10 Must-Visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites In Australia


great barrier reef


While Australia is culturally rich and history significant in general, one worthwhile way to explore the best the country has to offer is through its UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These sites are particularly noteworthy in terms of culture and physical significance, and are often beautiful, as well. If you’re planning a trip to Australia, here are 10 must-see UNESCO World Heritage Sites to add to your itinerary.




Great Barrier Reef
Off the east coast of Queensland

Probably the most famous of all Australia’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, this area contains the largest collection of coral reefs and the greatest biodiversity of all the World Heritage Sites. The are is home to 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 types of mollusk. Within the Great Barrier Reef, you’ll find 2,500 unique reefs and over 900 islands. Some species of animals in the area that scientists are particularly interested in include the dugong (sea cow) and the large green sea turtle, which could soon become extinct.


kakadu national park


Kakadu National Park
Northern Territory

A unique example of complex ecosystems, Kakadu National Park includes tidal flats, floodplains, lowlands and plateaux and habitats for rare and endemic species. Because of this, Kakadu is one of the world’s richest wildlife parks. Moreover, rock carvings, cave paintings and archeological sites provide information about the area’s 40,000+ years of inhabitants, from pre-historic hunter-gatherers as well as the aboriginal people still living there today.


shark bay


Shark Bay
Western Australia

Located at the most western part of Australia, Shark Bay has three noteworthy features: its sea-grass beds, which are the largest and richest in the world, its large dugong population of about 11,000 and its stromatolites, which are colonies of algae that create hard deposits and are among the most ancient organisms on the planet. Additionally, Shark Bay is home to five species of endangered mammals, including the boodie, rufous hare-wallaby, banded hare-wallaby, the Shark Bay mouse and the western barred bandicoot.


australian convict sites


Australian Convict Sites
Various areas

Although thousands of penal facilities were constructed during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by the British Empire in Australia, this UNESCO World Heritage listing contains 11 of them. These include:

  • Old Government House and Domain (Parramatta)
  • Hyde Park Barracks (Sydney)
  • Cockatoo Island Convict Site (Sydney)
  • Old Great North Road (near Wiseman’s Ferry)
  • Kingston and Arthur’s Vale Historic Area (Norfolk Island)
  • Port Arthur History Site (Pictured, Tasman Peninsula)
  • Cascades Female Factory (Hobart)
  • Darlington Probation Station (Maria Island)
  • Coal Mines Historic Site (via Premadeyna)
  • Brickendon-Woolmers Estates (near Longford)
  • Fremantle Prison (Western Australia)

Between 1787 and 1868, about 166,000 people were sent to Australian convict colonies by Britain. Each institution had its own purpose, although all implemented forced labor to help build the colony. The facilities listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites represent the “best surviving examples of large-scale convict transportation and the colonial expansion of European powers through the presence and labour of convicts.”


fraser island


Fraser Island

At about 76 miles long and 15 miles wide, Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island. Half the planet’s perched freshwater dune lakes are found here, as well as rainforests, wallum peat swamps, eucalyptus woodland, mangrove jungle, sand dunes and uncultivated coastline. The island is also home to one of the world’s weirdest beaches at Lake McKenzie, where the fine white silica sand is so pure, you can brush your teeth and clean your jewelry with it.


greater blue mountains area


Greater Blue Mountains Area
New South Wales

The Greater Blue Mountains area is made up of eight protected areas, and is mainly praised for its ability to clearly show how the eucalypts in post-Gondwana isolation has changed and adapted over time. Furthermore, the region significantly represents the biodiversity of Australia, as 10% of the vascular fauna as well as many rare, threatened and endemic species live here. Visitors will find the Jenolan Caves Karst Conservation Reserve here, as well as seven national parks, including the Blue Mountains, Kanangra-Boyd, Gardens of Stone, Thirlmere Lakes, Wollemi, Yengo and Nattai.


sydney opera house


Sydney Opera House
Sydney

An iconic symbol of Sydney, Australia, this unique piece of architecture brings together various forms of creativity and innovative. By showing a radically new way of building, the structure has greatly influenced archeciture and design. Furthermore, the opera house serves it’s function of providing a world-class performing arts space, while also responding to its environment and being accessible to the community as a major cultural center.


bungle bungle


Purnululu National Park
Western Australia

Purnululu National Park covers almost 240,000 hectares of remote land. The most prominent feature of the Purnululu National Park is the Bungle Bungle Range, a deeply dissected range made of Devonian-age quartz sandstone which has eroded over the past 20 million years to form the beehive-shaped cones shown above. Not only are they bizarre looking, the process by which they came to be involved the interacting of biological, geological, erosional and climatic phenomena. What’s really unique about these formations is they change in appearance depending on the weather, sun position and season.


lord howe islands


Lord Howe Island Group
New South Wales

Created by volcanic activity more than 6,562 feet under the sea, these islands feature unique topography and a wealth of endemic species. Some of these include the flightless Lord Howe Woodhen, which was once thought to be one of the rarest birds on the planet, and the Lord Howe Island Phasmid, the world’s largest wood insect which was once thought to be extinct. In terms of landscape, sheer mountain slopes, lagoons, a broad arc of hills and remnants of a shield volcano and caldera can be seen. Moreover, this is where visitors will find the world’s most southerly true coral reef.


royal exhibition building


Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens
Melbourne

The original purpose of the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens was for the international exhibitions of 1880 and 1888. Designed by Joseph Reed and constructed from timber, steel, slate and brick, the structure features elements from the Byzantine, Romanesque, Lombardic and Italian Renaissance styles. The venue reflects “the global influence of the international exhibition movement of the 19th and early 20th centuries.”

10 free things to do in Sydney, Australia

blue mountains While Sydney, Australia, is often thought to be one of the most expensive cities in the world, it is not impossible to travel there on a budget. Planning out some free activities for your trip can help curb your spending but still allow you to experience the city. To help with the trip preparation, here is a list of 10 free things to do in Sydney, Australia.

Hike the Blue Mountains

The area of the Blue Mountains is located in the central areas of the Sydney Basin and contains myriad hiking trails for people of all athletic abilities. You can do short strolls, intense all-day hikes, or longer treks that involve camping in the wild. Diverse flora and fauna inhabit the area, and deep valleys, jagged cliff faces, dark caves, streaming rivers, and dense rainforests help to diversify the scenery. There are also unique rock formations, like the Three Sisters, Orphan Rock, and Kings Tableland. So where did the Blue Mountains get its name? The area is covered in Eucalyptus Trees, which give off a mist of Eucalyptus Oil that appears as a blue haze under the sunlight. When you look from a distance, the mountains seem to be enveloped in blue smoke.

Click here for detailed directions on how to get to the Blue Mountains by car, train, and coach bus.
Stroll through the Royal Botanic Gardens

When I was living in Sydney, this was my favorite thing to do on a nice day. First of all, the Royal Botanic Gardens feature an array of natural trails and sites, like an Oriental Garden, the Australian Native Rockery, the Rare and Threatened Plants Garden, and the Sydney Tropical Centre. Moreover, it is located along the Sydney Harbour, giving visitors a peaceful ambiance as well as photo-worthy views of the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. For art lovers, public art and sculptures are scattered throughout the gardens, and those with talent often go with their sketch books to recreate the natural beauty of the place. If you’re interested in a free guided tour, they run at 10:30 AM daily and at 1:30 PM Monday through Friday, beginning at the Information Center.

Take a free walking tour with I’m Free

I’m Free Tours offers daily free walking tours at 10:30 AM and 2:30 PM. During the three hour tour, visitors will learn about the history of the city and culture (did you know that in its early days Sydney was a convict colony?) as well as see major sites like Hyde Park, the Sydney Opera House, St. Mary’s Cathedral, The Rock’s District, The ‘Rum’ Hosptial, and more. The tours begin in Town Hall Square on George Street. Click here to see a map.

sydney harbour bridge Walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Walking across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the largest steel-arch bridge in the world, is a popular activity for both locals and tourists. The bridge was opened on March 19, 1932, after six years of construction and contains 6 million hand driven rivets and a surface area equivalent to sixty sports fields. Actually going across the bridge will give you a unique vantage point of the iconic landmark, which the displaced people of Europe viewed when coming to Sydney after WWII, as well as views of the city and harbour. While you can access the bridge from both sides, most people start their trek from the Rocks neighborhood, where you will be able to access the the pedestrian bridge path from Cumberland Street.

Take in the religious sites of Sydney

For those interested in learning about the religious culture of the city, Sydney has a lot to offer. St. Mary’s Cathedral is an English-style Gothic church and a symbol of the spiritual origins of the city, as it was the first Roman Catholic Church in Australia (the first stone for the project was laid in 1821). The stained glass windows of the church were made in England and bright mosaic floors are featured throughout the building. Fourteen large “Stations of the Cross” paintings, church bells, a fine organ, and the church crypt are also major features of St. Mary’s. On Sundays at noon, visitors can partake in free guided tours of the cathedral and crypt.

You can also visit the Sze Yup Kwan Ti Temple in Glebe. The temple was built in 1898 and is one of the only two temples that still exist in Sydney from pre-modern times.

View some art at a local gallery

Sydney is home to many excellent art galleries, some of which are completely free to enter. The Art Gallery of New South Wales, which showcases modern and contemporary art from around the world, is enormous, with five levels of galleries, rotating exhibitions, films, music, and more. The gallery also gives free one-hour guided tours. The Museum of Contemporary Art is also worth a visit, as it is the only art museum in Australia “dedicated to exhibiting, interpreting, and collecting contemporary art from across Australia and around the world”. Free guided tours are available on a daily basis. For something fun and unique, vist The Art of Dr. Seuss, where you can see limited edition prints, sculptures, and drawings by the legend himself.

bondi beach Do the Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach walk

This is a very popular and worthwhile activity to do while in Sydney and even a bit historical as people have been doing it since the 1930′s. The walk, which includes many boardwalks but also a lot of uphill terrain, takes you along the coastline and gives you the opportunity to visit various beaches and parks, even a beautiful cemetery with Palm Trees, while taking in spectacular and natural views. At a little under four miles, walkers will visit the beaches of Bondi, Tamarama, Bronte, and Coogee while getting in a good workout.

Browse the many weekend markets

Weekends in Sydney feature an array of interesting markets that are fun and free to explore. The Rocks Market, an open-air fair located on the lower end of George Street on Saturdays and Sundays, features souvenoirs, art, gifts, jewelry, handmade goods, bath and body products, and more. The Paddington Market, open on Saturdays from 10 AM to 5 PM on Oxford Street, is also a great choice, with over 200 stalls of Australian-made goods. If you want something with more of a flea market feel, head over to Paddy’s Markets, which have two locations. One is open only on weekends and is located off Parramatta Road, a three minute walk from Flemington Rail Station and across from Sydney’s Olympic Park. The other is open Wednesday through Sunday and on public holiday Mondays in Haymarket on Hay Street, a five minute walk from Town Hall.

For a full list of Sydney markets, click here.

Be entertained by street performers and live music

Walking around Sydney, you shouldn’t be surprised by impromptu dancing, singing, and circus acts. If you’d like to heighten your chances of seeing a live street performance, there are a few places that are better than others. A visit to Circular Quay will almost guarantee you a live performance, as will a stop at Martin Place and the Central Station Tunnel. For some great live music venues that charge no (or a very cheap) cover, check out Scruffy Murphy’s on Tuesdays and weekends and 3 Wise Monkeys seven nights a week.

Get cultured at a museum

Museums, especially free ones, can be a great way to learn about the city you’re visiting while keeping your trip budget-friendly. The National Museum of Australia is free to enter and gives insight into the land, people, and culture of Australia. Another free favorite is the Rocks Discovery Museum, which tells the story of The Rocks area from its pre-European days to now. Also, on the first Thursday of each month it’s free to enter the Australian National Maritime Museum.

Sydney’s Chinatown means cheap eats, Australian seafood, famous noodles

“NOOOOOOOO!”

That’s the sound of me, arriving at Chinese Noodle Restaurant (Shop 7, 8 Quay St.), in Sydney’s Chinatown/Haymarket district. Two years I’d waited, eight thousand miles I’d traveled, to feast upon my beloved #4 pork noodle combo. Instead I found the following handwritten sign:

“Dear Customers, We will be closed…for kitchen renovation. We apologize for any inconvienience” The restaurant was scheduled to re-open the day after I returned home. What the hell was I going to do?

The answer, it turned out, was drown my sorrows in roti and cendol (an addictive concoction of coconut milk, palm sugar, and rice flour jelly) at Mamak, a newish, affordable Malaysian restaurant down the street. And it was good. So good, I returned three times in as many days. As the song goes, “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.”

%Gallery-107144%

As for my #4 obsession, allow me to explain why a plate of spicy, saucy ground pork atop dense, chewy noodles keeps me awake nights (I have issues, I know). These aren’t just any noodles. Chinese Noodle Restaurant specializes in hand-pulled wheat noodles from the northwestern Xinjiang province. Owner/chef Cin (like Cher, he goes by one name) hails from the region, and each day, he can be observed in the tiny kitchen, working his magic with ropey lengths of dough.

I don’t know about post-remodel, but in the seven years that I’ve been eating at CNR, the small, dingy dining room didn’t have much else in the way of decor, aside from some plastic grapevines–the kind you see in cheap Italian joints–festooning the walls. Because that totally makes sense in a Chinese restaurant. Anyway, it didn’t matter, because it’s all about Cin’s food. It’s not just me: one friend, a business traveler, is manic about getting her pork dumplings en route to and from the airport, and another, a chef from Port Macquarie up north, also hits the dumplings whenever he’s in town.

While CNR obviously has a cult following, there is something to be said for an open relationship. I’ve often referred to Haymarket as the “Disneyland of Chinatowns,” because of its wide, clean streets, tidy shops, and orderly throngs of locals and tourists. Sussex St. is the main thoroughfare, but the compact district has dozens of great markets, food court stalls, and restaurants to choose from. I lived in the Bay Area for many years, and while San Francisco’s Chinatown is a must-visit tourist attraction, it’s not where you’ll get the best Asian food (that would be the Richmond district), and the heaving crowds are off-putting. Oakland’s Chinatown has some fantastic Vietnamese holes-in-the-wall, but it’s seriously lacking in atmosphere. And other Chinatowns across the planet–New York, Vancouver, Honolulu, Buenos Aires–all are fascinating in their own right, but to me, Sydney trumps them all.

It’s not just the close proximity to Sydney’s CBD, and many other city attractions like the Opera House and Harbour Bridge (both a 15 minute walk away), because San Francisco can rival that. And it’s merely a bonus that Haymarket has a lot of hostels (“backpackers”), some of them excellent and geared toward a more diverse demographic than the college crowd. FYI, Haymarket really comes alive at night, so it’s nice to have digs nearby, even if you opt for one of the high-end hotels in the CBD.

Aside from how pleasant it is to just wander the streets without being trampled or skidding out on a giant phlegm glob or errant puddle of urine, it’s the seafood that makes Sydney’s Chinatown special. Australia is famed for its indigenous flora and fauna, and that applies to seafood, as well. Australians and visitors alike prize sweet, meaty, mud crabs from Queensland, blue swimmer and spanner crabs, Moreton and Balmain “bugs” (slipper lobsters), freshwater crayfish like yabbies and marron, mild Sydney Rock oysters, King George whiting from South Australia, wild and farmed barramundi, farmed abalone and Australian salmon.

As an aside, if you visit the Sydney Fish Market in nearby Pyrmont, browsing the stalls can be likened to a jewelry store (if, like me, you prefer crustaceans to carats). Rows of brilliant, gem-colored catch glitter under the lights: sapphire-hued crabs, tiny, emerald-striped pipis (mollusks), ruby Coral Trout dotted with neon blue, psychedelically-splotched parrot fish. Over 100 species and 50 tons of seafood are auctioned and sold every day at the world’s second largest seafood market (next to Tokyo’s Tsukiji). There’s also a cooking school and tours of the auction floor and sashimi pavilion–something I highly recommend.

Back in Chinatown, Golden Century (393-399 Sussex St.) is the place for excellent, Hong Kong-style seafood, like salt-and-pepper squid and braised abalone. You select your dinner from the many tanks lining the front windows. Be prepared for your waiter to bring still-wriggling sea creatures to the table for your approval before dispatching them to the kitchen (I hope PETA isn’t reading this). This is the place to indulge in some first-rate Australian seafood, if you can spare the cash. Golden Century is also open until 4am, and a popular late night chef’s hang, should you have a drunken craving for congee and some local color in the wee hours.

Speaking of local color, the infamous B.B.Q. King (18 Goulburn St.) is a post-shift tradition for many of Sydney’s chefs and cooks. It’s also the ultimate drunken, post-clubbing/bar-trawling restaurant (open until 1am-ish, which might mean 3am), where plates of fried rice and roasted and barbecued duck and pork are cheap and plentiful. It’s located next to a porn shop, and the irony of the hanging carcasses and sides of meat in the restaurant windows never fails to amuse me. It’s an utter pit, the waiters are beyond surly, and the food is mediocre. Yet, I adore it. It’s one of those places that should only be patronized whilst ripped to the gills, but it’s a great little slice of late-night Sydney.

For cheap, no-frills, snacking, there’s Mother Chu’s Taiwanese Gourmet (86/88 Dixon St.). This family-owned restaurant is at the lower end of the Dixon St. pedestrian mall. It’s all about the outrageously delicious, made-to-order scallion pancakes, which are about a buck fifty a pop. I’ve never had luck with the entrees, but it’s popular with noodle soup and congee-loving locals. The staff are wonderful; you can watch women rolling out dough and stuffing dumplings. They’re not above giving you a bit of sass, either, so take some time to chat with them.

For higher end yum cha (dim sum, but the term technically refers to the full experience of drinking tea while dining on it), I loved the Regal. In June, it merged with Marigold (883/689 George St.), which I’ve consistently heard is very good.

You’ll find an array of more spendy, touristy restaurants along the mall (as well as annoying hawkers trying to lure you with menus). Save your dollars and instead head to Dixon House Food Court (corner of Dixon and Little Hay Streets.) or the Sussex Centre Food Court (401 Sussex St.). You’ll find the usual suspects in both: greasy steam-table Chinese noodle and rice dishes, but also tasty street food items, hot pot, Korean, and Malaysian food. In Dixon, try the pressed-to-order sugar cane juice, and bubble tea/Asian dessert stall.

Thai Kee Supermarket (399 Sussex St.) is great for any Asian ingredient you might desire (think canned and dried goods for souvenirs), as well as snacks like delightfully squishy rice and mung-bean sweets. Paddy’s Market is of historic importance, in that it’s been a Haymarket landmark for 150 years. Unfortunately, its current incarnation is a jam-packed, cacophonous multi-story mall/produce/household goods/souvenir market. If you feel the urge to purchase a fake Akubra hat or tacky t-shirt, this is the spot.

Whatever your budget, Haymarket is a vibrant distillation of the many Asian immigrant cultures that have made Australia their home, and for that alone, it’s worth a visit. I’ll see you at the noodle joint.

Conquering Heights: The Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb

Travel writers are born to be adventurous. We live for the unknown – the hidden restaurants, private gardens or once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. We ride on planes, buses, cars, trains, camels, donkeys, boats or anything else that moves, and set out to explore. No sight unseen. No stone unturned. While our jobs are fantasies to some onlookers, our fears our real.

I fly millions of miles at 36,000 feet every year so it would surprise many that I am afraid of heights. However, standing atop a open-steel structure will make my heart stop… or so I thought. Everyone said, ‘do it,’ and who am I to turn down a challenge? So, I paid my ticket price ($189 AUD), suited up, and made a pledge to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge, one step at a time.

The tears started before I even set foot on the bridge. It was 8 a.m. and our climb was scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m. I grazed through the gift shop and made back-to-back trips to the bathroom. I walked up one flight of stairs to the ‘holding area’, where I would await my tour guide and watch a quick movie on the climb. It was about 45 seconds into the movie I started to panic. The climbers were making their way up the curved steel structure double-time. Panic stricken, I looked around the room for my friend and when she caught my fear I simply said, “I can’t do this.”

The doors opened and we were ushered inside to another room where we were given breathalyzer tests and asked to sign the obligatory ‘if you die on this tour…’ form. I waived my family’s right to sue if I died and walked into the next room, where we were suited for our jumpsuit.

We stood around in a circle and were handed our climbing jumpsuits – polyester slate-blue one-piece fashion disasters that somehow ensured I would be safe. We were asked to go around the circle and introduce ourselves. I learned the names of people from all over the world – Denmark, Canada, Wales, Hong Kong, and Minnesota were represented. The circle stopped at me and all I could say was, “I’m Melanie, and I’m terrified.”

In the next room we changed into our polyester, zipped ourselves up and met our tour leader, Richard, a.k.a the one man who held my life in his hands for the next 2.5 hours. He claims to have done this climb over 4,000 times and it showed – Richard was solid, physically and mentally. He encouraged excitement and sensed fear. Richard had viewed Sydney from all angles and his favorite view was from halfway up the bridge. I wondered at what point I could turn back.We harnessed up, lathered on some sunscreen (a sunburn was, quite frankly, the very least of my concerns), took a drink of water and walked into the room of no return. The door shut behind me and I realized there was no handle on the other side – there was no way to get back in. My heart raced, my breath shortened and my eyes closed. “It’s time to climb,” said Richard. “Mel, you go first.” The man was out of his mind, but I took the lead and stepped out onto the steel grate.

The vibrations from the cars speeding across the bridge shook the metal platform that separated me from the concrete ground below. Our harnesses shook as they slid across the one-inch thick cable that kept us attached to the nearly 3,800-foot bridge. We walked along the flat steel-grate surface, ducking under steel limbs and dodging odd-shaped angles that jutted out in our way. One step at a time. One level at a time. With each lift of my leg I was getting a little closer to the arch of the bridge and a little higher from the ground.

We met the mouth of the bridge which greeted us with wide steps and open air, and Richard began to climb. I reluctantly followed. We walked at a 45-degree angle on the open structure – the Sydney Opera House to our right, the Blue Mountains to the left, New Zealand straight ahead. Richard continuously talked to us through the climb – stopping at certain points along the way to point out significant buildings or hidden details of the bridge.

With every step the city got a little smaller, my breath got a little heavier and my heart beat a little faster. We stopped at Richard’s command and turned around to view the city. Through my tears I could see the Sydney Opera House, the dozens of boats docking and one airplane coming in for landing at Sydney International Airport. And then, as if this wasn’t enough of a challenge, Mother Nature threw me a curve-ball and it started to rain. The only thought I had was slipping on the steel beams and sliding down 3,000 feet of bridge. My breath became louder and my head started to pound, and I continued to climb. I thought, the quicker I get to the top of this damn bridge the quicker I can come back down.

The summit was within reach. Each step was a small victory in conquering this fear and I started counting my steps. Thirty-two steps later and I had reached the top. I climbed to the top of the world’s largest bridge, I looked down and took a deep breath. From here on, no height is too high, no building too tall. I was on standing top of the world looking down.

1,435 steps and 1.4 miles later I made it to the end of the climb. My feet were firmly planted back on ground. I watched without envy as groups of 15 made their way onto the same steel structure I just climbed. Would I do it again? Probably not, but I would highly recommend this journey to anyone who with the will to beat their own fears, or just see Sydney from above. As for me? I cried, I climbed and I conquered the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb.

Watch a ship burn at Vivid Sydney

Vivid Sydney is the largest international music and light festival in the Southern Hemisphere (at least according to the press release they sent me). It starts May 26 and runs through June 14, so you still have time to book your tickets. If Jetstar fits into your travel plans, just make sure you fit into a Jetstar seat

“The inaugural year of Vivid Sydney is an exciting milestone in the establishment of Sydney as the cultural epicenter of the Asia-Pacific,” says Jodi McKay, New South Wales Minister for Tourism. “Our city possesses a wealth of creative talent across a variety of industries and this unique event illuminates the city’s most vibrant citizens.”

Vivid Sydney consists of four events, artistic villages and performances in and near the Sydney Opera House, The Rocks, Circular Quay and the City Center. Luminous, a music festival at the opera house, has Brian Eno at the helm. I’ve never heard of him, but apparently he’s worked with the likes of David Bowie, U2 and … you better believe it … the Talking Heads!

Smart Light Sydney, part of the Vivid Sydney experience, offers sculptures in light art and is the brainchild of Sydney born lighting designer and composer Mary-Anne Kyriakou.

Fire Water is a free event that blends “flame, food and spectacle.” A publicist said it, so it must be true. It will showcase an interpretation of the burning of convict ship Three bees, which sank in Sydney Cove in 1814. I have to admit, that actually does sound pretty amazing.

“We have some of the city’s best creative minds working on this festival, and we are confident that in time Vivid Sydney will attract the same level of international attention as the City’s New Year’s Eve celebrations on Sydney Harbour,” says Geoff Parmenter, Chief Executive Officer, Events New South Wales.