I am leaving Canada January 25, and get into Melbourne on the 27! I am staying with family for a week or two, and then plan to go to Sydney after that. Any tips on places to stay (hostels) in Sydney would be wonderful! I plan to travel for a few months before settling somewhere and working. I am very open to meeting new people, so if anyone is going to be in Sydney in February and has advice of where to stay, let me know!
Also, does anyone know about the policy of bringing prescription medication in to Australia? I take some meds daily, and have letters from doctors explaining why, but I was wondering if anyone knows exactly how many months worth of meds is allowable.
If anyone knows of any good banks for backpackers, as well as cell phone companys that you could give me info on that would be really appreciated.
Any suggestions of must see places would be great as well! I am fairly open to seeing and going to different places, and don't really have any plans other than going to Sydney after my week or two in Melbourne.
In regards to phone companies, there is a bit of a debate. It really depends what your friends (or soon to be friends) are on. My friends and I are with Telstra. Telstra is great as it provides the pre-paid option (buy cards for say $20 and use it all up instead of a more expensive plan) and it also offers 1 cent texts to other Telstra mobiles. It also has the most comprehensive coverage. For example, I went to a music festival recently and only Telstra mobiles worked. I know some people bought Telstra sim cards specifically to have a working phone at that festival!
Hope this helps.
The commonwealth bank was pretty good for me. There isn't really any must see places in Sydney i don't think i just found the city center quite interesting, and of course Bondi is quite cool, small beach but maybe worth a look, there is a good walk you can take leading up to the beach, from the west i think, kind of mini cliff walk, maybe worth a look.
Then you have the Harbour bridge, Opera house, but i can't say these are must see things.
If you're interested in nature it would be worthwhile heading out to the Blue Mountains, about an hour out of western Sydney. You can do some great guided walks or go with your own group of people, and there are some amazing views.
If you're interested in seeing some of rural Australia, that's where I am at the moment, so give me a buzz. I'm about 2 hours out of Sydney and it's a very different lifestyle out here - sheep, kangaroos, farms....
If you'll be going to some of the more popular tourist spots in Sydney, such as Taronga Zoo and Sydney Aquarium etc, get online because often you'll find deals if you buy a three-in-one ticket or you can save on travel in the city by buying a combined ticket.
Can't say I know much about scripts down there, but when I lived there I used ANZ Bank and it was super easy to open up a checking account with them, but then again what bank doesn't want your money.
As for a cell phone provider, I went through a company called "Talk Down Under" http://www.talkdownunder.com/
who specialize in international travelers and students, and I believe they use Optus for their telecommunication provider. Their plans, in my opinion, where pretty reasonable and they had some good international rates for calls to home which I found pretty convenient from time to time, something like .20 cents a minute if I recall correctly. Hope this helps.
I live in the beautiful countryside of north east Victoria (mountains, well, as high as mountains get in Australia), rivers, bike trails, wineries, local produce and gourmet eating, gorgeous countryside. (21/2 hours north of Melb, by train - catch train to Wangaratta - it's on the Sydney train line!) Your rellos in Melbourne could probably drive you there and take in a trip themselves!
As far as prescription medicines go, you will be able to fill any prescription you have, right here in Oz, so you don't have to worry about stocking up.
I'm not sure how many months' worth is the allowable limit, but as you have letters from your doctors you should be OK, best to check the Australian rules though.
Cell phone (we call them "mobiles" here, but we understand you) companies which I can recommend, Telstra, Optus, AAPT are all very good and have good plans or pre-paid options (which don't lock you in).
Can't help with accom in Sydney, sorry.
In regards to previous post about Bondi - skip it. Bondi is a hype and a dirty beach. Although with that said I should probably mention that I came from beatiful rural towns and beaches further up the eastcoast so I guess as far as Sydney beaches goes - Bondi is supposed to be great? I do recommend Manly beach above Bondi.
I stayed at a hostel at Kings Cross - where there are hostels almost door to door - if you dont like one you can go to the other!
Things to check out - well Sydney is just like any other big city (I'd recomment touring the small coastal towns anyday before Sydney!) but The Rocks is quite nice, as well as the harbour area althought that part is overprized and the Opera House is not that pretty up close. The Botanical Garden is really nice as well.
Blue Mountains is a must and the rest of the coast as well (Ballina and Forster - a must see!)
Have a great time!!