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We’re funny (usually), controversial (sometimes) and insightful (always!). Our travel experts share their experiences below in hopes of hearing back from YOU. So read, comment and enjoy!

Posts in ‘Things to do in Australia’

Sydney – Tops Down Under

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The city of Sydney and its suburbs are spread around of the world’s largest natural harbours.  Its near perfect characteristic curve is located on the south-east coast of Australia on the Tasman Sea.  It is one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse cities in the world.  It is also one of the most beautiful.

It is a city that has it all – a boisterously interesting history; great natural features and a vibrant art, fashion and cultural scene.  It is the site of two of the world’s most famous and outstanding man-made structures in the world – the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House.  To crown it all, it sits alongside miles and miles of fantastic golden sandy beaches, which are visited by some of the best surfing waves in the world.

SydneyBridge

For a visitor, Sydney has a bewildering choice of things to see and do.  Just touring the harbour area will take days.  There are other things to do as well though such as climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge  or taking a guided tour of the Opera House. This is a fascinating way to spend the day as you explore the unique design and engineering of the building, the Concert Hall and its acoustics.

Harbour cruises are a terrific way to experience the city because you get to visit Fort Denison, Taronga Zoo, Luna Park, Shark Island (so called for its shape), Darling Harbour and the Maritime Museum.  Night cruises across the harbour with a gourmet dinner are an exquisite experience too.

Once you have done the harbour you could make your way to the glorious shimmering sands of Bondi Beach.  A dip in Bondi’s clear blue waters alongside the beautiful people should be top of your list of things to do.  The other major attraction is the Royal National Park, known by Sydneysiders as the ‘Nasho’

 Sydney’s nightlife is enviable and must be sampled.  It is effervescent yet laid back in true Oz style.  Its bars, clubs, performing arts and other entertainment options are as diverse as its people and very often on the cutting edge.  But it’s the traditional beer and ‘tucker’ along with the warming friendliness and great charm of its people that sets this magnificent city apart from all others.  Whatever your style, sparkling Sydney is always entertaining.

SydneyNightlife

 Best Time To Visit

From a weather perspective the best time to visit Sydney is September to early December.  Other times to visit are February to April.  During both these periods, the weather is pleasant and the temperatures moderate.  December to February is the peak tourist months.

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Popular Australian Wine Tours

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Australian wines are now well-established around the world.  They compete for space with the best of European wines on the racks of bars, restaurants, and household tables.  It has taken a little while but the vintners and vineyards from Sydney to Perth and places in between have a large world-wide base of loyal tipplers.  Some of these wine producers have a history going back 150 years and more.

 Now that it’s spring down under hop on to one our comfortable air-conditioned coaches and come along with isango!  Get a tour of some of Australia’s most popular wine-making regions.  While on them you can pleasure your palette with a variety of heavenly wines.

Hunter Valley

The wonderfully lush green and picturesque countryside of Hunter Valley is just a two hour drive north from Sydney.  This is the oldest wine making region in Australia and home to more than 80 wineries including such renowned names as Lindemans, McWilliams, Rothbury, Hardy’s, Wyndham Estate and McGuigan. There are also several independent family-owned boutique wine makers like Tyrells and Draytons.

This tour not only takes you through picturesque Hunter Valley but also gets you a-behind-the-scenes view of wine making.  Since it is spring you will get the added visual pleasure of seeing the ‘budburst’ on the vines.

 Your expedition will involve 3 to 5 wine tastings when you sample up to 30 delicious premium wines.  You will also sit down to a gourmet lunch at one of Hunter Valley’s best restaurants.  The meal will feature fresh local grown produce.  Post lunch you will have a chance to indulge in postprandial snooze under a shady tree.

HunterValleyWine

 Swan Valley

Swan Valley is the oldest wine producing area of Western Australia.  It is just a 25 minute drive from the centre of Perth city but the best way to get there is to take a cruise up the Swan River on a wine tasting tour.  The tour incorporates the best of all worlds – a gentle cruise on a beautiful river, stunning scenery, plenty of fine wine and delicious food.

 Many of the wineries are award winners, producing a wide range of speciality whites, full-bodied reds and some of the world’s finest fortified wines.  This tour focuses on one of the best known and finest wine makers in Australia, Sandalford Wine Estate.  The house is one of the oldest and largest family owned winemakers.

 You get to see how they conjure up their liquid magic in a behind-the-scenes tour.  This is followed by a tasting of 6 varieties of their finest premium wines.  While sipping, choose your favourite wine to accompany your sumptuous two course lunch.  Fresh bread rolls, roasted free range chicken and Mediterranean salsa are just some of the treats on your lunch menu.

 The Swan Valley Cruise and Wine Tasting is such a memorable experience you may want to repeat it.

Barossa Valley

The Barossa Valley lies 60km Northeast of Adelaide.  It is a premier wine producing region of Australia.  This picturesque valley is distinguished by the vast acreage of vineyards.  It is one of Australia’s oldest wine regions and started by German settlers.

 It is famous for excellent red Shiraz and other varieties such as Reisling, Semillon, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon and several fortified wines.  It is also renowned for its over 80 Cellar doors and 160 wineries.  Some are still owned and run by the original families.  It is also famed for its food, cultural experience and the biennial Barossa Valley Vintage Festival.

 A Barossa Valley wine tasting tour is a must and the isango! tour covers five of the best world renowned names including the Wolf Blass, TeAro Estate, Kellermeister,  Pindarie and Saltram Wine Estate.  The tour also includes a delicious gourmet lunch at the Wolf Blass Visitor Centre with wonderful views of the spectacular Barossa Ranges.

This is a perfect tour for wine enthusiasts.

BarossaValleyWines

Yarra Valley

Just an hour from Melbourne is the wine-producing region of the Yarra Valley.  The entire area is pristine, dominated by gorgeous views and stunning mountains.  It has a richly deserved reputation as one of the world’s great wine and food regions.  The Yarra Valley has a relatively cool climate allowing for the production of excellent Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and sparkling wines.

 Our tour is a special, guided one with an expert accompanying you to three top wineries – Yering Station, Yering Farm and Balgownie Estate.  You will learn how to swirl, sniff, slurp and then taste a wine.  You will also find out how they put the ‘bubbly’ into sparkling wines along with being able to sample them.

 In the Yarra Valley many of the wineries have world-class restaurants attached and Balgownie Estate is no different.  At the tasting you can make your wine selection and have it with an à la carte lunch at the restaurant.

 Your tour ends on a brilliant note with a visit to Domaine Chandon, who are the Australian producers for Moet & Chandon, the French Champagne company.  They also produce fine quality sparkling and cool-climate wines.

YarraValleyLandScape

Margaret Valley

It has been only 45 years since viticulture began in the Margaret Valley.  Yet its superb weather and other growing conditions have seen it become one of the great wine regions of the world.  The wines from here sit right next to the finest in the world.

Margaret Valley is conducive to producing Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Cabernet blends from here are valued because of their fruity and multi-layered flavours.  Many other varieties including Shiraz, Semillon blancs, Sangioves, Merlot, Verdelho and Viogniers are produced too.

Our Margaret Valley Wine Tours leave from Perth and visit four of the world’s best wineries.  Also part of this pleasurable experience is a two-course gourmet lunch at the Voyager Estate plus a barrel room wine-tasting session at Moss wood.

The superb wine tasting tour ends with a thoroughly sinful flourish. You stop off at the Margaret River Chocolate Factory where you can indulge yourself in rich chocolate.  This tour is a wonderful experience for the connoisseur and the novice.

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5 Things You Can Do In Sydney Under AUD50

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Sydney is one of the world’s most exciting, multi-cultural and best looking cities in the world.  There is always something happening no matter what your interests and objectives are.  You could see a show at the Sydney Opera House, take a harbour cruise, visit Madame Tussauds, take a walking tour or head off up to the mountains to enjoy the views there.

You don’t need a large wallet to do these things.  isango! brings you 5 activities that you can do in Sydney under AUD50.

Sydney Opera House Tour

Opers house sydney

This tour of one of the most iconic buildings in the world is an eye-opener.  Your perspective will be from the inside out.  Did you know that the Sydney Opera House became a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 28 June 2007?  Your guide will take you through the interior of the Sydney Opera House giving the facts, figures and drama that make up the story behind it.  You will see the 10,000 pipe Grand Organ, the Concert Hall and the massive glass windows of the Opera Wing that give you unbeatable views of Sydney Harbour.  Sydney Opera House comprises of multiple performance venues that hold about 2,500 performances every year.

Sydney Harbour Cruise
Get on board your ship at the famous Circular Quay and set out for an hour and a half of sheer night-time Sydney magic.  After a hard day of sightseeing it will be great to sit down and relax with a refreshing drink in hand.  Start your Sydney evening with a sunset cruise across the city’s world famous harbour.  Your cruise ship will drift smoothly past some of Sydney’s iconic sights such as the Sydney Opera House and under the unmistakable Sydney Harbour Bridge.  All of them enchantingly lit up.

Madame Tussauds

madame tussauds sydney

Where else could you get up close and cuddly with the likes of Nicole Kidman, Leonardo DiCaprio, Albert Einstien, Ned Kelly, Captain Cook or Marilyn Monroe?  Maybe even sit next to Queen Elizabeth II?  Only at the newly opened Madame Tussauds Darling Harbour branch, Sydney of course!

Once again Madame Tussauds’ unbelievably real wax models provides an eclectic mix of stars from history, sport, film, music, culture and science.  With 75 iconic personalities from the past and present you won’t get a better opportunity to interact, mingle and pose with your favourite celeb.

Kings Cross Razorhurst Walking Tour
What a time!  What an era!  Sydney in the 1920s and 30s was a heck of a town.  Explore that seamy, violent underworld driven period when Tilly Devine, Kate Leigh and Nellie Cameron ruled most of Sydney through their razor-wielding henchmen.

Your Razorhurst tour will take you to the places where these ‘ladies’ operated.  Kate Leigh ran more than 20 sly groggeries.  Tilly famed as the ‘Queen of the Bordellos’ ran the biggest and most profitable brothel network in Sydney while Nellie Cameron refined the art of ‘gingering.’  For two hours you will learn about a Sydney that very few Sydneysiders know.

Hop-on-Hop-off Blue Mountain Explorer Bus Tour

Blue mountains sydney

After the frenetic pace of Sydney you should take off for an easy, relaxed trip to the fabled Blue Mountains.  On a clear day you can see them from Sydney – inviting you to explore.  Declared a World Heritage site, a visit to the Blue Mountains National Park is a perfect day trip.

The best option is the Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour.  You drive through some magnificent country with the option of stopping off so you can explore tempting forest trails, plunging waterfalls and a ride on the Katoomba Scenic Railway – the steepest in the world.  Then there are the towering Three Sisters and the Everglades Gardens to make your day full, wonderful and totally idyllic.

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5 Popular Backpacking Destinations For 2014

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With summer 2014 arriving to most of the globe it is time to pull out the knapsack, check the atlas and plan where in the world you will be spending your vacation.

We present to you, our picks for the top 5 destinations for backpacking around the world-

India
India is a really huge country.  With the world’s largest rail system and a vast road network (sometimes bumpy), getting around is not too difficult.  Accommodation, food and transportation are inexpensive.  Choosing where to go is a challenge.  You have the spectacular sandy beaches of Goa and Kerala; the sky scraping, snow-capped Himalayas; the thick forests of Central India and the Ghats; the deserts of Rajasthan and Ladakh.  The ancient cities of Delhi, Varanasi and Puri along with the forts and palaces of Rajasthan will vie for your attention.

Backpacking in India

India has a history and tradition of backpacking going back to the flower power era of the 1960s.

Thailand
Thailand is an exotic and exciting place to explore, especially for the novice backpacker.  On offer are hundreds of miles of pristine sand beaches, lush jungles populated with dazzling creatures, amazingly friendly and helpful locals and fantastic food.  The country’s culture has survived the onslaught of tourism and modernity.  There are still many quiet places where you can chill.  The place is crammed with amazing temples and exciting markets.  Transportation is cheap and the street food very safe.

The country is a well-trodden backpacker destination.  Backpacking Thailand is relatively easy, still inexpensive with amazing deals on offer – just bargain.  It also has a legendary nightlife.

Australia
Australia offers fantastic beauty and adventure.  It’s a very large (we’re talking continent-sized here) country and travel can be a challenge but worth the effort.  The geography ranges from the vast trackless outback, to the incredible Great Barrier Reef.  You can snowboard and ski within a few hours of a sun-kissed sandy beach.  There are strangely named picturesque small towns and very modern and fascinating cities.  You can trek through ancient rainforests or camel-trek the arid and startling Northern Territory.

Australia has a very competitive and inexpensive budget accommodation market where you can get good deals.  The rail network is not extensive and generally hugs the coast.  The best way to get around the country is by road but be prepared for long rides because most journeys take 10 to 20 hours.  You can save a lot of money by buying bus passes.

Indonesia
Indonesia is comprised of thousands of islands, most of which are uninhabited.  It is a really huge country and you will have to pick what all you wish to see. Most of the population is concentrated on Java and around the capital, Jakarta.   Once you get away from Jakarta you will find yourself in vast jungles, with ancient temples, mysterious lakes and hot springs.  There are lively and fiery volcanoes, stunning beaches and some of the best surfing.  The cities of Bogor, Bandung and Yogyakarta have to be visited to be believed.  Then of course, there is Bali and its gorgeous Hindu culture.

Backpacking

Travel is relatively inexpensive but can be a challenge.  The warm, friendly and hospitable people, the food and fantastic countryside will more than compensate for any difficulties you may have.

Brazil
This huge country is a wonder world filled with amazing sights.  It is blessed with naturally varied and rich landscape with thousands of miles of beaches and humungous tracts of rainforests fed by great rivers including the mighty Amazon.  This vast land has incredibly diverse climatic and cultural conditions.  The vibrant hedonistic cities of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Salvador are legendary for their party atmosphere and nightlife.

The main mode of getting around Brazil is by bus.  The buses are generally excellent and services frequent and good.

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Touring Bathurst Island, Australia

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Bathurst IslandBathurst Island lies in Australia’s far north.  Bathurst is one of nine that make up the Tiwi Islands, which lie about 80 kilometres north of Darwin. There are two ways to get to the island either by a light aircraft or the thrice weekly ferry from Darwin.  Both transportation modes are wonderfully scenic.

You have to remember that tourism is restricted and so are visitors.  You need to get a permit to visit and even then you have to go on a pre-arranged tour with an Aboriginal guide.  You can apply for your permit online or from the office of the Tiwi Land Council on Bathurst Island.  It is far more convenient to let the tour operators organise your visit and permit.

You can do a one or two day tour of the island.  The facilities and amenities on the island are rather basic and there are no hotels or places to stay except for a couple of remote fishing lodges.  While there are food and general stores, the locals still follow the traditional fishing and hunting customs to meet their food needs.  It is an important part of their community lives. Tour operators however, do provide meals and camp-style accommodation for overnight stays.

Once on the island, the experiences are absolutely terrific. The pleasures of Bathurst Island can be placed in two distinct categorises.  One is the natural and scenic side and the other is the people.

The Aboriginal population call themselves the Tiwi, which translates to people, so saying Tiwi people is a redundancy.  One of the treats in visiting Bathurst Island is the arts and crafts of the Tiwi.  The main community is Wurrumiyanga, previously called Nguiu.

You get a first hand and close-up feel for the art and everyday life of the Tiwi.  You can watch and marvel at the artists while they work.  Their batik and silk clothes, woven bangles, vividly painted conch shells, wood carvings and pottery are splendid.  Wood carvings generally have birds that are sacred and meaningful to the Tiwi.   Some really good carvings are on display at the Mission Heritage Gallery and the Tiwi Designs Art Centre.

The Tiwi culture is rather unique.  Back in 1911, Father Gsell, a Catholic priest convinced the government to give him land on the island to build a mission.  Fortunately he did not carry out too many conversions and what has evolved is a very unusual mix of Tiwi Aboriginal traditions and customs and Christian doctrines, signs symbols and texts.

An outstanding representation of this cultural mash-up is the lovely wooden church built sometime during the 1930s.  Another is the beautifully decorated and colourful burial poles, called pukamanis that dot the countryside.  They mark burial sites and some of them are more than 10 feet tall.

The scenic part of your tour takes you along beautiful coastlines, sandy beaches, through rainforests, waterfalls and inviting rock pools where you can take a dip if you are so minded.  Some of the plants and animals are totally unique to Bathurst Island.  One of the most enduring sights is the cycad trees.  They look like a cross between ferns and palm trees, with a single thick trunk and a crown of large green feather-like leaves.  In fact the name Wurrumiyanga means “the place where cycads grow.”

I found out Bathurst is a privately owned island.  In 1978 ownership was formally handed back to the Tiwi people.  Today the island is run by the Tiwi Land Council and they have done a good job of it.

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Hop-on Hop-off Sydney

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Hop-on Hop-off Sydney Bus Tour; Credit - express000
Whether you drive, stroll or take a bus through Sydney you cannot help but notice that it is a really beautiful city. It sprawls around one of the most beautiful harbours in the world – Port Jackson more famously known as Sydney Harbour. The presence of rivers and the sea; the numerous inlets and coves that make up the city all means that the place is chock-a-block with the sails of hundreds of boats. This makes for a wonderfully picturesque setting.

Research has shown that the Sydney area has been inhabited by humans for over 30,000 years but modern settlements came up after James Cook landed at Botany Bay in 1770. The site of the first town in Australia was at Sydney Cove in 1778, which was a penal colony. Today the city is spread out over the surrounding hills and coastal areas that include the famous Bondi and Manly Beaches.

Despite the dominating presence of water, Sydney also boasts some really attractive and well-maintained parks and green areas such as Hyde Park and the Royal Botanic Gardens. The city is also surrounded by several National Parks.

Along with natural beauty, Sydney offers great shopping and dining experiences. The best eating places are around the beaches and waterfronts. It also hosts many international sports events and arts festivals.

Sydney enjoys generally fine weather and is a great place to visit throughout the year. It has plenty of sunshine and fabulously blue skies. So the hop-on-hop-off open top bus tour is a great and most convenient way to see the city and that too at your own pace. It allows you to follow your own sightseeing plans.

The hop-on-hop-off bus tour includes stops at the following places:

•    Circular Quay
•    Wynard Arcade
•    Queen Victoria Building
•    Town Hall
•    William St
•    Kings Cross
•    El Alamein Fountain
•    Woolloomoolloo Bay
•    Sydney Opera House
•    Botanical Gardens – (Scenic walk to
•    Mrs Macquarie Chair)
•    Parliament House/NSW Library
•    Hyde Park
•    Australian Museum
•    Central Station
•    Power House Museum
•    Sydney Fish Market
•    Star City Casino
•    Maritime Museum
•    Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre
•    Imax/Chinese Gardens
•    Sydney Aquarium
•    King St Wharf
•    Campbells Cove
•    The Rocks

Notes:
•    The tours include full English commentary. Some include entry fees to several attractions.
•    They don’t include meals, drinks, tips and gratuities.
•    Children below 4 years old are free of charge, provided they do not occupy a seat.
 

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10 Things for Adrenaline Junkies to do in Tasmania

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The Nut, Stanley Tasmania

The unique topography of the Tasman Peninsula boasts of several exciting adrenalin sports and activities. Adrenaline junkies won’t lack for thrills, whether it’s scuba diving, rock climbing, skiing, kayaking or other activities.


1. Scuba Diving
Tasmania is surrounded by many beautiful bays all rich in marine life. One can access all these sites by boat. On the East Coast Dive Trail, divers can explore shipwreck sites from way back as 1779. The west coast is wild and only hardy divers can attempt the waters here.

2. Snorkeling
Snorkelers have much to explore in Tasmania, particularly along the east coast. The clear blue waters allow snorkelers to play with the soft and hard corals, and enjoy the multi-hued marine life.

3. Surfing
You can enjoy some large waves on the Bass Strait, and in Hobart where the high swells delight pipe-surfers. There are 6 surf spots in the North Coast, 11 in the east, 15 in Hobart and SE, and 17 in the west coast. Shipstern Bluff is the most challenging surfing location in Australia.

4. Sea Kayaking
Kayaking is a great way to catch the best sights, both above and below the water. Sign up for a sea kayaking tour to explore the Southwest Area of Tasmania which is chock full of remote islands, wild rivers and wilderness harbors. Don’t forget to explore Wineglass Bay and the Great Oyster Bay by kayak.

5. Skiing
The Australian ski season is between June and September. Tasmania is one of the tree states to experience sufficient snow for annual skiing. Visit the Ben Lomond National Park’s premier ski resort and Mount Mawson in the Mount Field National Park for the best skiing in Tasmania.

6. Snowboarding
Most ski villages offer snowboarding as well. Snowboarding is great fun, especially when your snowboard hurtles down a steep slope, such as the one on the Ben Lomond plateau. The stunning scenery and diverse wildlife make snowboarding here a very popular experience.

7. Rock Climbing
Climbers crowd here to try the Totem Pole, a spectacular free-standing dolerite rock pillars that spears straight out of the water. With sharks and volatile tides at the bottom, climbing this rock is a say-hello-to-death kind of endeavor.

8. Wilderness Sport Climbing
Try wilderness sport climbing over the huge boulders at Adamsfield, ranging from light slopes to steep roofs. This wilderness range presents a challenge to the fittest of climbers, as the effort requires quite a bit of trekking as well.

9. Mountain Climbing
The 1270 meter tall Mt. Wellington in Hobart is a mountain climber’s delight. Cataract George in Launceston offers a great variety of climbing experiences as well. The Freycinet Peninsula offers the Hazards, a fabulous 300m high, pink granite dome to the climber.

10. Abseiling
The beauty of Cataract Gorge is vied only by its reputation as a climber’s paradise. More than 300 rocks are available for climbing in the lower gorge, with another 550 climbs up to the Trevallyn Dam. Climbers start with abseiling and then move into climbing, guided by professional climbers.
 

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Sydney Harbour Bridge

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Sydney Harbour BridgeCall it iconic, symbolic, the gateway, the most famous, distinctive, landmark or whatever, but the Sydney Harbour Bridge is really Australia’s most well-known badge of recognition.  Oh yes!  The locals call it ‘The Coathanger.’

When it was officially opened on 19th March 1932, an estimated crowd of between 300,000 and a million people lined the shores around the harbour to witness it.

Construction work on the Sydney Harbour Bridge began in 1924. The first suggestion to build a bridge connecting the northern and southern shores of the harbour came as far back as 1815. The suggestion was put forward by a ‘convict,’ and architect, Francis Greenway. It was only in 1900 that design submissions were invited with the approved design, by Dr. J C Bradfield, accepted in March 1924.

There is still an ongoing debate (heated at times) as to which bridge is the model for the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The two contenders are the smaller Tyne Bridge in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England and the Hell Gate Bridge in New York, USA.

Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb:  To get an absolutely stunning 360° view of Sydney and the Blue Mountains you have to take the Bridge Climb. This guided climb started in 1998 with tours, of 12 to 14 people, leaving every 10 minutes or so. The round trip takes roughly three and a half hours. There are also twilight and night tours when you can catch a fabulous sunset or the city as she lights up.

At around US$200, the price is a bit steep (pun intended).

Some Interesting Facts about Sydney Harbour Bridge
 
Length of arch span:  503 metres

Height of top of arch: 134 metres about mean sea level

Height of aircraft beacon:  141 metres above mean sea level

World’s Largest: It is the world’s longest single steel arch bridge

Total length of bridge: 1149 metres including approach spans

Bearing Pins: Each of the four pins measures 4.2 metres long and 368 millimetres in diameter

Number of rivets:  Approximately 6 million

Largest rivet: Weighed 3.5 kilograms and was 395 millimetres long

Allowance for arch expansion: The arch may rise or fall 18 centimetres due to heating or cooling

Record tonnage erected: 589 tonnes of steelwork was erected on the arch in one day on 26th November 1929

Load Test: The Bridge was test loaded using up to 96 steam locomotives placed in various configurations

Paint required:  272,000 litres of paint were required to give the Bridge its initial three coats

Users:  When it opened you could walk or ride across on a horse or in a horse carriage.  Sadly, you cannot today. You can however still walk or bicycle across

Traffic: Eight vehicle lanes, two train lines, a footway and a cycleway

Flying Under The Bridge: Several sorties were flown in the 1940s, particularly in 1942 and 1943.  I don’t think it is allowed anymore
 

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10 Fast Facts about Sydney

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Sydney Harbour

Sydney, the capital of New South Wales is the largest, oldest and most cosmopolitan city in Australia. The city, which is also home to the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, has some interesting facts about it. Read on for our collection:

1. Sydney is the 73rd most populous city in the world. It is also the 21st most-expensive city in the world.

2. The local nickname for the Sydney Harbour Bridge is the ‘Coat Hanger’, because of its arch-based design. The Bridge is 1511.3 feet wide; and took over 8 years to build it.

3. The Rocks in Sydney is one of the most-visited sites. Called the “birthplace of Sydney”, some of Sydney’s oldest pubs can be found here. You’ll also find a maze of cul-de-sacs and courtyards, with historic buildings sitting next to vibrant modern cafes.

4. Sydney Tower is the city’s tallest building. You can have a great view of the city at the top of the tower.

5. Sydney Opera House holds 5 theatres. You can take a guided tour that’ll take you backstage to learn more about this world-renowned landmark. Approximately 4.5 million people visit the Sydney Opera House a year.

6. A resident of Sydney is known as a Sydneysider.

7. In terms of variety, the Fish Markets of Sydney rank as the 2nd largest in the world.

8. The main languages spoken in Sydney are English, Chinese and Arabic.

9. The Sydney Funnel web spider is considered the world’s most deadly spider. It is the only spider that has killed people in less than 2 hours.

10. Being Australia’s first and largest city, Sydney – also known as ‘Sin City’ – was wanted to be the capital of Australia, but its convict stigma counted against it.

What other interesting or weird facts have you got about Sydney? We would like to hear from you!

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New Year’s Kiss

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New Year's Kiss A friend once told me that her New Year’s resolution was to be kissed as the clock struck twelve on the first day of the New Year. So here are some great and different places that I would suggest for that magical kiss with that special someone:

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Famous for its Carnival, Rio is also great destination any other time of year. This is one of the few times of the year that the locals join the tourists for a great time! This celebration is on par with their Carnival and the fireworks are absolutely amazing. Dress up in white and share that New Years kiss on the beaches of Rio! And you cannot come all the way to Brazil without experiencing its rainforests, can you?

Venice, Italy

This small city in Italy is perfect for a New Year’s kiss. On the last night of the year, many restaurants in Venice have feasts starting from 9p.m. and lasting until midnight, with great food and cheap wine. Also, in St. Mark’s Square there is a huge celebration with music, fireworks and a huge group kiss at midnight. And nothing spells romantic like a gondola ride through the canals of Venice!

Cape Town, South Africa

Welcome the New Year dancing in Cape Town! Some of the hottest parties and celebrations are held in this seaside city, and you can have your special New Years Kiss while on the beach. You of course will have to try the wine while in South Africa, for it rivals even Italy for quality!

Hong Kong, China

Although the Chinese Lunar New Year does not coincide with December 31st, there are still celebrations held in Hong Kong! You will not be at a loss to find a popping party the night of. Top the Hong Kong experience off with your New Years kiss while LED lights count down the last 60 seconds of the old year! You cannot forget the wonderful beauty outside Hong Kong either, for China is home to some of the most breathtaking sights.

Sydney, Australia

Although not as typically romantic as European cities, Sydney has a lot to offer. Enjoy your New Year’s kiss as some of the first New Year’s fireworks in the world explode in the night sky amid music! The best part of being in Sydney at the end of the year is that it is not wintertime; you will be coming in the height of summer. You can spend your days at the beach, dolphin spotting and enjoying the Australian lifestyle!

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