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                                                  Traveler Tips

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.

Tipping advice
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.
Local Customs
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 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; 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.




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