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Royals touch down in Sydney

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge along with Prince George arrive in Sydney to kick off their 10-day Australian tour.

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The world's most recognised couple landed in Australia's most photogenic city to start their nine-day national tour.

The Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, indeed Sydney Harbour and even the sun put their best feet forward when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived in town.

They had back-ups, too; there were dancing Aborigines, two Test cricketers, a cricket bat for Prince George with an Aboriginal goanna motif, and thousands of Australians, young and old, lining Bennelong Point waving Australian and Union Jack flags, flowers and signs - like ''I was born the same day as Prince George'' - waiting for the first public appearance.

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge leaving Sydney Opera House. Click for more photos

Royal Australian tour - Day 1

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge leaving Sydney Opera House. Photo: Janie Barrett

Woman's Day magazine had a couple of dress royal guards on hand to celebrate and a ''Monarchy Lives'' sign was raised triumphantly in the crowd.

NSW Governor Marie Bashir said it all when welcoming the royal couple to a reception in the Opera House's northern foyer.

It was, she said, her eyes sweeping the building, ''the site of the first British settlement which heralded the first expectations of modern Australia''.

The prince acknowledged he was rather impressed by Sydney.

''This visit to Australia has been one that Catherine and I have been looking forward to for a long time,'' he told a reception at the Opera House. ''On my first visit here as an adult in 2010, I remember just how bowled over I was by Sydney: seeing the energy and diversity of this beautiful city, and understanding just how much Australia is the home of innovation, opportunity and possibility.''

The royal couple arrived in Sydney on a day of high political drama but the Opera House was a hermetically sealed world.

Premier Barry O'Farrell (and his wife Rosemary) had been slated to greet the royal couple at the airport and at the Opera House with Governor Bashir and her husband Sir Nicholas Shehadie.

But Mr O'Farrell fell on his sword five hours earlier amid revelations at the Independent Commission Against Corruption and he was airbrushed into regal oblivion.

The president of the Legislative Council, Don Harwin, was hurriedly press-ganged to fill his shoes. Mr Harwin said absolutely nothing publicly.

The royal couple arrived at Sydney Airport from New Zealand soon after 2 pm but Prince George did not accompany his parents to the Opera House reception.

Nevertheless he was there in spirit: his father feared his first word might be bilby, ''only because 'koala' is harder to say''.

Up to 400 guests attended the welcome reception in the Opera House's northern foyer.

They were mainly young leaders close to the ages of the royal couple who excelled in the areas of community, arts, volunteering, health, education and sport, in particular the Commonwealth Games.

The royal couple were introduced to a selected group of young leaders including Young Australian of the Year Jacqueline Freney, a Paralympian swimmer.

''The princess spoke about watching the swimming at the London Games. I was just knocked out,'' the 21-year-old said.

After about an hour they left the reception, pausing briefly for a photo opportunity with the Cricket World Cup 2015 trophy and a brief chat with former Australian cricket team member Glenn McGrath and present Australian women's cricket team member Ellyse Perry, as well as several children dressed to represent the 14 nations competing in the competition that will begin next February.

Then it was the turn of the Australian public.

Thousands had started gathering from 8am to catch a first glimpse of the royal couple on Australian soil.

The rain of the past few days had cleared, leaving blue skies and a full sun to greet the visitors.

With school holidays in full swing, young children were everywhere and many office and construction site workers had left work early to join the crowd of spectators.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge slowly made their way to the parapet accepting gifts of flowers and posing for photographs until reaching the Man O' War steps, where they were farewelled by the Governor and Sir Nicholas and Mr Harwin. They boarded a police launch for the brief ride across Sydney Harbour to the Admiralty House wharf.