Essential Guide to Sydney

First time in Sydney?  Then our essential travel guide for gay visitors is for you.

Sydney Australia

 

Sydney

With more than 4 million residents, Sydney is the most populous city in Australia and the state capital of New South Wales.  The city is built on hills surrounding Sydney Harbour – home to the iconic Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.

With breathtaking views, celebrated beaches and beautiful national parks, Sydney ranks among the top ten most liveable cities in the world.

 

Gay Rights in Australia

Australia has been considered as one of the gay-friendliest countries in the world.  Nowadays, LGBT couples in Australia can enjoy many of the same rights and benefits as straight couples – with the exception of marriage.  In December 2013, the High Court annulled the Australian Capital Territory’s same-sex marriage law.

Same-sex adoption varies across each state and territory.  Same-sex relationships are recognised as de facto unions.  Gays and lesbians are allowed to serve openly in the military since 1992.

 

Gay Scene

Sydney has emerged as the gay capital of the Southern Hemisphere and one of the most multicultural in the world.  While there are gay bars and clubs throughout the city, some of the most popular venues are on and around Oxford Street in Darlinghurst.

Oxford Street has become more mixed in the last decade, but it is still the most popular area for partying the night away.  It is the main drag for the annual Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras which draws visitors from around the world.

The inner western suburbs, such as Newtown and Erskineville, have developed a more alternative and diverse scene with a greater lesbian and student presence.  Nearby, Potts Point and Elizabeth Bay have become the home to the smart party set who appreciate the stunning harbour setting whilst remaining close to the nightlife hub of Kings Cross.

Further up Oxford Street is Paddington which is  home for many gay people.  In short, Sydney is one big gay mecca.

 

Beaches in Sydney

Sydney has exceptional beaches, many of which are among the ‘gayest’ Australia has to offer.  The famous Bondi Beach has a large gay concentration in the north end.  Obelisk Beach is a favorite of the gay and lesbian sun-lover.  It is a secluded beach on Sydney’s north side of the Harbour, near affluent Mosman.

Foreshore Beach is nude and gay which is off Foreshore Road near the airport.  Lady Jane Beach is another gay beach that has become an officially sanctioned ‘clothing optional’ recreation area.

 

Getting to Sydney

Sydney Kingsford Smith International Airport (SYD) is Australia’s busiest airport and the main gateway to Australia.

Sydney Airport is 9 km from the city center. Transfer options include suburban train, local bus, shuttle bus, taxi or car rental.

 

Getting around Sydney

Public Transport

The public transport system consists of commuter rail, bus, ferry, light rail and a tourist-oriented monorail.  Combined, they can get you almost anywhere in the metropolitan area.

Consider purchasing a ‘multi-modal’ ticket which is valid on buses, trains, Sydney Ferries and the light rail (but not the monorail, private ferries or special event buses).  Multi-modal tickets are available in one-day or weekly varieties.

Taxi

Taxis may be the only option available to some locations late at night when the trains and buses services stop.  It is easy to flag a taxi down at the curb or catch one at taxi ranks located in most suburban centres.

If the taxi sign is lit, then the taxi is available for hire.  Try to get in before you tell the driver your destination – by law, once you are inside the taxi the driver has to take you to your destination.  Taxis accept all major credit cards subject to an extra 10% surcharge.

Car

Driving standards in Australia are generally very good.  Hiring a car provides you with a lot of flexibility to explore the local area.  The minimum age to hire a car is 21.  You will need a full driver’s licence from your home country.

Travelling by car is usually as quick as any method of public transport.  Roads are generally well signposted.  On summer weekends, congestion can be expected around Bondi Beach and the other eastern suburbs beaches.  Travel time from city centre to the outskirts can take around 45 minutes in good conditions.

 

Things to See & Do

Sydney Harbour - a natural harbour that is regarded as one of the finest harbours in the world.

The Opera House - Sydney’s most famous landmark and multi-venue for performing arts.

Royal Botanic Gardens – the most central gardens in Sydney that was opeend in 1816 and are open to the public.

Sydney Harbour Bridge – a steel arch bridge known for its beauty and function providing a crossing for cars, trains, bikes and pedestrians.

Art Gallery Of NSW – one of Australia’s leading museums of art and a Sydney institution, with five levels presenting a diverse range of art.

Bondi Beach – internationally renowned beach close to Sydney.

The Rocks - a precinct of narrow cobblestoned lanes and former merchants homes, which now house galleries, restaurants, boutiques and souvenir shops.

Manly Beach - a beach located in northern Sydney, with shops, restaurants, nightclubs, and dive bars.

Circular Quay - a popular harbour and neighbourhood made up of walkways, pedestrian malls, parks and restaurants.

 

When to Visit

Sydney is blessed with wonderful weather all year round.  Even in winter, the temperature rarely falls below 10°C  and it is not usual for highs to be around 20°C.

Having said that, high season for tourists is the Summer months (from December 1st to end of February), with the peak period for gay travellers being during the internationally renowned Mardi Gras festival (usually held during the last two weeks of February).

 

Visa

All visitors, except holders of Australian and New Zealand passports, must obtain either a visa or an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) before entering Australia.

New Zealand citizens are issued with a visa on arrival in Australia.

Passport holders of most European countries can apply online for an eVisitor visa.  These visas are free.  Check your eligibility for an eVisitor visa here.  Passport holders from the USA, Canada, Singapore and many other countries can apply for an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA).  Check your eligibility for an ETA here.

 

Electricity

Electricity in Australia is 240 volts.  Outlets generally accept V-shaped flat prongs.

 

Useful Telephone Numbers

Police, Fire and Ambulance: 000

From a mobile phone, the International Emergency Number 112 will work on all networks and is connected to exactly the same service (000).

Sydney Hospital Emergency: 9382 7111

It is worth mentioning that all GP doctors will need to be paid for upfront and the claim back on travel insurance and any hospitals.

Hawkesbury Visitors Centre: 4588 5895

Taxis Combined Services: 13 33 00