The icons of oz

Tropically topical as Queensland is, it would be a shame to leave "Godzone" continent without seeing the bridge and the rock.

As well as the Olympic athletes celebrated on the city's office walls, a 100-year-old woman has made it across what Sydneysiders call "the coathanger". If you can climb from the foot of your stairs to the landing, you can climb Sydney Harbour Bridge. Children of 12 and over will relish the experience, too. I went at sunset, when the sky was streaked with lurid colours from forest fires to the north, but each time of day must have its own special quality - as it does when you see the Taj Mahal. Booking is essential. Groups of about a dozen are kitted out in pale grey Babygro-type outfits and a special clip-on harness, and given thorough training before moving on to the bridge itself.

In my group, one woman got the collywobbles halfway up. Not only did two bridge people arrive instantly to help her back down gently, but our leader made her feel great for braving it that far. Have a go.

The view? Look towards the white sails of the opera house and the ferries leaving Circular Quay - you are simultaneously above and in the very heart of Sydney. You'll get a picture of yourself at the top and a certificate to show your mates. It's a great buzz.

Ayer's Rock, now usually known as Uluru, its Aboriginal name, is better left unclimbed. Local people prefer it that way, but despite the many other activities on offer, tourists persist in clambering all over it. Most people fly into the area, so look out of the window of the plane if you want a good view. There's a guided walk around the rock (the circuit is about 10km, with shorter trails within it). Guides will teach you about the flora and fauna and the Aboriginal legends attached to the site. The Aboriginal-run visitors' centre nearby is worth a visit.

Accommodation ranges from campsite and youth hostel to luxury hotels. This summer, a pound;200-a-night luxury tented camp will open away from the main resort. But even from the budget accommodation, the desert stretches out as far as you can see. It's easy to avoid the Japanese tour buses at dawn and have a private meditation - just you and the big red thing.

Book for the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb on Away is edited by Renata Rubnikowicz

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