Do the admin and see the attractions at the same time with our nifty guide…
Starting on a High
We suggest you start with off with a taste of the glory. Race up the 1504 steps (or catch the lift – the choice is yours) to the top of Sydney Tower, for arguably the best views of this stunning city, from 250m-up. The big gold spike dominates the skyline of the Central Business District (CBD), but when you’re right near it, it starts getting shy and hides from you. Look for the Centrepoint shopping centre, at the corner of Pitt Street and Market Street. From the top, on a clear day, you can see all the way out to the Blue Mountains in the west, the Central Coast in the north and to Wollongong in the south. Entry to the tower costs $24.50, and though that might sound sky-high, you do get more than a spectacular view for your money. Plus if you’re new in town it’s a great way to get your bearings.
Having a Good Bank
Right, it’s going to get boring. Deep breath… It’s time to open a bank account – something that will come in handy if you ever want to get, well, paid. All the major banks have branches in Martin Place (the massive pedestrianised street a couple of blocks north/towards the harbour), so that’s the easiest place to start this mission, especially if you’re still shopping around for a bank. The major fiscal institutions here are ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac. There are others, but make sure they have branches across the continent, or you may end up stuck in the middle of Wolf Creek country without so much as two shillings to rub together. Whichever bank you choose, Australian law requires you to provide 100 points worth of identification to open an account. If you’ve been in Oz for less than six weeks, your passport will count as 100 points, but if you’ve been in the country longer, you’ll need at least one other piece of ID, such as a photo driver’s license, credit or debit cards. Call ahead to check, or take all your ID to be safe. Some banks also require that you deposit some money when you open the account, so make sure you’ve got a couple of bucks up your sleeve. One more thing – get it sorted by midday or you’ll have to cope with long lines of disgruntled office workers (and half of TNT) doing their lunch-hour banking. Speaking of which, once you’ve finished with the world of high finance, it’s time for your lunch. You might want to enjoy your meal in the great outdoors – the Royal Botanic Gardens to be exact. To get there, head up the hill to the top of Martin Place, then head down Macquarie Street past the NSW Parliament House and State Library, once again heading down towards the harbour. Then about 300m down the road on your right is an entrance to the gardens. You may just want to lie back on the grass and watch the world meander by while you enjoy your lunch (there’s a cafe and a restaurant, or pick up a picnic from the CBD)? If it’s action you’re after, there’s plenty to see, including the giant fruit bats cutely squabbling in the trees in the Palm Grove area near the restaurant; the spectacular glass pyramid of the Sydney Tropical Centre; the massive Moreton Bay fig trees; everything from rose gardens and herb gardens to oriental gardens; plus the classic Sydney photo from Mrs Macquarie’s Chair.
Take a relaxing stroll around the foreshore to the Sydney Opera House, where you can take loads more happy snaps in front of this Sydney icon, as well as that other one located just across Sydney Cove, the Harbour Bridge. You may even feel flushed enough to take a tour of the Opera House (one-hour tours will set you back $27.50, or $25 if you go at 9am, 9.30am or 10am. For more info, Ph: (02) 9250 7250). When you’re sick of looking at great views, head to the MetCentre (273 George Street, at Australia Square). It’s the big, cylindrical-shaped building on your left about 400m up from Circular Quay, and shouldn’t be too hard to find. Here you’ll find one of the city’s Medicare offices, where you can get a Reciprocal Health Care card (assuming you are from the UK, Ireland, New Zealand, Sweden, Finland, Norway, the Netherlands, Malta or Italy) so that if you get “crook” while you’re in Australia you’ll be taken care of. With your card you can get free emergency treatment at public hospitals, subsidised prescriptions, and necessary medical care from your local doctor and all you need to take along is your passport (with your visa). They’ll post your Medicare Card, so make sure you’ve got an Aussie mailing address, too. For more info, visit Medicare or Ph: 132 011.
A Taxing Time?
Last bore-chore: your Tax File Number (TFN). Australian Taxation Office tell us it’s easier and quicker to do this online. So saunter up to a cyber cafe (again, with your passport and visa) – there are tons around Central Station – and, after you’ve checked your emails, football scores and, ahem, www.tntdownunder.com, go to the http://www.ato.gov.au[Australian Taxation Office]. Working Holiday Visa holders should enter “TFN online” into the search box; select number two on the list (i.e. “Online individual Tax File Number registration current from: 07 May 2007”); then “Apply for a tax file number” and work through the questions. Any problems, try Ph: 13 28 61. After all that, it must be beer o’clock already…