Sackett’s Guide to Visiting Sydney – Part 1

First, let me say, I’m VERY American. This means I like all my American comforts and stuff.  This will help put this post into perspective when you read it.  I recently got a chance to visit Sydney, AUS to speak at HR Tech Fest 2015.  It’s a great HR Tech conference based in Sydney, with great HR and Talent Pros from Australia and New Zealand.

My wife and I stayed for a week after the conference, because if you’re going to make that 14-hour flight from the states, you really need to stay a while. A week wasn’t long enough, but The Sackett’s kill vacations, so we get a lot done in a week.

I read a bunch about visiting Sydney before we went, but it never seems to tell you the really important stuff. Stuff that will cause an American to be uncomfortable, or slightly put off our normal routine while leaving our great country! So, I wanted to share some real tips for anyone traveling to Sydney from America.

Tim’s Tips to visiting Sydney:

Soda or Pop (Coke, Pepsi, etc.) seems to be hated by Australians.  Soda is super expensive in Sydney. Like $3-5 for a 12 oz can. Plus, you get very limited options. Most places only had Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero or Pepsi Max. That’s it! If you searched you could find Diet Dr. Pepper and Mt. Dew, and a few local sodas, but it’s clear that soda drinking is not something Australians are really into.  Also, no free refills at restaurants! So, you pay $4 for a small glass of Coke, which won’t come close to quenching your thirst or getting you to the finish of your meal! As you can imagine this was a major problem for me! In some bars we went to (during happy hour) the beer was the same price as pop!

Bar and grill type restaurants are everywhere in Sydney, and most have the same exact type of menu: Burgers, which they use as a ‘title’, chicken sandwiches are also called ‘burgers’. Pizza, thin crust, fresh mozzarella, almost no place had pepperoni. Steaks, which were wonderful everywhere we went (great beef in Australia). Some kind of seafood, also very good and fresh in Sydney!  Almost no Mexican food is available, it’s rare. Asian restaurants are everywhere and in all kinds (Chinese, Japanese, Malaysian, Korean, etc.).

Food is extremely expensive in Sydney. Restaurants, stores, etc. doesn’t matter. Plan on spending a ton to feed yourself. Also, portions are much smaller in Australia then in America. The one thing that was similar in portion size and value was the Fish and Chips, which you can get everywhere, and always good!

Customer service. People in Australia are extremely friendly, but they have a different attitude towards customer service. Which is basically, help yourself! There is very little tipping in Australia, and wait staff gets paid like $18-20/hr. Not having to rely on tips to get paid makes them indifferent to really waiting on you! Most bar and grill restaurants you have to go up to the bar and order your own food. If you come in and sit at a table, you will sit there forever and no one will come ask if you want something!

Take Away (takeout) – you will get asked at every eating place if you want to ‘take away’, which means you just want to take your food and leave, not eat at the restaurant. I think this is done because they don’t really want to wait on you! Most locals seemed to take away. The foreigners were the only ones you really wanted full service!

Television is Australia is weird. First, there news broadcasts are very global. Also, there news hosts actually give their opinion! Sometimes very strong opinion. In the states we just hire models with no opinion to give us our news. Australians love American TV, but it’s not on the networks you think it should be. An NBC show in the states might be shown on ABC or Fox in Sydney, but still have the NBC logo! Also, they will bundle a bunch of reality shows on different networks in the states on one network in Sydney. Plus, they’ll show ‘new’ shows that probably played a few years ago in the states, but also mix in new shows as well.

There are almost no African or African-American people in Sydney! Like strangely absent! In a week I literally saw 4 ‘black’ people in a city of millions! It was a bit unsettling. This is also weird since it seemed like Australians were really into HipHop culture.  You heard the music and fashion everywhere, just no black faces. I never did figure this out. But plan on not seeing black people, but seeing Asians and Indians who have Australian accents, not their own countries. This will throw you as well. 

Part 2 tomorrow

5 thoughts on “Sackett’s Guide to Visiting Sydney – Part 1

  1. Love it – I’m a PA girl living in Sydney and each of your points resonate. Maybe you weren’t here long enough to notice your sweet tooth – but Reese’s and Sour Patch Kids have only recently caught on (thank god!) And the Mexican Food Movement is also thankfully growing. #loveyourwork

  2. I’m cracking up. There are no African-American people in Australia because it’s Australia, not America. They would be African-Australian.

    Seems clunky and slightly racist to type that.

    But you’re right — Africa and Australia are far apart, and most of the “black” people are Aborigines (indigenous people). Lots of immigrants from Asia, though, even though it’s still pretty far away. We had delicious Chinese and Thai food in Sydney.

  3. I visited Sydney in 1994 when I was in the Navy. These were some of the things that I experienced as well. However, if I were to live anywhere else in the world besides America (and I wouldn’t) Sydney would be it.

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