Welcome to the Sydney Meeting and Event Planning Guide, written with meeting planners in mind. With a mild climate, plenty of sunshine, and a friendly "g'day," it's no surprise that Sydney remains an alluring destination for both meeting and leisure travel. The Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, the city's main meeting complex, boasts the most extensive exhibition facilities in the Southern Hemisphere, reflecting Sydney's position at the forefront of Asia/Pacific trade and commerce. Located in downtown Sydney in close proximity to over 16,000 hotel rooms, the center is easily accessible by road, monorail and ferry links. The Convention Center has an auditorium capacity of 3,500 and 20 other meeting rooms with the ability to offer catering for 20 to 600 people.
The Link Building Gallery links the conference center to the Exhibition Center, which provides five single-level exhibition halls. Each hall is almost 54,000 square feet, providing a total area of almost 270,000 square feet.
Darling Harbour, a centerpiece of the city, has undergone the efforts of a major urban redevelopment project. Originally part of the Port of Sydney, the 1980s found the area largely derelict. After extensive renovations and upgrades, it has emerged as one of the world's foremost tourist precincts with over 15 million visitors a year. The harbor is home to numerous unique venues, including the Star City Casino and Chinese Garden of Friendship.
Guests can lounge by the water at Cargo Bar, which, among other rooms, offers its entire upper deck for events of up to 600 people, or enjoy an intimate dinner at the Malaya, a flexible venue for groups of 20 to 300 guests.
Looking at the greater city area, over 50 unique venues, many of which feature the water as a backdrop, are available. Groups of 20 to 1,000 people will never forget their once-in-a-lifetime meeting experience at the world-famous Sydney Opera House. For incredible views of the harbor amongst lush, Australian flora and fauna, the Royal Botanical Gardens offer nearly 100 unique lawn settings for marquee events. For a truly original venue with an atmosphere of smiling faces and street performers, the bright lights and excitement at Big Top, located in waterfront amusement park Luna Park, offers a 2,000-seat auditorium and two spacious bars.
As a corporate and financial center, Sydney's importance extends throughout Australia and well into the Asia Pacific region. Over 90 banks have their headquarters in the city and Sydney is also the regional headquarters of around 500 multinational corporations including Coca Cola, 3M, American Express, IBM and Microsoft. Fox Studios also has a major movie studio in the city. Sydney is also an important center of learning and research and has five large universities offering a wide range of subjects.
Charismatic and self assured, Sydney has rapidly become one of the most beautiful cities in the world and a beacon of national pride; indeed, it's hard to believe this vibrant city is just 220 years old. The first Europeans in Sydney were British convicts shipped to Australia in 1788 to ease the overcrowding in London prisons. At first, the colony floundered, but several gold rushes in the mid-19th century caused the population to soar, and subsequent open immigration policies paved the way for an influx of British, Irish, Scottish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Lebanese, Italian and Indian immigrants, who transformed the city into the multicultural haven it is today. Now, with a population of four million, Sydney is firmly established as the most populous city in Australia and the country's economic hub, providing approximately 25 percent of the country's total gross domestic product.
Nicknamed "the Harbour City", Sydney hugs the shores of Port Jackson, the largest natural harbor in the world, on Australia's southeast coast. A stunning spot, especially on one of Sydney's numerous sunny days, the harbour is always dotted with hundreds of boats and ferries and occasionally dolphins or a humpback whale or two. Circular Quay ferry terminal is both the gateway to the harbour and the gateway to the city, where grandiose Sydney Sandstone heritage buildings, including the Town Hall and the Queen Victoria Building, nestle among a myriad of glittering skyscrapers, shady parks and pedestrian precincts.
The name "Sydney" generally brings to mind the city's most famous attractions, the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, but the city is also renowned for its laid-back surf beaches, especially Bondi and Manly beaches, both a mere 30 minutes from downtown. Grab a board and head out to the waves to join the locals in a favorite weekend activity, or simply stretch out on the glittering sands to soak up the sun. Once the sun goes down, wander through Paddington or Surrey Hills at night to see the amazing range of international restaurants, colorful locals and pumping night clubs such as Selina's Nightclub at the historic Coogee Bay Hotel. Or, for a more low-key venue, enjoy serene waterfront dining at one of many restaurants lining the harbour such as popular Catalina in Rose Bay. From days spent lounging on the beach, shopping or meandering through parks and museums to nights of eating, drinking and dancing, Sydney offers guests a world of opportunities to delight, entertain and inspire.
All average costs based on U.S. Government Per Diem rates as published by the U.S. General Services Administration.
Sydney has a temperate climate with warm summers, mild winters and a high proportion of sunny days, all an effect of the city's proximity to the ocean. The warmest month is January with average temperatures between 19°C to 26°C. Winters are mild with temperatures rarely dropping below 5°C in coastal areas. The coldest month is July, with temperatures averaging 12°C.
Rainfall is relatively evenly divided between summer and winter, but tends to be slightly higher during the first half of the year when easterly winds dominate. The average annual rainfall is 121.9 cm, seen over about 138 days a year. The best time to visit is during October, November and December, when temperatures are mild but rainfall has not reached its heaviest.
Sydney Airport (SYD)
Approximate taxi fare: $44 AUD
The world's oldest continually operating commercial airport, Sydney Airport, located approximately 10 miles south of downtown, is the busiest commercial airport in Australia and the 28th busiest in the world serving 31.9 million passengers in 2007. The airport has three runways and three terminals, T1, T2 and T3. T1 is separated from the other terminals by a runway and functions as the terminal for all international flights.
The airport offers over 150 shops, cafes and bars to help travelers pass the time while waiting for a flight. The Observation Deck Bar and Café, on level 4 with entry via the Esky Bar in the departure lounge of the international terminal, is a great place to relax among fantastic views of the runway, comfortable seating, and the Airport Art Works exhibition that features the work of some of Australia's leading contemporary artists. For some last-minute shopping, the airport has tax and duty free shops including Ralph Lauren, Omega Boutique and Purely Merino. Shops are located both before and after Customs.
The international terminal has previously undergone two large expansions since its original construction, and currently the entire airport is undergoing an AU$500 million development program expected to last 20 years until 2025. The project includes expansion of both international and domestic terminals, construction of a multi-level parking garage and development of a high-rise office structure.
Under the 1995 Sydney Airport Curfew Act, take offs and landings are not allowed between 11 PM and 6 AM at Kingsford Smith International. Guests can travel to and from the airport through the Airport Link underground rail line, with International and Domestic stations located below their respective terminals. The airport also offers a short-term and long-term parking.
Airline carriers serving Sydney Airport
The City Rail network combines three different types of passenger railway: a metro-style underground railway system, a suburban commuter rail system and an interurban rail system. The entire network includes over 300 stations that cover suburban Sydney and extend to Hunter Valley in the north to the Southern Highlands in the south. Within the city, stops include Kings Cross, Circular Quay and the airport. Most trains run from 4 AM or 5 AM to midnight or later. Day, commuter and leisure tickets are available and vary in price based on type and distance.
Sydney's comprehensive bus network extends to most suburbs with frequent and numerous routes servicing all the major downtown areas including the central business district, Darling Harbour and Circular Quay. Number 333 pre-pay bus runs every 10 minutes from downtown to Bondi Beach. Regular buses run daily from 5 AM to midnight. Fares are based on distance traveled, as routes are divided into several one-mile sections. A single bus fare ranges from AU$1.80 for up to two sections traveled to AU$5.80 for 16 or more sections traveled. TravelTen bus tickets are available for 10 single trips ranging from AU$14.40 for 10 trips of up to two sections each and AU$46.40 for 10 trips of 16 or more sections each. TravelTen tickets are pre-pay only.
Sydney's ferries are the most enjoyable way to get around the harbour. Guests can take one of three types of ferry: regular STA ferries, an extensive network connecting 39 destinations from Circular Quay including Balmain, Darling Harbour, Manly, Taronga Zoo and North Sydney; JetCats, quick shuttles to Manly; and RiverCats, operating between Sydney and Parramatta. Ferries generally operate between 6 AM and midnight, although ferries servicing tourist attractions are open for shorter hours. Regular single harbour fare is AU$5.20 and a single ride to Manly is AU$6.40.
Sydney Metro Transit owns and operates Metro Light Rail and the Sydney Monorail.
Metro Light Rail
The Metro Light Rail travels between Central Station and the inner west suburb of Lilyfield via Darling Harbour and Chinatown. Trains make 14 stops, including two interchanges to the Metro Monorail line and Star City Casino. The Metro Light Rail runs 24 hours a day. A single ticket within one zone is AU$3.20 and an unlimited ride ticket is AU$9.
The Sydney Monorail circles Darling Harbour linking it to the city center. Trains make stops every three to four minutes, with a full loop lasting about 14 minutes. Stops include Chinatown, Paddy's Markets, Sydney City and the Convention and Exhibition Centre. A single fare is AU$4.80 and an unlimited ride fare is AU$9.20.
Rental car companies Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, Thrifty and Red Spot Rental operate at the Sydney Airport. Rental desks are located on the arrivals level of terminals.
Taxies are plentiful in Sydney so travelers should have little trouble flagging one down. Fares start at AU$3.50 and increase at a rate of AU$1.83 per kilometer. Travellers should expect surcharges for heavy luggage and road tolls. The average price for a cab to the airport is AU$40, depending on time of day.
Photo Credit : Tourism Australia
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