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Sydney International Airport is 8 kilometers (about 5 miles) from the city center. The international and domestic terminals are separate, but are linked by regular free shuttle buses. In both terminals, you’ll find free luggage carts, wheelchairs, a post office (open Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm), mailboxes, duty-free shops (including one before you go through customs on arrival), restaurants, bars, stores, showers, luggage lockers, and tourist information desks. There is also a State Transit Kiosk selling bus, train, and ferry tickets; a New South Wales Travel Centre desk offering cheap deals on hotels; and a Thomas Cook currency exchange. The airport is completely no-smoking.

Getting into Town Fast and comfortable green-and-yellow Airport Express buses travel between the city center and both the international and domestic terminals from 5am to 11pm. The number 300 bus runs to and from Circular Quay, The Rocks, Wynyard, and Town Hall every 15 minutes Monday to Friday and approximately every 30 minutes early mornings, nights, weekends, and public holidays. The trip to Circular Quay takes about 45 minutes. Bus 350 runs to and from Kings Cross, Potts Point, and Elizabeth Bay every 20 minutes and takes around 30 minutes to reach Kings Cross. Both buses travel via Central Station (around 20 minutes from the International Terminal).

Bus 351 leaves for Coogee, Bronte and Bondi beaches every 30 minutes. It takes around 55 minutes to reach Bondi Beach from the International Terminal. Bus 352 travels between Central, Chinatown, Darling Harbour, the Star City casino, the Sydney Fish Markets, and Glebe, approximately every 30 minutes. The trip time is about 30 minutes to Darling Harbour and 50 minutes to Glebe.

One-way
tickets for all buses cost A$6 (U.S. $4.20) for adults, A$4 (U.S. $2.80) for kids under 16, and A$15 (U.S. $10.50) for families (any number of children). A round-trip ticket costs A$10 (U.S. $7) for adults, A$5 (U.S. $3.50) for kids, and A$25 (U.S. $17.50) for families. You must use the return portion within two months. Buy your tickets from the Airport Express booth outside the airport terminal, or on the bus. The Airport Express buses also travel between the international and domestic terminals; an interterminal ticket costs A$2.50 (U.S.$1.75) for adults, A$1.50 (U.S.$1.05) for children, and A$6.50 (U.S.$4.55) for families.

The
Kingsford Smith Airport Coach also operates to the city center from bus stops outside the terminals. This service will drop you off (and pick you up) at your hotel (pick-ups require at least one hour’s advance notice; call tel. 02/9667 3221). Tickets cost A$6 (U.S. $4.20) one-way and A$11 round-trip (the return portion can be used at any time in the future).

Privately operated
shuttle buses also connect the airport with city center, Kings Cross, Darling Harbour, and Glebe hotels; you’ll have no trouble spotting them when you leave the terminal. These buses depart when they’re full and run from the city to the airport between 5am and 8pm and from the airport to the city between the first and last flights each day. Each company requires advance reservations for pickups from your hotel to the airport. One company to try is Silks Sydney Airport-Hotel Transfers (tel. 02/9371 4466; e-mail: Silksydtransfer@seltek.com.au). The one-way fare is A$6 (U.S. $4.20) for adults and A$4.50 (U.S.$3.15) for children 5 to 11. These buses are less comfortable than the government buses and can take much longer since they stop at numerous hotels.

The
Bondi Jetbus (0500 886008 mobile phone; fax 02/9487 3554) will deliver you anywhere on the eastern beaches, including Bondi and Bronte. Tickets are A$8 (U.S. $5.60) for adults and A$4 (U.S.$2.80) for children. Call when you arrive at the airport, and they’ll come pick you up within 15 minutes or less. The Pittwater Airport Shuttle (tel. and fax 02/9973 1877) will take you to any of the northern beaches. A trip to Manly, for example, costs A$20 (U.S. $14) for the first person, A$10 (U.S. $7) for the second, and A$5 (U.S. $3.50) for each subsequent passenger. Shuttles depart the airport around six times a day; it may not be worth your while waiting around for the next shuttle when a taxi for two to Manly will cost around A$40 (U.S.$28) anyway. Reservations are essential and must be made a day in advance; travel agents can make reservations for you.

A
taxi from the airport to the city center costs between A$16 (U.S.$ 11.20) and A$20 (U.S. $14). To Kings Cross expect to pay around A$28 (U.S.$19.60).

Money Saving Flights

If you are flying from America, keep in mind that the airlines' low season is mid-April to the end of August-this is when you'll find the cheapest fares. High season is December through February, and shoulder season is September through November, and again from March to mid-April. Keep an eye out for special deals offered throughout the year. Unexpected lows in airline passenger loads often lead airlines to put cheap offers on the market. The catch is these usually have a short lead time, requiring you to travel in the next six weeks or so. Some deals involve taking a circuitous route, via Fiji or Japan for instance. Canada 3000 has good rates from Vancouver in low season and often has promotional specials. Austravel (tel. 800/633-3404 in the U.S. and Canada publishes a quarterly guide to airfares, carriers, stopovers, and flying times to Australia. Some travel agents specializing in cheap fares to Australia include Austravel (tel. 800/633-3404 in the U.S. and Canada; www.austravel.net); DownUnder Direct, which is a division of Swain Australia (tel. 800/22-SWAIN in the U.S.); Goway (tel. 800/387-8850 in the U.S. and Canada; www.goway.com); and South Pacific Travel Shops (tel. 800/894-7722 in the U.S. and Canada; via www.inta-aussie.com).

Consolidators, also known as "bucket shops," are another good source for low fares. Consolidators buy seats in bulk from the airlines and then sell them back to the public at low prices, sometimes even below the airlines' discounted rates. Their small ads usually run in the Sunday travel section at the bottom of the page. Before you pay, however, ask for a confirmation number from the consolidator and then call the airline itself to confirm your seat. Be prepared to book your ticket with a different consolidator-there are many to choose from-if the airline can't confirm your reservation. Also be aware that consolidator tickets are usually nonrefundable or rigged with stiff cancellation penalties, often as high as 50% to 75% of the ticket price.

Council Travel (tel. 800/2-COUNCIL; www.counciltravel.com) and STA Travel (tel. 800/781-4040; www.sta.travel.com) cater especially to young travelers, but their bargain basement prices are available to people of all ages. Other reliable consolidators include 1-800-FLY-CHEAP (www.1800flycheap.com); TFI Tours International (tel. 800-745-8000 or 212/736-1140), which serves as a clearinghouse for unused seats; or "rebators" such as Travel Avenue (tel. 800/333-3335 in the U.S. or 312/876-1116; www. travelavenue. com) and the Smart Traveller (tel. 800/448-3338 in the U.S. or 305/448-3338), which rebate part of their commissions to you.

You can also search the Internet for cheap fares-though it's still best to compare your findings with the research of a dedicated travel agent, if you're lucky enough to have one, especially when you're booking more than just a flight. A few of the better-respected virtual travel agents are Travelocity (www.travelocity.com) and Microsoft Expedia (www.expedia.com). Just enter the dates you want to fly and the cities you want to visit, and the computer roots out the lowest fares. Expedia's site will e-mail you the best airfare deal once a week if you so choose; Travelocity will email you whenever fares change. Travelocity uses the SABRE computer reservations system that most travel agents use, and has a "Special Deals" database that advertises really cheap fares for those who can get away at a moment's notice.

 

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