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The talesofasia guide to Sydney

Updated April 13, 2005


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Matt Kemp's monthly column on life in Sydney


Getting around Sydney

Once you are comfortable navigating the public transport network, Sydney is a relatively easy city to move around in. You can buy a range of tickets from individual trips, unlimited day, month and yearly passes for one or all (Rail, Ferry and Bus) transport networks. Generally speaking, the longer your ticket is valid for the cheaper each trip becomes.


The city circle (which is comprised of Central, Town Hall, Wynyard, Circular Quay, St James and Museum Stations) is the inner hub of the city wide rail network and connects the 9 major rail lines. Town Hall, Central and Redfern (which is one stop south of Central) Stations are the major interchange points on the network, while Circular Quay provides the major connection to the ferry service. Rail timetables for all lines are available free of charge from station staff. The following guide is a brief summary of each line. The final destination of trains varies depending upon the timetable. The final destination of each train, departure times, and each station the train will stop at is displayed on the scrolling monitors on the relevant platforms.

  • Eastern Suburbs & Illawarra Line

The Eastern Suburbs & Illawarra suburban line runs from Bondi Junction through the CBD (stopping at Kings Cross, Martin Place, Town Hall and Central Stations), to Waterfall in the south. This line also has a second arm which branches after Sutherland which will take you to Cronulla. You can change trains at both Central and Wolli Creek Stations to connect with the Airport line service. Bondi Junction is a major bus depot, with services departing to most locations in the eastern suburbs (Bondi, Coogee, Bronte beaches etc) and back to the city.

  • Bankstown Line

The Bankstown line runs from Town Hall Station, via the city circle out to Bankstown, terminating in Liverpool in the west. The line also branches after Birrong and connects with Lidcombe where you can change for trains on the Southern, Inner West, North Shore and Western lines.

  • Inner West line

The Inner West line also connects Town Hall and Liverpool Stations, but runs through the inner west via Burwood and Strathfield.

  • Cumberland Line

Far out in Western Sydney, the Cumberland Line runs between Blacktown in the northwest to Cambelltown in the South West. You can change trains at Glenfield for the Airport and East Hills Line, Liverpool and Cabramatta for the Southern, Inner West and Bankstown Lines and Parramatta, Westmead and Blacktown for the North Shore and Western Line.

  • Airport and East Hills Line

The Airport and East Hills Line runs between Town Hall through the city circle, through the domestic and international airport terminals before heading west through East Hills and then south to its termination at Macarthur. You can also join the Airport and East Hills Line at Wolli Creek from the Eastern Suburbs & Illawarra Line

  • The South Line

Starting at Museum Station, the South Line runs through the city circle, west through Burwood, Strathfield and Lidcombe to Granville. Here, it heads south through Cabramatta, Liverpool and Glenfield to terminate in Cambletown.

  • North Shore and Western Lines

This line begins in Mount Kuring-gai in the far north, runs down through the North Shore suburbs (Chatswood, St Leonards, North Sydnet, etc) and across the harbour bridge into the Wynyard, Town Hall and Central Stations. From here it heads west out to Blacktown where the line splits to either head north west to Richmond, or further west to Emu Plains

  • The Northern Line

The Northern line is a half loop that begins in North Sydney and runs across the harbour bridge into the CBD stopping at Wynyard, Town Hall and Central Stations. Following the same route as the Inner West and Southern Lines, it then tracks west as far as Strathfield before branching north through Meadowbank and West Ryde before terminating at Hornsby, where you can join the North Shore and Western Line.

  • The Carlingford Line

This is the smallest line on the city rail network. It links Carlingford with Clyde in the central west. Here you can change trains to join the North Shore and Western Line and the Southern Line.

Late Night Transport

Trains generally do not operate after midnight, or before 5am. The ‘NightRider’ Bus network (which is not quite as fast or exciting as its name may suggest) replaces rail services during these hours. There are nine Night Rider routes that approximately mirror the rail networks, but do not go as far as the rail services (i.e. there are no night buses to Emu Plains in the west, Waterfall in the South, Mount Kurang-gai in the North, etc) and make fewer stops. The buses depart every hour from George Street directly opposite Town Hall and Railway Square (Central Station) Look for the conductors in the orange and silver vests if you need help with getting a bus. The timetables and route information for each route can be found at the back of the corresponding rail line timetable.


Iconic green and yellow Sydney ferries, along with the fast cats that travel out to Manly and Parramatta serve the inner and outer Sydney Harbour. Circular Quay is the major ferry hub, and you can also access rail services here. There are six wharves at the Circular Quay terminal, with destinations and departure times detailed on the electronic boards at the entrance to each wharf. Ferry timetables and fare information may be downloaded from www.sydneyferries.info


The Sydney bus network is extensive, goes pretty much everywhere most of the time (there are more than 300 different routes operating each day) and has departure points from all over the city (depending upon where you want to go). Visit www.sydneybusses.info for route / timetable and fare information or call 131 500 from within Sydney.

Sydney index page
Getting there
Getting Around
Staying there
Things to See and Do
Matt Kemp's monthly column on life in Sydney

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