Three of us fly into Sydney in January. I've looked up car rentals, and am just wondering logistics wise, if we're heading west to Orange afterwards:

  • is it easier to pick them up from the airport
  • or to train/taxi into town and pick it up from there?

This is because we'll be getting in around 8.30am, and obviously traffic could be a factor around that time. I don't know Sydney that well, apart from as a pedestrian downtown, so am not sure how far time-wise the airport is from open road heading west towards Orange.

Any locals/expats with some facts to assist in this decision? :)

  • shrug, looks good to me. Hadn't thought about the orange vs orange-nsw vs orange-new-south-wales. I think general questions about the state should be new-south-wales, while a way to distinguish orange (nsw) from orange in connecticut, new york or virginia is a good idea. And I suppose we should be as verbose as possible, so I'll re-tag to orange-new-south-wales, I think. Happy with the other changes tho.
    – Mark Mayo
    Nov 21 '11 at 9:44

Most reputable car hire companies will let you pick up from the airport, although I'm not exactly sure where the pickup point is as I live in Sydney and have never needed to do this.

It is absolutely unnecessary to head into the city center from the airport, so just forget about that.

From the airport you're pretty much heading in the opposite direction from the traffic flow to the city if you are heading west towards Orange, so the likely (not promising) situation is light traffic. You'll be traveling out west on the M5 whereas any morning traffic will be heading east towards the city.

Just be careful not to miss the right hand turn onto the M5, the light set up at the end of Marsh street is a bit dodgy, but once you're on and into the tunnel just keeping heading along the M5. Note this is also a toll road so make sure you have a handful of Aussie coins (currently $3.80 until 24 November, $4.40 after then).

So to answer your question, how far are you from open road? About 5 minutes away.

When I did a Google search it suggested going via Richmond, another option is to go via Katoomba. My uneducated guess is that via Katoomba is more direct, however I can't get Google maps to show me the calculations or the correct route for Katoomba. The problem with going through Bells line of Road (via Richmond) you are a little way from civilization so you may have the odd feeling of being lost every now and then whereas via Katoomba you are driving through towns and can always stop and ask directions.


Check out a rental company called Bayswater Car Rental.

From working years in a hostel in Sydney I can say we only ever had good reports about this rental company, though I never rented from them myself. They're a smaller outfit only in Sydney and Perth but with all new cars and they cut out a lot of bogus fees most rental companies charge.

They do not have cars at the airport but they make this claim on their website:

Here at Bayswater Car Rental we are very confident that we can save you money on your car hire. Our rates are regularly about 50% less than the airport car rental companies' rates.

In fact they even have a shuttle from the airport for $5 (but it used to be free)

  • 1
    Unfortunately its not free anymore.
    – Simon
    May 1 '13 at 11:08

Downtown Sydney is a nightmare in a car, particular in the morning in downtown. Not just because of the horrible traffic, but also because of the parking situation and all the one-way-streets, so you're more busy finding your way around the maze than getting from A to B. I would avoid the downtown area at all costs and try to pick up a car from the Airport before heading west.

The link above link looks pretty harmless, but only because all the small streets in the city don't have any traffic data. It took me ~2h (it's only about 10km) to get from north down highway 1 to Manly, because i got delayed and arrived in Sydney sometime during the afternoon rush hour.

Also: Don't rent or buy a car from any of those "Backpacker car rental" places that advertise in hostels or travel agencies...


Getting from the airport to the city centre on the train is very easy, but it isn't very cheap. The airport rail link is quite new, and there's an extra fee for using the airport stations. As such, an adult single ticket from the airport to the city circle (the main city centre stations) is $15. If you have a MyMulti pass (city wide public transport ticket), there's an additional $11.80 fee for using the airport stations. For three of you, you're looking at $45 to get into the city.

However, if you have time and not much luggage, there's two other options for getting into the city by public transport cheaply. One is to walk from the airport to Wolli Creek station (following this map), then take a regular city train in for $3.20 each. Cheap, but means walking for about 30 minutes with all your bags.

The other is to take the 400 bus (Bondi Junction to Burwood via Airport) from to Burwood, and take the train from there (I think it'd be $2 for the bus, then $4 for the train). Note - don't try to catch the bus to Bondi Junction and change to the train there, as it takes an absolute age (~1 hour!). The bus+train via Burwood is only a little more money, takes about the same time as the walk to Wolli Creak, but doesn't involve walking with bags.

I believe you'd be looking at about the $50 mark for a cab into the city centre.

So, depending on how much of a saving there is on picking up the car from town vs the airport, and how much faff you're willing to put up with on public transport, it may or may not be worth it. My experience of morning traffic from going from near the airport, into the city centre is that it's pretty slow going. Parking is expensive, and there's plenty of one way streets and restricted turns to catch you out if you've not got a good map. With that in mind, it might be safer to make your way into the city centre, get over the jetlag whilst seeing the things in the middle, and only get your car once you're ready to head outside the city!

  • 2
    I always take the 400 to Bondi Junction and it can be even slower than you say, depending on time of day. I advise people to expect it to take two hours (but that includes changing buses to get the extra bit further to Bondi Beach). In any case the car rental companies are not based in the Sydney CBD, they are all based in Kings Cross on William St. Kings Cross has a train station but the high price and/or pain of taxis and trains still applies. For three people divvying up the price I would either rent at the airport or if you find a great deal share a taxi to Kings Cross to pick up the car. Nov 21 '11 at 7:58
  • Oh there are also shuttlebuses into the CBD and Kings Cross from the airport. They are likely to be between $10 and $15 per person though so not competitive with a taxi for three. Nov 21 '11 at 8:00

I've rented a great deal from Avis in many Sydney locations. If you are going to Orange then seriously just pick up from one of the many car rental companies there (at the airport) and avoid Sydney city centre. The other advantage of the airport is that you can usually drop the car off much later in the evening than you can in the city centre. Finally to get to the city centre you will need to pay around $15 per person for the train ticket.

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