Sydney is the Capital City of the state of New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Sydney is usually the first port-of-call for most visitors to Australia and is known for its harbour, beautiful views and a bit of a party town. General Information on Australia can be found in the following link to the Australia Starter Kit: http://www.travelpod.com/forums/index.php?...c=6793&st=0 Language:
The first language for Australia is English. Due its multiculturalism many people have a second language. There are even collections of streets known as China Town due to this. Money:
The main currency is the Australian Dollar. You will find many money exchange offices in the city (just walk down Swanson Street and you’ll see at least a dozen!) but make sure you compare their rates before choosing. More information (such as the colour of each note of currency) can be found in the Australia Starter Kit.Time Zone:
Sydney is located in the Time Zone known as Eastern Standard Time (EST) +10 from GMT. However from late October to late March Daylight Savings Takes effect in New South Wales, Victoria, Australian Capital Territory, and South Australia which involves winding clocks forward one hour. This began in order to save power during war times and by altering the time by an hour, it allowed for more daylight during working hours and thus mean people didn’t use lights, etc. It is now a controversial issue as each Australian has an opinion on whether the country should have this in place. (Some states and territories do not practice Daylight Savings, others practice it at different times and therefore it can make up to a four hour difference between states at times.)Entry:
This is the same for anywhere in Australia. The Australia Starter Kit has all the relevant information on this. Be aware however if travelling between states that quarantine is very important. No fruit or vegetables can cross the borders due to a species of fruit fly that is very difficult to spot but can ruin entire crops. Also important is to check you are not carrying any hitch-hiking wildlife (cane toads in particular if coming from up-north). If you find any wildlife (injured, sick or travelling with you) contact a local wildlife contact number seen on signs on the side of the road. (These are quite common outside of cities). Emergency Numbers
000 (all emergency services)
112 (from mobiles anywhere)Weather:
Sydney has the following seasons:
Summer: Dec – Feb
Autumn: Mar – May (For any Americans, Australia has Autumn… not Fall.)
Winter: Jun – Aug
Spring: Sep – Nov
Any information on weather in Australia (not just NSW) can be obtained through the Bureau of Meteorology at http://www.bom.gov.au/
At the top right of the page is a list of states, click on NSW for any information on it’s weather including average temperatures. Also note that Australia operates using Degrees Celsius.Public Holidays/ Important Dates:
*01 Jan - New Years Day (holiday changes depending on the day it falls)
*26 Jan – Australia Day (the date celebrating the arrival of the First Fleet into Botany Bay)
*Late Mar/ Early Apr - Good Friday/ Easter Saturday/ Easter Sunday/ Easter Monday
*25 Apr – ANZAC Day (holiday changes depending on the day it falls. It celebrates Australia’s past and present Defence Forces and those who have fallen in the line of duty. Marches take place in every major city on 25 Apr and most local towns in the week leading up to 25 Apr)
*8 Jun – Queen’s Birthday
*Early August – Bank Holiday
*Early October – Labour Day
*The first Tuesday in Nov – Melbourne Cup Day (not a public holiday but around 2pm it may be difficult in stores as most people will be watching the horse race.)
*11 Nov – Remembrance Day (not a public holiday. Celebrates the cessation of WWI on 11 Nov 1911.)
* 25 Dec – Christmas Day
* 26 Dec (holiday changes depending on the day it falls. Recovery day after Christmas… and the start of sporting events such as the Boxing Day Test.)Transport:
Sydney’s public transport systems will get you from A to B but unless you are using the ferries (which canbe expensive for multiple rides) the system is very intertwined and you may need to change stations a few times to get where you’re going. Sydney public transport information can be obtained through this site: http://www.131500.com.au/default.asp Tickets:
The ticketing system requires you to choose where you are going. So very simple. The machines will ask you to choose the type of ticket (adult/ concession), your desired destination (you may only have a small selection on some machines of the major stations but there will usually be another nearby that offers all the choices) and the duration (single [one-way]/ return/ weekly) This ticket can only be used on the type of transport you are buying it for (ie. a train station machine – trains only). You can ask at the counter for a ticket that covers all modes of public transport but these are quite expensive. Trains:
The main train station in Sydney city Central Station. All trains run through this station. Though generally safe, be aware there are some trouble spots around stations at night so be cautious. The carriages nearest to the driver or the middle carriages near the conductor are probably the safest. There are also designated safety areas on train platforms that are always monitored by video, you will find these by the yellow lines on the ground. Train tickets are best bought at the station from either the machine or counter person.Buses:
Circular Quay is probably the largest bus station but there are a number of large stops throughout Sydney. I recommend going to the Sydney Public Transport site to find out what bus you need to take, and also seeing if there are any other options for you in case it’s late. Make sure you wave down the bus or else they might not stop for you and ask the driver if you aren’t sure, most of the time they will be helpful (some might even give you some insider’s tips!) Tickets can be easily bought on the bus except for in certain areas in the city. These will be sign posted but usually have a nearby seller of tickets. Some buses only accept prepaid tickets as well (such as the Bondi Beach 333) and will not allow you onboard without one. Major bus stations will have machines or places to buy tickets if this is the case.Ferries:
The main station for ferries is Circular Quay, just across from the tourist attraction of The Rocks. The wharves are easily laid out and each has a list of all the ferries departing so you can find the wharf you want. There are a few types of ferries, some faster than others, some holding more people. A ferry ride across the harbour to Manly is a recommended trip even if you don’t intend on staying in Manly. Tickets can be bought through machines but I would recommend buying through a counter if it’s your first time. Some wharfs don’t have machines so you buy them onboard. This will be announced. Planes:
The most well known airline in Australia is QANTAS (the “Flying Kangaroo”). http://www.qantas.com.au/travel/airlines/home/au/en
There has recently been a rise in the number of budget airlines however that may offer much cheaper flights. If you like the comfort of knowing everything is included, these may not be for you but in terms of a cash-strapped traveller – they may be a great bargain with fares sometimes being offered for as little as $1 (plus taxes) for domestic flights. Catches with these cheap fares can include no check in luggage, no in-flight entertainment or meals, limited range of flight times, cancellation fees, etc.
These airlines include:
Jetstar (run by QANTAS) http://www.jetstar.com/au/en/index.aspx
Virgin Blue (run by Virgin Atlantic) http://www.virginblue.com.au/
Tiger Airways (run by Singapore Airlines) http://www.tigerairways.com/
When flying into/ out of the country also be aware that there are liquid controls. The QANTAS website has information regarding this. You can still carry your water bottle when only travelling domestic however so rejoice!Driving:
Many will choose to buy or hire a car to see the sites. (Hiring a car is probably the best way to see places like the Dandenongs and Great Ocean Road.
A few companies to choose from are:
The Road Transport Authority (Sydney’s Transport Authority) website is: http://www.rta.nsw.gov.au/
you can get all the details for licensing, etc there.Local Laws/ Customs:
Generally the same as most western countries in that everyone is to be treated with respect.
*The drinking age is 18 years – the person must have photographic ID.
*All automatic weapons are illegal.
*If taking photos of Indigenous people (eg. Aborigines), ask for their permission as some believe it “captures the soul.” Also a deceased Aboriginal’s name should not be spoken, nor their photographs be shown. (You may notice that at the start of some TV shows a warning is mentioned that “the names and pictures of deceased persons may be in this programme” for this same reason.
*Don’t always take offence to someone who may call you an insulting word. Listen to the tone in their voice. Often Australians will call their friends insults as a form of endearment so be careful in judging too quickly. If you do take offence, let the person know politely, they will likely apologise if it was meant kindly or in jest rather than in anger. See the Australia Starter Kit for some more information.
*There is an ongoing battle between Sydney and Melbourne as to who is better. This has been going on since colonial times and even decided where the capital of Australia was to be built (between the two because the issue couldn’t be resolved!) If you have just been to Melbourne, expect that Sydneysiders will comment how bad it is and that Sydney is better. You will never win an argument of this type, even if Melbourne is better in your opinion… so don’t try.
*If someone tells you to “Slip, Slop, Slap” this is them saying be careful of sunburn. The advert from the 80s said to “slip on a t-shirt, slop on some sunscreen and slap on a hat” later it was added to “wrap on some sunnies” but most people wont add this. Take it that they’re looking out for you.CommunicationInternet:
The internet is widely available in Melbourne with many internet cafes around the city. (Some offer it for free, I believe Telstra stores often have free internet ‘while you wait’) and many hotels offer wi-fi or at least an internet connection for those who have a computer with them.Telephones:
Public Telephones can be found in various places but are becoming a thing of the past. If in need of one, your best bet is to head for a major train station. Australia has state codes that precede the actual telephone number. Using a random number as an example
Locally you can call: 9876 5432
From interstate you need to call: (02) 9876 5432
From overseas you need to call: +61 2 9876 5432
Each state has a different STD number these are:
Vic: (03); NSW (02); ACT (02); QLD (07); NT (08); WA (08); SA (08); Tas (03)Mobile Phones:
These are very widely available and can be either prepaid or on plans. For travelling, prepaid is probably the easiest. Prepaid cards can be bought everywhere from supermarkets to petrol stations to electronic stores. The phone will work anywhere in the country on the same sim card but be aware if you travel to remote areas, coverage isn’t likely to be very good. Companies in Australia include, Telstra (reliable but very expensive), Optus (Telstra's rival), Virgin, 3 mobile, among others. Americans and Japanese phones may have issues from what I’ve heard but I would confirm with your local service provider before you go if this is the case…Accommodation:
The internet is the cheapest way to book accommodation. They can allow you to book hotels/ motels/ hostels at any variety of prices in almost any location. Check where you want to go compared to the location of the hotel, or even its location compared to transport, etc before booking. A great place for checking this is Where is: http://www.whereis.com/index.htm
where you can put the address of the hotel and find out what is nearby. Also, check past stayers reviews at Trip Advisor: http://www.tripadvisor.com/
Some sites for booking accommodation include:
Last Minute: http://www.lastminute.com.au/home.html
Wot If: http://www.wotif.com/
Expedia: http://www.expedia.com.au/Places To Go
Sydney offers many tourist opportunities from bushwalking to sunset cruises. Here are some that might interest future visitors:Sydney City and surrounds:
*Sydney Harbour – take a cruise (ferry for the budget conscious) and see the sites on the water. You might even like to take a whale watching cruise. Wander Darling Harbour or Circular Quay for your best bargin.
*Darling Harbour - Sydney Wildlife World (very touristy but if you only have a quick stop over http://www.sydneywildlifeworld.com.au/
), Sydney Aquarium http://www.sydneyaquarium.com.au/
, Australian National Maritime Museum (take a tour of an ‘O-Class’ submarine or take a cruise on a tall ship) http://www.anmm.gov.au/site/page.cfm
*The Rocks - http://www.therocks.com/
The best drinking spot for bar hopping (though it can be costly), Ghost Tours are offered here too!
*Sydney Harbour Bridge - http://www.bridgeclimb.com/
View “The Coat Hanger” from all angles or even climb it. (Photographs are taken for you, you can’t take anything up with you due to safety reasons, even bobby pins ladies. No drinking before either as you will be breath tested!)
*Sydney Opera House - http://www.sydneyoperahouse.com/
The hub of the arts scene in Sydney. There are many world renowned resteraunts nearby too
*Taronga Zoo - http://www.taronga.org.au/
Over the next few years a number of baby Asian elephants are due to be born. Many exotic animals and natives to see with an interactive farm for the kids. A little touristy but still a great zoo (with great views from the cable car) Take a ferry Zoo Pass and get a discounted ferry ticket and zoo entry.
*Manly – take a ferry over the harbour Oceanworld or visit the beach
* Bondi Beach – Sydney’s most famous beach. Visit the street behind the beach front for some great little shops and Bondi Markets are held on Sundays. See it here via webcam http://www.northbondirsl.com.au/cam.html
It’s very busy in Summer and make sure you watch your belongings and always swim between the red and yellow flags. To learn about the daily life of the lifeguards visit here: http://ten.com.au/bondi-rescue.htm
* The Gap, Watson’s Bay – best to get there by bus (via Bondi Beach) or by ferry for spectacular views of the coast and the Pacific Ocean.
* Luna Park – http://www.lunaparksydney.com/
a classic theme park from the 1930s in the middle of Sydney. You can get there easily by Ferry or by train (Milson’s Point Station)
* Shopping – Pitt Street Mall, QVB (take the arcade beside Myers and you will end up here is you go past Town Hall Station and see many more hidden stores)A little further out (more than a day trip recommended)
*The Blue Mountains - http://www.visitbluemountains.com.au/
Visit the Three Sisters, Wentworth Falls, Jenolan Caves, go canoyoning, bushwalking, ride the Zig Zag Railway or have a coffee in the Australian bush.
*South Coast – Berry, Kiama, Jervis Bay. Bushwalking, surfing, dolphin cruises, the whitest beach in the world….
*North Coast – Newcastle, Byron Bay, Coffs Harbour, Palm Beach (where Home and Away is filmed). Visit the Big Banana, go surfing, visit a winery…
*Any National Parks in NSW: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/nationalparks/Sports events
If you’re in Sydney, take the opportunity to experience some type of sporting match. Here are some suggestions:
*Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race – 26 Dec. Starting in Sydney Harbour, grab a picnic and watch the huge yachts race through the Heads. http://rolexsydneyhobart.com/default.asp
*State of Origin – NSW Blues vs Qld Maroons. Rugby League has its own world when this is on. http://www.stateoforigin.com/ Events
Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade – Oxford St, Paddington http://www.mardigras.org.au/
Held in late February/ early March it is a celebration of individuality. Comparable to Carnival with the variety of costumes… not for the shy however.
New Years – Australia’s most spectacular fireworks display. The whole harbour lights up with the Harbour Bridge as the centre piece. A new design is hung on it each year.
If you have any questions about visiting Sydney, feel free toask and I'll (attempt to) answer them.