Sydney travel guide - Rusty Compass

An independent travel guide to Sydney with candid reviews and recommendations. No sponsored content, no advertorial.

Sydney travel guide

Sydney Introduction

| 03 Jan 2021
Last updated 03 Jan 2021

Sydney travel guide

Sydney is one of the world's most recognisable and best loved cities. For a casual visitor, it's hard to fault. There's the stunning harbour, perfect beaches, an agreeable climate (global warming permitting), a diverse, delicious culinary scene, and an international population predisposed to a friendly welcome. They've made Sydney one of the most desired cities on earth.

Sydney's beaches and harbour devour the attention of most visitors. Don't miss the dramatic Blue Mountains, that enclose Sydney from the west. Places like Katoomba and Wentworth Falls offer amazing walks and hikes for all ages and energy levels.

Sydney's an easy place to explore and there's a perfect balance of natural wonder, parks and gardens, walks, museums and galleries. The hotel and Airbnb scene is good too.

Sydney makes good use of its harbour.
Photo: Mark Bowyer Sydney makes good use of its harbour.


Sydney Background

It's difficult to reconcile this most appealing of modern cities with its founding in brutality, dispossession, starvation, drunkenness and debauchery. This quandary has occupied commentators for decades.

For more than a century white Australia has looked past the horrendous founding of the city - the cruelty, bloodshed and war on the First People. In recent decades, a gradual surrender to the reality of that history is taking place in fits and starts.

Sydneysiders spend no more time pondering their origins than any other peoples. That means not much time at all. But their story deserves a good look during your visit. And this guide is directed at travellers who  want to get a deeper sense of the place and its past. 

Since the Second World War, Sydney's direct connection to its convict and colonial past has become more tenuous as the city's welcomed newcomers from across the globe to become one of the most multicultural places on earth. Sydney's modern multicultural character is one of its best features.

Sydney has a miraculous story. But the miracles have come at a high price - most of all for the First Nations People. The environmental toll has been high too. Many of the wounds are yet to heal. As a traveller, you'll get a sense of these issues.

There are some great books that'll help you make sense of your time in Australia's boldest, oldest, largest city.

Here are some of our favourites -

The Fatal Shore, Robert Hughes
Sydney Harbour, Ian Hoskins
Commonwealth of thieves, Tom Keneally


Mark Bowyer
Mark Bowyer is the founder and publisher of Rusty Compass.
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