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THE CULTURE

Sydney -- Home of the 2000 Olympic Summer Games

Australia's largest city was awarded the 2000 Olympic Summer Games in 1993. It's not difficult to understand why Sydneysiders would want to showcase their city to the world.

Sydney, the financial centre of Australia, is a bustling cosmopolitan city with an underlying British culture mixed with other European, Asian and Aboriginal influences.

The most distinctive landmark in Sydney is its opera house, a major venue for international symphonies, ballets and theatre. The Sydney Opera House, completed in 1973, has restaurants, concert halls and other venues for the performing arts and will house some events during the 2000 Olympic Summer Games. . Next to the opera house is the Royal Botanical Gardens . Centrepoint Tower, another Sydney landmark, has a restaurant and observation gallery with views of the city and harbour. It's Australia's tallest and the Southern Hemisphere's second tallest building.

The Rocks at Circular Quay West near the Sydney Opera House were home to Australia's first European settlement. The area, which has maintained its colonial atmosphere, has many historic buildings, pubs, galleries and arts and craft shops.

Beaches are a big part of life in Sydney. There is the famous Bondi Beach, popular with the younger crowd, south of the Sydney's harbour, and Manly Beach, which is accessible by walking, driving, or by ferry. It is attached to the mainland by road. Rip tides are strong at the beaches and every year thousands of tourists get hurt when they go out too far. Shark attacks are another danger and shark nets are usually set up about 1 km offshore. When the nets aren't up signs warn people to swim at their own risk. Lifesavers, Australia's version of the lifeguard, patrol most beaches.

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