Archived Responses: 

Husband visiting Sydney on limited budget

Jan 2004

My husband is visiting Sydney in March (a dream realized) and would really appreciate recommendations for where to go, what to see & do, where to stay, eat etc. He has a very limited budget. Thanks! Sharon

Buy the Lonely Planet Sydney book. It's perfect for that. Former Sydney resident. Dana

Brief visit with sprinting toddler

February 2003

Does anyone have any recommendations for our upcoming brief visit to Sydney? We're looking for a cool hotel that won't look ascant at our sprinting toddler, fun things for him to do during the day, and any remarkable places to eat. Thank you- Christina

The zoo in Manly is a fun daytrip, a pleasant ferry ride across the bay from Sydney. Our son also enjoyed visiting one of the wild animal parks (there are several in the Blue Mountains, a bus or car ride away) where he was able to play with kangaroo, koalas, dingos and the like. You can find out about these places from your concierge or local tourist shops. enjoy your trip!
we lived in sydney several years ago and it is a great place for children. i would recommend doing a city search for sydney's summer (it is now summer there) events. there are tons of outdoor events going on in sydney this time of year (such as music in the park, outdoor movies overlooking opera house, festivals and such). also the restaurant i would recommend is the cafe sydney which overlooks the opera house and harbor bridge. try to get a table on the deck or looking on the harbor and do it at dusk for the beautful sunset, food is also great! sydney also has a zoo and you can take the ferry there which is fun. and also a day trip to the blue mountains on the train is a fun time. have fun! chalyn
We went to Sydney last year and but did not take our toddler who was 20 mo at the time. But we found out there would be a lot of things that he would enjoy. Ferries ride itself would be fun. You can take the ferry to Toranga zoo. We stayed at Pacific International Suites,a really nice apartment 1 block from Darling Harbor. Darling Harbor itself would be fun, there is a really nice playground that the kids would like. The beach would be fun for the kids too. There is the Royal Botanial Garden for them to run around. Feel free to email me if you want more info. smartin
We spent a week in Sydney in 2000. I can't recomend a hotel, since our kids were well past toddler age, but I can highly recommend the Sydney zoo. The ferry takes you there (a fun ferry, but watch your child carefully if you stand on the outside deck, since the railings are low and it is pretty open). We also did some fun day-outings (through the blue mountains, and on a dolphin-watch boat), but they involved fairly long bus rides, so might not be ideal with a toddler. In general, we found Australians to be very friendly and helpful. R.K.

Calling home from Australia

February 2003

My husband will be in Australia on business soon, and he likes to call home every day when he's away. Any suggestions for ways to call that won't result in a killer phone bill? There doesn't seem to be anything in the archives that addresses this. Thanks! Kathy

Buy an international phone card from a news stand or corner store. The price is under .10 a minute and will not set you back at all. This is the cheapest way I have found. The cards are very easy to use and can be recharged over the phone. Hadley
try calling cards there are several to choose from Ive found the non rechargeable to be the best economicaly Andrea
I can highly recommend the carrier ''Hello World.'' You can call Australia for 14 cents a minute and they can set your husband up with a code, so he can call you from Australia through them for the same inexpensive rate. I have used their service for years, since I call Germany frequently. Because of the time difference, I sometimes need to call from my work phone and the call gets directly billed to my home phone at no extra cost. There is no ''plan'' cost with this carrier. You only get billed for the calls you make, and if you want, you can set up automatic payment with them too. Here is the customer service number: 1- 888-333-6710. Heike
I have always used an international calling card from companies like MCI. It can be very inexpensive. Vivienne
When in Australia, look for pre-paid phone cards to buy. Because the dollar is so strong down there now, that may be your cheapest bet. I have purchased prepaid phone cards here (Costco is by far the cheapest I've found so far -- comes out to less than 5 cents for domestic minutes), then used them overseas to call the U.S. I also use them here to make long-distance domestic calls. You have to call a customer service number, listed on the back of the card, to get the special access code to call from Australia (or any country you might be traveling to). When you call, they will tell you how many domestic minutes equal one overseas minute. It depends on the country. Here's the customer service number on the back of my Sprint card from Costco: 1-800-203-2821. You could call them for info.

DO NOT use a calling card (i.e. AT+T, SBC). The charges added to your card and the calls themselves are much more expensive than any other method. You could also find out how much collect calls to your home from Australia would be. That way, you'd only be charged for calls when you're actually home to receive them. I still think the prepaid cards are the most convenient. Frequent traveler

You can use a messenger. You could download Trillian for free and have free conversations. The voice or video messengers don't work very well but written communications are great. Regards, Kishore
Definitely try, which is a rechargeable calling card type thing. The rate to Australia by 1-800 access number is $0.055, and by local access number is $0.045 per minute. That means if you have flat rate on your phone for local calls, you pay just $0.045 per minute. The lines are very clear, and they also have several other nice features which make calling very easy. I call China every week, and the rate is only $0.039. You can recharge by phone or on line. Great long distant option. Judy
I forwarded the orginal message to my brother in Australia, who I talk to weekly (he calls because it is cheaper than if I call him). Here is what he sent back to me:

Australian International Long Distance: For international phone call from Australia, I use a prepaid ''Apple'' phone card . Available at most convenience stores (like 7Eleven) or newsagents in major Australian cities. There are many different providers of similar type cards --all special deals-- but I prefer the Apple brand offered by Green Communications. The rate is AU$0.04 minute from Australia to the USA/Canada or Europe (that's US 2.5cents per min) & the quality is excellent. (NOT an Internet call; it's a standard long distance reseller.) No subscription, no sign-up, no flagfall access charges. Billed per exact second. The card is excellent value to call anywhere in the world and within Australia. To use, simply purchase an Apple Card in denomination of AU$10, $20 or $50. (If you purchase $50 card you receive an $5 bonus for total $55 worth of calls.) The card will have unique PIN code & list local dial-in access phone numbers for each major Australian city. Just dial the local access number, follow instructions to enter your PIN and dial your international phone number. Quick note, in Australia each local call from a standard home or business phone line is billed by Telstra (the monopoly local phone provider) at AU$0.25 per local call (untimed). So, just keep in mind that calling the Apple local access number from any home or business line incurs a AU$0.25 local call charge by Telstra ... or from public pay phones it's AU$0.40 for a local call.

Australian Mobile Phone Service: If you already own a GSM mobile phone (GSM is a cell phone that uses a SIM smart card; make sure it is 'dual band' phone as the GSM wave band in North America is different frequency from the rest-of-world), the best deal is the prepaid ''Communic8'' (yes, spelled with the numeric '8') . Great starter deal for AU$25: new Australian mobile phone number, AU$25 free calls (sometimes AU$50 during promotions), voice mail, two months network access, no contract, no subscription, immediate activation and standard mobile phone rates. Purchase at any Telstra phone shop. When call value/network access is depleted, simply add more via credit card or purchase a pre-paid Communic8 'add-value' card available at most supermarkets, petrol stations and convenience stores.

If you don't own a GSM mobile phone, Vodaphone offers a pre-paid mobile phone service kit that includes a new GSM mobile phone - and- SIM smart card with new Australian mobile phone number for about AU$200 . No contract. No sign-up. Purchase the Vodaphone pre-paid mobile phone kit at most convenience shops (7Eleven) or electronic stores (Tandy, Dick Smith, Office Works). You keep the GSM mobile phone and may re-use it in most countries around the world by locally purchasing a SIM smart card (with new local mobile phone) in the country that you visit. Similar to 'Communic8, simply add call value/network access by purchasing 'add-value' pre-paid Vodaphone cards.

-I know this is long, but my brother is unemployed down under (by his choice) and has the time/need to research best/cheapest deals on everything. Hope it helps. Kerri