Our towns: Sydney

Sydney is perhaps famous for the wrong things: most people know it for the Sydney Harbour Bridge and The Sydney Opera House.

And whilst they are interesting, they are not the things we find the most attractive about Australia's de facto capital.

For whilst the official federal capital is in the purpose built Canberra, and before that Melbourne was the capital, Sydney is the iconic Australian city: it is the primary commercial centre, the principle financial centre and the place every tourist to Australia visits, even if their primary purpose is to go on to somewhere else.

Sydney is a wonderfully preserved Victorian city, in its heart the sandstone buildings are imposing and – unlike so many other capitals - clean.

The visitor's first impression on arrival in central Sydney is “where's the traffic?” The pedestrian crossings seem almost pointless as even busy junctions are, by the standards of other great cities, remarkably calm and quiet.

And the people are so polite: there is none of the bashing and cursing that a simple street walk in pretty much any big city entails.

Central Sydney is small: it's easy to walk around. Even so, there is a public transport system that works extremely well.

Sydney is full of the most innovative cooking: simply, it just seems as if no one told Sydney chefs that there should be rules – and even small pubs produce food of outstanding quality.

Whilst the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House are probably the reasons most people go to Sydney, we have to say that we don't think they are the reasons people return: for that, it's the climate, the buildings, the people and the food.

Join us in Sydney: you won't regret the trip.

Our Venue

The Financial Crime Forum holds its events in the city centre.

Nearest stations: Museum and Central (note: Museum is a preserved Victorian station with steep steps, no lifts and no escalators. Not recommended for those with heavy bags or walking difficulty).

Arriving in Australia

Visa

Every visitor to Australia needs a visa. For many countries, the Visa is free although airlines (which are authorised to issue the visa from ticket offices) may charge a small administration fee. Check with the Visa section at your local Australian Embassy or High Commission, or on the Australian Immigration website for detailed information.

DO NOT LEAVE IT UNTIL CHECK IN TO GET A VISA IN CASE YOUR AIRLINE SYSTEMS ARE DOWN, THE BOOKING OFFICE IS CLOSED OR THERE IS INSUFFICIENT TIME TO GET THE VISA BEFORE CHECK IN CLOSES. No visa, no go!

At Sydney Airport:

Sydney Airport is a modern airport but, by the standards of many, it's not very big. That means that getting to and from your plane does not entail the long walks that so many airports now demand.

It's a good idea to get all of your documentation ready because there are many immigration desks but they fill up quickly and the queues can be long. If you have your completed documents in your hand, you will gain a head start.

Australian immigration and customs are very attentive. You may find that, even after immigration, immigration officers approach you. They may ask the same or different questions to those asked at the immigration desk.

Your bags will be x-rayed after you collect them from the carousel. Then you will walk through Customs proper.

At busy times, this process can take a while.

To avoid problems, take special care not to pack (or pick up in duty free or on the plane) anything that is banned including fruit and many food products.

For more information, visit the Australian Customs website.

After Customs, turn right and walk.

After about 50 metres, on your right, you will see a bureau de change and a Citibank ATM. This is the most convenient place to get Australian Dollars which you will need for whatever form of transport you choose.

Now you can choose from three modes of transport:

Buses

Taxis

Trains.

Our recommendation is to take the train. Sydney's railway system is efficient, safe and clean although by the standards of most Asian capitals it's quite expensive.

There is an information desk which does not sell tickets. The ticket office is down a set of escalators (enter the corridor through the doors to the right of the information desk) or the lift (to the left of the information desk).

Trains run to the city centre about every fifteen minutes. The cost (2007) is about AUD13 each way and the journey to Museum takes about twenty minutes. Sydney's trains are double decker and so users do have to be able to use stairs although there are only five steps in each flight.

Check with your hotel which is the nearest station to the hotel.

At Museum station, leave the station following the Liverpool Street exit. Keeping Hyde Park on your left, walk to and cross Elizabeth Street. Goulbern Street is the next road you come to. At the traffic lights pay particular attention to the pub on the corner: it's good, cheap and the food is excellent. And it's got a very welcoming crowd.

At those traffic lights, turn right (remaining on the same side of Goulbern Street and walk approximately 100 metres. You will cross a small lane. The SMC is the tall glass fronted building immediately across the lane. There are steps at the front of the building and a ramp about ten metres further along the building.

The SMC is about five minutes' leisurely walk from Museum station.

There are many hotels nearby ranging from luxury to budget.

Getting home

Returning to the airport by railway, you will come up several escalators. When you eventually come back to the corridor by the information desk, there is a further escalator opposite the doors: go up that escalator to get to the departures area.

It is not well signposted so remember not to turn right as if returning to arrivals.

The airport lounges are somewhat difficult to locate: you should ask check in staff for exact instructions if you are using the lounges. And there are no departure announcements so be careful not to be late or you may find that your bags are dumped on the tarmac and your plane goes without you!

© 2009 The Financial Crime Forum.