Australian Museum. Visit Australia's first museum on the Sydney Bus Tour
Welcome to the oldest museum in Australia. If you're into natural history you'll want to hop off your Sydney Bus Tour here, come in and take a look around. There's plenty to keep you occupied. Its collections of specimens and artifacts are famous the world over. From Australia's unique flora and fauna to its rich Aboriginal culture, this is the place to start learning more.
The first thing you'll probably notice in the foyer is the group of African lions. They were originally installed in 1910, back when people hailed dioramas as 'the way forward' in the world of exhibitions. Rather than looking at display cases, the public wanted to see a lively, realistic reproduction of nature. Cue the taxidermists.
The museum has become an important centre for scientific research. There are large collections of rare specimens from all over the southern hemisphere, vital for many researchers. Climate change. The biology of pest species. Indigenous cultures. Some ground-breaking research happens inside these walls.
The Australian Museum was originally focused on collecting animals, rocks, minerals and fossils. But that changed when Robert Etheridge became Curator in 1887. He was fascinated by Aboriginal prehistory. Thanks to his research, the museum contains a number of precious Aboriginal artifacts.
Other interesting facts about the Australian Museum
When it originally opened, the museum had just one exhibition gallery
The 'Wild Planet' display showcases over 400 animals
The museum regularly hosts touring exhibitions, such as Wildlife Photographer of the Year
As it was the only museum in Australia for a number of years it became guardian of some very famous objects, such as relics from Captain James Cook's travels throughout the Pacific.
Bondi Beach – visit one of the world’s most iconic beaches on the Sydney Bus Tour
What do you want from a beach? Golden, pristine sand surrounded by lush parks? Bondi’s got lots of that. Perfect surfing conditions? No problem. Plenty of bars and eateries nearby? Bondi ticks that box too. In fact, if you asked someone to design the perfect beach, this crescent-shaped bay would be what they came up with. You can see why it’s one of the most popular stops on our Sydney Bus Tour.
Water safety and sun protection is important at Bondi – we don’t want a spot of sunburn or a ride on the infamous ‘backpacker express’ current to get in the way of a fantastic day out at this beautiful beach. Don’t feel worried about sharks either. The underwater shark net enclosing the bay keeps swimmers protected from any curious predators. If you’re confident in the water you’ll enjoy a great afternoon splashing in the waves or learning to surf.
Set up in 1907, Bondi Surf Bathers’ Life Saving Club claims to be the first ever of its kind. The lifeguards will look out for you while you’re here. The Club became famous across the world thanks to the reality TV show ‘Bondi Rescue’. You can also check out the famous Bondi Icebergs club, with its magnificent sea pool and club bistro.
Games and sports
Bondi is a popular location for sports, including the City to Surf Fun Run, and many swimming clubs meet here. It’s a great place for surfing too of course. And in the 2000 Sydney Olympics Bondi hosted the Beach Volleyball competitions. Huge crowds came to watch the matches at a temporary 10,000-seater stadium.
Other interesting facts about Bondi Beach:
Formed by the eruption of an ancient volcano, Bondi is a rare south-facing beach
The white sand stretches for a 1 kilometre (0.6 mile)
‘Bondi’ is an Aboriginal word that might mean ‘the sound of breaking water’ – or perhaps ‘a place where a fight took place’
There's free Wi-Fi across the entire beach
Darling Harbour Sydney – a buzzing and vibrant waterside landmark
Is there anything better than grabbing a bite to eat with a beautiful waterside view to look out on? We don’t think so, which is why we’d recommend hopping off at Darling Harbour. This hive of activity is filled with bars and restaurants, not to mention some great shops and attractions like the Sea Life Sydney aquarium, National Maritime Museum and Madame Tussauds.
There has been human settlement here for centuries, and the coastal Eora people used to catch seafood and trade here. The shoreline used to be covered in oyster shells, which is why the nearby cove is called Cockle Bay. It’s changed a lot since those days.
Darling Harbour is packed with world-class eateries and great shops today, but it wasn’t always like this. The eastern part of the harbour was once known as ‘The Hungry Mile’. During the Great Depression, waterside workers and dockers would line up along the wharves looking for any work they could get.
The year 2000
The harbour really came into its own after the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. The city invested a lot of time and money into the harbour to make it a world-class destination. In fact, various centres at the harbour hosted sports during the Olympic Games, including volleyball, judo and weightlifting.
Other interesting facts about Darling Harbour
The Eora people used the harbour for food and transport, and called it ‘Tumbalong’, which means a place where seafood is found
Queen Elizabeth II formally opened Darling Harbour in 1988
The harbour is named after Lieutenant-General Ralph Darling, Governor of New South Wales from 1825 to 1831
Darling Harbour’s Madame Tussauds here was the 13th to open in the world
Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney – see the harsh life that convicts lived
It wasn’t much fun being a convict sent to Australian shores. If you survived the journey, you’d often end up being locked up once you got there. And Hyde Park Barracks was one of the places you’d come to. Today, this former prison has been renovated and is open to the public.
The barracks used to house convicts who were working for government working crews in Sydney, and finally closed in 1848. It’s an important part of Australia’s history, and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
All work, no play
Convicts living here had to follow the rules. They lived to the sound of a ringing bell. It told them when to get up, when to eat and when to go back to their hammocks at night. Every morning convicts had to assemble in the courtyard for a daily inspection before going off to work.
Fancy experiencing life as a convict? Actually a number of Sydney schoolchildren are doing exactly that. As part of a living history project, children get to wear the convict shirts, eat the gruel and sleep in the hammocks. It’s designed to give them a real insight into what life was like here 200 years ago.
Other interesting facts about Hyde Park Barracks
It’s one of 4 Sydney Living History Museums – you can visit all 4 with a single pass
The barracks were restored and adapted in 1991, and the project won an award
As many as 50,000 convicts passed through its gates
Convicts were expected to work from sunrise to sunset, with an hour off if it was a very hot day
Luna Park Sydney – where Sydney comes to party
The child in all of us loves a theme park. So hop off your Sydney Bus Tour and enjoy the thrills and spills of Luna Park. This is a classic theme park, with lots of attractions and rides. The entertainment’s non-stop, and if you’d like to see Sydney from a different angle, make sure to take the Tango Train or get on the Ferris Wheel.
This iconic park dates back to 1935. Right from its opening day it was a huge hit with the public. Even in the Second World War people would flock here – the lights were ‘browned-out’ to foil any air raids. Although the park fell into disrepair in the 1970s, some careful investment and TLC have restored it to its former glory once again.
What a face
The first thing that greets you at Luna Park is a 9-metre (29 feet) wide smiling face – you'll pass through its mouth to enter the park. There's always been a face like this here, and this is its 8th incarnation. The current face is based on a classic design from the 1950s.
Head for the Midway
The main thoroughfare through the park is the Midway. From here you’ll be able to get to anything you want to visit, including the Crystal Palace, Big Top and most of Luna Park's rides. There’s bound to be a party going on while you’re here. If you're hungry, don't miss some classy cuisine at The Duck.
Other interesting facts about Luna Park:
Luna Park originally used to open only for special events, rather than all year round
It's one of only 2 amusement parks in the world that are protected by government legislation
The Big Top can seat 2,000 people and regularly holds concerts and shows
The Wild Mouse roller coaster is the only permanent roller coaster in New South Wales.
Queen Victoria Building. Shop and dine amongst Victorian elegance on your Sydney Bus Tour
Queen Victoria Building was designed to be a hub for shopping, eating and entertainment. Thanks to a lavish renovation it’s back to its former glory, with dazzling colour schemes, vibrant shop-fronts and most of its unique original features retained, including stained glass, columns and statues.
Fancy a bit of serious retail therapy? There are some high-end fashion houses here, along with a few more down-to-earth stores. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants too. So if the shopping gets too much for you, just stop for refreshments and recharge the batteries.
A helping hand
Queen Victoria Building was constructed during a severe recession. The Council saw it as a way to give employment to craftsmen, stonemasons and plasterers who needed work. That’s probably one of the reasons why it’s so ornate.
Affectionately known as the QVB, the building was built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897. But another Queen has associations with the building. On display you can see a sealed letter from Queen Elizabeth II to the citizens of Sydney. This letter will be opened and read in the year 2085.
Other interesting facts about Queen Victoria Building:
In 1959 the building was threatened with demolition
The building fills a whole city block, measuring 30 metres (98 feet) by 190 metres (623 feet)
The architect George McRae submitted 4 separate designs – the Council chose the Romanesque one
The building has 4 main floors, with a large tea room at the top
Royal Botanic Gardens – visit a green oasis on the Sydney Bus Tour
Every great city has a park at its centre. But not many have parks as spectacular as this. The Royal Botanic Gardens contain a stunning display of flora from all over the world, including many native Australian species. Everywhere you look you’ll notice a fascinating tree or plant that you’ve probably never seen before.
The 30-hectare (74-acre) gardens are free to visit, so don’t miss the opportunity to hop off your bus tour here for a stroll through the gardens . You’ll be immersed in a lush world of magnificent trees, palms and flowers, with the gorgeous Sydney Harbour forming a sparkling blue backdrop. No wonder the gardens are one of the most visited attractions in the whole city.
A historic setting
The Royal Botanic Gardens are situated on land from the first farm established in Australia. The gardens were originally founded in 1816, and are now the oldest scientific institution in Australia. They’ve been open to the public since 1831, and form a natural amphitheatre that descends down to the sea.
Are you decent?
In 1848 the 27-year-old Charles Moor was appointed Director of the gardens. Over his 48 years in the post he was instrumental in driving the gardens’ success. He introduced regulations to keep out ‘all persons of reputed bad character’ as well as ‘persons who are not cleanly and decently dressed’.
Other interesting facts about Royal Botanic Gardens
There are nearly 4,000 trees growing here, plus 8,900 plant species
The oldest trees here are the hoop pine and giant watergum – both planted in around 1820
There are 36 sculptures in the Royal Botanic Gardens
Over 3.5 million people visit here every year