Travel: Insider's guide to... Sydney

What's the weather like?

Temperate Sydney cannot make up its mind whether summer has arrived yet. One minute it's shorts-and-T-shirt weather; the next, you're reaching for your leather jacket.

What are locals complaining about?

The Olympics. For the past year the city has been a building site; now Sydneysiders have discovered that most of the best tickets have been set aside for sale to the wealthy at inflated prices.

Who's the talk of the town?

John Laws, aka Mr Golden Tonsils, a radio host who earns over pounds 1m a year for making favourable remarks on air about corporate clients. Also, Rogan Josh, the seven-year-old who won last week's Melbourne Cup.

What's the cool drink to order?

Vodka with cranberry juice is the hip drink, but white wine is a perennial favourite, particularly on balmy evenings.

What are people eating?

Rustic French food with rich sauces. Diners are fed up with the Asian and "mod Oz" fare that has for years dominated eating out, and they are reverting to more traditional tastes.

What's the latest outrageous stuff on TV?

Sex in the City, the series that had Daily Mail readers choking on their cocoa, has now reached Antipodean shores, where it is causing a similar fuss. As for home-grown stuff, The Panel, in which a group of Melbourne comedians dissect the week's events, reliably pushes the boundaries of bad taste.

Where won't the locals dream of going?

The Rocks, the site in Sydney Cove where the occupants of the First Fleet stumbled ashore in 1788. Long an enclave of taverns and brothels, it was given the treatment a couple of decades ago, and many of its historic buildings now contain shops selling tourist tack.

Where are the chic doing their shopping?

Paddington, in the eastern suburbs, is still the place to see and be seen, particularly on Saturday, when the market attracts hordes of shoppers. For clubwear and cutting-edge design, Crown Street in Surry Hills is a lesser-known magnet for locals.

Where's the trendy place to escape for the weekend?

In summer, the South Coast, south of Sydney, where dazzling white beaches back on to state forest and national park. In winter, the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, for some excellent walks and crisp mountain air.

Kathy Marks is the Independent on Sunday's Australia correspondent.

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