Darling Harbour, Sydney - Region Information

Darling Harbour houses Sydney's convention and exhibition centres as well as several major tourist attractions, shops, restaurants and cafes. Built around Cockle Bay on the western fringe of the city centre, it starts at the bottom end of Market Street and stretches to Chinatown, where it then does a U-turn and then continues around to the other side of the bay. There are several major hotels on both sides of Darling Harbour for visitors attending conferences and trade shows.

On the city side of the 'U' from Market Street, the major attractions are the spectacular Sydney Aquarium, The Imax Theatre and the Chinese Gardens.

The Sydney Aquarium is regarded as one of the world's best. More than 150 metres of clear 'tunnels' pass through the underwater exhibits so you see fish and sharks swimming around and above you. It has more than 5000 residents of 350 species, including the uniquely Australian platypus which lives in river banks and is very difficult to find in the wild.

Darling Harbour Accommodation - Book a holiday overlooking the water! On the edge of the Harbour, close to a whole host of Sydney attractions, the area is linked to Sydney CBD via a monorail. Check out our list of three and a half to five star hotels in this highly sought after area. Book accommodation and tours now.

The exhibit includes saltwater and freshwater crocodiles, seals, fairy penguins and huge sharks and stingrays. A Great Barrier Reef exhibit of coral and tropical fish opened in late 1998. It is open daily and highly recommended.

The Imax Theatre claims to have the world's biggest movie screen eight storeys high and shows spectacular nature films specially made for the format, one every hour from 10am to 10pm. There are usually three movies about 45 minutes long, screened in rotation.

The Chinese Garden is a tranquil escape from the bustle of the city at the edge of Chinatown. It is a large, walled enclave with Chinese pavilions, large ponds full of ornamental carp, trees and stone statues. They were a gift from the Chinese province of Guangdong, which is a sister state to New South Wales.

Sydney's Chinatown is a bustling enclave of restaurants, shops and supermarkets on the southern fringe of the city area between George Street and Darling Harbour. Shops sell Chinese embroidery, jewellery, figurines and herbal medicines. Chinatown is next to the Sydney Entertainment Centre and only a 10 minute walk to Sydney's major cinema district.

The quality and range of fresh produce draws huge numbers of local and visiting Asians and 'savvy' Sydneysiders. Competition is fierce so prices, even of delicacies such as abalone, lobster and sharks fin are very reasonable by international standards. Food is its biggest drawcard. There is no doubt it is the best in Australia, and the best outside Asia. Originally mainly Cantonese and sometimes modified for Western tastes, restaurants now also offer authentic cuisines from Shanghai, Beijing, Szechuan, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia.

The western side of Darling Harbour houses the Sydney Exhibition Centre, the Sydney Convention Centre, the Harbourside Market Place with restaurants and cafes, and the Australian National Maritime Museum.

Just outside the complex, near the exhibition centre, is the Powerhouse Museum. Australia's largest museum, it is devoted to science, aviation and the decorative arts. It has a lot of 'hands on' exhibits which make it a favourite with children, and is open daily. Pedestrian access is via a footbridge from the nearby Entertainment Centre carpark.

The Australian National Maritime Museum is at the open end of the 'U', opposite the city. Pyrmont Bridge, the world's oldest electrically operated swingspan bridge crosses the mouth of Cockle Bay and provides access for pedestrians between the city and the museum if you do not want to walk all the way around the bay. The museum covers Australian maritime history from the time of sail and includes several floating exhibits moored in the bay, including the naval frigate Vampire.

A monorail loop connects the Sydney CBD with the western side of Darling Harbour and the Entertainment Centre at Chinatown at five-minute intervals (generally from 7am). The most convenient stops are at the corners of Pitt and Market and Pitt and Park Streets (the same block as the Hilton hotel). Route 443 buses leave Circular Quay (from 6am) and the rear of the Queen Victoria Building at 15 minute intervals. There is a ferry service from Circular Quay (from 8am). For monorail service times, telephone 9552 2288 and ferries, telephone 131 500.

Sydney Town Hall (1884), St Andrews Cathedral (Anglican) next door, and the Queen Victoria Building are well worth a visit. Completed in 1819, St Andrews is the oldest cathedral in Australia.

The Queen Victoria Building - often called the QVB - is a fine example of what foresight can do in the face of distinction. The ornate sandstone QVB topped with three large copper-clad domes was built as a produce market, reflecting the wealth of the city at the time.

QVB's 190 shops open daily and sell a wide range of products including Australian designer label clothes and quality jewellery. It is home to the ABC Shop, an outlet for the Australian government owned public radio and television network. The ABC produces audio and video cassettes featuring Australian artists from Country & Western to opera and ballet. The shop also sells books for children and adults with an Australian theme or by Australian authors.