Water and general safety, Sydney
I had never heard of these until I saw them on the beach. They aren't bottles, and they aren't glass. But they are blue and they are similar to a jellyfish! YIKES! These are also called a Portugese Man of War and they generally can be found in the summer months in parts of Australia. I've seen them on several of Sydney's northern beaches after it's been very windy. Occasionally if it's really bad, they will close the beach due to blue bottles and even have signs warning of them when it becomes a concern.
When it is really windy, it is not uncommon to find dozens of these washed up on the beach, just like the one photographed below. Once it is out of the water, it is still a danger, as the tentacle can still sting you. Don't worry, it won't kill you, but it won't feel good either.
My freinds husband used to go surfing when he was a teenager and got stung on the back by one, it stings alot and leaves a red mark where the tentacle touches your skin. A cold pack will help relieve the pain.
These blue bottles come in all sizes and the bubble part floats on the waters surface when it is alive. Stay out of it's way and do not step on any part of it, even if you think it's dead cause it can still sting you! The long tentacle may be longer than it appears so proceed carefully!
I could warn you specifically on the dangers of walking through Hyde Park late at night, as this is the biggest and most reknown park in the city centre.
However, there are many smaller parks scattered throughout both the city and any surrounding suburbs of Sydney.
Robbery & rape do occur but in general, these parks seem to attract undesirable characters.
Play it safe, don't walk through ANY park late at night, unless you are in a big group of people.
Shark attacks coming soon... Hopefully this one was prevented by the underwater tunnel at the Sydney Aquarium Darling Harbour ;-) I always feel safe in the Australian water when swimming or diving especially if there were shark net and an patrol surveillance helicopter. Just kidding again. Now the official part to prevent any shark problems...
Shark attacks occur rarely. Only a few of the 450 or so shark species have been known to attack people. Unfortunately, some attacks are fatal.
There are some easy and commonsense precautions to take that can help reduce the risk of a shark attack. This risk minimisation advice is reproduced from the Australian Shark Attack File.
1. Do not swim, dive or surf where dangerous sharks are known to congregate. For instance as I experimented on Fraser Island beaches...
2. Always swim, dive or surf with other people.
3. Do not swim in dirty or turbid water.
4. Avoid swimming well offshore, near deep channels, at river mouths or along drop-offs to deeper water.
5. If schooling fish start to behave erratically or congregate in large numbers, leave the water.
6. Do not swim with pets and domestic animals.
7. Look carefully before jumping into the water from a boat or wharf.
8. If possible do not swim a dusk or at night.
9. Do not swim near people fishing or spear fishing.
10. If a shark is sighted in the area leave the water as quickly and calmly as possible.
Encouraging, have a safe swimming...
Many tourists do not realise how harsh the Australian sun can be. If visiting the beach or wakling outdoors on a sunny day, sunscreen and a hat are a must. And make sure you re-apply that sunscreen every 2-3 hours. I have been burned many times due to my own idiocy ;) - let me tell you, it hurts and it is not something you want to endure if you are trying to enjoy a holiday.
Sad to say but , many tourists fatally drown in Sydney beaches. Be aware of the dangerous rips that occur in nearly all Sydney beaches. These rips drag unsuspecting swimmers from the shallow shores faraway into the deep sea. During summer months, lifeguards are present and they warn bathers to swim between the flags that they've put up. This area is considered safe from rips.
Apart from the occasional shark, beware of bluebottles (poisonous jellyfish) when swimming in the sea. The sting can be fatal. It's prudent to check with the nearest Surf Life Club before going into the water, especially in summer (and especially in tropical waters). And only 'swim between the flags', the yellow & red flags erected by lifeguards to indicate which part of the sea is safe to swim in and which they patrol.
As has been said, Kings Cross is reasonably safe at night. The main street is always well-lit and well-populated. The back streets are mostly narrow alleys which you generally wouldn't need to explore, except for the fact that this is also where you will find some of Kings Cross's best nightclubs and cafe's tucked away. Even so, it's quite safe.
I am very familiar with Sydney, so heed the following recommendations: After dark, the following areas may feel or literally be unsafe: Redfern, Chippendale (which borders Redfern), Glebe (it's gotten worse in recent years), Waterloo near the housing estate, Woolloomooloo near the housing estate, and the areas around Central Station.
The George Street cinema strip is busy and well-populated, but I would avoid flashing any valuables here, as well.
Redfern is by far the worst, so be very careful (or avoid it completely) after dark.
I'm in Sydney right now, and i have been for the last couple of days. I've been through KC and Darlinghurst and never have i felt unsafe or anything. As long as you be careful, take all the proper precautions and don't do anything stupid, you'll be fine.
The Blue Mountains are a georgeous range west of Sydney, though many tourists and even locals have fallen to their deaths after pure stupidity..NEVER!!!
1) Go over barracades to show off for the camera.
2) Go down steep rocks or outlets.
3) Go Bushwalking alone!
4) Start a fire
5) Come empty handed (eg- water)
Just like anywhere, I'm sure there are areas of Sydney you wouldn't want to walk around at night by yourself. However, I found it reasonably safe and walked home from bus stops with my sister late at night. She lived in a share house at Glebe and they kept the front door open all day on hot days with no trouble that I know of.
This warning really applies to any Australian beach.
Each year people (particularily tourists) drown in unpatrolled areas.
Please swim only on beaches patrolled by lifeguards, and swim only between the flags.
The lifeguards check conditions each morning and will only place flags in safe areas.
Rips can be quite strong, and can be very difficult to swim against even if you are a strong swimmer. Even between the flags you can drift down the beach. So keep a constant eye out for where you are in relation to the flags. If you are caught in a rip, don't try to swim straight across it, try to swim diagonally. Stay calm, and if you are really in trouble raise one arm and yell so a lifeguard or fellow swimmer can see that you are in trouble.
Try to stay where you can touch the ground, even when the waves comes over you.
Sydney beaches are clean and generally safe however there is a high incidence of drowning per year, often from ignorance. Beaches develop currents known as 'rips', which can be so strong they literally pull swimmers off their feet in water knee high and sweep them out to sea.
Always swim between the red flags and stay within sight of the lifeguard patrols. Popular Sydney harbourside beaches have netted, shark-proof enclosures although shark attacks are very rare.
Careful when crossing the street, particularly if you live in a country which drives right (most countries, but not the UK, Japan, Singapore, South Africa, etc.). There is a tendency to look the wrong way and get the back of your head hit by a passing car.
Two automobile related items: first, outside Sydney you may find yourself getting lost, as many road signs have been burnt beyond recognition by the bush fires. Second, inside Sydney, watchout while crossing the street! Coming from a country where traffic is usually on the right-hand side of the road, I never quite learned which way to look before crossing traffic. This led to several near-death events! So, look both ways in each lane!
My main advice is while swimming on any of the beaches always swim between the red/yellow flags. These are there for a reason - your safety. If 2 red flags are flying do not swim at all, and if the lifeguard blows his whistle get out of the water sharpish, a shark is in the area. But as long as you obey the lifeguards instruction you will be quite safe.