Darling Harbour, Sydney © Arran Bee
The waterside tourist precinct of Darling Harbour, close to the central business district, is crossed by a monorail and offers plenty of entertaining diversions, museums, carnival rides, restaurants and shops. For example, there is the Imax Theatre, with Australia's largest cinema screen; the huge Star City Casino and Sydney Entertainment Centre; and the magnificent Chinese Garden, with its serpentine paths and placid pools. Established in 1988 by the local Chinese community, to celebrate their heritage and to cement the bond between Sydney and the city of Guangzhou, the Chinese Garden of Friendship is styled along Classical lines, combining the four elements of water, plants, stone and architecture to create a perfect balance. Reminiscent of the gardens of the Shang dynasty from 3,000 years ago, and a popular tourist attraction, the Garden is a wonderful place to relax and rejuvenate with the whole family - picnicking, or just walking the meandering paths, enjoying the pagoda-style structures, the expert landscaping, and the tranquil courtyards.
An absolute must-see is the Sydney Aquarium, one of the most popular attractions at Darling Harbour, and also one of the biggest and most impressive aquariums in the world. More than 5,000 Australian fish are displayed in their natural habitats, along with sharks, rays, platypus, seals, penguins, crocodiles and much more. Underwater walkways give visitors an intimate view of the unique aquatic environment. The Great Barrier Reef exhibit has live coral and many tropical fish, and visitors can take a glass-bottomed boat ride to see some dangerous sharks from up close.
Also look out for the Powerhouse Museum and the National Maritime Museum. Children will go mad for the Powerhouse Museum, where all things scientific abound and exhibits include those that will boggle the mind, and astound the senses.
Transport: Darling Harbour is easily accessible by bus, train, monorail, light rail or ferry.