After hours in Sydney

A quick guide for Sibos delegates who want to make the most of SydneyÆs culinary offerings and nightlife.
When the Sibos organisers picked Sydney for the 2006 conference they were obviously confident that delegates wouldnÆt mind making the long flight. ôSydney is a fantastic city with plenty of buzz,ö says Swift CEO, Leonard Schrank, explaining why the city makes a good venue.

ôAnd itÆs also in the Asia Pacific region which has become a real focus for institutions around the world. Most of our members have some sort of expansion strategy in the region. They see AsiaÆs potential and they want to be part of its future.ö

No doubt the strategy being pursued by a lot of Sibos delegates this week will be how to make the most of SydneyÆs culinary offerings and nightlife. We expect that while many will be taking up invitations to the lavish parties thrown by the big banks, at least a few will be hunting for entertainment in and around Darling Harbour where the conference is being held.

So weÆve put together a little guide to Sydney for those looking for some tips.

The convention centre at Darling Harbour is much like any Sibos venue û sprawling and cavernous. How else do you fit 5,500 people and 150 exhibitor booths into one location? But unlike some other convention complexes, Darling Harbour is no industrial wasteland. The 40-hectare area hugs a small saltwater inlet with shops, restaurants, parks and promenades on either side.

In fact, Sibos-goers can taste the cosmopolitan flavour of Sydney without even leaving the area. Across the way from the convention centre are two strips of restaurants and bars: Cockle Bay to the South and King Street Wharf to the North. Cockle Bay has more than a dozen places to eat and socialise, all of them overlooking the water. Two of the best restaurants are Chinta Ria and NickÆs Seafood, while party-people drink and dance at Pontoon and Home.

The newer King Street Wharf area is a hang out for the cityÆs young professionals who gather at the end of the working day. Some of the top restaurants in this area are The Malaya, Kobe Jones and Bungalow 8, each with an al fresco dining option. And bars like The Loft and the Cargo Bar attract plenty of fresh young faces to their beer gardens.

Both Cockle Bay and King Street Wharf have marinas in front where weekend yachties moor their flashy cruisers and powerboats while taking in a meal. ItÆs a treat just walking along the shoreline pretending to be rich and famous.

But then, who would visit Sydney without seeing the big sights like the Sydney Opera House and the harbour bridge? These two architectural monuments sit on either side of Circular Quay in the centre of the business district and about a 20-minute walk (or a 10-minute taxi ride) from Darling Harbour. ItÆs easy to stand at a distance and take pictures for the album but itÆs also surprisingly easy to get up-close-and-personal with these giant structures.

The Opera House runs a two-hour backstage tour that guides people through the inner sanctum including the orchestra pit, the scenery dock and fly towers, and star dressing rooms. Meanwhile, BridgeClimb on the other side of the Quay takes small groups for a walk to the top of the Harbour Bridge. Climbers wear daggy grey jumpsuits and are given a comprehensive briefing and safety demonstration (even a breathalyser test) before they depart, which is why the tour takes three-and-a-half hours. YouÆre only on the bridge structure itself for about an hour. And the climb isnÆt overly strenuous, more like walking up a metal hill than attempting Everest. The views from the top are spectacular.

Circular Quay is a good push-off point for other Sydney attractions. Ferries depart regularly for Taronga Zoo on the North shore, and the beachside suburb of Manly where you can catch a glimpse of the famous bronzed Aussie surf lifesavers, even in the spring temperatures of October. The destinations are great, but a simple ferry ride on the harbour has its own appeal too.

And if you are hungry after all this sightseeing there are plenty of good restaurants in the Circular Quay area, including Sydney CafT atop Customs House, Cru Dining at the Overseas Passenger Terminal, Aria in the ôtoasterö building on the promenade leading to the Opera House, and Est a little ways up George Street at The Establishment hotel. These places all have trendy bars attached too.

The dining and partying options are endless really, and thatÆs before venturing further a field to the posh cafes and art galleries of Paddington, the gay strip along Oxford Street, the pubs and beer gardens of Bondi Beach (the award-winning Icebergs restaurant is here also, overlooking the sand and surf), or the Italian suburb of Leichhardt.

Leonard Schrank says heÆs looking forward to the buzz of Sydney. And itÆs highly likely that other delegates and exhibitors will fall in love with it to.
¬ Haymarket Media Limited. All rights reserved.
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