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strand arcade sydney

Melbourne has long been considered Australia's premier shopping city, but in recent years Sydney's shopping scene has been quietly gaining ground. Major international labels Christian Dior and Burberry launched their first Australian locations in Sydney, not Melbourne, as did local designer Sass & Bide. In addition to cutting-edge fashions, Sydney is also home to some of the world's best opal jewelry, drawn from the nation's many opal mines. Local handicrafts and unique artwork are on display in open-air markets around the city.

Go beyond the kangaroo T-shirt. Visitors in search of unique souvenirs and mementoes should browse the Rocks Markets, held on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The local art, handcrafted jewelry, photo albums and antiques here are distinctive and well made. More traditional souvenirs -- Aboriginal art, Australian cowboy boots, paintings of the Opera House, even didgeridoos -- can be found in neighboring shops in the Rocks.

The Queen Victoria Building (or QVB) and the Strand Arcade, just a block apart in Sydney's CBD, are must-see shopping. While both complexes are home to a wealth of good boutiques, the real attraction is the historic buildings themselves, which are ornately decorated and stately -- definitely the opposite of a typical mall.

For good deals and unusual merchandise, join the locals at the weekly open-air markets in Glebe, Paddington and Bondi. Vintage clothes, antiques, handmade jewelry, local art and fashions by up-and-coming designers are just a few of the unique offerings. Glebe's market is held each Saturday at the Glebe Public School, while Paddington's is held the same day at the Paddington Uniting Church. Bondi's market is held Sundays at the Bondi Beach Public School.

There's a fierce rivalry between Australia's two biggest department stores, David Jones and Myer, both located in the CBD near Hyde Park. They literally war over who can sign Australia's top designers to exclusive contracts -- so if you see a certain label carried in one store, it's likely that you won't find it in the other. While David Jones is the older and more established of the two, we'll let you decide which store you find superior.


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