Personal Security 

Sydney is like any other major city, it's not crime free, but it is relatively safe, particularly in the main tourist areas.   There have been problems around George St from the cinemas and south to Haymarket late at night so be careful in this area or don't hang around there too late.  It's a sensible precaution if you're planning to go somewhere off the beaten track, ask at your accommodation about the area you have in mind.

If you're going out on the town to bars and clubs keep a careful watch over your drinks.  There have been reports of drink spiking, most commonly for young women, but there have also been reports of young guys having their drinks spiked.  If you are planning to indulge in some partying, have someone in your group keeping an eye on everyone, like the designated driver principle. Someone who keeps sober and makes sure everyone is OK.

DO NOT HITCH HIKE - EVER!

Beach Safety

One of the big hazards you'll face in Sydney is at the beach. Never mind the snakes, spiders and sharks and any number of other venomous creatures, it's drowning you should be worried about. Patrolled beaches are inspected every day, and an expert decision is made if swimming should be allowed, if so the lifeguards will erect Red and Yellow flags which you should swim between. Swimming outside these flags can be dangerous and is less visable to the lifeguards. If you find yourself in trouble, wave towards the beach or at a lifeguard on the beach. This will inform them you are in trouble, and they will work out the best way to help you. Follow the beach safety rules and listen to lifeguards instructions!

Heat and Sunburn

When you're on holidays and your time is limited you can be tempted to keep doing things in hot weather, even if you are hot and uncomfortable, but make sure you don't let yourself get too hot, and drink plenty of water or sports drinks that replace salt. You should be aware of the symptoms of heat related illness

The sun is very strong in Australia. In summer the UV can be extreme. Limit your time in the sun, wear a hat, keep your shirt on, and use maximum strength sun protection creams applied regularly to exposed areas when swimming. As the saying goes -Slip Slop Slap - Slip on a shirt, Slop on some sun cream and Slap on a hat.

Pesky Critters

So back to the snakes, spiders and sharks..

  • Funnel Web Spiders.  Sorry to disappoint you, but as a tourist you're not likely to come across one of these in Sydney unless you go to the Australian Museum or another place that has some on display - this applies even if you go for walks in the bush.
    However, in some weather conditions and at certain times of year they're more active than others,  so see precautions and first aid below.  There is an antivenin and no-one has died since it's been available, so don't stress about funnel webs.
  • Snakes: they're around, but generally get out of your way before you have a chance to see them.  Not something you should be worrying about, but you should be aware.
  • Sharks.  Popular Sydney beaches have shark nets out to sea   There has not been a fatal attack at one of these beaches since 1936 before the nets were installed. Sticking to patrolled ocean beaches and swimming within the swimming nets in the harbour and bays will ensure you are safe from sharks.

Some precautions if you're staying near bushland, camping or bushwalking:

  • Don't leave your shoes outside where critters can crawl into them. Shake them upside down before putting them on. If they're soft, stamp on them if you've got any doubts.
  • Shake out your clothes if they've been left accessible to critters. Better still pack them away and dont' leave them lying around. If they're wet, hang them up somewhere.
  • Never put any part of your body anywhere you can't see what's there beforehand.
  • Don't go walking barefoot .
  • Keep to paths
  • If you see a snake, don't approach it or harass it. Most snakes will simply leave. Most bites occur when someone is trying to catch or kill the snake.
  • Don't touch caterpillars on gum trees (but by all means look for them, there's some really pretty ones, but most can sting so don't poke them with sticks or anything nasty like that) 

Cute and Cuddly?

You're unlikely to get up close and personal with wild Koalas, but there are places where you can readily access wild populations of kangaroos. If they come up to you, by all means gently pat them but don't feed them.  They can become aggressive if the supply runs out. Stay away, and keep your kids away, from animals that are over assertive.  Kangaroos are easily able to inflict some serious damage if they feel an inclination to.

Children should never be left with wild animals without careful supervision.

Drop Bears

Look seriously, drop bears just aren't something you should be worrying about. 

First Aid for common - or serious incidents

If something does go wrong, you need to know what to do.  The red cross offers good first aid advice on local issues.  If you are in a major accident or you feel your life is in Danger, use your cell phone (mobile phone) or public  phone and contact police, fire or ambulance on 000. This number should only be contact in serious emergencies. It is the equivelent to 911 in america.