||A vulgar European knock-off in some aspects most certainly, but also, and now especially as we cross that debated frontier and enter the twenty-first century, it is an international showpiece, through which the world may observe the thoroughly original, though slightly confused, Australian culture.
Hidden away at the edges of the earth, Australia in the past has been the passing fancy of the so-called Western centres, several times. Crocodile Dundee and Yahoo Serious certainly did much to broaden our horizons in the global arena, though inevitably, after the interest faded, such Aussie hallmarks were forced to take their place in the proverbial bargain basement.
That was then. But things are changing now. Australia is enjoying a new kind of international recognition, one which actually contains the inklings of longevity. Yes, it is a new age for us. No longer are we a nation of beer-guzzling, Stubbie wearing yobboes, riding on the backs of kangaroos on our way to the opal mine. Rather, we are a nation of creative, friendly people, fully capable of holding our own amongst the 'big boys'.
Sydney has been and continues to be a large part of this shiny new international reputation.
As a city, Sydney certainly has a great deal to offer. A colourful town, it is definitely the place to be for anyone involved in or interested by the arts and entertainment industries in Australia. It's an incessant sort of place where one can be at once constantly entertained and thoroughly educated, a radiant point of both natural and human-made beauty.
Culture is a large part of Sydney's appeal and this is not surprising, seeing as, despite the Aussie cliché, far more Australians visit museums, theatres and galleries than cricket or footy grounds. This is particularly true for Sydney-siders.
Of all forms of Sydney cultural life, one of the most popular and certainly the most fun would be the theatre. From crass musicals to the most urbane plays, there is bound to be a thousand shows on at any one time in Sydney, some you can attend for free, others the average Joe would have to penny-pinch for a good year to see.
Other reputable theatres that play host to famously popular shows and performances are Her Majesty's Theatre in Haymarket and the Capitol Theatre, also in Haymarket. Amongst the most popular of the smaller Sydney theatres would definitely be the Enmore Theatre.
Another point of cultural interest would be the various art galleries that Sydney boasts. The most magnificent of these is of course the grand and esteemed Art Gallery of New South Wales. From the outset, one cannot help but be awed by the imposing Romanesque entrance and then absolutely astounded by the quality of its classical collection. Other high quality galleries include the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Sydney is also the prime destination for musicians, singers, bands and the like, heading to Australia on tour. One can see all of the biggest international stars, most often, at the Sydney Entertainment Centre which is also the venue for some sporting events such as basketball.
Incidentally, many shows and musicians may also be seen at one of Sydney's most recent major additions, the Star City Casino. The only word for this place is fabulous. In true Las Vegas style it astounds with size and brilliance, tempting even the most lowly punter to sink his earnings into the already brimming Star coffers for a slim chance at unimaginable fortune. Boasting an impressive array of stores, restaurants, bars and gambling facilities, it is simply a must even for the strictest non-gambler.
One of the best parts of living or even just visiting in Sydney is the wildly vibrant nightlife. With a devilish multitude of funky night-clubs, trendy bars and dimly-lit pubs, you can party all night long, if you have the stamina of course. In the city itself there are uncounted clubs and bars, some of the most popular being the Harbourside Brasserie, the Paragon Hotel, the Orient Hotel, Retro Bar, Riche and Bar Luna, to name just a few. Make sure you take plenty of cash though, as over-charging is a sacred tradition amongst most Sydney hot spots and even only moderate indulgence means that your money will be absorbed at a frightening rate.
Visit Oxford Street for a glimpse of the booming gay and lesbian culture in Sydney. Most places here are hetero-friendly and offer a night of good fun, naughtiness is optional. Midnight Express is one of the more popular spots.
Away from the City centre the best place to observe and participate in the Sydney nightlife is, of course, King's Cross. Once reputedly unsafe, frequented by the most undesirable of urbanites, it is now a popular destination for all varieties of nightly fun-seekers. A couple of the hottest clubs to try would be Round Midnight and Sugareef.
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Pictorial Guide to Melbourne and Victoria
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