Cheap Sydney

An all-inclusive 7 day holiday in Sydney for 5 people, JUST $618!

Is such a cheap Sydney trip really possible? Let us demonstrate how we recently enjoyed Sydney on a budget. We'll show you bargain accommodation, free Sydney attractions and much more, so you'll be convinced that you too can have a fun and cheap Sydney trip.


Sydney Harbour Bridge Looking North

Our Cheap Sydney Trip: August 2010

Summary of Expenses
Accommodation $222
Food $200
Car Fuel $40
Parking $69
Road tolls $19
Attractions $68.50
Total Holiday Cost $618.50

Cheap Sydney Accommodation

For our 7 nights in Sydney, we stayed at the Lane Cove River Tourist Park, situated 10km north of the Sydney city centre, in the Lane Cove National Park.

We found it to be a convenient, quiet, peaceful place to retreat to after enjoying the city sights throughout the days. The park staff were friendly, and offer a free night time wildlife spotting tour, which we enjoyed on one of the evenings.


The amenity blocks are clean and modern, and free BBQ's are scattered throughout the park.

Travelling to the city each day is reasonably simple. Either take your car (as we chose to do), or use one of a variety of public transport options.

North Ryde train station is an approximate 900m walk from Lane Cove River Tourist Park, and trains leave for the city every 15-30 minutes. The quickest trip to the city is via Chatswood, with North Ryde to Chatswood taking 10 minutes, and Chatswood to the city approx 15 minutes.

Another public transport option is bus, with the bus station being an approximate 900m walk from the park.

The cost for a powered caravan or campsite is $37/night for 2 adults, with children under 12 free. (Older children or adults, $10 extra). An extra bonus, pay for 6, receive the 7th night free. Since all our children are under 12yrs, our accommodation averaged $31.72/night, totalling $222.


There are not many caravan parks in Australia which offer accommodation to a family of 5 for $31.72/night, let alone within 10km of the Sydney city centre. Well done, Lane Cove River Tourist Park for offering such cheap Sydney accommodation!!

Even if you don't have your own caravan or tent, it is still worth considering staying here. Ensuite cabins for 2 people are available for $121/night or if staying 7 nights, average just $103.71/night (total $726/wk). Family cabins accommodating up to 5 people cost $145/day for 2 people + $5/child < 11yrs or $10/older child or adult. Again, the 7th night is free. These cheap Sydney prices are valid in 2010 and include all linen, blankets and towels and a fully appointed kitchen.


Go to Lane Cove River Tourist Park website.


Food is where a lot of money can be spent or conversely, saved. So our best "Cheap Sydney Food" tip is to "TAKE YOUR OWN!!" Many people like to take the opportunity while on holiday to have a break from cooking and sample different restaurants and food, but if you are on a limited budget, that's one sure way to quickly eat up your precious dollars (especially if dining out with a family).

We saved money by simply taking all our own food with us. We planned out a simple and flexible menu, shopped the day before we left, and pre-cooked a couple of meals. This way we spent the same amount of money on food as we would if we were at home.

We found there were many advantages to taking our own food:

  • Saves (LOTS of) money!

  • No time wasted shopping for food, locating restaurants, or waiting endless amounts of time to be served meals.

  • No arguments with children over food! Our children didn't even think to ask for food from the shops (so we didn't have to say NO) - they were simply aware that we were carrying all of our snacks and meals. There were no family arguments over where or what we would eat or tension over how much it would all cost.

  • On the days when we arrived back at the caravan park exhausted, we used one of the pre-cooked meals, and simply heated it up.

  • We ate a healthy selection of foods - not snacking on hot chips, chocolate bars and ice-creams that are so readily available.

  • Healthy food is readily on hand for when hunger strikes at awkward times - for the child who is hungry while you're standing in line, or on the bus or ferry or any other awkward time. In addition, you can eat lunch or snacks whenever it suits you, not having to plan your itinerary around where the restaurant is that you wish to eat at.

TIP: For a cheap and easy treat for the family, McDonalds sell soft serve ice-cream cones for 50c each. We admit to buying each of our family members one of these on 2 occasions, costing a total of $5.00! Now that's definitely cheap Sydney food!



Travelling 400km during the week cost us $40. Below are the details for anyone interested!

  • 265km round trip from home to Lane Cove River Tourist Park.
  • 25km x 5 - round trip to Sydney city on 5 days.
  • 10km - round trip to local shop.

Since our Toyota Prado uses LPG at a rate of 20L/100km, and cost of LPG was $0.50/L -

Our total Cost of fuel was: 80L x $0.50 = $40.

TIP: If looking for cheap Sydney fuel, running a vehicle on LPG is very economical. LPG is much more expensive than this in outback Australia.

Cheap Sydney Parking

Many people will tell you that parking in Sydney is difficult and expensive, but that was not our experience.

By utilising "Early Bird Parking" rates at 3 different parking stations in Sydney we found the parking to be economical and extremely convenient. (Cheaper and much more convenient for our family than using public transport).

The rates and conditions for "early bird parking" differ at the different parking stations. This is where we parked:

1. Opera House (Wilson Parking): 2 Macquarie Street, Sydney. Conditions: Enter between 6-10am, Exit between 3-7.30pm. (Not available public holidays). Cost $16/day. Our cost $16/day x 3 days = $48

2. Harbourside: 100 Murray Street, Pyrmont. Conditions: Enter between 6-9.30am, Exit between 3-7.00pm. Cost $12/day. Our cost $12 x 1 day = $12


3. Cockle Bay Wharf.
Cost $9/day on weekends. Note: Many of the parking stations offer a flat daily rate on the weekend. (A rate that is much lower than on weekdays). Our cost $9.00 x 1 day = $9.

TIP: Many of the parking stations in Sydney have a low clearance level. It your vehicle is higher than 1.8m, be sure to check any height restrictions of the parking station you are planning to park at. Campervans and 4WD's with roof racks will not fit at all stations.

Cockle Bay Wharf

Road Tolls

Many Sydney roads carry a toll. Usually these roads will be easier to use and save you a lot of time, but not always. Use your discretion, and consider seeking an alternative route without tolls in order to save money.

The only road tolls we incurred on our cheap Sydney trip were for crossing the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The bridge toll is only charged to southbound traffic and varies between $2.50 and $4.00 depending on the time of day.

Our road toll cost was $4.00 x 4 plus $3.00 x 1 = $19.00.

TIP: You will save money by avoiding all "tolled" roads. It is tempting to use the "Lane Cove Tunnel" when travelling from Lane Cove River Tourist Park into the city, but in reality, it saves you very little time.

We travelled to the city each day between 8.30 and 9.30am on 5 mornings during August 2010. By remaining on Epping Road (rather than using the Lane Cove Tunnel) we saved $13/day and it still took us only 25-30 minutes each day to reach our parking station (either the Sydney Opera House or Harbourside at Darling Harbour).

Cheap Sydney Attractions

With so many wonderful free and cheap things to do in Sydney, why spend lots of money on attractions? Here is a listing of what we were able to do in Sydney with a family of 5, for just $68.50.

  • Orientation walk of Sydney taking in: The Sydney Opera House, Botanic Gardens (including Government House, the historic Mrs Macquarie's Chair, and naval ships at Wooloomooloo), and a walk past the Art Gallery of NSW, Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney Hospital, The Mint, The NSW State Parliament and The NSW State Library.


Botanic Gardens From Farm Cove

  • Free entry to the following:
    • The Art Gallery of NSW
    • The Sydney Mint (a small display of the different historical uses of "The Mint" buildings). Note: The Sydney Mint is no longer in use as a "mint".


The Sydney Mint

    • The NSW State Parliament.
    • The NSW State Library and its various exhibitions.
    • The Museum of Contemporary Art
    • The Rocks Discovery Museum
    • Old Customs House (now the Sydney City Library) with an amazing model of Sydney displayed beneath a glass floor in the building lobby.
    • Paddy's Markets. Note, 'window shopping' is free, purchases arent!

  • Spent a day at the following:
    • Powerhouse Museum. (Free for us as we have membership at our local Science Centre (Wollongong) which offers reciprocal rights to the Powerhouse Museum).

    • Maritime Museum. Entry is free to this extensive and wonderful museum, but we chose to pay $21 for a "Navy Ticket" allowing our family to tour the Naval Destroyer, HMAS Vampire and the Naval Submarine, HMAS Onslow, both sitting in Darling Harbour (just outside the Maritime Museum). (Note: The Navy Ticket usually costs $42 for a family, but due to our Science Centre membership, we were entitled to a 50% discount.)


    • A Sydney Harbour ferry ride and Cockatoo Island. Entry to Cockatoo Island is free, with a free self-guided walking tour and kids discovery trail available. Cost to catch the return ferry to Cockatoo Island from Circular Quay: $10.60/adult and $5.30/child. (Only need to pay for the first child travelling with each adult). Total cost for us: $26.50.

  • Enjoyed the following FREE walks:
    • Walked across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. A unique and surprising, quick and easy way to view the city.

    • Walk around Darling Harbour, enjoying the live entertainment from buskers.
    • Walk around the historic "Rocks" area, taking in the early architecture, narrow streets and mixture of quaint, quirky and elegant shops. Our favourite was the unique puppet shop located as you exit from the rear of The Rocks Discovery Centre.
    • From Lane Cove River Tourist Park, descend along a short trail to the Lane Cove River for a surprisingly peaceful and lovely bushwalk on a well marked track alongside the river.

    • Walk through Chinatown. We were amazed by the cost of abalone and the children were definitely impressed with the 'roasted duck' window displays!

  • Other Activities:
    • Tour of "Susannah Place" in The Rocks. $17/family (2A + 2C) + $4/extra child. Total for us: $21.

    • Ranger guided (free) night-time wildlife spotting talk and walk.

    Summary of our Sydney Attraction Expenses
    Cockatoo Island Ferry $26.50
    Susannah Place $21.00
    Maritime Museum Navy Ticket $21
    Total Attractions Cost $68.50

    See an itinerary of how to "fit all this" (and more) into a single week in Sydney, or to view other suggested itineraries for 3 and 5 day trips to Sydney.


    Hopefully we have given you some cheap Sydney ideas that you can use in the not too distant future. Certainly, we have shown that it is possible to have a full, fun and cheap Sydney holiday, while also enjoying the essence of what Sydney offers.


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