The Host City, Sydney

The visual excitement and variety of the harbour city is matched by the diversity and energy of its four million people. High-rise buildings of the central business districts look across the water at green headlands of the national parks and comfortable garden suburbs. To the west, the World Heritage Blue Mountains stand as a spectacular barrier to the inland, while the ever-changing moods of the Tasman Sea dominate the beaches, which stretch for miles to both north and south from the forbidding cliffs of Sydney Heads.

The harbour is always busy with commercial and pleasure craft and it is easy for visitors to participate in watersports such as swimming or sailing or to enjoy the scene as spectators on a ferry cruise. There are many attractive bushwalks close to the city where the unique plant and birdlife can be appreciated by day. Most of the native animals are nocturnal, but possums and flying foxes (fruit bats) are often glimpsed in the parks and gardens.

Sydney 's cultural scene is vibrant. The Opera House with its graceful sails is home to the Sydney Symphony and Australian Chamber Orchestra, as well as the Australian Ballet and the Sydney Theatre Company. There are many venues specializing in music from the classics to techno pop, dance, theatre and film including those from the rising generation of young Australian directors.

Dining out is a favourite relaxation in Sydney – the abundance of ingredients and the influences of many cultures make for great choices in style and cost, but half the fun is to “see and be seen” as you sample the new “Oz cuisine” and taste some of the local wines.