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London first-timers

Thursday, July 13, 2006

London is one of the most visited cities on earth. It buzzes day and night, but it’s a good thing to know just where to go and what to do, particularly if you are on your first visit.

Most Australians arrive at Heathrow after a long flight from home and are pretty keen to reach their final destination for a shower and sleep.

Rather than dragging luggage around the world’s busiest airport, don’t spend an hour on the tube, swapping stations, and unless you have loads of spending money, don’t even think about taking one of the famous black taxis for the long ride to the city. Hop on the Heathrow Express — for just $30 you can have a fifteen-minute, one-stop ride from Heathrow to Paddington.

Paddington Station is one of London’s major transport hubs. It’s in the borough of Westminster, about as central as you can get, and has loads of accommodation to choose from.

If you decide on a hotel that can offer an early check-in, most can safely store your luggage and you can start exploring right away.

Paddington is just a short walk from Hyde Park, one of London’s best-known and finest historic landscapes. It is 142 hectares, with 4000 trees, a lake, meadow, horse rides and catering outlets from a simple ice cream to three-course meals. From April to September, deckchairs are available to those who make the most of London summer.

Hyde Park is one of London's 147 parks and gardens. They are all lovely and offer shade and shelter while you look at your map to plan your day.

To get an idea of London’s size and layout, the Big Bus Company runs guided tours in the famous red double deckers. A full tour with commentary takes around two hours. A ticket is valid for twenty-four hours and you can hop on and off the bus when you want during that period.

The Big Bus Company ticket also includes a half-hour cruise on the River Thames. Tucked into a loop of the river is the suburb of Fulham, where a great number of the 30,000 Australians in London live and congregate. It has taken over from Earl’s Court and Shepherd’s Bush and is the new headquarters for the green and gold. Fulham has lots of parks, cafés and bars, and it’s a good place to pick up the free weekly magazine, TNT, which has the A to Z of life in London.

If you are planning to stay a while in London, anyone under 31 can apply for a two-year working visa.

Here are two tips from an Aussie living in London:

Arrive in spring. It’s such a beautiful time of year in London and you should be settled before the days grow short.

Do as much online as you can before leaving home. Set up bank accounts and accommodation and do some spadework towards setting up a job.


The Big Bus Company tours are around $50 for adults and $25 for children. They include a 24-hour hop-on-hop-off ticket, 30-minute river cruise, walking tours and discount cards.

Emirates has return flights to London. Prices are correct at July 7, 2006 and departure dates depend upon individual city. Taxes are included.

  • Melbourne: $1907
  • Sydney: $1926
  • Brisbane: $1909
  • Darwin: $2610
  • Perth: $1890
  • Adelaide: $2436

For further information

The Big Bus Company
48 Buckingham Palace Road
London SW1W 0RN
Ph: 44 20 7233 9533
Fax: 44 20 7828 0638

Visit Britain – Australia
Ph: 1300 85 85 89
Fax: (02) 9021 4499

Visit Britain — New Zealand
Ph: 0800 700 741

The Berkeley
Wilton Place
Knightsbridge, London SWIX 7RL

Ph: 1300 303 777

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