ESL Sydney tips - Don't miss out on what the city has to offer!

Outdoor cinema

ESL - ESL Sydney tips
During the summer months of January and February, Sydney’s open air cinemas are definitely the best places to catch a movie. The St George Open Air Cinema ( at Mrs Macquaries Point, next to the Royal Botanic Gardens, is an inspirational setting. Watching a movie with the Sydney City Skyline, Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge as a backdrop certainly beats a trip to the local multiplex! Tickets always sell out, so be sure to get yours as early as possible. Moonlight Cinema ( at the Belvedere Amphitheatre is another option, where you can hire beanbags to make the whole experience even more enjoyable. The Tropfest ( in February is a free short-film festival with a lovely atmosphere.

Music festivals

ESL - ESL Sydney tips
Aussies love music festivals. And why on earth wouldn’t they when the weather is so consistently great? The Big Day Out ( is legendary, but there are plenty more from November until March. Parklife ( in October is great for electronic music, Homebake ( in December is a celebration of Australian music, Soundwave ( in February or March is a mosher’s dream.

BYO (and BYO barbecues)

ESL - ESL Sydney tips
BYO stands for “Bring Your Own”. If you go to a restaurant for dinner in Sydney, you can often bring your own bottle of wine and pay a small corkage charge. It will be much cheaper than buying a bottle at the restaurant. BYO restaurants usually have a sign on the window or door.

For something really Australian, there is nothing better than a barbecue in the park or on the beach. You can find free or cheap coin-operated BBQ facilities in loads of great locations around Sydney including Manly and Bondi. Bring something to cook, something to drink and a bunch of friends for guaranteed good times!

Delicious Asian food

ESL - ESL Sydney tips
Aussies may be famous for barbecuing everything from lamb to kangaroo, but some of the tastiest food in Sydney arrived with Asian immigration. This is one of the best places in the world to enjoy great value, succulent sushi, prepared by expert chefs. Or you can follow the fragrances of lemongrass, coriander and Thai basil into the home of the Vietnamese community in Cabramatta. And then there is Chinese, Thai, Malaysian food... you can’t go wrong!

If you want to visit another city, use the Countrylink

ESL - ESL Sydney tips
If you wish to explore Australia further after your English course in Sydney (you will!), the distances involved will probably be huge. There are various ways to traverse the country, including long-distance buses and internal flights. One of the cheapest and most pleasant ways to travel between cities is on the Countrylink train service ( Not only is it cheaper and more eco-friendly, but you share the experience with all kinds of travellers.

Working Holiday Visa for Australia

ESL - ESL Sydney tips
As the business capital of Australia, Sydney is an excellent place to find work and offers more part-time employment opportunities than anywhere else in the country. Save up some money and develop your language skills in the city before heading along the glorious coastline, exploring the baked outback and enjoying everything Australia has to offer.

The Working Holiday Visa is perfect if you want to spend some time in Australia once your course in finished. Valid for 12 months from your arrival on Australian soil, this visa gives you the freedom to find short-term employment of up to 6 months per job, alongside up to 4 months of study. We believe that working in Australia is a great way to improve your English language skills and really get beneath the skin of Australian culture.

To apply for the Australian Working Holiday Visa, you must have turned 18, but not turned 31, at the time of your visa application. Applications can be made online at

A standard Student Visa for Australia for learners of English includes permission to work up to 40 hours a fortnight while your course is underway (excluding any work undertaken as a registered component of your course) and unlimited hours during scheduled course breaks but it does not give you the right to work once your course is finished.
Find out more about our paid jobs programmes in Sydney.
To watch, read, listen
Lantana (2001) Director: Ray Lawrence
Muriel's Wedding (1994) Director: P.J. Hogan
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994) Director: Stephan Elliot
Strictly Ballroom (1992) Director: Baz Luhrmann

Sydney cinemas
The IMAX cinema in Darling Harbour offers a unique viewing experience, with the world’s largest cinema screen. For something more traditional, the beautiful art deco Randwick Ritz ( is one of the few remaining classic cinemas in the city, but is outside the city centre in the Randwick neighbourhood. Check out the entry on “outdoor cinema” in our Sydney Tips section.
The Secret River by Kate Grenville
The White Earth by Andrew McGahan
Breath by Tim Winton
Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey
Beams by The Presets
Flying Colours by Bliss n Eso
Back in Black by AC/DC

Sydney music venues
Sydney has a vibrant local music scene as well as hosting major touring bands from all over the world. The Metro Theatre ( has a wide range of events, mainly leaning towards hip hop, electronica and rock. It attracts international names. The Oxford Art Factory ( is beloved of hipsters, but don’t let that put you off: it’s a great place to see up-and-coming international artists and local bands/DJs. Manning Bar ( is run by the University of Sydney’s Student Union and is where students go to rock. The Basement ( is the premier blues and funk venue in the city, which also has regular reggae nights. The biggest international names play at the Sydney Entertainment Centre (
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