Health and Safety in NSW
New South Wales has myriad natural attractions, from rugged national parks and shimmering beaches to beautiful lakes and rivers. Follow this helpful advice to ensure you stay safe and well during your visit to Australia’s most diverse and exciting state.
A temperate climate makes New South Wales the perfect travel destination year-round, but extreme weather conditions may occur on occasion. Always plan your trip in advance and check weather conditions in the area you are travelling to. Seasons are opposite to those in the northern hemisphere. Summer is from December to February, with an average maximum temperature of 26C (79F). The coolest months are June to August, during which daytime temperatures rarely fall below 7C (45F).
The Bureau of Meteorology website provides the Australian community with official weather forecasts as well as nationwide weather warnings.
National Emergency Services
The national phone number for all emergency services in Australia, including ambulance, fire and police, is 000. You can dial Triple Zero within Australia from any fixed line, mobile phone, pay phone and certain Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services. If you have a GSM digital mobile phone, you can also dial the international standard emergency number 112.
The following websites will provide you with the latest official information on weather warnings, fire warnings, health and emergency alerts, and official safety advice:
Walking and hiking in national parks
Check weather forecasts and national park conditions before setting off, and be sure to consult the local park office if unsure of the level of difficulty of your planned walk. Always tell someone where you are going, and when you expect to be back.
A local map and compass should be carried along with other essential items (including adequate water and snacks); consider taking a personal locator beacon or satellite phone as remote areas may have little or no mobile phone reception.
Ensure you are appropriately clothed, including good walking shoes, layered, long-sleeved tops and trousers to protect against bites and stings, sunhat and sunglasses. Wear sunscreen and insect repellent.
Always walk in groups of three or more and consider using a guide for long or challenging routes.
International visitors may use a foreign driver’s licence in NSW. Speed limits are strictly enforced and it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol level of 0.05 per cent or higher, or to drive under the influence of illegal drugs.
Familiarise yourself with the road rules. Drive on major and sealed roads where possible and avoid driving at night. Under Australian law, drivers and all passengers must wear seatbelts. If riding a motorcycle, moped, motor scooter or bicycle you must wear a helmet.
If driving in remote areas, be sure to carry up-to-date maps and always inform someone of your intended route. In country areas, be alert to native animals such as kangaroos, wombats and possums, which may stray on to the road – they are most active at dusk and dawn.
Pack extra supplies, including water and fuel, and be sure to take frequent breaks on long trips. Avoid driving at high-risk times (such as during your usual sleep time or after a long flight, bus journey or train journey).
Hitchhiking or picking up hitchhikers is strongly discouraged.
Never leave your car if you break down in a remote area – remain with the vehicle and wait for assistance.
Do not attempt to cross flooded roads as these waters may have strong currents capable of sweeping away a vehicle. Contact the local State Emergency Service (SES) or call 000 if in an emergency situation. For more information:
Live Traffic NSW app:
Insects and animals
Some insects in Australia may transmit diseases such as dengue fever, Ross River Fever and viral encephalitis. To protect against bites and stings, wear long-sleeved clothing and trousers and apply effective insect repellent to exposed skin.
NSW is home to some venomous snakes and spiders. If bitten by a snake, call 000 for an ambulance, apply a pressure-immobilisation bandage and head for the nearest hospital. Don’t wash, suck or cut the bite site or apply a tight tourniquet.
The only harmful spiders in Australia are the red back and the funnel web. The female red back is identified by a red or orange stripe along its back; the male is small and black, and usually harmless.
The funnel web spider is large and black, and a bite can be dangerous. First aid in the event of a funnel web bite should include applying a pressure immobilisation bandage around the bite, followed by immobilisation of the entire limb with a splint and bandage. Call 000 and get the patient to the nearest hospital.
In the sun
The sun in NSW is very strong and can burn the skin even on cloudy days. Avoid being outdoors for lengthy periods between 11am and 3pm, when UV rays are at their most intense.
Always wear a sunhat, sunglasses and water-resistant sunscreen (SPF30+ or higher; applied repeatedly throughout the day), and clothes that cover as much of your skin as possible, even while swimming.
Protect against heat exhaustion by keeping well hydrated, particularly during physical exertion. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include dizziness, fainting, fatigue, nausea or vomiting. If affected, rest in the shade and rehydrate with water or diluted sports drinks.
Heat stroke is a severe form of heat illness, and can lead to disorientation, hallucinations and seizures. Seek medical assistance immediately if exhibiting these symptoms.
In the water
At the beach, in lakes and rivers, rock pools and waterholes:
When swimming at the beach, be aware of rips and currents, which can be extremely hazardous. If you get caught in one of these strong currents, stay calm and either float with the current or swim across it. Never try to swim against it.
Always swim between the red and yellow flags, which indicate that Surf Lifesavers patrol that section of beach. Avoid swimming or surfing alone and never run or dive into the water – there may be sand bars or other submerged objects.
If you are unsure of surf conditions, ask a lifesaver, and heed all safety signs. Some sea animals may inflict a bite or sting so avoid contact with marine life.
Take care when rock fishing as rocks can be slippery. Never fish alone and always wear a life jacket Take care when swimming in rock pools, rivers or waterholes.
Rock Fishing is a dangerous pastime. Wearing a life jacket can significantly increase your chance of survival if you are washed into the water. Please remember that if you are rock fishing in Randwick the wearing of life jackets is mandatory.
Never fish by yourself. Fish in a group of a least three people and within sight of each other. If someone is washed in, one person can stay and help while the other alerts emergency services (dial 000). Mobile phone users can also dial 112 to access emergency services.
Cleats, sandals and sandshoes with non-slip soles suit different surfaces. Use the appropriate shoes for the conditions.
Make sure you are aware of local weather, swell and tidal conditions before going fishing. Listen to weather forecasts or call the weather information line on 1900 937 107. Be aware that conditions may change dramatically in a short period of time.
Accessible Activities and Attractions
Sydney is a vibrant city where it's easy to get out and about if you have a disability or require assistance with access. Visit www.sydneyforall.com for accessible attractions and events.
Smoking is generally banned in public, across Sydney and New South Wales, to protect people from harmful second hand tobacco smoke. Smoking is banned in the outdoor dining areas of restaurants, cafes, pubs and other venues.
Cigarette Butts – Police issue a $60 fine for throwing a cigarette on the street, or $200 if it is still alight.
Smoking Indoors - There is a total ban on smoking in indoor public spaces.
Smoking in Cars with a child passenger incurs a $250 on-the-spot fine.
Smoking Outdoors is illegal in public spaces, such as public transport stops and taxi ranks, building entrances, children’s playgrounds, swimming pools and at major sports grounds.