Sydney enjoys a sybaritic reputation, but therešs much more to the city than surf, sex and biceps, and Lonely Planet's guide conveys the spirit of the place with panache. In September 2000, the city will host the Olympic games and become a Mecca for thousands of sport aficionados. The chapter on the games and their "history at a glance" is an additional bonus in this lively and informative guide.
Like other Lonely Planet guides, the format is straightforward and accessible, with a systematic chronology. The guide kicks off with general facts about Sydney, encompassing the city's history, followed by facts for the visitor, and including general tourist information about transport, communications and so on. The section on things to see and do, with its excellent street maps, propose some inviting and descriptive walking tours. Food in Sydney is a major attraction; the "places to eat" section highlights the vibrant cuisine which reflects Sydney's cosmopolitan melange of cultures. The huge variety of entertainment available for the visitor, ranging from concerts and ballet in the legendary opera house, to the world renowned Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, is richly chronicled in the entertainment section. One of the most interesting chapters, "Excursions", highlights drives, hikes and bushwalks, and includes stunning photographs. The Blue Mountains National Park merits the several pages it's been allocated, and an unusual extra is Lonely Planet's global communications service for travellers, detailed in the last few pages.--Philippa West [via]