been called the destination of dreams, the “in” adventure for
America’s affluent actives.  Call it what you will, Australia, the only
country in the world that is also a continent, is not only Down Under–it is
also under done. The world’s largest island and smallest continent–the land of
kangaroos and koalas–is among the last spots on earth to offer unique,
unspoiled and hassle-free travel experiences.      
some 20,000 round-trip miles, across the International Dateline, beneath the
Equator, below the Tropic of Capricorn and through 9 time zones will reveal to
you the many faces of amiable Australia…the oldest of continents…the newest
of nations.                  
your Australian itinerary may take you—from the Great Barrier Reef to Ayers
Rock—all roads lead to Sydney.      
cannot escape the presence of the sea in Sydney, a vibrant sprawling metropolis
of more than 3 million people.  The harbor is breathtakingly dominated by
the gracefully arched Harbour Bridge (“The Coathanger”) and the
soaring sails of the $102 million Sydney Opera House (“The Other Taj



the Taj Mahal, the Opera House–a spectacular architectural concept rising from
the sea at Bennelong Point–is the realization of human aspirations and
ambitions.  The Opera House was conceived in 1957 when Danish architect
Jorn Utzon won an international competition for the design of a performing arts
center–not for an opera house. Somehow, the misnomer “Opera House”
caught on.  Because of its name, many people think the building has only
an opera theater.  It has, in fact, four performing halls (concert, drama,
cinema and opera) and a great shop in which to buy authentic Aboriginal arts
and crafts. 
trivia exists about the complex that took about 19 years to build on Bennelong
Point, a peninsula jutting into Sydney Harbour.  What might be the most
famous roofs in the world were made from 2,194 concrete sections that weigh up
to 15 tons.  They are held together by 217 miles of tensioned cable and
are covered with more than 1,056,000 Swedish-made, white and cream-colored
ceramic tiles.  The total roof weight is 157,800 tons and the highest
shell roof is 221 feet above sea level.      
only internationally recognized building in Australia, the Opera House has
become a national symbol.  The profile of its famous concrete roofs
depicts different things to different people: “A huddle of nuns in the
wind”;  “an echo of the sails of yachts on the
harbor”;  “some gigantic, magnificent but utterly strange
hard-shelled sea creature which has come up from the bottom of the water to
rest on Bennelong Point”.      
the Opera House, adjacent to Circular Quay  (pronounced “key”),
is The Rocks area, the original settlement of Sydney and a unique part of
Australia’s colorful past.  When Britain lost the American colonies in
1776, the government chose to form a convict colony on Australia’s east
coast.  The First Fleet, under Captain Arthur Phillip, arrived in 1788
with 1000 men and women.  They were deposited in the area now known as The
Rocks was once one of the most unsavory areas of Sydney.  Today, with
Georgian and Victorian buildings nestled compatibly on streets built by convict
laborers, The Rocks area is a living piece of history.  Early Australian
buildings have been converted into first class restaurants and shops brimming
with Australian crafts and some of the most innovative fashions in the country.
at Circular Quay, grab a piping hot piece of spinach pie by the jetty. 
Then hop a ferry, for the ride to the Taronga Zoo.  Warning: if you want
to avoid a strenuous uphill climb, and enjoy a bird’s eye view of the zoo,
catch the Sky Safari cable car to the top of Taronga and amble your way
down.  Near the top of the zoo, don’t miss the Koala House. It’s probably
the only place in Australia where you’re likely to sneak a glimpse of these
mischievous marsupials in their treetops.     
Harbour, since its opening in January 1988, has rapidly become one of
Australia’s most popular tourist attractions.  Only minutes from the city
center, in an area once called Cockle Bay, Darling Harbour is a $1.5 billion
satellite city brimming with life.  In this once forgotten area,
exhibitions, museums, the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, restaurants and shops are
all united by the theme of sea, sky and ships.      
City Centre, extending from Wynyard Station to the Town Hall, encompasses many
restaurants, a plethora of shops (often housed in historic structures like the
Queen Victoria Building) and the spectacular Sydney Tower.  The tallest
structure in Sydney, the Sydney Tower is the second
tallest observation tower in the Southern Hemisphere
. It houses
revolving restaurants and an Observation Deck.  Sydney’s suburbs are also
worth a visit.  Once you find yourself under the two colorful arches on
Dixon Street, you will succumb to the chaotic atmosphere of Chinatown. 
more than 30 beaches draw hundreds of thousand of surfers every summer’s day.
Bondi Beach, the city’s most famous stretch of sand is only a few miles from
the city.  And, speaking of beaches, you must try Doyles on the Beach (at
Watson Bay) for lunch or dinner.  When it comes to seafood, Doyles is a
household name in Sydney.  Call in advance to see if you can reserve a
harbour-view table.   You can taste Australian cuisine in Bennelong,
carved out of a bulkhead in the Sydney Opera House. 
while we’re on the subject of food, check out every restaurant you eat in to see
if you can find the perfect Pavlova.  Pavlova is not a valuable gem nor is
it a defecting Russian dancer.  Pavlova is the meringue-based traditional
desert of Australia.  In spite of this dubious honor, it is somewhat
difficult to find Pavlova on restaurant menus.  Pavlova, an almost
indecent delight, was created by the chef of the Palace Hotel in Perth for a
banquet honoring prima ballerina Anna Pavlova’s 1926 Australian
tour.  A crunchy, creamy, meringue with endless fruit toppings and dollops
of garnished whipped cream, Pavlova comes in all sizes, shapes and
toppings.  However, like any sought after celebrity, Pavlovas are very
temperamental and difficult.  If not made to perfection, Pavlova can be a
flat, chewy pancake or a soggy sweet disaster.    
62 miles from Sydney, an easy drive along the Great Western Highway, loom the
Grand Canyon-like Blue Mountains.  The Blue Mountains, and surrounding
area, derive their name from the ever-present haze caused by rays of light
as y strike droplets of moisture (containing eucalyptus oil) evaporating
from eucalyptus trees in this heavily timbered area.     
once-humble mining town of Katoomba…the Katoomba Scenic Railway and
Skyway…the three eroded sandstone pinnacles that according to Aboriginal legend
have been named Three Sisters…and lunch at The Hydro Majestic Pavillion are
not to be missed.

don’t forget to leave some time for shopping.  If it’s serious shopping
you’re into, treat yourself to an original Bushman’s oil skin coat at 
R.M. Williams  or some Aboriginal arts and crafts, such as some didgeridoo
music by Alastair Black along with an Abo-painted didgeridoo to be found in
specialty shops like the one at the Sydney Opera House.  If it’s really,
really, serious shopping, you’re into, go for the opals and pearls. 
JANET STEINBERG is the winner of 41
national Travel Writer Awards and a Travel Consultant with the Travel Authority
in Mariemont, Ohio