One of the challenges whilst travelling is having to learn how to navigate another town’s public transport system. Some are quite easy (eg. Singapore, Barcelona or even Paris) whilst others are abit harder (eg buses!). As a local and public transport catcher in Sydney for most of my life, I’ve seen the city change from having to have a different ticket for buses and trains to now, a revamped public transport system where you only need 1 card to take any of the public transport options. Long gone also are the tin can trains and buses with no air-con (all those memories of 35C+ days in those trains).
I hope these tips will be handy for your next visit here.
The whole city transport network now accepts the Opal Card. This card works alittle like a savings card- you load it up with money and then tap on and off when getting on and off public transport. The card readers are at all the gates of train and ferry stations, immediately inside the buses and at the station on the trams.
As of 01 Mar 2020, you can now also use your debit or credit cards to tap on and off. If you’re an overseas visiter, check with your bank as transaction or conversion fees will apply.
If you are arriving at Sydney International Airport, you can get a card at any of the WHS retailers inside or at the Sydney International Airport train station. As of the 01 Mar 2020, the card is free if you top up with a minimum of $20 for an adult card (or $10 on a concessional card). You can top up your card at any train station from an automatic machine, most newsagencies or online.
For more information, the Transport NSW website here has more.
Sydney International Airport to City
The Sydney International and Domestic Airport stations are privately owned so the cost of using these stations is alot higher than every other station. At the time of writing, for an adult it is $14.87 aud (one way) and $13.18 aud for a child (also one way) if you are coming or going to the city centre. If you’re travelling alone or couple, this would be the cheapest option to get into the city centre compared to an uber or taxi especially during peak hour traffic.
Sydney has a huge rail network that spans about 60km across the Sydney area. The rail line goes beyond and can take you to the Blue Mountains, interstate to Canberra or even to the otherside of the state to Broken Hill. There are some major hub stations (eg Town Hall, Central, Wynyard, Strathfield of Parramatta) but most of the stations will just have 2 platforms for each direction.
I think the trains are the easiest to catch. Most of the trains now have signs within the carriage to tell you what stops are coming up and what the current stop is. All train platforms will also list when the next train is arriving and all the stations it will be stopping at. You just need to know where you want to go and the rest is ok!
Train doors open and close automatically here, are all air-coned and the direction that seats are facing can be moved. We have double decker trains here! Beware, trains heading into the city at peak hour are often packed (standing room only) so I would avoid unless an absolute must. If travelling late at night or early morning, the guard carriage in the middle of the train is popular for safety reasons.
Click here for a map of the network.
Cards are tapped on and off inside the bus. You will not be able to top up in the bus or at bus stops so be sure you have enough. By far the hardest to navigate, buses are tricky in Sydney.
There are no indications inside the bus what stops there are (or even where the stops are) so this will require more homework than the trains. Our buses are coded by numbers to signify a certain route and by knowing this, will greatly help you in trying to figure out where the bus stops are.
A great free app the use is TripView Lite. You can enter in where you want to go and from and it will bring up the train timetable, bus routes and timetable and even show you the bus stops along the route.
Make sure you wave a bus down for it to stop and press the buzzer inside prior to the stop you want to get off at!
Please note that the seats at the front of the bus are priority seats for prams and the elderly. If there is standing room only, please ensure you move to the back of the bus.
The ferry network is quite small due it only operating within Sydney Harbour and is also easy to navigate. For a map click here. Circular Quay is the major ferry hub- you will likely be here during your trip if you are visiting Sydney. Ferries to and from Manly and Taronga Zoo run from here.
You tap on when you get onto the wharf (no need to tap off). Please note that if the weather is bad, the ferries can get cancelled and you will need to seek an alternative form of transport.
These have the best seats (and views) of all the transport options as there are outside seats!
Sydney has had 1 tram line operating for years and in 2019 has just welcomed another tram line. There are currently 2 tram routes with a 3rd opening later this month.
– Central to Lilyfield
– Circular Quay to Randwick
– Circular Quay to Kingsford (05 Apr 20: now open).
Tap on at the tram stops before boarding or after alighting. The trams indicate what stations are coming up and what stops there are on the line. The Circular Quay to Randwick tram runs along George St in the city centre and is also a good option instead of walking!
Let me know what you think/thought about the public transport system in Sydney and if you would like to find out anything more.
I’m always writing about places on the otherside of the world and saw a video of someone doing the pros and cons of Sydney so I thought that I would do my own! For those who don’t know, I am born and raised in Sydney so let me run you through the list about Sydney.
- Weather: For one, we can see blue skies. We have a very mild winter (day temperature around the 16C mark and nights around 8C) so for most of the year, our temperature is generally around the 20C mark. Our summers stretch usually over 3 months and we do get the occasional +35C but luckily, there are not that many.
- Multicultural: One thing I do miss when I go travelling is the multiculturism (is that even a word?) of the society that I have grown up in. Depending where you stay/visit in Sydney, there are ethnic groups dotted around in the suburbs but generally, you can find just about every cuisine from every culture in Sydney. It is safe to say that many Australians have grown up eating Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Lebanese and Greek food (plus many more).
- Beaches: I have yet to go to a beach overseas and thought “Hey, this is better than the beaches back home”. Actual soft sand, clear waters and views of the infinite ocean is what Australia is all about. Bondi, Manly, Coogee, Maroubra…..take your pick!
- Harbour: It’s not everyday that you can roll into a train station such as Circular Quay and get a view of the iconic Harbour Bridge with clear waters glistening under it, or take a ferry to the north side of the city or be sitting in an office near the harbour and looking out to see water (if you’re a lucky duck!).
- Flora and Fauna: Being so far from other countries means that we’ve been able to keep our native animals and plants just to Australia. Kangaroos, Koalas, Echidnas, Kookaburras and our assorted deadly spiders and snakes are all a must see whilst you’re here.
- Food and drinks: There are many bars, dessert places and restaurants to try all over the city and in the suburbs and of any cuisine you wish. Despite there not being many “real Australian” foods, there are many others you can enjoy.
- Expensive: You will hear that Sydney is expensive again and again because guess what? it’s true! $4 aud for a cup of coffee, $10 for lunch, $20 for a movie ticket, $10 for one train ticket, the list goes on and on. Once you step outside your expensive house or expensively rented room, money will start to fly from your wallet you don’t know where it all went. Of course, there are cost saving ways but living in Sydney is expensive stuff.
- Transport: Forget about the Paris, London and Hong Kong metro systems, we travel by train, buses, ferry or cars here. All transport run to a timetable so your journey is pretty much set. As Sydney’s metropolitan area is HUGE (spanning some 50km from the city centre), it takes ages to get anywhere. A train ride from Central to the Blue Mountains will take approximately 2 hours and buses from the beach to the city centre will be likely to take at least 30 minutes (if there is no traffic). ALSO, they are all slow.
- Everything is so spread out: Following on from the previous point, most people live in houses so the Sydney area is huge. Forget about being able to walk 5-10 minutes to the grocery store (some exceptions of course), it is likely to be a 5-10 minutes drive instead. If you’re lucky to live near a train station, lucky you!, if not- a slow bus plus a slow train will make your journey exceed 1 hour easily.
- Traffic: I guess this is a problem in every major city and it is not different here. If you fancy sitting on a motorway-turned-parking-lot, take your pick of any of the motorways in peak hour and you’ll find it. There is also human traffic. Go to any of the major festivals running in Sydney and you will know what I mean. Queuing up 1 hour to get some food at the Night Noodle Market? Done.
- Lack of green: This is something that I wished our city would have more of. Greenery! More parks and trees in streets. More bike routes, more eco-friendly consumables, ban on plastic bags (Ok, this is getting too opinionated).
So that’s my list, if you have been to/live in Sydney, do you agree or disagree with my list? Linke me your pros and cons of your city!
One of the ‘must see’ trips when in Victoria, Australia is to see the 12 Apostles along the Great Ocean Road. The 12 Apostles, for those who have never heard about them, are limestone structures off the coast of the Port Campbell National Park. As they had been formed naturally, the very elements that had created them are also eroding them. Currently there stands 7 left.
I was looking for a city getaway and had decided that this trip would be so much more relaxing and a la naturel if I had done it as a road trip but things didn’t really work out and I took a 1 day tour with Melbourne Coastal Tours instead (which was excellent, you can find their website here*). It’s a long day, we were whisked away in the 7th hour of the day and didn’t return until 9:30pm that same night. Between the towns, you are met with hills dotted with livestock as far as the eye can see, this was a welcoming sight and exactly what my soul needed. There is something about animals just grazing and greenery as far as the eye can see. Our tour also stopped off for the Maits Rest Rainforest Walk which offered a contrasting view of trees that are some thousands of years old.
The Gibson Beach Walk was a highlight for me, climbing down (and unfortunately back up) the steps that offers breath taking views on every step down to have the cliffs towering over you, bringing you as close to natural wonders as close as you can get. The Apostles main viewing path and deck is well built to accommodate all the tourists and allows ample viewing space.
Every picture turns out postcard perfect. Depending on when you visit, make sure you’ve adequately dressed for the wind chill/have protection from the great Australian sun as you spend most of your time outdoors. I get so upset about how our modern lifestyle is at the expense of nature so to be in a place that is as close to be untouched as it can be gives me the air to keep going. You are so marvellous Mother Nature.