Australia's oldest, largest and most famous city, Sydney stuns with natural beauty and iconic landmarks such as the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. The metro area is home to more than 150,000 residents, with four million in the greater region. The center sprawls over 26km2 / 16m2. Modes of public transport are many: bus, train, monorail, light-rail and ferry. But the topography delays and confounds travelers, so plan ahead. New South Wales, Sydney's state, has the nation's most diverse, robust economy, controlling 33% of the GDP. Stable and competitive, Australia is undergoing a massive resources boom, fueled largely by China's growth. Australia levies a flat tax, usually of 10%, included in the price tag. Tourists who spend $300 or more in one place and receive a single invoice may be able to recoup this. Refer to www.customs.gov.au for full details.
Kingsford Smith airport, Australia's oldest, handles more than 30 million passengers a year. Surprisingly close to the city, it's only 8km / 5miles from the central business district (CBD). A two-minute train connects domestic and international terminals. Check www.131500.com.au for public transport information. Trains run every 10 minutes and the journey to the city takes around 13 minutes ($12.20/adult and $8.40/child, one way). Many airport hotels provide shuttles, and buses connect to Burwood and Bondi Junction, among other places (www.sydneybuses.nsw.gov.au). Taxis service all terminals and cost roughly $27-$35 to the centre, $50 to Manly and $75 to Parramatta.
Sydney was not planned like Melbourne and Canberra, so streets can be curvy, narrow and steep. Taxis are relatively expensive compared to many American cities; parking can also be costly and limited. Public transport already appealing is further sweetened by a bus, train and ferry pass ($33-$55 weekly, depending on the zone). Deals also exist for day trippers ($15.40/ adult, $7.70/child), Blue Mountain Explorers and other tourist packages.
The tabloid "Daily Telegraph" is the city's most popular newspaper, followed by The "Sydney Morning Herald". The Australian" is the only national broadsheet, published Monday to Friday with a weekend edition out on Saturday. "The Sydney Star Observer" is the country's weekly gay and lesbian newspaper.
Conventions & Tourism
Visit www.shfa.nsw.gov.au or call: 1 800 067 676 (free within Australia) or +61 2 9240 8788 (from outside the country). The bureau also sells Youth Hostel (YHA) cards to international travelers. Sydney Visitor Centre, The Rocks Corner of Argyle & Playfair Sts, The Rocks Daily 9:30am-5:30pm Sydney Visitor Centre, Darling Harbour 33 Wheat Rd, Darling Harbour Daily 9:30am-5:30pm
Tipping is becoming more common, but not compulsory; the minimum wage is fairly generous compared to many countries. Ten percent is courteous for waitstaff and $2-$5 for porters. Round up to the nearest dollar for taxi drivers.