Everything you need to know about living, studying and working in Sydney Australia II

Being alone, buying a radio

For those going away to Syd right now, its winter, it gets cold for Singaporeans not used to it and the day gets dark early.

Make sure you have friends, people you can talk to, otherwise you may find yourself crying in a dark corner when the sun goes down and there is nothing to do, no friends to talk to or things to do after dark.

Its not all parties (they can be decadent esp when your parents have a spent a fortune sponsoring you) but say you are a Xtian, get a study group, be a bit thick skinned and get yourself invited to a house group, gathering, anything that tkaes your mind off the cold dark nights.

The best thing you can have is a small and cheap pocket radio, so there is always noise in your house. msn or skpye your friends back home, buy a cheap camera, start a blog.
"Hello" phone cards are cheap and reliable, if you buy them from Chinatown shops its cheaper.

Oz can be fun, but somethings when the home sick feeling sets in you need some help.

Things to do in Sydney, keep busy so you don't feel lonely

1)Watson bay. I think there is a Doyle fish and chip there; Go up to the cliff, feel the wind and ocean. Often feel that human is so small when up there.

2)Double bay, for the famous gelato. You will suddenly find yourself in another asian country.

3)Walk along double bay.... get inspired by those nice houses and shops
4)Coogee beach, just to wonder around and relax
5)Manly, best to walk with an ice cream
6)State library.
7)The Malay-Chinese take away eatery. Look for Mr Woon.
8)Walked from china town to martin plc, just love walking and will find diff combinations of routes
perhaps you could come up with a matrix on diff combinations of routes
9)Some times also walked from martin plc all the way up to the rocks
10)Sydney fish market, go early for the real experience
11)syd is a nice plc for tracking too 12)Drive up north to Bryron's bay
13)musical or ballet performaces
14)china town. lots of asians love to go there to feel the familiarity.

15)lots of nice small restuarants, esp those run by italian, greek etc... nice cosy

Weekend trips

A cheap train ticket away and you can see some nice sights:

- Woy Woy, nice for picnics and the Kuringai National Park is nearby.
--- good fish and chip shops there

- Blue Mts of course - if you have a whole bunch, its cheaper to drive, but weekends can be crowded

- Royal National Park

- Bondi and many of the other beaches

- Taronga zoo

- Milson's point has nice places to sit and have a picnic

- Berowa falls

- Kangaroo valley

- Jenolan caves

There are heaps of state parks which do not require entrance fees for cars, gather a few friends and explore!
Food to treat yourself

When you get a bit more $$ or want to buy your GF a meal:

Sydney's top 10 restaurants, according to The Los Angeles Times:

Sailor's Thai - The Rocks.

bill's - Darlinghurst.

Fish Face Restaurant & Sushi Bar - Darlinghurst.

Tetsuya's - Sydney, city. (v v expensive and exclusive - good place to propose)

Longrain - Surry Hills.

Marque Restaurant - Surry Hills.

Billy Kwong - Surry Hills.

Spice I Am - Surry Hills. (ok price, not for ambience)

The Book Kitchen - Surry Hills.

The Boathouse on Blackwattle Bay - Glebe.

Pier Restaurant - Rose Bay.

Sean's Panaroma - Bondi Beach.

Icebergs on Bondi Beach - Bondi Beach.


1) Ayam Goreng 99

2) Ayam Goreng Jakarta

3) Ratu Sari

4) Can't remember but on the same stretch as Ayam Goreng 99

5) Can't remember but on the same stretch as Westpac opposite IGA at Kingsford

6) Jimbaran - but a bit expensive

Nasi Uduk Special, coconut steamed rice with dried beef, shredded omelette, fried onion with chili
peanut sauce and kerupuk prawn crackers at Indonesian restaurant, Ubud.
Photo: Marco del Grande
Related coverage
* Heat streets

Ayam Goreng Jakarta
Check the fading names on the outer wall for a lesson in Indonesian dining vocabulary. These days
the specialty is grilled marinated chicken, Jakarta-style, served under fading red lanterns in the
little front courtyard.
275 Anzac Parade, Kingsford, 9663 4430.
Ayam Goreng 99
A perennial favourite, with rudimentary service, grilled and fried chicken several ways, plus all
sort of interesting deep-fried offal bits. The sambal (house-made chilli relish) is wicked.
464 Anzac Parade, Kingsford, 9697 0030.
An oldie but a goodie, famous for its rendang and sayur asem (tamarind soup). Friendly,
old-fashioned service.
151 Avoca Street, Randwick, 9398 6990.
Melting rendang, flakey martabak and signature ayam goreng kalasan anugrah (deep-fried marinated
chicken with palm sugar). Try the spiced milkfish (bandeng duri lunak) and ikan tim bumbu kuning (a
whole steamed fish with a thick turmeric sauce and fresh turmeric leaves).
129 Avoca Street, Randwick, 9398 8555.
Pempek Clovelly
Specialises in fish cakes (pempek) in a variety of styles with a feisty chilli-vinegar sambal. Also
does martabak (savoury and sweet) and some noodle dishes. Low-key, insider kind of place that closes
early (8pm) most nights.
198 Anzac Parade, Kensington, 9697 0009.
Noodle (bakmi) heaven, always full, good value, very tasty. The full range of Indonesian fast food,
including bakso (meat balls) in soup or fried.
319 Anzac Parade, Kingsford, 9697 0788.
Pondok Buyung
Another no-frills eatery serving West Sumatran or "Padang" fare - three dishes on rice from the bain
marie. Rendang, tempeh (fermented tofu) and offal dishes a specialty.
124 Anzac Parade, Kensington, 9663 2296.
Ratu Sari
Smiling service, fabulous ikan pepes (fish steamed in banana leaves) and ikan goreng (fried fish
served with heaps of smoky housemade sambal). Fiery salads include asinan penganten (cooked vegies
topped with shrimp-paste sauce) and pecal with a gorgeous peanut sauce. Cool down with an es cendol
(shaved ice) dessert.
470 Anzac Parade, Kingsford, 9662 8788.
The pick for decor and ambience, always busy (book first) and great for roll-your-own duck pancakes
(Peking style), lumpia (crisp spring rolls filled with prawn), chicken and fish with balado (chilli
and tomato) sauce and nasi uduk (pictured) (coconut rice with beef, egg and lashings of peanut
584 Anzac Parade, Kingsford, 9344 4961.

Tea time and gelato

Recommended afternoon tea at Bygone Beautys corner of Grose and Megalong Streets, Leura.

De Luca Cremeria - for gelato - 106 Norton St, Liechardt. Gelato made from scratch!!!

Another gelato place:

Bar Italia in Liechardt, where the Italians are, next to a Civic Video


Possibly the best prawn mee in Sydney. Anyone who finds a better one post here . Laksa is decent too though tastes kinda like curry chicken noodle. Can try laksa and Hainan chicken rice at Baba too, its at Grace Hotel. Only open 11.30-3 though.

Ayam Goreng 99 mentioned earlier is damn good too. Chilli sedap..

Other decent (in my opinion) local style food can be found at basement of Imperial Arcade and also at unilodge foodcourt and Golden Fang opposite the road from unilodge.

Get the premium policy medical insurance which covers dental, which is v expensive.


Do keep a full well recorded excel file of your contents, bring as little as possible, there isn't a lot of room if you stay in a hostel or rented room, most things can be bought there, even Chinese food and chilli

State in black and white about the delivery methods - is it door to door, handling fees, GST (exempt for students if you fill up the proper forms and the item is > 6mths old)

I used this company back from Oz before:


Other companies friends have used:


Sea shipping is cheaper, but takes longer and if the item is perishable, then it may not survive.

Enjoying the winter - ski!

Although those fresh out of SG into the Aussie winter might find it awful, actually Oz winters are relatively mild compare to many other countries.

This year is exceptional and do wear more, but when you get used to it, you get a chance to use those fashionable jackets, coats etc you never get to in SG.

Plus there is skiing!

Join a cheapo trip from STA in August or September to Snowy Mts and try it out!

At least you have done it once in your life

But beware of ankle injuries and make sure you can sustain squats or your train your thighs first. Not much fun if you can't make it after the first hour.

Balmoral Boatshed Kiosk Cafe                 
Around Town
Cuisine CAFE
 Hours Daily 8am-6pm in summer; 8am-5pm in winter
 Address 2 The Esplanade
 Location Balmoral Beach, Around Town
 Transportation Ferry to Taronga Zoo, then bus to Balmoral Beach
 Phone 02/9968 4412

A real find, this beautiful rustic cafe is right on the water beside the dinghies and sailing craft of the wooden Balmoral Boatshed (located to the far right of the central beach as you look at the water). It's a heavenly place for enjoying a breakfast muffin or a ham-and-cheese croissant while basking in the sun. This place is popular with families on weekend mornings, so if you hate kids, find another place.

The Old Coffee Shop
Around Town
 Cuisine CAFE
 Hours Mon-Fri 7:30am-5pm, Sat 8:30am-5pm, Sun 10:30am-4pm
 Location Ground floor, The Strand Arcade, Around Town
 Transportation CityRail: Town Hall
 Phone 02/9231 3002

 Sydney's oldest coffee shop opened in the Victorian Strand Arcade in 1891. The shop may or may not serve Sydney's best java, but the old-world feel of the place and the sugary snacks, cakes, and pastries make up for it. It's a good place to take a break from shopping and sightseeing.

Sushi Roll Sushi/Japanese Near Town Hall
Cuisine                  SUSHI
Hours                  Mon-Wed and Sat 8am-7pm, Thurs 8am-10pm, Sun 10am-6pm
Address                  Sydney Central Plaza
Location                  Downstairs in the food hall next to Grace Brothers dept. store on Pitt Street Mall, Near Town Hall
Phone                  02/9233 5561
Prices                  Sushi rolls A$1.70 (US$1.10) each
Credit Cards                  Not accepted
 Sushi Roll

The fresh, simple food at this bargain-basement takeout is a healthy alternative to the greasy edibles with which many travelers end up satisfying their hunger. A large range of sushi and nori rolls peek out from behind the counter if you turn up at lunchtime, and you can eat at the tables opposite. The gourmet sandwiches and meals served up by other establishments in the food court here make it a good stopover after a morning's shopping and sightseeing.

Supreme View Café Cafe                  Near Town Hall
Cuisine                  CAFE
Hours                  Mon-Fri 7am-5pm
Address                  Level 14. Law Courts Bldg., 184 Phillip St
Location                  Queens Square, Near Town Hall
Phone                  02/9230 8224
Prices                  Main courses A$8-A$13 (US$5.20-US$8.45); coffee and cake A$5 (US$3.25)
Credit Cards                  Cash only
 Supreme View Café

If you happen to be in the city center, then this fabulous, largely undiscovered restaurant/cafe is a must for the great value food and absolutely fantastic views reaching over Hyde Park and even to the harbor. It's very large inside, has panoramic windows, and serves meals from the counter. Breakfasts are hearty and include bacon and eggs, omelets, and cereals. It's particularly handy if you are staying in the lower Oxford street area. All day dishes include the likes of sandwiches, Caesar salad, homemade pies, pastas, and lasagna. Even if you're not hungry it's well worth popping in for a coffee.
According to the manager, about half the tourists who visit Sydney visit this little place in the heart of The Rocks. That's not surprising considering it offers simple but satisfying food at around half the price you'd expect to pay in such a tourist precinct. The interior is uninspiring, but out the back there's a pleasant leafy courtyard. Among the offerings are focaccia sandwiches, hearty soups, salads, burgers, lasagna, chili con carne, and beef curry.

Cuisine CAFE
Hours Sun-Thurs 5am-midnight, Fri-Sat 5am-3am
Address 83 George St
Location The Rocks, In the Rocks
Transportation CityRail, bus or ferry: Circular Quay
Phone 02/9241 3644
 Prices Main courses A$3-$7 (U.S.$1.95-$4.55)
Credit Cards AE

The Gumnut Café

 Hours Daily 8am-5pm; Thurs-Sat until 10:30pm
 Address 28 Harrington St
 Location The Rocks, In the Rocks
 Transportation CityRail, bus, or ferry: Circular Quay
 Phone 02/9247 9591
 Prices Main courses A$8.50-A$14 (US$5.50-US$9.10)
 Credit Cards AE, DC, MC, V

A hearty lunch in a courtyard shaded from the sun by giant umbrellas--ah, heaven. With a great location in the heart of The Rocks, this 1890 sandstone cottage restaurant also has an extensive indoor seating area, so it's a perfect place to take a break from all that sightseeing. On weekends live jazz sets the mood. The breakfast specials (A$8.50/US$5.50) are popular with guests from surrounding hotels, while at lunchtime it's bustling with tourists and local office workers. Lunchtime blackboard specials cost A$11 (US$7.15). More regular fare includes the disappointing Ploughman's Lunch (why spoil a traditional English meal of bread, cheese, and pickles by limiting the bread and adding unappealing vegetables and salad?), the better chicken and leek pies, and good pasta and noodle dishes. Filling Turkish sandwiches cost between A$7.70 and A$9 (US$5-US$5.85). The courtyard is heated in winter, making it quite cozy. It's BYO with no corkage fee.


Everything you need to know about living, studying and working in Sydney Australia

Firstly some links to info on Oz:

The news paper - free online:
There is a real estate section with rental listings: http://www.domain.com.au/

http://www.staticice.com.au/ for comparing electronics - don't be shocked that they are cheaper (buy your printers there)


http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/5day.shtml?world=0093 - weather
https://www.oshcworldcare.com.au/Default.aspx insurance

Commonwealth Bank - CBA is widely available and has a branch in SG

St George has free accounts - low interest

Property rental links:


Allow at least 2 weeks or more to find a place

Street directory:


ABC radio:


Immigration matters and visas:

Note the Australian embassy in Singapore opens till 12 noon everyday only.

Proper planning and budgeting

This forms the backbone of a successful trip and a memorable stay – in a good way.

But there needs to be a proper budget and timeline for getting good quality accommodations.

A simple meal of noodles costs 8-10$Aus. Get real this is OZ, budget your money sufficently so you don't feel miserable and eat maggi for the whole year

Accommodations take time, if you rush you get shoddy places and you are forced to live in it for at least 6 months. Rentals are expensive, get real, and if you need a more budget place, come earlier and plan to explore other suburbs.

EG Strathfield and Chatswood, both very Bukit Timah like suburbs costs more than $6-800/week for a tiny place.

This is not SG (which is also increasing)

But keep your chin up, keep looking and ask around for part-time jobs if you are really hard up. Oz is a great place for learning, living and there is always a way.

My 2c worth

Voltage in Australia is 220-240V.

The country code for Australia is 61 and the area code for Sydney is 02. Dial this number first if calling from outside New South Wales and drop the 0 if calling from overseas. Local calls from public phones cost 40c for unlimited time. You can make local calls from Telstra payphone booths and also from the gold and blue phones found in many shops and hotels.

Long-distance calls can be made from almost any public phone. Buy pre-paid phone cards which make overseas calls very cheap. Many public phones accept Telstra Phonecards which come in $5, $10, $20 and $50 denominations and are available from retail outlets which display the Phonecard logo. Otherwise you can use coins of 10 cents and upwards. Long-distance calls are charged according to distance and rates vary depending on what time you call. The lowest rates are currently at weekends and after 8pm during the week.

Post Office
The postal service in Australia is relatively efficient. Generally, post offices are open Monday to Friday from 9am-5pm. All post offices will hold mail, keeping it for one month before returning it to the sender. For a small fee you can arrange to have mail forwarded to you. If you wish to purchase stamps you can buy them from most newsagents if the post office is closed.

In Australia tipping isn't a must as it is in America and some parts of Europe. It is considered as a 'thank you' for good service rather than an obligation. If you decide to tip, the amount should be in accordance with how good you felt the service was. Ten percent of the bill would be considered reasonable.

Public Holidays
January 1st, January 27th (Australia Day), Good Friday, Easter Monday, April 25th (Anzac Day), June 9th (Queen's Birthday) , December 25th and December 26th. It is a good idea to check the particular area you are heading to as certain towns and cities have their own public holidays. It is worth noting what the public holidays are before travelling to Sydney as the majority of businesses, banks and shops usually shut for the day.

The cost is rising
  • Share with friends if possible, it can be scary if you have not gone away before, but its pretty fun too!
  • There are many unsafe places, in each district, unless you stay in posh areas eg Double Bay.
    Even these can be target for thieves (cos the thieves know the rich stay there)
    Main thing is its not Singapore, take caution in securing your home.
    Be smart, if there is graffiti and lots of barred up shops around, and high gates, it means they are trying to keep crime out, so beware.
    Redfern around Syd Uni is v unsafe, but also v cheap to stay.
    If you are male, it can be colorful, just stay off the streets at night.
    Glebe around the uni is also unsafe and so is Cleveland Rd, but within each area there are high security apartments, but you pay
  • Hey remember, peanuts and monkeys
  • Unilodges are premium cost places for SG and other students who didn't try too hard to find a place to stay, cos its near the uni and convenient with a Coles supermart and other stuff around the corner. The place is well lit and the only bother are partying students and drunks in the place.
  • Out there you will notice there are v few people on the streets after dark and v few people walk alone.

    As for getting uni allocated accom, try booking a year or more ahead.

    Be safe, smart and don't be too cheapo or hiam. Do your homework and go early to recce.
  • There are many rooms (not flats) for 120 - 160 a week in the area around Cleveland Rd, lots of international students on a budget stay there. Its potluck, cos the guy in the next room could be a stud who spends his time bedding the entire neighborhood or a nice Chinese girl who volunteers to clean up the entire house plus tidy your bed.

  • Also the lodge only allows a microwave in the room.
  • Look up Aussie forums too for advice.
    Anyway if you go earlier, you can see if the local surrounding neighbourhoods are not too scary to stay.
  • For girls, safety is better than going budget (actually guys too)


Eating out is not cheap, but if you venture about there are cheap and good places.

Newtown around USyd is cheap and portions are big.
When I say cheap, I mean Aus$ 7-10 a meal without drinks.
3 people can share 2 meals and be pretty full, water is free usually.

Thai food is v good, so is Viet food.

Pizzas are resonable and so are kebabs (5-6$) at Newtown, but they like to use 'chicken salt' which is super high in MSG.

To avoid spending, you will need to cooking or die, or bring your GF along

Groceries are fresh and much cheaper than eating out, but they are still more expensive than NTUC.

Be prepared that you need to spend, so you don't end up crying and hungry.

Even if you are on a budget, do try and eat out once in a while, so you don't shcrimp so much you really feel miserable.

Phone cards

'Hello' and other brands (10% off if you buy from Chinese shops) offer calls home at v cheap rates, even more than regualr phones if you or your folks don't use msn or skype.

Vodafone offers free air time to other vodafone callers in Oz, sms is 25c local and foreign

Buy your recharge at Big W or Woolworth for a 10% discount


They are not expensive but parking in the city is very dear, up to A$18 an hour.

Petrol is cheapest on Tuesday.

Buy 30$ worth of groceries at woolworth for discounts at Woolworth Caltex, or $30 at Coles, Bi Lo for the same at Shell

Woolworth and Aldi have cheaper groceries than Coles.

Buy those meats and veggies with an expiring date "quick sale" tags to save

Use the house brands for more savings

Warm clothes

There are many chains there selling sports gear but in general they are more expensive, unless you go to their warehouse sites.

Kathmandu has a warehouse selling off season and old stuff at Birkenhead point

Paddy Pallin has one in Parramatta - cheap and v nice brands

Lowes is a budget clothing chain with lots of shops in the suburbs.

Ask your friends and relatives, bring less and if you need buy there

Winter can feel very cold to newbies, so keep warm

You can buy cheap heaters in Big W or tool shops and those "$1 cheapo" shops but if you want to save on bills, wear more


Its not Singapore
Shops close early - about 5pm most days except for late night shopping on Thursday, which still closes by 7 to 9pm.

Ask yourself if you need to be Singaporean and shop all the time, when the great outdoors is there for you to enjoy.

Do more recce in the suburbs they are usually cheaper and food is better,
Sydney is city is not Sydney, do venture out


Things are cheaper out of the city

Eg there are many shops selling at warehouse prices out west

Birkenhead point carries branded stuff

Nike, Addidas and Puma warehouses are located around each other in Auburn, along Parramatta road.

You can bargain in Hardly Normal, Clive Peters, Dick Smith and other eletronic shops and ask for a "price match"

For your WHITE GOODS – fridge etc, there is a “QQ” shop at Chullora, which sells the almost new stuff at very good prices.


Coles and Woolworths open early and close late on most days except Sunday

Paddy's market at haymarket has market days on Thurs thru to Sunday
Go last minute to save and buy in bulk with a few friends

Groceries in Chinatown are not cheap

Buy cheap DVDs code 4 at Big W, or get prev rented ones cheap at Civic Video

Cheap TVs are all about, or buy seconds from warehouses along Parramatta road

The outdoors

This is what is fun over there, not parties or getting drunk with the Aussies.

Within an hour of Sydney there are so many parks, forests, real waterfalls not man made to attract tourists.

Do spend some time exploring Oz, before long you will be headed home

Hiking in winter is great, no bugs and you don't sweat in winter.
Get a good pair of hiking shoes, or bring your army boots over.


There are quite a few in town, most have Asians in them.

I recommend CCC at Milson's point, or St Andrew's in town hall if you like mixing with Aussies.

Stationary and batteries

These are much cheaper in SG

But computers and esp printers are very reasonable in price, just buy the 'chiong' cartridges in SG first.

Handphones are cheap in Aus, but you need to look for those who allow no contracts, eg Vodafone


Internet is not cheap, so check that you get internet esp broadband with your rental place. Usually there is a 18mth to 2 yr contract, so it is best to get something tied to the apartment if possible, or see if there is a shorter one.

Before you get a wi fi type connection, check that your place is covered. Sydney is a really big place, and there are many blind spots.

You can also use pre-pay dial up, or unwired


Which is contract free, reception varies.

Find a broadband plan:



They are pretty expensive in Oz, so either get 2nd hand, or get from NUS co-op first which can order for you.
Either that or send them via amazon, it will still be cheaper.

Get lots of files for notes, there is a officeworks store just opposite the Camperdown Campus which opens until 8pm or so

Calculators are cheaper in SG, but there isn't a lot of difference

It is worth your while to join the USyd co-op if you are buying lots of books, membership is lifelong

 Bus and train

The campus is not in the best area, so after dark, i.e. 3-4pm there are buses which will take you to Redfern train station. Redfern is dangerous, and there are muggers (not the Singapore bookworm types) and drug addicts, so be careful.
Take the bus, its free.

As foreign students even though we subsidise the locals we do not get bus concessions

Buy return train tickets, they are cheaper

Also travel after 9am if possible it is half the price

Sometimes the trains undergo repairs on Sundays, so check first

Stay in the blue lit cabins with guards, and don't get into one with a strange man.

Its not Singapore, be street smart

Info on public transport costs:

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