WHERE TO STAY, WHAT TO DO AND WHERE TO EAT
SYDNEY Accommodation: * Luxury: The Observatory Hotel (The Rocks) offers opulence spelled with a big, shiny O. Flotation tanks are provided for jet-lagged travellers.
* Mid-range: Ravesi's (Campbell Parade) boasts a hip terrace restaurant, great beachfront view, and spacious bedrooms in a harbour setting.
* Budget: Billabong Gardens (Newtown) is a small hostel with pool and security patrols.
* Bridge Bar (Circle Quay) is warm and inviting, with spectacular views over Circular Quay and Sydney harbour.
* Docks Hotel (Harbourside Festival Market): no better place to watch live sport, with three plasma and two large screen TVs.
* Paddy Maguire's (Kent and Erskine Street): one of Sydney's most popular Irish bars.
* Sydney Harbour: officially called Port Jackson, the harbour is the playground and commercial hub of the city.
* The Rocks: this is Sydney's oldest and most quaint district. Attractions include the weekend market and the Sydney Observatory.
* Circular Quay: Sydney's chief shipping district for decades, the quay is today a commuting hub and a recreational area, boasting restaurants, parks and Sydney Opera House.
* Sydney Opera House: still a great place to catch a performance - theatre, classical music, ballet and film, as well as seasonal opera can all be sampled.
* Bondi Beach: perhaps Sydney's best loved beach, with a magnificent sweep of sand and an endless series of rollers.
* Luxury: The Adelaide Hilton (Victoria Square), located in the heart of Adelaide. Stunning views at dawn and dusk.
* Mid-range: Adelaide Whinham House (Fitzroy) is a charming blue stone villa dated from the 1890s. A short walk from the city centre.
* Budget: Adelaide YHC (Light Square) is in the heart of downtown. Modern facilities include a large self-catering kitchen and internet cafe.
* The Elephant (Cinema Place): one of Adelaide's best Irish pubs with a minimum of 'plastic Paddy' trappings.
* The Lion Hotel (Melbourne Street): a fantastic example of a trendy South Australia bar, with stainless steel decor.
* Mansions Tavern (Pulteney Street): an upmarket bar without the upmarket prices. Huge video screen.
* South Australian Museum (North Terrace): primarily a natural history museum, it also boasts an impressive collection of Aboriginal artifacts.
* Art Gallery of South Australia: located next door to the South Australian Museum, it has an impressive collection of Asian, European and Australian art.
* Luxury: All Seasons Crossley Hotel (Little Bourke Street) is an intimate four-star boutique hotel known for its friendly staff and personal service.
* Mid-range: Batman's Hill Hotel (Collins Street) has 85 rooms, is centrally located and within walking distance of Crown Casino and Entertainment Complex, the new Docklands precinct and Melbourne Aquarium.
* Budget: Central Richmond Accommodation (Bromham Place) is a friendly hostel with kitchen and internet.
* Clifton Hill Hotel (Queens Parade): a favourite with Melbourne's ex-pats.
* Luster Lounge (Flinders Lane): one of Melbourne's many continental style cafe-bars. Snazzy decor and cocktails make it worth seeking out.
* The Old Homestead Inn (Queen's Parade): its selection of imported and local specialty brews is hard to beat.
* Queen Victoria Market: located on the northern fringes of the business district, it's a must-visit for the curious shopper.
** Federation Square: locals either love or hate this modernist project, which includes the prestigious Ian Potter art centre.
* South Bank: here you will find the Victorian Arts Centres and the National Gallery of Victoria.
GOSFORD, NEW SOUTH WALES
* Luxury: Avoca Palms Resort (Avoca beach). The apartments feature minimalist decor and are only 200 metres from the beach.
* Mid-range: Metro Inn (Pacific Highway). It has landscaped garden courts and patios, a swimming pool and spa.
* Budget: Gosford Palms (Moore Street) is near the town's business district and boasts of being the area's quietest hotel.
* Evolution (Ettalong Beach): swish night spot, a short hop from Gosford proper.
* Elanora Hotel (Victoria Street) boasts a retro-chic designer bar, comfy leather furniture, a dizzying choice of international beers and widescreen TVs.
* DJ's Nightclub (Baker Street): A fave with after-hours revellers.
* Gosford Noodle Market (Foreshore Park): has some 15 different food stalls offering a wide range of international cuisine, from Thai to Turkish.