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Discover SYDNEY

Overview of Sydney (NSW) Australia

Sydney, Australia’s gateway city and the capital of New South Wales (and the site for the 2000 Olympics) is built around one of the most beautiful harbours in the world, and along kilometres of golden beaches stretching north and south of the city on the shores of the Pacific Ocean.

Sydney is a friendly city offering visitors a variety of attractions and activities. The beaches and harbour play a major role in the lives of Sydney-siders with yachting, surfing, sailboarding, swimming and water-skiing available. Many national parks and protected areas of natural bushland surround the city, and the picturesque Blue Mountains are a 90 minute journey from the city, offering walking, camping and picnicking as popular pastimes for visitors and residents alike.

Perhaps Sydney’s most famous landmark is the spectacular Opera House with its graceful ‘sails’. The Opera House has become Sydney's cultural centre, offering opera, ballet, concerts, drama and film.

The harbour foreshore is home to the historic Rocks area, the site of Australia’s first European settlement in 1788, and now home to a variety of galleries, museums, restaurants and shops. Also overlooking the harbour are the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney Aquarium and Taronga Zoo.

Sydney, with a population of almost 4 million, and covering almost 1120 square kilometres (700 square miles), is a remarkably easy city to move around in. An excellent train, bus and ferry service covers all points of the greater metropolitan area. Roadways, although congested in peak hour times, are generally well planned and driving is not too harrowing an experience.
Unless visitors to Sydney are specifically seeking out friends in outlying areas, most will have no real need to travel too far away from the central city area and the harbour. Most Sydney tourist attractions are either within the central business district, close to the CBD, or at points around the harbour. The exceptions are Bondi and Manly - surf beach suburbs situated south and north of Sydney Heads.

If you've only got a week or a few days in Sydney, your time would be best spent by taking a walk around the wider CBD area, visiting The Rocks or spending time on the harbour. The harbour is Sydney and on a warm day, with a clear blue sky, there is no better place on earth.

Best ways to get around

Taking a City Circle train, the Monorail or walking is the best way of seeing city attractions, while buses and ferries represent the best way to visit points and attractions around the harbour. The government-run Explorer Buses and Sydney Pass service represent an ideal and inexpensive way to see most of the main tourist points around the city and out to Bondi. Sydney Ferries, which are also government run, provide an inexpensive way of seeing the most beautiful harbour in the world. (See map of ferry cruises around Sydney Harbour.) For excursions around the harbour, private operators offer a myriad of harbour cruises that promise more than a just a simple ferry ride. If you're wanting to take a bus around the broader Sydney area, try Sydney Buses and Sydney Ferries' excellent Tripfinder, an automated search facility that gives route and timetable details.


Sydney's Kingsford Smith Airport is located in Mascot near Botany Bay, about 10 km southwest of the Central Business District and Sydney Harbour. Allow 30 minutes if you're traveling to the City or Kings Cross by taxi, and 1 hour if traveling by bus.


Australian dollar ($A)=100 cents. Most banks convert foreign currency.

Credit Cards

Major credit cards, like Visa, MasterCard and (to a lesser extent) Amex and Diners Card, are accepted.


Three-star to five-star hotels, as well as most restaurants welcome tips. Hand over A$1-A$2 to porters per luggage, 10-15 percent of your restaurant bill to service staff in restaurants. For cab drivers, simply round up the fare to the nearest dollar.

Useful Numbers

Police, fire and ambulance: 000
Sydney Airport Information Line: +02 9667-9111
VISA Lost Card Hotline: 1-800-125-440


240 volts, 50 cycles AC. Appliances without converters require a transformer. Those with converters will require an adapter with a three-pronged plug. Most hotels provide 110 volt-outlets for small appliances.

Health Risks

Although Australia lies in the tropics, tropical diseases such as malaria and yellow fever are unheard of. Diseases caused by unsanitary conditions such as cholera and typhoid are virtually unknown. It is generally safe to eat at local restaurants as the health department is very strict. Tap water is safe to drink.

Time Zone

Australia has three time zones: East Australia (including Sydney) is GMT + 10, same as Guam. West Australia is GMT + 8, same as Hong Kong. Central Australia is GMT + 9 hours and 30 minutes.

Business hours

Shops are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., weekdays, and 8.30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturdays. Some shops close 9 p.m. on Thursdays. Tourist shops may be open on Sundays. Banks are generally open 9:30 a.m. to 4p.m., Monday to Thursday, and 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday. Some banks extend hours and open on Saturday mornings.


Jan. 1, New Year's Day
Jan. 26, Australia Day
Apr. 13, Good Friday
Apr. 16, Easter Monday
Apr. 25, Anzac Day
June 2, Queen's Birthday
Dec. 25, Christmas Day
Dec. 26, Boxing Day.


Generally arid to semi-arid. Temperate in the south and east, semi-tropical in the north. In Australia, seasons are reversed from those in the Northern Hemisphere. Summer in Sydney is from December to February; autumn is from March to May; winter is from June to August, and spring is from September to November.


The usual business attire would be a suit and a tie for men. For women, a dress or a smart suit is the norm.


Democratic, federal-state system, member of the British commonwealth. Three bodies established by the Australian Constitution -- Parliament (legislative), Commonwealth Executive (executive) and Federal Judicature (judicial powers) -- make Australia a constitutional monarchy, a federation and a parliamentary democracy.


Australia, the world's smallest continent but sixth-largest country is situated between the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean. Sydney is located in East Australia

Population (July 1999 est.)

Sydney: 3.7 million

Major Ethnic Groups

Caucasian (92%), Asian (7%), aboriginal and other (1%)


English, Aboriginal


Anglican, Roman Catholic, Christian, non-Christian, Muslim

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