April 22nd, 2006:
The Sydney SkyTower, also known informally as the AMP tower, is the second tallest tower in the southern hemisphere and is located near the Town Hall in the Sydney CBD. Its 305 meters high and being so high, I figured it would be a great place to get some pics.
Now, I've been up Europe's second tallest tower and took some pictures from the roof during daylight: the pictures turned out somewhat dull due to everything looking flat (except for the Eiffel Tower, naturally!).
However, when I went up what was, at the time, New York's tallest tower (the World Trade Center) and took pictures from the roof at night time, the pictures came out much better due to the dramatic city lighting.
So, with that in mind I went up the Sydney SkyTower at night time. The tower has three double-decker elevators going up and down so there wasn't much of a wait for going up. The lift brings you to the Observation Deck in which you can walk around the circumference of the circular tower to see all of Sydney. The view was great with the multicolored Harbor Bridge, the unmistakable Opera House and Hyde Park looking particularly impressive. Sadly, when I tried to go upstairs to the outdoors, I found out that it wasn't allowed :( They have an optional attraction whereby you pay about 100 AUD to go out outside, but even then cameras are not allowed (for safety reasons): it sounds like something I might due in the future but it didn't help with the picture taking. I had to resort to taking pictures through the glass of the observation deck, which never works out great. Still, not a bad view.
When you buy a ticket to go up, you must also get a ticket for "Oztrek" which is an introduction to Australia. Its a pity they are bundled together as all I was looking for was the observation deck but ended up having to pay for both activities. It didn't bother me much but an Adelaide woman I was chatting to wasn't impressed...
Oztrek started with an introduction to Australian culture and this holographic display was shown in four different settings (e.g. city life, country life, etc) with the cinema rotating from one setting to the next (similar to the cinema in the movie Jurassic Park). After the culture intro we moved into a different cinema for an introduction into things to do and places to see down-under. This introduction was shown in a pneumatically controlled cinema with the seats shaking and banking based on what was being shown on screen. So, for example as we flew over the Harbor Bridge, our seats tilted to match the tilting/banking of the camera. I found the OzTrek experience to be technically well presented but I can see why a native Aussi might prefer to give it a skip.
The SkyTower observation deck and Oztrek ticket cost 32 AUD and tickets are available in the tower itself.