Greeting someone in Sydney
Similar to both the United States and the
United Kingdom, a handshake is the usual greeting for business and social occasions. Many
Australians have a southern or eastern European heritage and kissing on one or both cheeks
is quite common, particularly for women.
Throughout Australia tipping used not to be
customary, but is becoming more widespread. In a restaurant a tip of ten per cent is now
normal although some restaurants have started adding a service charge to the bill. Porters
and staff at larger hotels can be offered a gratuity for good service, but it is purely
discretionary. Taxi drivers may not expect a tip unless helping with luggage, but it is
usual to round the fare up to the nearest dollar.
Sydney dress code
Suits are often worn for business, but short-sleeved
shirts and suit shorts are widely accepted, with and without a tie. Casual clothes are
fine for sightseeing and in most restaurants, although some prefer smart casual with very
few requiring formal dress.
From Christmas through to the end of January is the
most festive time in Sydney. After celebrating with a Yuletide 'barbie' or picnic on the
beach, Boxing Day is the start of the Sydney to Hobart Race when roughly two hundred
yachts set sail, cheered on by huge crowds around the Harbour. New Year is welcomed with a
fantastic firework display against the backdrop of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. The
Sydney Festival runs for the last three weeks of the month featuring opera, theatre,
concerts and outdoor art installations. Australia Day on the 26th is an all-day all-night
party with a variety of water-borne races in the afternoon and a selection of cultural
events and fireworks in the evening.February hosts the month-long Gay and Lesbian Mardi
Gras Festival with glamour and glitz to rival Rio.
The Sydney Film Festival takes place during the first two weeks of June, with the Manly
Jazz Festival in early October. From mid-September to early November every even-numbered
year, the Sydney Biennale focuses on the cutting edge of contemporary art with exhibitions
at various venues around the city.
The official language of Australia is English, but with a distinctive
accent that is the legacy of the various English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh and Cornish
regional accents of the early free and forced settlers. Australians have an abundant
vocabulary of colloquialisms drawn from varied sources such as the numerous Aboriginal
languages, English words which have fallen from use in the United Kingdom and
abbreviations of commonly used nouns (arvo - afternoon, beaut - beauty/fantastic, mozzie -
mosquito, tinnie - can of beer, ute - utility/pick-up truck).
Getting connected in Sydney
If you travel with a laptop, it is possible to connect to the Internet via
the telephone sockets in most hotel rooms.
Tips for Travelers with Special Needs
FOR TRAVELERS WITH DISABILITIES Most
public hotels, major stores, museums, attractions, and public restrooms have wheelchair
access. Many smaller lodges and even BBs are starting to cater to guests with
disabilities. National parks make a big effort to include wheelchair-friendly pathways
through their more picturesque scenery.
An excellent source of information
on all kinds of facilities and services in Australia for people with disabilities is the National Information Communication Awareness
Network (NICAN), P.O. Box 407,
Curtin ACT 2605 (tel. 1800/806 769 in Australia or 02/6285 3713; fax 02/6285 3714;
e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org). This free service can put you in touch with accessible
accommodations and attractions throughout Australia, as well as with travel agents and
tour operators who understand your needs. Taxi companies in bigger cities can usually
supply a cab equipped for wheelchairs.
A World of Options, a
658-page book of resources for travelers with disabilities, covers everything from biking
trips to scuba outfitters. It costs U.S.$35 (U.S.$30 for members) and is available from Mobility
International USA, P.O. Box 10767, Eugene, OR, 97440 (tel. 541/343-1284, voice
and TDD; www.miusa.org). Annual membership for Mobility International is U.S.$35, which
includes their quarterly newsletter, Over the Rainbow. In addition, Twin Peaks Press,
P.O. Box 129, Vancouver, WA 98666-0129 (tel. 360/694-2462), publishes
travel-related books for people with disabilities.