The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney

If you are a green thumb or just love gardens The Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney is “not to be missed” and it’s free. You can easily venture into the gardens from the city via the Opera House (just follow the harbour foreshore) or enter one of various gates further up off Macquarie Street.

If you don’t have the time or the inclination to do it yourself, we can include a brief tour as part of our Essential Sydney Tour.

Established in 1816, it is the oldest botanic garden and scientific institution in Australia. It is home to an outstanding collection of plants from around the world with a focus on Australia and the South Pacific.

Number of plant species in the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney and Domain: 8,900

Number of plant specimens in the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney and Domain: 67,100

Number of trees in the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney and Domain: 3,964

Number of preserved plant specimens in Herbarium of NSW: approx. 1.2 million

Source: The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney

The Sydney Tower Eye


Source: The Sydney Tower Eye

We can arrange for a visit to Sydney Tower Eye as part of our Essential Sydney private guided tour or our Neighbourhoods private guided tour as an additional option.

The Sydney Tower Eye – often referred to by Sydneysiders as Sydney Tower, Centrepoint Tower, AMP Tower, Westfield Centrepoint Tower or Sydney Skytower, amongst other names – has been an integral part of the famous Sydney skyline for the past 30 years.

Sydney Tower Constuction

Construction of Sydney Tower Centrepoint shopping centre began in the late 1970’s with the first 52 shops opening in 1972. The office component was completed in 1974 and the final stage of the complex, the Sydney Tower, was opened to the public in August 1981.

Ranked as one of the safest buildings in the world, the striking design has made the tower capable of withstanding earthquakes and extreme wind conditions.

The construction of Sydney Tower is an interesting tale of engineering and quality construction. Pre-made individual barrel units formed the shaft of the tower and the four levels of the turret structure were constructed at the base of the shaft and raised to the top as work progressed.

The shaft supporting the turret is made up of 46 barrels units, each weighing 27 tonnes. These were brought on to the site in seven pieces and welded together. Once the first three sections were in place, a gantry crane was erected to hoist the remaining 43 barrel units.

Each barrel unit was completed with lift rails, stairwells and hydraulic risers before hoisting. The shaft contains two sets of fire stairs, fire, electrical and plumbing ducts in one half and the lift shafts in the remainder.

Once the tower structure was complete, the spire was erected. This was done in two parts, by placing one half and then lifting the top section onto the bottom section. The crane did not have the reach to lift the spire from the top, so it was lifted from the side. This was achieved despite the difficulties of maintaining adequate balance.

Facts about Sydney Tower

The golden turret has a capacity of 960 persons and contains two levels of restaurants, a coffee lounge, an Observation Deck, two telecommunication transmission levels and three plant levels
The height of Sydney Tower from the bottom to the very tip of the spire is 309 metres
Three double deck lifts provide access to the Sydney Tower Eye Observation Deck and restaurants
The 1504 fire-isolated sets of pressurised stairs, closely monitored by security, allow patrons direct access to street level, in case of an emergency
The 420 windows of the tower are cleaned by a semi-automatic window cleaning machine name ‘Charlie’. ‘Charlie’ recycles and filters 50 litres of water and takes two days to clean all the windows
A 162,000 litre water tank, the tower’s primary damping system also acts as a stabiliser for the tower
56 cables stabilise the tower, and if the strands of these cables were laid end to end, they would reach from Sydney to Alice Springs or from Sydney to New Zealand
The spire located above the Tower is used for telecommunications and navigation purposes
Contrary to popular belief, Sydney Tower was never officially named Centrepoint Tower
Sydney Tower is the first to see the Sydney dawn, and the last to see its final dusk
Sydney Tower retains its original name today as simply ‘Sydney Tower’, with the Sydney Tower Eye being the name of the viewing attraction located on the upper level, providing the best views from the highest point in the city
The SKYWALK experience was constructed at the top of Sydney Tower in 2005 at a cost of almost $4 million

SEA LIFE – Sydney Aquarium

SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium (formerly known just as Sydney Aquarium) contains a large variety of Australian aquatic life, displaying more than 700 species comprising more than 13,000 individual fish and other sea and water creatures from most of Australia’s water habitats.

The Aquarium features 14 themed zones including Jurassic Seas, Discovery Rockpool, Shark Walk, and the world’s largest Great Barrier Reef display. Visitors encounter animals unique to each habitat, including two of only five dugongs on display in the world, sharks, stingrays, penguins and tropical fish, among others.

Open Daily from 9-30am – 6pm

Blu Bar Level 36 Shangri Hotel

Blu Bar, located  at Shangri La hotel floating high above the glittering lights of Sydney Harbour is perhaps one of the best views of the harbour from high above.

This bar serves serious cocktails by talented bartenders presiding over a sleek space brimming with Sydney-siders and visitors alike. The breathtaking views of the Emerald city’s trifecta – The Harbour Bridge, Opera House and harbour lights – enhance the sparkling, shimmering glamour of Sydney’s signature destination bar.

Opening Hours:

5pm – 12am, Monday to Thursday
4pm – 1am, Friday and Saturday
3pm – 11pm, Sunday

Please note that seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Apollo – Potts Point

Located at 44 Macleay Street,
Potts Point
Sydney, NSW, 2011
02 8354 0888 Street Potts Point

Apollo is one of the better Australian Greek restaurants in Sydney.

It can be difficult to get a reservation at times however that should not deter you from turning up as they are happy to take your name and number and text you when a table is ready.

Highly Recommended

William Street Paddington

Small is beautiful.”

William Street in Paddington is considered Sydney’s most enjoyable shopping experience and not generally seen by visitors and tourists (unless you know about it). This little street, running off the main strip of Oxford Street is lined with beautiful little Victorian terraces that are converted into small independent shops of fashion, art, jewellery and antiques. Check out Just William a chocolate shop right at the start of your walk.

Today William Street stands as a monument to independent retailing. No big named stores here, they are all small little boutiques offering bespoke, unusual, one-offs and all things not found in big barn shopping centres.

There is also a terrific little deli (come cafe) at the lower end of the street. It is a little slice if Italy hidden in the heart of Paddington. Originally established as an authentic delicatessen, Paddington Alimentari has become a busy little cafe for locals, resident Italians and visitors lucky enough to stumble across it.

Sea Cliff Bridge

r0_208_4000_2458_w1200_h678_fmaxThe world famous Sea Cliff Bridge is more than a bridge – majestically sweeping over the waters of the Pacific as you head down Grand Pacific Drive.

To drive it is exhilarating, but take the bridgewalk and you’ll see deep into the aqua waters clear to the bottom, looking down on sealife like massive manta rays and every kind of water bird.

That’s the sea, but look the other way at the cliffs and find the eagles living there. The ancient layers of the eastern edge of this timeless land.

It truly is one of Australia’s most photogenic experiences

The Strand Arcade – CBD


Built in 1891, the three storied Strand Arcade between Pitt Street and George Street in the CBD is a rare gem of Victorian architecture, and unfortunately the only surviving arcade of its type in Sydney.

This is just a beautiful building to wander through with its ornate stained-glass windows and tiled floors, and full of over 60 small boutiques and and cafes.

Check out the iconic Australian Akubra hat at Strand Hatters, and if you want something unique to take home from Australia, don’t miss Dinosaur Designs on the first floor which stocks handmade jewellery , homewares etc.

Elizabeth Bay

Elizabeth Bay which is situated on the harbour between Garden Island and Rushcutters Bay, is home to what was once, one of the colony’s (Sydney) finest homes, Elizabeth Bay House. There is a beautiful little public garden space (Arthur McElrone Gardens) which was once part of the grander gardens rolling down to the harbour from the home. We often visit these gardens as part of our Essential Sydney Tour.

A densely populated suburb with some very expensive homes “Boomerang” (considered the finest Spanish mission-style trophy home in Sydney with an asking price circa $60m) as well as many expensive contemporary and art deco apartment buildings.

Middle Head Fortifications

The first fort at Middle Head was built in 1801 and the last batteries were constructed in 1942. The majority of the fortifications were built between 1870 and 1911. The site contains the works of several periods and technologies, which remain in place for review today. Historically it dates from the time when defence was first moved away from Sydney Cove and towards The Heads.[1]

There were three sets of fortifications built in Mosman and Middle Head in the 1870s, these were upgraded in the 1880s on the advice of British experts. These fortifications still exist and are now heritage listed, they are, the Lower Georges Heights Commanding Position, the Georges Head Battery and a smaller fort located on Bradleys Head, known as the Bradleys Head Fortification Complex.

The battery on Middle Head built in 1871 was designed by James Barnet, a colonial architect. The fort was built on a strategic location and received many additions until 1911. It formed part of a network of ‘outer harbour’ defences. They were designed to fire at enemy ships as they attempted entry through the Sydney Heads. The whole area is linked by an extensive network of underground tunnels, ancillary rooms, gunpowder magazine and a disappearing gun emplacement. The site has its own underground power room that is supported by iron columns. Rooms located below ground were used to train some of Australia’s first troops who were sent to Vietnam in ‘Code of Conduct’ courses, which were lessons in how to withstand torture and interrogation, by simulating prisoner of war conditions.[2]

In 1974 the Middle Head fortifications featured in the movie Stone.

In 1979 most of the area became national park and the military has moved on to more strategic locations. The army base on site which included the transport group and 30 Terminal Squadron, left Georges Height’s in 1997. The Headquarters Training Command section relocated to the Victoria Barracks in 2002.[3]

source Wikipedia

Chowder Bay

Chowder Bay, which as the name may suggest was named after whalers who made chowder from the bay’s seafood.

As an  option, we can visit Chowder Bay as part of our North Shore & Beaches Private tour, as it is quite close to Mosman and Middle Head fortifications.

It is nestled between the harbour and a steep expanse of bushland. Once a submarine base, there are many historic buildings or you can spend your time swimming, snorkelling, kayaking, or bushwalking. You can hire everything you need for a day on the water from Plunge Diving.

There are a few good options for coffee or something to eat. The most comprehensive is the well regarded Ripples Chowder Bay  which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.

There are a number of native wildlife you can look out for. Water dragons, blue-tongue lizards, ring-tailed possums, green tree snakes, kookaburras, rainbow lorikeets, burrawongs, pacific white face herons, and dollar birds.

Scenic World – Blue Mountains

We highly recommend you consider a visit to Scenic World as part of our Blue Mountains & Featherdale Private Tour. This is a privately owned tourist attraction located in Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. It hosts 4 main attractions, Katoomba Scenic Railway, Scenic Skyway, the Cableway and the Walkway.

Whilst theme parks or man made tourist attractions may not be your thing, I recommend you go to Scenic World as all the attractions are designed to give you a real experience in this rugged National Park.

Leura Village (Everglades Gardens) Blue Mountains

Leura Village is visited by us on our Blue Mountains and Featherdale Private Tour as it is one of a number of towns you come across as you travel to the Blue Mountains.

Most visitors prefer Leura Village (over Katoomba) to stop off for some shopping or eating as it has a large variety of interesting shops and boutiques as well as some very good cafes/restaurants.

You can also visit Sublime Point close by, which offers beautiful panoramic views over the Jamison Valley.

Leura also hosts the Everglades Gardens, the former home of Belgian-born industrialist Henri van de Velde, which has 5 hectares of landscaped gardens designed by Danish architect Paul Sorensen.

Bare Island (La Perouse)

As an option, we can visit Bare Island on our Grand Pacific Drive Tour.

Bare Island is an islet within Botany Bay in Sydney. Containing fortification facilities, Bare Island is listed on the New South Wales State Heritage Register and is significant as an almost completely intact example of late nineteenth century coastal defence technology.

The waters around Bare Island are very popular with snorkelers and SCUBA divers, as the reefs that stretch around the island are home to Australia’s most colourful marine animals. Big belly sea horse, sea dragons, pygmy pipe horse, red indian fish as well as sharks.

Bare Island was featured in Mission Impossible II and East West 101.

El Alamein Memorial Fountain


El Alamein Fountain

Located in Potts Point (Kings Cross), The El Alamein Fountain is a well known landmark and is a war memorial to the soldiers who died in 1942 during World War II and more generally the Australian army’s roles in the North Africa campaign.

The fountain’s modernist design was by an Australian architect Phill Taranto, and is often described as looking like a blown thistle or a dandelion.