First 24 hours



Want to know what to do in your first 24 hours in Sydney? Here’s the RTW guide from Shaney Hudson


Get out of the Airport:

The train from Sydney Airport is quick but carried an expensive surcharge- it will cost $15.80AUD to get into the city. A good cheat’s way to exit the airport is to get the (very slow) 400 public bus to Bondi Junction (great if your destination is Bondi Beach or King’s Cross) and connect to a train from there. Taxis carry an $3AUD surcharge and are metered, and costs about $35AUD+ and various companies run shuttles.


Getting around: 

Sydney has an expensive and occasionally- unreliable bus and train network.  Fares start at around $1.60AUD up. Many bus stops and buses work on a prepay only cards, which you have to buy from a newsagent or mini-mart (sadly, the Oyster card wasn’t adopted here). A weekly “MyMulti” ticket within the ‘Red Zone’, covering bus and rail most of Sydney costs $41AUD for adults.


Where to Stay:

There are a few notable backpacker ‘hubs’ in Sydney, include grubby Kings Cross, flashy and crowded Eastern Beaches like Bondi and Coogee, or Manly on the Northern Beaches. My pick for first timers is Sydney Harbour The Rocks YHA. Suspended over the top of an archaeological dig in the oldest part of the Rocks, this brand-new ecologically sensitive YHA has dorms, private rooms, cooking facilities and a terrace with a view to the Harbour Bridge, Sydney Harbour, Circular Quay and the Opera House.


Insider Tips:


Eat: Pubs across Sydney have cheap promotional menus, with different meals offered each night of the week (The Paragon does steak and chips on a Tuesday for $12, for example). Thai takeaway is also another cheap option- and a pie from Harry’s café de wheels in Wooloomooloo is a right of passage for any visitor.


Do: Walk (not climb) the Harbour Bridge (it’s free!) and walk around the Harbour foreshore past Circular Quay and ferries, past the Opera House and through to the Botanic Gardens. If you’re near the beach, go for a swim (between the flags) to get rid of jet-lag.


Drink: The pubs are too numerous to mention, but hotspots include speakeasies like Since I Left You, while trendsetters pack out the Ivy on the weekend. Notable beer gardens include the Watsons Bay Hotel or the Coogee Bay Hotel.


Link: Free Wi-Fi is available from the City of Sydney library- beware it is popular and you can’t Skype. (The library also has a top selection of international papers if you miss the tabloids from home, plus there is a giant model of Sydney city embedded in the floor under glass you can walk all over). Most McDonalds in Australia also offer free wi-fi.


Learn a bit of the Lingo:

Schooner: small than a pint, the regular sixed beer

Middie: baby beer

Mate: Attach to the end of every sentence. ie "thanks mate".


Politically incorrect but often used word: 

Ranga- red headed people. Don’t say it, commonly used in reference to the Australian PM.


Consider Avoiding:

Darling Harbour. Built originally as a tourist mecca, it’s a relatively unattractive planning failure with a 1980s-style shopping centre selling stuffed koalas, knock-brand UGG boots or souvenir t-shirts.


Escape Route:

  • Regional trains leave from Central Station, as do intercity buses.
  • Budget Airlines like Jetstar, Tiger and Virgin can have great early bird fares to long distance destinations, and some RTW tickets can be booked to include domestic flights or overland sections (fly into one city, fly out of another).
  • Avoid hitchhiking- it’s not safe.
  • Signs go up in dorms all the time to split petrol and catch a ride up the coast-but pick your driving partners carefully.
  • Sydney City council has just opened a new car market for backpackers who want to sell and buy cars and campervans in Kings Cross, details of which can be found here (and buy rather than hire vans. They’re largely un-roadworthy and safe- described by one friend as a ‘death-trap on wheels’)


Disclosure: the author has been the guest of YHA in the past- and frequently consumes too many pies from Harry’s Café de Wheels.