Today we continue our walk through Sydney by heading downtown. Well, actually, one of the first things I learned about Sydney is that there isn’t exactly a ‘downtown’. It’s not that a downtown-like area doesn’t exist, they just refer to it as the CBD (or Central Business District).
From a newcomers point of view, Sydney’s CBD, like many city centers, is a mix of modern skyscrapers and historic buildings. The CBD is home to many of Australia’s major companies and many global companies have set up their Asia/Pacific headquarters here as well.
There are also some nice parks mixed in: Hyde Park is situated in the midst of it all, Wynyard park is just to the north, and parts of the the Royal Botanical Gardens are in the mix as well. The Hyde Park Barracks Museum and St. Mary’s Cathedral are both situated near Hyde Park. The Barracks were built in 1819 to house convicts, and the museum gives a glimpse of what daily life was like for Sydney’s convict population.
George Street is the main thoroughfare, though Pitt and Elizabeth streets are important as well, especially if you enjoy shopping. The Pitt Street Mall is the center of a large shopping district that actually features several malls and a few large department stores. Many Australian chains have stores here, as do some American chains (i.e. there is a Gap).
The CBD is also home to Darling Harbour and Cockle Bay, which were my first introductions to Sydney when we came to visit before the big move. The Harbour is lined with restaurants and museums like the National Maritime Museum, Wild Life Sydney, and the Sydney Aquarium. It’s also the spot to go to on weekends to see fireworks!
It’s pretty easy to get anywhere from the CBD, but even with the convenience, most Sidneysiders prefer not to live right in the middle of it all. The most popular ‘central’ areas to live in seem to be Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, Paddington, and other areas a bit further out. They may prefer a little oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the city, but for me, I rather enjoy being in the middle of it all.