Downtown - CBD

As we said earlier, no one calls it “downtown” in Sydney except for touristic lamers; for one and all the area most normal people would call downtown is called the CBD, which is what Sydney people (who insist on being called “Sydneysiders” by the way instead of Syndeyites; jeez, why not go with Sydneynauts at that point) call the Central Business District. No one actually calls it downtown and so referring to it as “downtown” will label you as a lame tourist faster than your backwards baseball cap and Lakers jersey. Think of the children.

With that out of the way (whew), there are just a few high points to touch on here, as a lot of what to do in the Sydney CBD is covered elsewhere, such as in our shopping section.

If you like this sort of thing (tall towers built for the purpose of having a tall tower so as to create an artificial landmark, like an “instant classic,” are not high on our tourist agenda when we travel), Sydney Tower is centrally located and will indeed provide a wonderful view of the harbor. Prices are not cheap, but they do have family package tickets which will save you a bit. Learn more at the Sydney Tower website. Needless to say, there is a restaurant at the top.

Some Sites Downtown

Back here on earth, more specifically in the CBD, consider two sites.

The Australian Museum is just on the edge of Hyde Park, and worth a visit. Perhaps more properly called the Australian Natural History museum, the focus is almost exclusively on the unbelievable variety of stuff that lives in Australia, as well as the natural history of the continent and the indigenous people. For younger kids, the zoo will probably be enough, with the chance to see kangaroos and koalas. Kids a bit older will learn more and come away with a broader experience at the museum after seeing sperm whale and various marsupial skeletons. More than 80 percent of everything that lives and crawls and swims in Australia is unique to the place, and the museum provides a nice look at it all, especially if your travel will not take you outside of the urban areas. You can spend an afternoon exploring, or take an enjoyable one hour self-guided tour for those with less time or shorter attention spans.

Five minutes walk away is the somber Anzac Memorial (above, center). ANZAC Day – April 25- is probably Australia's most important national occasion. It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during WWI (ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps). When the war started in 1914 Australia had been a federal commonwealth for only fourteen years. The new national government was eager to establish its reputation among the nations of the world and sent soldiers to capture the Gallipoli peninsula to open the way to the Black Sea for the allied navies.

They landed at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915, meeting fierce resistance from the Turkish defenders. What had been planned as a bold stroke to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915 the allied forces were evacuated after both sides had suffered heavy casualties. Over 8,000 Australian soldiers were killed. News of the landing at Gallipoli made a profound impact on Australians at home and April 25 quickly became the day on which Australians remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in war.

For younger kids, the open area of the Memorial will be enough for a quick glance, as decorum requires respectful silence. Look up-the domed ceiling is studded with stars, each one representing a fallen soldier. With older children, look over the rim of the floor to see a striking display of a suffering soldier below, and then proceed downstairs to see a small museum (free). For many Americans and perhaps others, this is a part of war and history that is unfamiliar, and the Memorial will leave a lasting impression of its importance.

The Memorial has an excellent web site.

Hyde Park

Right next door is Hyde Park, one of the many large green spaces inside Sydney. Buy lunch, have a picnic, run off some excess energy, have your kids run off some excess energy, fly a kite, do all that. Enjoy.

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