The Opal Card: Big City Public Transportation in the Eyes of a Small Town Girl

I have been to Sydney before and therefore felt a certain sense of comfort flying here. I may not have perfect recollection of the area, but I at least knew I had made my way around successfully before, so I could do it again. That being said, I did it completely wrong the first time around! What a bloody fool I was! A good friend of mine has lived back and forth from the States to Sydney for quite some time now and he told me to get an Opal card. Okay? I’m from a small town in the Colorado Rockies…up until I spent some time in Singapore and was forced to use the train there, I had an irrational fear of trains. All those people knowing what they’re doing, and me not having a damn clue. The switching of lines, getting lost, I don’t know, but I wouldn’t have it. Anyway, last time I was in Sydney I got a shuttle bus that brought me to my hostel, it was probably something stupid like $25-30, but that kept me from having to deal with my train fear, the lengths I would go to. Then, all I did the entire time I was in Sydney, was walk. I walked everywhere. Granted I was staying in an area that was a quaint and decently beautiful walk to Circular Quay and the opera house, but still…all the time I could have saved and all of the other places I could have visited if I had just taken the damn trains. And now that my train rant is over, I will get back to my overcoming my fear and using the trains in Sydney, via the magical Opal card.

So you can get an opal card at the airport just outside the train stop/station whatever. Just turn right out of customs/arrivals and go past the McDonalds, those are the directions I’m providing, once you’re actually there…you’ll know.

(No, I don’t have permission from any of these people to put them in my blog, but they’re all looking away conveniently so it’s okay, right?)

The card itself is “free”, you just have to put a minimum of $35 on it the first time. Which is fine because the cost to get to and from the airport is just over $16, so…’re going to be using $32 just for your airport exchanges. I put $40 and moved along, and man the technology these days is astounding! You just tap it on the sensor and it lets you on through. DO NOT forget to tap when you’re getting off though because you will be charged the max amount for that line….which would suck. I feel like I just sound so star struck by this and I am, like I said, from a freakin tiny mountain town, the only public transport we have is the RFTA busses which are not fancy at all (free wifi though so there’s that). We didn’t even have taxis until a few years ago. This stuff is amazing! And so convenient! You can tap on and off with your opal card on trains, light rails, busses, and ferries. So cool! Okay I’m done, I promise.

Actually I lied, I’m not done. Just….get an opal card when you go to Sydney. Not only is it kind of the only way to get around, unless you want to walk everywhere and stay within just the city center or pay boat loads of money for a ferry to manly or bondi (see what i did there? Pun), but it’s also the cheapest and most convenient. You can buy single trip tickets every time you want to go somewhere, but it’s more expensive and takes way longer because there’s almost always a huge cue to pay for tickets. Another benefit is that there is a cap on opal card travel, so once you spend a certain amount during the day it stops charging you. Along with that, on Sundays you don’t pay more than $2 or something and then the rest of your travel is free. Magical.

You can get basically anywhere in Sydney with these, the ferries I think are a little more expensive than the trains and busses, but they’re a little quicker for some places like Manly. Also, you get a wicked cool view from the water of the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House, so definitely take the opportunity to take a ferry somewhere at least once. Part of my irrational fear of trains had to do with trying to figure out where I was going, which terminal and track to be at, which stop to get off at. I don’t know why, that’s why it’s irrational yeah? Anyway, if anyone out there has those same fears, I feel you, and Sydney is extremely easy to figure out. Signs everywhere about which track is going where and it lists each stop in order so you know exactly how many stops are before yours. Along with having departure times. Beautiful, convenient, easy.

Here’s your anecdote about figuring out the train stations though, and your chance to giggle at my stupidity/misfortune/total refusal to admit I’m wrong and turn around. I managed to walk out the wrong side of the train station. This was Central station by the way….so walking out on the wrong side only meant bad things for me, carrying two backpacks that equaled out to about half of my weight. What I should have done originally, while till in the train station, was look at the signs explaining which street I was coming out on. I didn’t do that. Rookie mistake. The next thing I should have done, when I realized that I had come out on the wrong side of the station, was go back inside and cut through the station. But, I refused to look like a lost little tourist with her heavy ass front pack by turning around and going back down and then staring around at signs…so I walked my happy ass all the way around the station. It was torture, and if I could go back in time and give myself a slap….I 1000% would. Now, after all of this, I would like to mention that, while it was ridiculous of me the first time I was in Sydney to walk everywhere, it is quite nice to walk around Sydney as well. Bex (from my hostel) and I did make the mistake of trying to walk to the opera house in the pouring rain which definitely kind of sucked,

but otherwise its great. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the area, check out The Rocks area and do your own little pub crawl (I’ll probably write about that soon). It’s actually a pretty cool city and walking around is not only heart healthy, but getting a little lost sometimes is just what you need.

Anyway, it’s not until I’m writing these blog posts that I realize how many things I SHOULD have taken photos of, but didn’t. And unfortunately this is one of them, so I’m sorry for the lack of media. I’m using some photos from the internet instead but I’m going to make sure to give credit where credit is due. Next post will be about my hostel! Sorry this ones short and shitty! The OG plan was to write about my hostel in this one as well, but it got obnoxiously long sooooo, yeah. Stay tuned!

Look! A photo of NOT Sydney! Pretty though right? Even with the glare #nofilter (basic bitch here; it’s Auckland by the way…and I did actually take his one, ten points) Also! I almost forgot until just now when I’m posting this, opal card does, unfortunately, only work in Sydney, I’m pretty sure you have to get a different one for Melbourne and other areas. Okay…Sayonara for now.