Australia continues to benefit from its multicultural make-up – one of the most diverse in the world – enjoying a wealth of ideas, cuisines and lifestyles. The last census reported that 23% of the population is foreign-born, and over 40% of Australians are of mixed cultural origins. Every four minutes and eight seconds Australia gains another international immigrant. Many foreign-born Australians came from Italy and Greece after WWII, but recent immigrants have mostly come from New Zealand and the UK, as well as China, Vietnam, Africa and India, among many other places. Some 2.2% of the population identifies itself as of Aboriginal origin, and most live in the Northern Territory. Australia’s other Indigenous people, Torres Strait Islanders, are primarily a Melanesian people, living in north Queensland and on the islands of the Torres Strait between Cape York and Papua New Guinea.
A lot has changed in Australia since its original inhabitants, the Australian Aborigines, lived in complex social systems with traditions that reflected their deep connection with the land and the environment. From that time to the arrival of the first European explorers, convicts, free settlers and more recent immigrants, Australia has survived depressions, wars and political scandals; created dynamic cities and legends of ‘the bush’ and the ‘Aussie battler’; provided new beginnings for people from all over the world; and experienced a decline and gradual re-emergence of its Indigenous culture.
A vast island continent situated south of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, Australia lies between the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The world’s sixth-largest country, Australia measures some 4,000km east to west and 3,200km north to south. Much of the interior of the country is flat, barren and sparsely populated. The bulk of the population lives on the narrow, fertile eastern coastal plain and on the southeastern coast. The country’s size means there’s a lot of climatic variation, which also means that any time is a good time to be somewhere in Australia.
Nearly a third of Australia is in the tropics and the rest is in the temperate zone. The coldest areas are in the south-eastern corner of the mainland and Tasmania.
Seasons in Australia
Summer December – February
Autumn March – May
Winter June – August
Spring September – November
Because of its large size, there are three time zones in Australia. Daylight saving also comes into force in some parts of Australia during the summer period.
Time Zones in Australia
Australian eastern standard time (AEST) Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) plus 10 hours
Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria
Central standard time (CST) AEST minus 30 mins
South Australia, Northern Territory
Western standard time (WST) AEST minus 2 hours
Australian daylight saving time (ADST) end of October – end of March AEST plus 1 hour
Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria
Sydney has been voted one of the most beautiful cities in the world and has one of the world’s most celebrated harbours. There is a variety of things you can do and see in Sydney when not studying.
Australia’s beaches are well known around the world, and increasingly we are also becoming known for our great food, wines and a multitude of sporting and cultural activities. Add this to our relaxed lifestyle and great weather and you will quickly understand why Sydney is one of the best cities in the world for students to enjoy
Getting Around Sydney
Central Station has a direct train service to Sydney Airport plus train and coach services to most parts of the country. For weekends away, we can recommend the Blue Mountains and Jenolan Caves to Sydney’s west, the Central Coast of NSW to Sydney’s north, the South Coast of NSW to Sydney’s south and the Hunter Valley wineries to Sydney’s North West. Sydney and its surrounding areas also contain 37 National Parks (including the world’s second-oldest National Park – the Royal National Park) with fantastic walking tracks and campsites, containing plants and animals you won’t see anywhere else in the world.
Parramatta is situated to the west of Sydney, at the end of the Parramatta River. Jet Cat ferries carry passengers between Parramatta and Central Sydney and many commuters choose this relatively pleasant method of travel instead of driving or taking the train. The City is predominantly a business centre because of its ideal location on several major National Highways as well as its close proximity to Sydney.
The City can be reached from other centres without necessarily travelling through Sydney. This is the home to one of the NRL (National Rugby League) top teams and also to one of the Southern Hemispheres largest indoor shopping complexes, The Westfield, which has hundreds of shops, cinemas etc. Parramatta is a rich source of modern Australian history as it is the site of one of the first European settlements on the continent.
A unique ‘feature’ to the city is Church Street, locally known as ‘Auto Alley’ since it is lined with scores of car dealerships. Parramatta is close to the Olympic site at Homebush Bay which also has a ferry terminus. AVLC is only 2 minutes’ walk from Parramatta Station and Westfield Shoppingtown. We are 50 minutes by train to the central of Sydney with trains running every 10 – 15 minutes into Sydney.
Overseas students cannot travel on a concession fare and have to pay full fare. However, Weekly, Monthly, or Yearly Tickets are cheaper. You can also buy a ten-ticket pass called a Travel ten ticket for bus or ferry. Failure to pay the correct fare may result in a hefty fine of $100 or more
There are frequent suburban train services leaving from Parramatta Station, which is a few minutes’ walk from AVLC. Return train tickets are cheaper after 9:00 am and before 3pm. Weekly rail tickets are cheaper than daily tickets. For further information on Sydney Trains including timetables and fares go to www.cityrail.info
Buses And Ferries
From the Parramatta Transport Interchange at Parramatta Station many different bus services operate. Their destinations range to various locations west and into the City of Sydney.
Parramatta City Council run every day a free bus service that loops around the various parts of the Parramatta CBD including the Ferry Wharf in Charles Street. This service runs every ten minutes to 6pm in the evenings Monday to Friday.
Sydney City has many bus services between the suburbs and the city centre. Many bus services travel along George St. or Pitt Streets. Fares start from $1.50 and depend on the travelling distance. Ask the bus driver for the exact fare.
Ferry services run between Circular Quay and Parramatta every day via the Parramatta River. The ferry wharf in Parramatta is located in Charles Street.
There are many other ferry services that run from Circular Quay to suburbs around Sydney. You can use weekly travel passes or Ferry tens to make ferry travel cheaper. For further information on Sydney Bus Services go to www.sydneybuses.info and Sydney Ferries go to www.sydneyferries.info
It is usually easy to find a taxi in Sydney. Prices vary depending on the distance travelled. If you take a taxi on a toll-way you will have to pay the toll for the taxi’s return journey. You can take a taxi from a taxi rank, book one by telephone or you can ‘hail’ a taxi from the street.