The jewel

down under All eyes are on SYDNEY as it gears up for the Millennium and next year's Olympic Games.

Words: Simone Baird

Perfectly positioned around its stunning harbour, the city of Sydney is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful in the world. It’s also home to a series of breathtaking beaches, world class restaurants, cafes and shops, as much hedonistic nightlife as you can take and as the first white settlement in Australia some engrossing historic sites. The city is made to walk around; a couple of hours on the foreshore and you can take in the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Opera House, Circular Quay and then the Harbour Bridge.

While there was never going to be a beach shortage around Sydney, Bondi has remained the most famous; the golden crescent is haven to bleached beach burns, New Age travellers (known locally as ‘ferals'), hip Japanese skaters and an abundance of British backpackers. If you decide to make it your turf, you'll need to become familiar with the likes of Sejuiced (472 Bronte Road) with their healthy shakes and juice combos,

and the Sports Bar(d) (32 Cambell Parade) which is ideal for your steak and chips fix, as well as to ogle the remarkably high number of topless brown torsos. Bondi Beach will also be home to MobileHome, a 15,000 capacity party on the beach on New Year's Eve, with the likes of Carl Cox and Junior Carter kicking in 2000.

Even if you only have a few days at your disposal, make sure that you get out of the city to the Blue Mountains, part of the Great Dividing Range which runs

Doesn't get much better than this: Sydney's Bondi Beach

up and down most of the east coast, slightly inland. The

. 3......7...“ rL ,. t p cm

Circular Quay and the Harbour Bridge

Stating the obvious

Sydney Harbour Bridge Although you can walk It, you shouch c’lrmb the arches of the Coathanger. Be warned that they breathalrse you before you try

Sydney Opera House Whether rt remrnds you of palm fronds or the sarls of the Frrst Fleet, thrs rs the Quintessential Sydney |(()ll Centrepoint Tower The tallest burldrng rn the crty, affordrng a vrew 100km north on a clear day. Not so far If rt's cloudy, of COUTSO

Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Durmg one of the most outrageous partres In the world, the gay communrty run not for all of March, culmrnatrng rn the

early settlers and convicts spent 25 years trying desperately to get past these mountains 1100m at their highest and they retain a great deal of their original unspoilt beauty. In fact, most of the area is still only accessible to bushwalkers. There are enough gum trees, gorges and mountains to make you feel as though you’ve seen some real Aussie bush, but as the Blue Mountains are only 65kms west of Sydney, only a couple of days are needed.

mother of all parades

Olympic Games Even the already sports-mad Aussres wrll take rt up a notch or two when Sydney hosts the 2000 Games rn September and October

The List alternative

Chinese Gardens Desrgned by architects from Guangong rn Chma, Unstsatranduacscape,snvué.bangrn thecny.Ahervmuuktuengxav around the surroundrng Clrrnatox.’ Harbour S treet/P/er Street

Bar Coluzzi Do not trrtcler‘estrr':ai-- r serrously Australrans take ‘3‘.“ 'ft and thrs Italian-stric- ca‘t- firms arguably the best rn Sydney 320 Vrc tor/a Street, Dar/mghurs‘t,

Discover Latin America

Throughout November, STA Travel have special offers to destrnatrons throughout Latrn Arnerrca All flrghts are valrd from Glasgow and allow for stops Ill the USA

Mexrco Crty £375 Cancun £425 Acapulco £425 Guatemala £415 Costa cha £449 Belt/e £475

Rro de Janerro £365 Chrle £395 Penr£475 Venezuela £439 Columbra £439 Ecuador £449

The frrst 40 people to book a flrght or tour featured rn the promotion will receive a free traveller's health krt, and there's between 5--l 5% off selected adventure tOurs around Latrn Amerrc a. STA Travel are runnrng a competrtron to wrn an adventure tour to Peru and Bolrvra (rncludrng return flrghts), Ten runners up wrll each receive on of ten best sellrng Footprrnt gurdes to South Amerrca. To enter, srmply wrrte your full name, address, date of brrth, e-marl address and natronalrty on a postcard and send to: Latrn Arnerrca Competrtron, 6 Wrrghts Lane, tonclon W8 6TA. Please state whether you are a student. Closrng date rs Mon 20 Dec. STA Travel are hostrng a free travel talk at therr Edinburgh branch on Tue 9 Nov at 7pm. Call Into the branch to collect your rnvrtatr0n or call 0131 226 7747, but hurry as numbers are lrmrted.

China Bowl Outstanding Chrnese food wrth vrews of Coogee Beach, the centre of backpacker terrrtory 160 Do/ph/n Street, Coogee

Sublime If you want to see how the party anrmals do It Down Ult(l(", check out any of the clubs on a Thu Sun nrght at thrs venue 244 PM! Street, (80 Oxford Street Hardly a \."./ell-kept secret, thrs strrp rs the flashy lrfehlood of young Sydney, wrth more shops, cafes and bars than you can shake a “r l. at

Getting there

STA Travel offer return fares to Sydney from Scotland from £575 plus tax (approx £45;

STA Travel are at 184 Byres Road and The University of Strathclyde, 90 John Street Glasgow. Tel: 0141 338 6000

27 Forrest Road, Edinburgh. Tel 013i 226 7747 0 30 Upperkirkgate, Aberdeen. Tel 01224 658222 0

126 THE llSTZl Oct—4 Nov 1999