10 Key Things about Sydney, Australia

Sydney, “..without exception the finest harbour in the world.”

This ex-penal colony, now the most populous city in Australia makes one of the best cities to live in. And a great tourist destination. Turning global, Sydney is now so diverse and thriving, that if King George III saw what has happened to his penal colony, he would be awestruck.

1. History of Sydney

The British lost their penal colonies in America during the 1770s. In search for another, the British set their sights down under. In 1778, the “First Fleet” reached Port Jackson with food supplies, livestock, farming equipment and 778 convicts. The colony established under Captain Arthur Phillip’s command was called Sydney (he named it “New Albion”, but somehow, Sydney stuck). The punishment was not the incarceration, but the atrocious transportation to Sydney. Even in the city, the discipline was cruel and people were hanged and flogged frequently.

Despite London’s interventions, Sydney started resembling a city. Free people were streaming in, prisoners were emancipated, economy grew and trade arose. The convict transportation was officially stopped in 1840.

The remnants of the Victorian era and the aboriginal people can still be seen in the modern city.

2. Night Life in Sydney

It has the largest night-time economy in all of Australia. Well, that is because the city has a lot to offer. Pubs, bars, nightclubs, cafes. Along with the usual intoxicating nightlife, Sydney also is a host to classical and contemporary art performances. Or you can take a yacht along Sydney Harbour to enjoy the picturesque view.

10KeyThings-beautiful-Sydney-city-1024x678 10 Key Things about Sydney, AustraliaOxford street is full of clubs, bars and cafes (for both gay and straight). Other happening places are Darling Harbour, The Rocks and the King Street Wharf (both the Rocks and the Wharf are uptown). A fair number of Melbourne-esque clubs have sprung up in the city.

3. Safety in Sydney

It is considered a reasonably safe city. More than 80 closed circuit TV cameras have been installed around the city, which are monitored the entire day. The city even has improved the liquor laws and some taxis are supervised by guards.

But just to be a bit more cautious than usual, don’t use shortcuts, walk on well-lit main roads. King’s Cross is infamous but if you be aware of who is behind you and keep your wallets and bags safe, you won’t have any problem. Don’t provoke anyone, don’t get provoked by anyone. There is no major threat. Common sense will keep you safe.

4. Living Expenses in Sydney

It is a fairly expensive city to live in. The city costs a little more than Melbourne does on some fronts.

Renting a studio apartment in the City Centre can cost you as much as $2,800 (USD 1,984) per month. A similar apartment outside of City Centre costs as much as $2,000 (USD 1,417) per month. The costs average at around $2,300 (USD 1,630) and $1,700 (USD 1,205)  respectively.

The cost of buying a square meter of apartment land in the City Centre goes as high as $17,000 (USD 12,045). Outside of the City Centre, a square meter of land can cost you as much as $10,000 (USD 7,085). The costs average at $13,000 (USD 9,210) and $8,000 (USD 5,670) respectively.

Budget hotels can go as low as $60 (USD 42) per night. Luxury hotels (The Sheraton, The Langham, Radisson..) can go up to a whopping $600 (USD 425) per night.

5. Cuisines of Sydney

Owing to the diversity present in the city, Sydney makes a great dining place. The city offers a whole lot of cuisines. Indian, Italian, Chinese, Thai, Korean.. You name it, the city would, most probably, have it.

The city’s impeccable fine-dining scene is only rivaled by its cheap eats.

Feel like having Japanese? Stroll down to Darlinghurst to eat at the Chaco Bar. Catch great Thai in Chatswood, or head to Vic’s Meat Market in Pyrmont for a exquisite smoked-beef brisket experience. And all of this under $10 (USD 7). Feels like a dream, eh?

For a fine-dining experience (which will easily set you back by more than a hundred AUD), you can head to Est. or Baroque on George Street. Quay on The Rocks is also a wonderful choice for the most special of special occasions.

The early Greek and Italian immigration has resulted in one of the best coffee cultures in Sydney and Melbourne. So don’t forget to grab a cup (Coffee Alchemy, Marrickville and Campos Coffee, Newton are very famous).

6. Statistics of Sydney

Sydney is Australia’s most populous city. According to the 2011 census, the city had approximately 4,600,000 residents. Although, Sydney is the first Australian city to reach a population of 5,000,000, Melbourne is closing the gap very fast.

The city is spread over an area of 12,368 sq. km. The population density is 380/ sq. km.

Over 59% of the residents claimed their place of birth to be Australia in the 2011 census. 3.5% were English, 3.4% were Chinese, 2.0% Indians, 1.5% were from New Zealand and 1.6% were Vietnamese. 2% of all Sydney residents were aboriginal.

English is spoken in over 60% of the households, followed by Arabic (4.4%), Cantonese (3.4%), Mandarin (2.6%), Greek (2.2%) and Vietnamese (2.0%).

7. Public Transport in Sydney

Sydney has an extensive public transport system consisting of trains, light rails, ferries, trams and buses. 10KeyThings-Sydney-2-1024x705 10 Key Things about Sydney, AustraliaThe state of New South Wales rolled out the new Opal smartcard to make getting around more convenient. Tourists would be advised to buy an Opal card from the airport itself that can be topped-up online. Travelling all day using trains, buses and ferries costs $15 (USD 11) for adults and $7.50 (USD 5.30) for children. All routes, timetables and additional information can be found at the transport for NSW website. You can also hire bikes to get around the city.

Pollution in Sydney – As of January 2016, the PM2.5 levels in the city have reached 33.4 ppm. The regulations require the PM2.5 levels to remain under 8 ppm. These levels are relatively low as compared to Delhi’s (India) 130 ppm.

8. Weather of Sydney

It has a temperate climate with rainfall spread throughout the year. The city experiences the typical “urban heat island effect”, which makes the western parts of the city more susceptible to heat.

Summer: December to February. Average high: 26°C, Average low: 18°C
Autumn: March to May. Average high: 22°C, Average low: 14°C
Winter: June to August. Average high: 16°C, Average low: 8°C
Spring: September to November. Average high: 22°C, Average low: 13°C

Summers tend to be a bit humid, but the afternoon sea breezes can be a refreshing help. The average rainfall is around 1212 mm. The city is prone to drought and bushfires as summers can have long periods without any rainfall.

9. Culture of Sydney

The largest city in Australia competes fiercely with Melbourne for the title of ‘the cultural capital’ of the country. The city’s vibrant music, theatre, literature and visual arts scene is to beheld. The city also have a great ethnic diversity.

Regular arts, theater, music and religious festivals dot the entire calendar. The Sydney Film Festival takes place each year in June. The Sydney Writers’ Festival is held during May. The Sydney Festival takes place throughout January. Some of the happening music festivals are Big Day Out, Homebake, The Great Escape and Stereosonic.

10. Places to Visit in Sydney

Things to do in Sydney: Visit the Sydney Opera House (both during day and night. Watch a show as well, if you can), walk along the coasts in the Coastal Walk which will take you from Manly beach to Bondi beach. Climb the Harbour Bridge if you’re feeling adventurous, visit Port Jackson, go island hopping at Sydney Harbour. Take a lovely stroll through Hyde Park, experience Darling Harbour’s vibrant fun. Go down the city’s memory lane with ANZAC War Memorial, the Town Hall and The Rocks. Shop at the Queen Victoria Building and have a lovely dinner while enjoying the view of the Harbour.

10KeyThings-Sydney-Harbour-Bridge-1024x682 10 Key Things about Sydney, AustraliaMuseums and Galleries: Sydney has a plethora of museums and galleries. The Australian Museum, Powerhouse Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Museum of Sydney and S.H. Ervin Gallery are few of the many worth watching.

Things to do for Kids in Sydney: Kid would love to visit iFlyDownUnder (indoor skydiving. Yes, it is safe for kids). Or go Whale Watching, visit the Luna Park or Sea Life Sydney Aquarium. There is also the Wet’n’Wild water park. Kids would also love to take a tour of the Sydney Observatory.

Places Nearby: A three hour drive from Sydney, the Blue Mountains are a world heritage listed national park with stunning views and bushwalks (treks. They call treks ‘bushwalks’ Down Under.) 85 km from Sydney is Illawara, famous for its breathtaking tree-top views.

Offbeat: Take a road trip on the Grand Pacific Drive to Bulli Tops, down the Bullis Pass to the beach at Thirroul and back. 190 km from Sydney are the ultra-beautiful Jenolan Caves (They. Are. Beautiful.)

Author’s Conclusion: Hands down, Sydney is wonderful. This city has it all. Great food, a rich history and stunning views to have imprinted in your memory forever. This might be one of the finest cities Australia has to offer.

Country Australia
City Sydney
Area 12,367.7 sq. km
Population 4.8 million (approx.) as of April, 2014
Demonym Sydneysiders
Languages English
Currency Australian Dollar (AUD) (1 USD = 1.41 AUD as of 28th January, 2016)
Time Zone Australian Eastern Standard Time (UTC +10)
Australian Eastern Daylight Time (UTC +11)
Driving Left Hand Traffic, Right Hand Drive vehicles
Helpline Emergency – 000, Emergency (Speech Impairment) – 106, Floods and Storms – 132 500

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