I'm not from the area, but I visited Sydney in 2008 and can try to cover the things I did/saw.
- The Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb. Only do this if you're not scared of heights (obviously). You're "chained" to the bridge, so you really can't "fall", but it can be really intimidating if you're not used to heights. You'll LOVE this, though, if you want to see spectacular views, and that you will certainly get here.
- Taronga Zoo. If you like wildlife/animals, and you want to see some pretty rare things that you can't see in North America, this is your place. You can get pretty close to their native animals - it's one of the only places you can get to pet/hug a koala bear. (Awwww. ) And you can stand right over a 'roo. But be careful - they can and WILL lash out if they feel threatened. (Saw one unlucky fellow get kicked in the belly. Owwww.)
- Bondi Beach. Popular the year round but ESPECIALLY this time of the year (our summer is their winter and vice versa). Good for people watching if nothing else but if you want to learn how to surf the waves, you can't get better than this.
- Sydney Tower. They have something similar to the Stratosphere in Las Vegas, if you've been there, called the Sydney Skywalk (again, if you're scared of heights, stay away). A glass bottomed catwalk goes around the tower - again, beautiful but dizzying views.
- The Powerhouse Museum. It's sort of a "science-oriented" museum similar to the Franklin Institute or other interactive, hands-on museums. I LOVED this place in particular because you got to play and learn at the same time. Great for kids.
- Sydney Aquarium. Pretty similar to other aquariums around the world, but this one has a lot of special emphasis on Australian/Oceania sea life.
- Featherdale Wildlife Park. Sort of a safari-type adventure here.
You can tell where some of my interests lie, heh.
The thing is, you will never (and I mean NEVER) have enough time in Australia to see everything you want to - you won't have enough time to see just Sydney ALONE, to be honest. I spent two weeks there and still didn't get to everything on my bucket list.
Some things you should know:
- The drains (and toilets) flush the opposite way. That is, we're used to a clockwork rotation. Theirs go the other way, so don't think you've broken anything.
- You will need a power converter if you plan to plug in cell phones, etc. We run on a 120-V current, theirs runs on 240-V. Easy to find at any Radio Shack and it costs about 15 dollars.
- Take Qantas or Air New Zealand as your airline. Even in economy, they will treat you like royalty.
- I went shopping and cooked my own food (I had a small "apartment", which was a lot cheaper than a regular hotel!). Things are a lot more expensive there than in North America, even things that you would think would be cheap (chicken was OUTRAGEOUS). I had Australian marinated kangaroo (yes, really, and yes, it was good). Lamb is plentiful. Asian food is prominent there and if you like Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, you will LOVE the street food you can find there.
- You will need to exchange your currency there. Australia uses dollars (go figure), but they won't take American dollars and they don't look the same (they have colorful bills). When I went, the Australian dollar was very weak and I got GREAT deals for the most part, but that was 5 years ago and things have probably changed by now.
Hope this was somewhat helpful. I can answer more questions if needed.
You will LOVE it there and it's the trip of a lifetime. Definitely, go if you can!