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Getting Around in Sydney

Go by Train, Bus or Ferry

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Whether you're a first-time visitor to Sydney or not, getting around in Sydney may pose problems for you.

Certainly you can always call for a taxi and let the driver find his way to your destination.

Or if you feel confident about driving in Sydney, knowing your general direction and using an up-to-date GPS navigation unit should get you there.

On the other hand, you may want to avail yourself of Sydney's public transport system.

1. Going by Train

Passengerts waiting to board train, copyright Larry Rivera
Passengerts waiting to board train © Larry Rivera, licensed to About.com, Inc

If your hotel or other place of accommodation is in central Sydney, the first thing to know is where the City Circle train stations are.

Most local trains have stops along the City Circle, or are connected to other trains in the Sydney railway system.

Except for the Circular Quay station, the City Circle stops are all underground. Traveling clockwise from Central Station, the City Circle train stops at Town Hall, Wynyard, above ground at Circular Quay, then St James and Museum.

As well, there are trains that go in the opposite direction, stopping from Central at Museum first, then St James, Circular Quay, Wynyard and Town Hall.

Find out where the entrances to these City Circle stations are — go and ask someone if you're not sure — if you wish to take the train at a particular City Circle stop.

If you're not close to a City Circle station, see where the nearest rail station is and see what trains stop there and where they go. You may need to take one train and transfer to another for certain destinations. When in doubt, talk to the station master or the person at the ticket window.

Manned ticket windows

There should be destination boards showing the stations along the train route. Note that there may be different routes for different trains, and some may not stop at particular stations along their route.

Likely as not, there will be automatic ticket machines where you can get the ticket you want. If you're not confident about using the ticket machine, buy your ticket at a manned ticket window.

And if you're not sure about which train to take, ask at a manned ticket window — and get your ticket there.

Single and return

A couple of terms to know: A one-way ticket is a single, a round trip ticket is a return. Say you want to get a round trip ticket to Bankstown; ask for a "Bankstown return."

Hold on to your ticket as you'll need it to get out of the station. And if it's a return ticket, you'd need to use it again.

If you have a single ticket, you won't get it back after leaving the train and passing through the turnstile. If you have a return ticket, you won't get it back after exiting the train and passing through the turnstile on your return.

If there's no turnstile, you may have to turn in your used ticket to the gate guard; or you could simply walk through if the gate is open and unattended.

Central Station

Central Station, through which you enter and leave the City Circle, is the hub of the Sydney rail system and the Sydney station for interstate and other long-distance passenger trains.

If your destination is not on the City Circle train you've taken, you may need to transfer at Central (or at some other station) for the right train. Do not exit the station through a turnstile as this would mean you have used up your single ticket or the corresponding part of your return ticket. Simply walk to the correct platform for the train you want.

At Central Station, you can organise and buy tickets for long journeys such as to Perth on the Indian Pacific, or to Darwin on the Indian Pacific transfering to the Ghan in Adelaide.

2. Going by Tram or Monorail

Sydney monorail, copyright Phillip Quirk / Destination NSW
Sydney monorail © Phillip Quirk / Destination NSW

You can also go on Sydney's light rail system by taking the tram at Central to go to, say, Darling Harbour or The Star gaming and entertainment complex at Pyrmont.

The Sydney monorail travels a limited circuit linking central Sydney with places of interest in Darling Harbour such as Sydney Aquarium and Wild LIfe Sydney and, at the western edge of Pyrmont Bridge, the Australian National Maritime Museum.

3. Going by Bus

Buses near Circular Quay, copyright Larry Rivera
Buses near Circular Quay © Larry Rivera, licensed to About.com, Inc

Sydney's main bus interchanges in the city are at Central Station, Circular Quay and Wynyard on York St between Margaret and Wynyard Sts.

The buses, identified by number, follow particular routes in the city before heading out to the suburbs.

To get the right bus you need, ask at your hotel or place of accommodation for the number of the bus you need to take and where its nearest bus stop would be.

Or, if you have Internet access, check out your route map at Sydney Buses Timetables and Route Maps. If this page has changed, search for what you need on the Sydney Buses site.

4. Going by Ferry

Sydney ferry at Manly Cove, copyright Andrew Gregory / Destination NSW
Sydney ferry at Manly Cove © Andrew Gregory / Destination NSW

As long as you know where you're going, and the place is serviced by a ferry, it's easy to take a Sydney ferry from Circular Quay.

The jetties at Circular Quay are clearly marked as to where particular ferries dock and where they're headed.

Some, such as the Manly ferry, travel non-stop to their destination. Others may make several stops.

If you're taking the ferry, say, to Watsons Bay for a meal at Doyles and plan to spend some time there at the beach, be sure to check when the last ferry returns to Circular Quay or you may have to find alternative transport to the city.

If you're headed to Manly Beach, the Manly ferry wharf is on the harbour side and you'd have to walk a short distance through the Manly Corso to get to the ocean-side Manly Beach.

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