Sydney Travel & Visitor Information
The minimum legal 'drinking' age is 18. Young people going to bars and discos should carry identification to prove they are at least 18 years old. They will not be let in otherwise. No one may buy liquor from a bar or liquor store (bottle shop) unless they are at least 18. Buying liquor for a 'minor' is illegal.
Sydney has an extensive government-run bus service. Services are frequent in the city area. The blue and white buses are clean and modern and show their route number and destination at the front, the route number at the rear. The main bus terminals are at Circular Quay, Wynyard Park, the rear of the Queen Victoria Building (York Street), and Central Railway Station (Eddy Avenue). At Circular Quay there is an information kiosk at the centre of the row of bus stops, on the opposite side of the street (Alfred Street) from the ferry wharves. A lot of services operate from this point. Each stop has a yellow sign mounted on a pole which lists the route numbers of buses which stop there and their destination.
Rental cars are freely available in Sydney from Budget, Avis, Hertz, Thrifty, Delta Europcar and several smaller operators. Vehicles are generally no more than eight months old, with automatic transmission and air-conditioning. Renters have to be 21 or older and hold a current driver's licence. An international licence is not necessary. Travel Online can certainly help you with your rental car requirements, visit our Campervans and Car Rentals websites for details.
Sydney is in the southern Temperate Zone and does not suffer extremes of cold or heat. Seasons in Australia are the reverse of North America and Europe. Summer is December to February, autumn (fall) March to May, winter June to August, and spring September to November. The climate is similar to coastal California and the northern Mediterranean. Summer temperatures can exceed 30 degrees Celsius with high humidity, particularly around February.
All banks have automated teller machines (ATMs) accessible 24-hours a day, generally outside the branch or in the foyer. Check with your card issuer that your charge or account-linked credit card can be used in this way, and at which bank as none accept every brand of card. Be warned, cash snatching is not uncommon so be conscious of the people around you and avoid ATMs in dark or seemingly deserted places.
Australians drive on the left, which can be disconcerting for visitors used to driving on the right side of the road. Roads are generally good and major routes well signposted. Speed limits and distances are expressed in kilometres and vary substantially from 50 kph in residential and heavy traffic areas to 110 kph on freeways (please follow signage for speed limits). Drink driving is a serious offence and heavily policed. Drivers can be stopped anywhere at random and subjected to a breath analysis test. Offenders are arrested and fingerprinted, so it can be a bad end to a fine evening or a long lunch. The legal limit in Australia is a blood alcohol content of .05%.
The government run State Transit operates regular Sydney Ferries services from Circular Quay to a large number of harbourside suburbs. While these are primarily designed for commuters, the ferries offer a great opportunity to enjoy the beauty of Sydney Harbour and visit many suburbs which take much longer to get to by road or rail. Most ferry services connect with State Transit's public bus services at their destination, though many are within easy walking distance of local attractions. All services operate from Circular Quay.
Maps and Regional Information
For more information on the regions of Sydney and hotel locations visit our Sydney Map.
Newspapers and Magazines
Sydney has two daily newspapers, The Sydney Morning Herald (a broadsheet) and the Daily Telegraph (tabloid). Sunday editions are called the Sun-Herald and the Sunday Telegraph. A national broadsheet, The Australian, appears daily except Sunday, as does a national business tabloid, The Australian Financial Review.
Australian health care professionals are highly trained and medical services are among the best in the world. Medical and dental services and a wide range of alternative therapies are widely available in Sydney and are comparatively cheap by most international standards. Visitors from the UK, Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, Finland,Italy, Malta, the Netherlands and Sweden are entitled to free or subsidised medical and hospital care under reciprocal national health care agreements with the taxpayer funded Medicare organisation.It is highly recommended that all travellers should take out travel insurance when visiting Australia. Major hotels have doctors on-call.
Visitors who have a medical condition requiring treatment should ensure they carry a letter from their doctor outlining their condition and the medication required. This is also important if the drug is uncommon or contains narcotics, which may be a restricted import. Most medication is available in Australia, but only on a doctor's prescription. Prescription drugs are dispensed by qualified pharmacist at 'pharmacies' or 'chemist' shops.
Sydney has an extensive suburban rail service run by CityRail. Also government owned, Countrylink services country areas. The suburban rail system is quite efficient, modern, reasonably clean and quite well policed by railway and private security staff. Rail is a good alternative to driving or taxis if you need to get to Sydney's more distant suburbs to visit friends or business associates. Sydney is not a planned city, and many roads and streets are inadequate for today's traffic, making car and bus travel slow and taxi rides expensive in heavy traffic in and around working hours. The most important rail routes for visitors are the City loop, North Sydney, Olympic Park at Homebush, and Parramatta.
Australiais predominantly a Christian country, but Australia has such a diverse ethnic society most major religions are practised and have their own places of worship. Places of worship and religious organisations are listed in the Yellow Pages telephone directory.
The incredible diversity of Sydney's multi-cultural society has produced a food lover's paradise. Australia has no rival when it comes to clean, fresh food. Brilliant chefs at top restaurants constantly stretch the boundaries of what goes with what to create dishes which blend influences from other countries, notably Japan and Asia, with superb local produce. Seafood and prime beef and lamb feature prominently.
Travellers cheques, especially in foreign currencies, are generally NOT accepted EXCEPT by hotels and big stores and tourist shops. These display a 'travellers cheques welcome' sign. Cash your cheques at a bank or Bureau de Change to ensure you have enough spending money. The same holds true for foreign currency, which is not generally accepted by Australian businesses and shops.
No service charge applies in Australia. Tipping is not mandatory but a 10% tip in restaurants and hotel bars is normal for good service.