There are 6 places called Sydney around the world. Which one will you decide to visit?
Sydney Opera House during Vivid Festival (Shutterstock)
Australia’s famous harbourside city is a stunner – naturally beautifully, brash and brazen and always looking for the next big thing. The harbour is the heart of the city, crowned by the iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge. But much of it is still flanked by bush and there are national parks to the north, south and west of the city.
Beaches more your thing? Sydney’s got over 100 of them – from brash Bondi to secluded harbour inlets that haven’t changed since the first fleet arrived. There’s a thriving cultural and foodie scene too, so all your senses will be dazzled.
What to see: The Opera House and Harbour Bridge, of course. And the beaches. Most visitors head to Bondi or Coogee but try heading south to Cronulla or north to Narrabeen for something a bit more local. Inner-city havens like Newtown, Paddington and Glebe abound with cafés and cheap but good restaurants or head west to Cabramatta and the city’s Vietnamese heartland.
Interesting fact: The Sydney Harbour Bridge is the largest steel arch bridge in the world. It is painted grey because that was the only colour available in a large enough quantities when it was built.
Make sure you: Walk the Spit Bridge to Manly Walkway, great way to experience the diversity of Sydney Harbour’s bays, beaches and bushland. Drop by the Four Pines Brewery for a schooner of their handcraft beer before catching the ferry back to Circular Quay as the sun sets behind the Opera House and the bridge.
South of Jamestown on Highway 281, and then another three miles along a gravel track, the Sydney in North Dakota isn’t quite a ghost town, but it’s not far off. At last report, it has a population of two! This once-thriving farmland has fallen on hard times, with properties in the area going for a song on eBay.
What to see: The old grain elevator. And the dilapidated house falling down nearby.
Interesting fact: On 1 May 1998, the Today Show in the US ran a piece comparing Sydney, North Dakota with Sydney, Australia. The only point it won on was that closer to the Today Show studios.
Make sure you: Pop back to Jamestown to visit the Frontier Village. With its Wild West post office, trading post, saloon, a fire department, barber shop, jail and sheriff's office, it will give you an idea of what Sydney may have once looked like.
Sydney Harbour, Nova Scotia (Shutterstock)
Situated on a harbour on the east coast of Cape Breton Island, Sydney Nova Scotia was once a booming coal and steel town. But things went bad when the steel works closed and left behind a toxic tar pit for the locals to deal with. Thankfully, they did, and in the process revitalised the city’s waterfront, invested in local arts and dredged the harbour so cruise ships could visit.
What to see: Sydney’s location and facilities make it the perfect base to visit the Fortress of Louisbourg, the Glace Bay Miners Museum, the Alexander Graham Bell Museum in Baddeck and a jumping-off point for the Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, and Bras d'Or Lake.
Interesting fact: During the American Revolution, John Paul Jones set sail to free hundreds of American prisoners working in the coalmines in Sydney. He failed to free the prisoners, but captured a ship carrying winter clothing intended for British troops in Canada instead.
Make sure you: Drop by the largest Ceilidh fiddle in the world, located on the Sydney waterfront.
White Rhino, Mokala National Park (Shutterstock)
There is much debate whether this dry, barren town in South Africa’s Northern Cape was named after Sidney Mendelssohn, the director of the Vaal River Diamond and Exploration company, or Sydney Shippard, an attorney on the Executive Council of Griqualand West. Neither would be particularly proud to be associated with what remains of this forlorn town situated on the Vaal River.
Even an attempt to turn the area into Vaalbos National Park failed. It was abandoned when it became clear that extensive mining operations and a lack of rehabilitation made it unsuitable for biodiversity conservation.
What to see: Nothing in Sydney-on-Vaal, but Barkly West isn’t too far away. There you’ll find St Mary’s, an Anglican Church built in 1871, the Canteen Kopje Open Air Diamond mining museum and the Gong Gong Falls.
Interesting fact: When Vaalbos National Park was abandoned, the 863 animals that lived on it – including Reedbuck, gemsbok, eland, ostrich, zebra, kudu and springbok – were relocated to South Africa’s newest National Park, Mokala, to the south.
Make sure you: Drop into Mokala National Park and see how the Vaalbos refugees are settling in. It’s also home to black and white rhino, tsessebe, roan and black wildebeest.
Cottage in Sydney, Vanuatu (Shutterstock)
Tucked away in the Tafea region of Tanna, a wild, volcanic island in the Pacific, Vanuatu’s Sydney is perhaps the most exotic of all. These Sydney-dwellers live in thatched huts, as they always have done. Penis gourds are still de riguer for men.
What to see: Mount Tukosmera, the tallest mountain on Tanna. It was a volcano in the Pleistocene period, but is no longer active. If you’re after an active volcano, you’ll want to head south to Mount Yaser.
Interesting fact: Many of the inhabitants of the Sydney in Vanuatu belong to the John Frum cargo cult, believing that this mysterious figure will one day return to Tanna bringing wealth and prosperity to those who follow him. It is believed the cult originated in the Second World War when American service men appeared suddenly and bestowed gifts on the locals.
Main image: Sydney on map (Shutterstock)