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Darling Harbour & Pyrmont
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Introducing Darling Harbour & Pyrmont

Dotted between the flyovers and fountains of Sydney's purpose-built tourist hub (opened for the bicentennial in 1988) are some of the city's highest-profile paid attractions. Every other inch of this former dockland is given over to bars and restaurants. Come during the day to visit the big-ticket tourist traps or just to stroll about. It's also busy at night. Firework displays occur with alarming frequency; most Saturday nights go off with a bang.

The state government has parts of Darling Harbour in its sights for a makeover. Depending on when you visit, you might find a work in progress.

West of Darling Harbour, in Pyrmont proper, The Star casino complex has just had its own expensive do-over, yet it remains like such establishments the world over: big and soulless beneath a thin veneer of glamour.

If you're after a slice of real Sydney life you won't find it here, but it's still worth allocating an hour for a walkabout.