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Your first thought of Sydney is probably the famous Opera House.  The gateway to Australia, Sydney is set on one of the world’s most stunning harbors, which extends either side in a golden chain of easy-to-reach, inner-city beaches.  Yet away from the harbor Sydney’s laid-back outdoor lifestyle and physical allure make it one of the world’s easiest and most pleasant cities to live.

The largest economic sectors in Sydney, as measured by the number of people employed, include property and business services, retail, manufacturing, and health and community services.  Sydney houses headquarters of 90 banks and more than half of Australia’s top companies, and the regional headquarters for around 500 multinational corporations.

The people who live here are a friendly, energetic bunch with a tell-it-like-it-is approach to life.  The city has a wide-ranging cultural life, dynamic food scene and vibrant cityscape of outstanding contemporary and colonial architecture. Iconic beaches and five major national parks deliver unforgettable experiences. You’re going to live it here!

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    About Sydney

    Sydney is the most populous city in Australia with a metropolitan area population of over 4.2 million people.  Sydney is the state capital of New South Wales and is located on the country’s south-east coast.  Sydney is in a coastal basin bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the east, the Blue Mountains to the west, the Hawkesbury River to the north and the Woronora Plateau to the south. Sydney lies on a submergent coastline, where the ocean level has risen to flood deep river valleys (rias) carved in the sandstone. One of these drowned valleys, Port Jackson, better known as Sydney Harbour, is the largest natural harbor in the world.

    In some ways, though, the city delights in its “bad-boy” heritage. Though the region was populated for 100,000 years by the Aborigines, Captain Arthur Phillips sailed his First Fleet into Sydney Cove in 1788, bearing nearly 1,000 exiled convicts from British prisons.

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    It has been speculated that the Sydney region has been populated by indigenous Australians for at least 40,000 years.  At the time of the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788, 4000 – 8000 Aboriginal people lived in the region.  There were three different language groups in the Sydney region; these were further refined into dialects spoken by smaller clans. The principal languages were Darug (the Cadigal, original inhabitants of the City of Sydney, spoke a coastal dialect of Darug), Dharawal and Guringai. Each clan had a territory; the location of that territory determined the resources available. Although urbanization has destroyed most evidence of these settlements (such as shell middens), rock carvings still exist in several locations.

    European interest in colonizing Australia arose with the landing of British sea captain, Lieutenant James Cook in Botany Bay in 1770.

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    Fast Facts

    Population: 4,254894

    Area : 4,689 sq. mi (2,144 km²)

    Established: 1788

    Daylight Savings Time: Yes

    Median age: 34

    Time Zone: AEST (UTC+10)

    The definition for time zones can be written in short form as UTC±n (or GMT±n), where n is the offset in hours. Here is an example given the local time in Sydney and New York City at 1:00pm UTC when daylight saving time is not in effect:

    Sydney Standard Time Zone: GMT/UTC + 11:00 hour = 12:00pm (next day)
    NYC Standard Time Zone: GMT/UTC – 05:00 hour = 8:00am

    Sydney is on Australian Eastern Time and does observe Day light Savings time.


    Since Sydney is “down under,” its seasons are opposite of those in the Northern Hemisphere; the city boasts a temperate climate with 340 sunny days a year. During springtime (late October to December) and autumn (late February though May), Sydney is sunny and warm with only a few sprinklings of rain. Even the coldest part of winter (June through August), the average temperature ranges from 48 to 52 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures in the summer months rarely exceed 80 degrees.

    Month Avg Hi Avg Lo Avg Precip
    Jan 78°F 66°F 5.10 in.
    Feb 79°F 66°F 5.00 in.
    Mar 77°F 64°F 6.40 in.
    Apr 73°F 59°F 5.20 in.
    May 68°F 53°F 4.00 in.
    Jun 63°F 49°F 5.50 in.
    Jul 62°F 47°F 2.20 in.
    Aug 64°F 48°F 3.90 in.
    Sep 68°F 52°F 2.50 in.
    Oct 72°F 57°F 3.50 in.
    Nov 74°F 60°F 4.60 in.
    Dec 77°F 64°F 3.30 in.


    U.S. Tax Information

    Internal Revenue Service

    P.O. Box 920

    Bensalem, PA 19020

    (215) 516-2000 (not toll-free)

    The IRS has also put together a package of forms and instructions (Publication 776) for U.S. citizens living abroad.  The package is also available through to the Forms Distribution Center.  During the filing period, you can usually obtain the necessary Federal income tax forms from the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Most tax forms are also available on the IRS’s Web site.

    Phone service available from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm (EST) M-F

    The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) office serving Australia is located in Philadelphia.  The IRS Home Page has a lot of information available to answer many questions. Go to ‘Individuals’ and then ‘Overseas Taxpayers’ you will find a section of FAQ, which will take you to IRS Publication 54. Many questions of overseas taxpayers can be answered from that source.

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    Sydney is the largest corporate and financial centre in Australia and is also an important financial centre in the Asia Pacific. The Australian Stock Exchange and the Reserve Bank of Australia are located in Sydney, as are the headquarters of 90 banks and more than half of Australia’s top companies, and the regional headquarters for around 500 multinational corporations. Fox Studios Australia has large movie studios in the city.

    The Sydney Futures Exchange (SFE) is one of the Asia Pacific’s largest financial futures and options exchanges, with 64.3 million contracts traded during 2005. In global terms it is the 12th largest futures market in the world and the 19th largest including options. With the increasing commercial role of Sydney’s many medical laboratories and research centers, science and research is another strong growth sector.

    Tourism plays an important role in Sydney’s economy, with 7.8 million domestic visitors and more than 2.6 million international visitors annually.

    By Car

    Driving Sydney is a relatively hassle-free experience as long as you’re not traveling during rush hour, and you remember that you’re driving on the left side of the road here.  Parking downtown is expensive, as much as $60/day.  Speed limits are in km/h.  Some roads and bridges charge tolls, you can buy an electronic pass to handle that, but nearly all also accept cash.

    Foreign driver licenses are valid up to 12 months from when you move to Australia, after that, you’ll need to get an Australian one.

    Public Transportation

    Transport Infoline
    131 500
    The public transit here is pretty good, especially downtown and near attractions.  The phone number and website above links to the Transport Infoline, which will help you plan your trip.  The website, especially, is very helpful in mapping the whole thing out.

    Sydney Buses
    Sydney Buses is the city’s government-owned transit service.  The buses are white and blue.  Fare is based on the distance you’re traveling, measure in mile-long sections.  Try to have exact change when you board, or at least smaller denominations.

    CityRail runs trains out to the suburbs from downtown, and are very crowded with commuters during rush hour times.

    Air Transportation

    Sydney (Kingsford Smith) International Airport

    Locked Bag 5000

    Sydney International Terminal NSW 2020

    +61 2 9667-9111

    The airport is about 8 km from downtown in Southern Sydney.  It is the biggest airport in the country, and has service throughout the south Pacific and the world.


    Each terminal has its own sheltered taxi rank with supervisors on hand in peak hours to ensure a smooth flow of taxis for travelers.  Drivers are required to accept all fares, big and small, from the airport. If you are only traveling a short distance, drivers can return back to their place in the queue after they have taken you to where you need to go. The curbside management team will help you and your driver with this request.

    Please note that taxis are not permitted to pick up passengers outside of the taxi ranks and the driver will be fined AUD5,000 for breaking the regulation.

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    Local Phone Numbers

    011 is the international prefix used to dial somewhere outside of U.S.A., when placing the call in the US.
    61 is the international code used to dial to Australia.
    2 is the international code used to dial to Sydney.

    0011 is the international prefix used to dial somewhere outside of Australia, when placing the call in Australia
    1 is the international prefix to dial the U.S.A.

    Important Phone Numbers

    Emergency Services 000
    Community/Youth Hotlines (24 hour services)
    Life-line 131 114
    Kids Help Line 1800 551 800
    Poisons Info Service 131 126
    Domestic Violence Centre 1800 656 463
    Youth line 9638 3666
    Mental Health Info Service 9816 5688
    Emergency Dental Service 9369 7050
    Rape Crisis Centre 9819 6565
    HIV/AIDS Info 9332 4000
    NSW Grief Support Line 9489-6644


    7,9, and 10 are all commercial television networks, similar to CBS or NBC in America.
    ABC’s Second Channel ABC2  21
    SBS’s world news service SBS2, an on-air program guide  4
    ABC news, sport, and weather items  41
    ChannelNSW: Government and Public Information  45
    Australian Christian Channel  46
    MacquarieBank TV  47
    SportsTAB  48
    Expo Home Shopping  49


    Sydney Morning Herald
    Sydney Morning Herald is Sydney’s newspaper of record with extensive coverage of domestic and international news, culture and business. It is also the oldest newspaper in Australia, having been published regularly since 1831.

    The Daily Telegraph
    The Daily Telegraph is owned by News Corp, and is more sensationalistic than the Herald.


    Australian cuisine has the most diverse range, quality, and inventiveness than many others in the world. However, it took Australia some time to evolve from the scenes of meat pies, Vegemite sandwiches, and sausage rolls to the scene of dishes such as “seared kangaroo fillet with wilted beetroot greens and roasted onions”. The culinary art of Australia only luxuriated in the 1990s. But at that time, it was already considered the most adventurous in the world. Each capital city has seen a swarm of new restaurants within the genre ‘Modern Australia’ cuisine, with inventive chefs at the helm and an audience of willing hedonists at the ready. This culinary reawakening is due to two factors: the wealth of superlative Australian produce, including native food, and the plethora of international cuisine brought to Australia by its immigrants from all over the world.

    Australia is also well known for its fresh ingredients such as seafood, local fruits, beef and lamb, as well as its world class cheeses. Like in Italy and France, Australia can be divided into regions that are known for particular produce such as King Island cream, Sydney rock oysters, Bowen mangoes, Coffin Bay scallops, Tasmanian salmon, and Illabo milk-fed lamb. Each state has its acknowledged specialties, which travelers should take advantage of.

    Never forgetting the native cuisine called ‘bush tucker’, which involves traditional diets such as flour and water cooked in the campfire coals to make bread called damper, billy tea, and local animals’ meat.

    Musuems & Galleries

    Art Gallery of New South Wales

    Art Gallery Road

    The Domain

    (02) 9225-1744

    Featuring some of the finest Australian works, the museum is particularly proud of its display of Aboriginal art. The permanent collection also includes European, Asian and contemporary art and photography, as well as ever-changing special exhibits.

    The Australian Museum

    6 College Street

    (02) 9320-6000

    This natural history museum traces Australia’s rich culture over tens of thousands of years. Its Aboriginal section explores the impact of white society on the first Australians. Other exhibits feature the flora and fauna of Papua New Guinea, native insects and fossils.

    The Australian National Maritime Museum

    Darling Harbor (west)

    (02) 9552-7777

    Australia’s history is vitally linked to the sea, and the museum explores those connections with its exhibits of antique racing yachts, WWII destroyers and an America’s Cup champion.

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    Sega World

    Darling Walk, Darling Harbour

    (02) 9273-9273

    Kids clamor for the virtual-reality underwater trek and outer-space war games offered by this high-tech indoor theme park. Rides include a dodge’m cars, a roller coaster, and a haunted house that lets adventurous kids hunt ghosts with a ghost-zapper. An arcade is populated by over 200 video games, and the Magic Motion Theatre requires viewers to strap into their seats for a wild sensory ride.

    Sydney Harbor Bridge

    (02) 9247-3408

    Completed in 1932, this bridge remains an engineering feat even today. At 1,650 feet, the bridge is the city’s most-revered landmark after the Sydney Opera House. Affectionately called “The Coat Hanger,” the bridge contains 8 vehicle lanes, 2 railroad tracks, a cycleway and a walkway. The southeast column of the bridge contains a museum that documents the bridge’s construction; walk 200 steps up the Pylon Tower for a magnificent view of the harbor and cityscape beyond.

    Sydney Opera House

    Bennelong Point, Circular Quay

    (02) 9250-7111

    Australia’s most instantly recognized and enduring symbol, the Sydney Opera House appears to sail the harbor on billowing white wings. A world-class cultural center, the Opera House also hosts the city’s symphony orchestra, ballet, dance and drama, and offers free concerts most Sunday afternoons along the outer walk. Hour-long walking tours are available on the half-hour, starting at 9 a.m. and ending at 4 p.m.

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    Parks & Beaches

    Bondi Beach

    Campbell Parade, Bondi

    Pronounced bon-die, this magnificent stretch of sand is Sydney’s most famous beach, the place to see and be seen either from the sand or from one of the many hip cafes across the street. Prepare for a carnival atmosphere as tourists and locals flock to Bondi for an anything-goes frolic in the sun.

    Centennial Park

    Oxford Street, Paddington

    (02) 9331-5056

    A prime spot for athletes and nature-lovers alike, Centennial Park’s 550 acres boast a wealth of wildlife that coexists beside miles of walking, cycling and horse trails. Visitors can picnic while they watch classic films shown at the amphitheater during summer months.

    Luna Park

    Milson’s Point

    (02) 9922-6644

    Built in 1935, modeled after Coney Island’s Luna Park and set against the backdrop of Sydney Harbour, this is a loud, brash, in-your-face amusement park that features a variety of classic rides. Visitors enter beneath the ghastly, grinning face of a painted clown, who has evolved alongside the park’s collection of attractions.

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    Sydney is the headquarters of the Australian Rugby League and is home to 8 of the 16 National Rugby League (NRL) teams (Sydney Roosters, South Sydney Rabbitohs, Parramatta Eels, Cronulla Sharks, Wests Tigers, Penrith Panthers, Canterbury Bulldogs and Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles), as well as being the northern home of the St George Illawarra Dragons (this team is half-based in Wollongong). Telstra Stadium in Sydney is the venue for the NRL Grand Final.

    The first Australian rugby union club established was at Sydney University in 1864, and in 1882 the first inter-colonial games was held against Queensland. Today the state team plays as the New South Wales Waratahs in the Super 14. Sydney will also host two teams in the National Rugby Competition. Traditional club competitions include the Shute Shield. Sydney is also a regular host for Wallabies internationals.

    In addition to rugby football Sydney has teams in most national competitions including the Sydney Swans (AFL), Sydney FC (A-League), Sydney Kings and the West Sydney Razorbacks (NBL), Sydney Uni Flames (WNBL), Sydney Blues (Australian Major League Baseball) and the Sydney Swifts in Australian netball’s Commonwealth Bank Trophy and New South Wales team New South Wales Blues (First-class cricket).


    Being punctual is critical.

    Maintain good eye contact during meetings and conversations.

    A single, male passenger using a taxi should sit in the front seat.

    Gift giving is not a common practice in business.

    You may bring a small gift of chocolate, wine or flowers if invited to someone’s home.

    When paying for a round of drinks, do not pick up the tab out of turn, and make sure to pay when it is your turn.

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    Currency & Banking

    Branches of national, state, and some foreign banks can be found in the central business districts of Australia’s state capitals. Most small towns will often have at least one branch of a major Australian bank. Banks generally offer the best exchange rates but money can also be changed at bureaux de changes, large departmental stores, and hotels.

    Banking trading hours are from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays to Thursdays and from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays. Major city banks are often open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.

    Exchange rates:

    Australian dollars per US dollar – 1.3095 (2005), 1.3598 (2004), 1.5419 (2003), 1.8406 (2002), 1.9334 (2001)

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    Embassy & Visa

    Embassy of Australia

    United States of America

    1601 Massachusetts Ave, NW

    Washington DC 20036

    (202) 797-3000

    Embassy of the United States of America

    Australian Capital Territory

    R.G. Casey Building, John McEwen Crescent

    Barton, ACT, 0221 Australia.

    +61 2 6261-1111

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    Australia has one of the best health care systems in the world. It is widely accessible to all who reside in the country.  All permanent Australian residents pay a Medicare levy (an additional tax) to fund the public health system. This entitles them to free or subsidized services by medical practitioners and public hospital care.  There is also an extensive private health system, for those wishing to pay an additional fee to receive extra benefits for optical, physiotherapy and dental treatment when they use private health care services.


    Emergency treatment can be obtained through some medical centers and emergency (‘causality’) departments at major hospitals. Many doctors’ after-hours phone messages describe where you can get emergency medical attention when their surgery is closed. In an extreme emergency, call for an ambulance by phoning 000. You can ask for a translator for your language. Do not hang up.

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    If you’re staying only short term (say, less than three years), you may be better off renting. For those staying longer than three years, buying is usually the better option, particularly as paying a mortgage on a house or apartment is generally no more expensive (and often cheaper) than renting. It’s also more difficult to rent than buy a good property in most cities. All proposed acquisitions of urban property by non-resident foreigners must be approved by the:

    Foreign Investment Review Board

    c/o Department of the Treasury

    Langton Crescent, ACT 2600

    (02) 6263-3795

    Most properties in Australian cities are rented through agents, whose main task is to screen prospective tenants.

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    Australia Post

    Australia Post is government-owned and has a monopoly over standard letter delivery (addressed letters less than 250 grams and less than 4 times the standard letter rate), the organization’s activities outside standard letter delivery have become steadily more entrepreneurial, selling a wide range of nominally postal-related goods such as cards, gifts, and stationery as well as Money Orders and Travellers Cheques. However, perhaps its biggest non-traditional business has been its bill payments service, where a large selection of financial institutions, insurance companies, government departments, utility companies, and others support transactions through Australia Post’s extensive branch network. Australia Post also provides an express, overnight delivery service, which ensures next day delivery to most Australian address at reasonable cost. Other postal services include a private post box service which are located at Post Offices, and a mail redirection service.

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    Water storage and supply for Sydney is managed by the Sydney Catchment Authority, which is an agency of the NSW Government that sells bulk water to Sydney Water and other agencies. Water in the Sydney catchment is chiefly stored in dams in the Upper Nepean Scheme, the Blue Mountains, Woronora Dam, Warragamba Dam and the Shoalhaven Scheme.  Historically low water levels in the catchment have led to water use restrictions and the NSW government is investigating alternative water supply options, including grey water recycling and the construction of a seawater reverse osmosis desalination plant at Kurnell.  Sydney Water also collects the wastewater and sewerage produced by the city.

    Three companies supply natural gas and electricity to Sydney: Energy Australia, AGL and Integral Energy. Numerous telecommunications companies operate in Sydney providing terrestrial and mobile telecommunications services. The domestic mains power supply in Australia is 240V AC, 50Hz. Standard 3-pin earthed power outlets are rated at 10Amps and are usually switched. The 3-flat-pin plug is used in all states of Australia (including its external territories), New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.  Although the configuration is similar to mains plugs used in mainland China, dimensional differences to the plug body may be incompatible with recessed cord socket and prevent Chinese-compliant CPCS/CCC (CCEE) plugs from being legally sold/used in Australia.


    Australia Quarantine and Inspection Service
    +61 2 6272-4454

    Australia has very strict rules on the importation of animals, controlling the types of animals that can come in and the countries they come from. The rules are set by the Australian Quarantine and inspection Service (AQIS).

    As a general guide – dogs, cats and horses may be brought in from the United States, subject to quarantine controls, at least 30 days after arrival. Other household pets, such as hamsters, guinea pigs, caged birds, etc are prohibited.  You are responsible for paying fees and accommodation for your pet while in quarantine.

    All animals entering Australia require an import permit, issued by AQIS. To obtain an import permit, an application to import your pet must be completed. Your application must include your pet’s microchip number. An import permit will be returned to you. The import permit contains Veterinary Certificate A and B which must be completed and endorsed by an Official Veterinarian in the country of export prior to the arrival of your pet in Australia. The steps below provide information for completing the entire import process.

    Compulsory Education

    Sydney has public, denominational, and independent schools. Public schools, including pre-schools, primary and secondary schools, and special schools are administered by the New South Wales Department of Education and Training. There are four state administered education areas in Sydney, that together coordinate 919 schools.[citation needed] Out of the thirty selective high schools in the state, twenty-five of those are located in Sydney.

    American International School
    216 Pennant Hills Road
    Carlingford, NSW 2118
    +61 2 9890-3488

    Australian School for International Education
    29 Silica Road
    Carine W.A. 6020
    +61 8 9203-6533

    Higher Education

    The age of admission to university is usually 18 (although most admit exceptional students at a younger age) and courses are usually for three years, although some last for four. This is seen as a big advantage for foreign students from countries where courses often last much longer and helps Australian universities attract a large number of overseas students. Most Australian universities have between 10,000 and 30,000 students, although they’re usually dispersed over a number of campuses.

    All Australian universities accept overseas students and many spend millions on overseas marketing and student recruitment (Australia’s sandstone universities established their own overseas marketing arm in 1997). There are no quotas for foreign students, but all non-resident students must pay full fees (although grants are available). Overseas students require a student visa, which is issued after acceptance on a course and payment of at least half the first year’s fees. Students must have the financial resources to meet day-to-day living expenses for the duration of their course, return fares to Australia and tuition fees.

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