For the first few days I stayed at an ultra mellow hostel in Glebe, an artsy community north of the inner harbor. I loved this place and the diverse neighborhood. I met great people here, and since the super clean kitchen was more house than hostel, I could cook my meals. Add the fish market around the corner and a fabulous wine shop, voila! a great dinner.
Too good to last, this little gem was full up the following week so I moved to the Sydney YHA at the railroad station. I stayed in a 4 bed dorm that was a converted old time railcar. Very cool hostel and very good time.
But I strongly disagree with Bill Bryson that you can see the Harbor Bridge and the Opera House from absolutely anywhere in the city. You obviously ain't been to Chinatown, Bill! Once I did finally get there, of course, both are awesome.
That section of town with the Rocks (historic district) and looking across the harbor to Luna Park is pretty spectacular.
The other thing I loved about Sydney was the fruit bats in the Botanical Gardens. Walking through the luxuriously green park, something unusual catches the corner of my eye. I look up and see thousands of black pods hanging from the trees. When I get closer I realize they are the flying night critters, only huge. These guys were so cool, I must have stayed looking at them for an hour. How awesome to have these creatures right in the middle of the biggest city in the country. I decided I liked Sydney a lot more after seeing the bats. On Friday night I took a train to the harbor to meet up with Pete and Aidan (from the China and Tibet trip) and caught the famed Manly ferry with Pete to head to their place for the Paddy's Day weekend. Having caught a miserable cold, we basically chilled out and ate Aidan's great cooking, looked at our Tibet photos, went to the movies and saw "Blood Diamond" which was way better than any of us expected, and explored Manly Beach. We had intended to make it to The Rocks to celebrate the holiday but later decided to hang out in Manly for a mellow but cool night.
Took me a few months to get here, the largest, most famous city in Australia, but I made it.