aka Centrepoint Tower), CBD
Taronga Zoo, Mosman
The Rocks

Sydney Landmarks

The city's most famous landmarks are Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House, both of which are located on Sydney Harbour. Sydney's principal river is the Parramatta River, which enters Sydney Harbour from the west. While the Harbour is famous for its racing yachts, the Boxing Day start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race and 18ft skiffs, the river is used for dinghy sailing and rowing as well as recreational boating, racing small yachts, recreational fishing, and occasional Dragon Boat racing. Another famous landmark is the Sydney Tower (also known as Centrepoint Tower or the AMP Tower) which is the second tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere. Darling Harbour is also a popular tourist attraction. Sydney also has an interesting underground railway system (see also CityRail), one of only two in the country (Melbourne has the other). The Sydney Cricket Ground, which retains several beautiful 1920s-era grandstands, hosts several international cricket matches and the Sydney Swans football team. The old adjacent showgrounds, for many years home to the Sydney Royal Easter Show, have been redeveloped as 20th Century Fox's large Sydney studios. Sydney Olympic Park, after holding a large proportion of the major events in the 2000 Olympic Games, now regularly hosts sporting and cultural events, especially at Telstra Stadium. Sydney is also known for the annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Bondi beachSydney is home to the Australian Stock Exchange and the Reserve Bank of Australia. It also has 6 universities: the University of Sydney, the University of New South Wales, Macquarie University, the University of Technology, Sydney, the University of Western Sydney, and two of the campuses of the Australian Catholic University.

Sydney Culture and Entertainment

Sydney boasts a full roster of musical, theatrical and artistic activity throughout the year, from the formal - including the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the Sydney Theatre Company, the Sydney Dance Company, and the Archibald Prize - to festivals, including the Sydney Festival, a celebration of free performances throughout January. Many internationally known Australian rock bands have had their conception in Sydney, from Midnight Oil to INXS.

Sydney also has been home to many visual artists, from the lush pastoralism of Lloyd Rees's depictions of Sydney Harbour to Jeffrey Smart's portraits of bleak urban alienation. Sydney has four large and many smaller museums. The biggest are the Australian Museum (natural history and anthropology), Powerhouse Museum (science, technology and design), Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Sydney is also home to several large ethnic communities throughout the greater metropolitan area, and a significant gay community who host the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras along Oxford Street. To encourage sharing of cultural, trade and tourist links, the City of Sydney Council maintains sister city relations with the cities San Francisco, Nagoya, Wellington, Portsmouth, Guangzhou, and Florence.

Close to Sydney

Port Stephens is an easy 2.5 hour drive north of Sydney and is reknown as a whale watching paradise. Bounded by the crystal waters of Shoal Bay and the lush hills of the hinterland, Port Stephens is an ideal holiday destination with a wide range of accommodation and dining options.

The Hunter Valley is Australia's oldest wine region and is a week-end mecca for Sydney wine lovers. In a late model rental car from DIY Car Hire, the main wine regions are a lazy 3 hour drive north-west of Sydney.

The Blue Mountains, 2 hours west of Sydney, is a haven for nature lovers, artists, bush walkers and romantics, the beautiful Blue Mountains offer a perfect escape for the bustle of Sydney. There is no better way to spend a spring week-end than to rent a convertible and cruise through the Blue Mountains with the wind in your hair. The crisp mountain air will put a spring in your step again and you will be enthralled by majestic rock formations and ancient aboriginal rock art.

The Southern Highlands region, a 2 hour drive south of Sydney, is well known for its history, natural beauty, bush-walking, fine food and abundant accommodation. Visit the Bradnam Museum in Bowral during spring and you will be inspired by the beauty of the many English-style gardens. Those with an eye for a bargain will love the many craft stores and cafes that will tempt even the strongest resolve.

Sydney Sport

9 teams in the National Rugby League
Sydney Swans - Australian Football League
Sydney FC - A-League Football
2 teams in the National Basketball League
New South Wales Blues - First-class cricket
Home of the New South Wales Waratahs - Super 12 Rugby Team
Sydney is arguably the major rugby league centre of the world. It is the headquarters of Australian Rugby League and home to 9 of the 15 National Rugby League teams. Sydney was chosen to host the 2000 Summer Olympics.


The information in this guide has been compiled with the grateful assistance of www.wikipedia.org and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. This page uses material from the Wikipedia article "Sydney". Now you know about it, book a SYDNEY RENTAL CAR and get out there and see it with DIY Car Hire Australia.