Let’s be fair – travel writing is not quite for me.

For the simple reason that I really struggle to write anything while travelling – apart from some notes using a good old-fashioned notebook, I’m loath to see a keyboard when travelling.

Yet, once I’m relatively settled – well, that’s another story.

To ease myself back into this, I’m going to cheat slightly – here’s an article I wrote recently for Suite101 – first published here. 

Heavy on facts and light on story – still, informative is what they’re all about.

Sydney on a Budget

Exploring Australia’s oldest and largest city does not have to break the bank, with numerous options available for the budget conscious traveller.

Explore Australia’s oldest city on the cheap.


An excellent way to get to know the city is to take a free walking tour with I’m Free. Departing from the anchor beside Town Hall on George Street daily at 10:30 am and 2:30pm, friendly and knowledgeable local guides will show you round their city and share some local tips on what to see and do in Sydney.

A variety of museums, galleries and other attractions are free to visitors and are great for those looking to explore the cities history or get a local culture fix.

  • The Rocks Discovery Museum (10am -5pm daily) brings the history of the area to life, with exhibitions from the pre – European days to present time in four excellent permanent exhibitions.
  • The Australian National Maritime Museum (9am – 5pm daily) in Darling Harbour is a great attraction for both young and old and brings Australia’s rich maritime history to life.
  • The Australian Centre for Photography (Oxford Street, Paddington), Art Gallery of NSW (across the expressway from the Royal Botanic Gardens) and the Manly Art Gallery (Manly West Street, Manly) have wonderful local and foreign exhibitions.
  • For something a little different, pay an early morning visit to the Sydney Fish Market (auctions from 5:30am) in Pyrmont to watch the market in full swing.
  • The Royal Botanic Gardens (7am to Sunset daily) offers an exquisitely maintained, quiet, green getaway right next to the CBD. Head for Mrs Macquarie’s Point for some of the best views of Sydney’s harbour, including its two iconic landmarks, the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.


A free bus service – number 555 – runs a loop from Circular Quay through the CBD to Central Station along George and Elizabeth Street, running every 10 minutes in both directions. This service runs from 9:30am – 3:30pm (and until 9pm on Thursdays) and from 9:30am until 6pm on weekends.

Some of the best views of Sydney are undoubtedly from the water. Instead of taking an overpriced sightseeing boat tour, catch the return ferry from Circular Quay out to Manly. Each way takes roughly 30 minutes and a return trip costs $13.20. Offering excellent views of the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and other harbour attractions such as Watson’s Bay and Fort Denison, this is definitely a must do while in Sydney.

Budget Eating

Some of Sydney’s best, and most affordable dining can be found in Newtown and Chinatown. Newtown, a student area close to the University of Sydney offers cheap Thai food and is a trendy, funky area with plenty of cafes and bars. Chinatown, behind Central Station offers a smorgasbord of Malaysian, Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, Japanese and Korean at affordable prices.

Close to Circular Quay, Ship Inn offers $10 pizzas on Monday and Tuesday, while The Orient in the Rocks offers a $10 bar food Monday.

Lastly, but certainly not least, travellers in Woolloomooloo will find a Sydney institution on the waters edge. Renowned for its 24 hour service, affordable and tasty meals, Harvey’s Café de Wheels has been serving Australian favourites like pies, mushy peas, mash and gravy since 1945.

Published in: on 09/12/2011 at 12:59 am  Comments (2)