Is George St. safe for a woman traveling alone?

Old Feb 22nd, 2005, 05:18 AM
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Is George St. safe for a woman traveling alone?

Hi,

I've been trolling the boards here as I prepare for a two week trip to Sydney and Ayers Rock in late April. Great info!! I decided to make reservations at the Pensione Hotel Sydney at 631-635 George St. mostly because of the fairly good reviews it received on tripadvisor.com. But I have some concerns about the area after reading a negative comment about lower George St. from a board regular. Anyone care to weigh in?
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Old Feb 22nd, 2005, 08:29 AM
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Hi tabard,

This is not an area that I would pick to stay in myself. I was only there the other week and it is still a crappy part of Sydney imho. I think you would do better staying in Darling Harbour or down in The Rocks area.

Cheers

Paul_S
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Old Feb 22nd, 2005, 01:15 PM
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I'm open to comment from Sydney regulars, but although that end of George Street is not in the flashy "tourist precinct" it wouldn't have occurred to me that it's in any way, shape or form unsafe. (tabard, can you point me to that negative comment?)
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Old Feb 22nd, 2005, 01:19 PM
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If your hotel is the Central Railway end of George Street then I would have concerns - I feel it is a very intimidating part of the city even when walking with my husband - if you can change I think you would be happier - and safer.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2005, 02:14 PM
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Hi, tabard!

There's nothing unsafe about lower George St.... it's just a fairly run-down part of the city. Every time I go to the city, day or night, I end up walking that way to get to Central Railway, and I have never, EVER felt "intimidated" in any way. Nowadays it's largely an Asian area, full of Asian grocery stores (fascinating smells!)and a few pawn shops and 24-hour convenience stores. The Sydney Central YHA is nearby, as is the Capitol Theatre, where "The Lion King" is showing.

Frankly, I feel far more "intimidated" walking down MIDDLE George Street, now the cinema-and-fast-food strip, where the sheer volume of loud people and fast-food wrappers, all spreading outwards to where you're trying to walk -- makes this once-pleasant part of Sydney a pretty dismal experience nowadays.

But, that said, I really wouldn't recommend staying in Lower george Street if you have the choice of going elsewhere. As well as being run-down, it's not close to any of the places you are probably coming to see (which is why hotels and hostels in that area are so cheap... or, at least, they were until the Medina moved in up the road at Railway Square). The only thing it has going for it is the proximity to the cheap eateries of Chinatown..... and also the fact that Sydney terminal Station is right nearby. (It is on the OTHER side of this station, not the George St side, where the poorly-lit, almost deserted areas are!) To see the water, you'll have to take a bus or a train.... or walk through that cinema strip! You'd be better off staying closer to the Rocks area of Upper George Street, even though that, naturally, is a more expensive area for hotels. Instead of Tripadvisor, check www.wotif.com about a fortnight before you leave, and see if you can score the Russell for around a hundred dollars a night. That's probably a lot more than you're paying at the Pensione (which is not a place I'm familiar with), but I'd be willing to bet that you'd think it was worth the extra!
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Old Feb 22nd, 2005, 04:29 PM
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I am sorry Alan but I have to disagree - I find any part of George Street, (and for that matter Pitt and Castlereagh too, although for some reason not as bad) - from Town Hall to Central Railway very intimidating especially on my own especially after dark. As the Poster was inquiring as a single female on her own I was telling it I saw it.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2005, 04:53 PM
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We had really good luck booking a Hotel through The Visitors Center at The Rocks.
http://www.abcintegra.com.au/travelg...ouristinfo.htm
They really do have good rates. They booked us in a room at The Menzies that was reg. A$185.00 for A$140.00 total.
and that was within walking distance to the Ferries , Opera House, Bridge etc.
Very good area.
Enjoy

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Old Feb 22nd, 2005, 05:23 PM
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We have visited this part of town quite regularly in recent months at night to pick up a relative coming from the country on the train.

Must say I have been impressed...the jazzing up of railway square and the influx of backpackers have really lifted the area.We have taken to having dinner in chinatown or at ploy thai on george

Whatever our opinions, there are hundreds of single travellers staying happily in the area each night.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2005, 06:32 PM
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Interesting range of views here. prue, what specifically is it about the area that worried you?

I remember an older female relative of mine a couple of years ago expressing similar fears, on the grounds of chat she'd heard on a talkback radio program. When I went into the city to meet up with her one evening I had some time to kill, so out of interest I made a point of ambling my way from Broadway to Town Hall, window-shopping and keeping my eyes peeled for dodgy characters. Try as I might, I didn't see any. It just looked like a very busy thoroughfare full of commuters and others going about their business.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2005, 08:15 PM
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Rest assured it is a little more than 'talk back radio'!!!
I have lived and worked in Sydney for a number of years but now live in the bush. In order to visit the city which we do frequently - we use a coach service that departs Pitt Street at Central - then walk up town etc.
I realise obviously that there are many thousands of single women happily staying and living in the area - but as I said before was merely stating my thoughts - which I always considered was the point of this Forum??
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Old Feb 22nd, 2005, 08:37 PM
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Hey, that's OK, prue! And I was just wondering what SPECIFICALLY it was that concerned you about the area (sorry about the caps, forget how to italicise). I'm not saying that your concerns are unjustified but for the benefit of prospective visitors it would be helpful to know what exactly gave rise to them, that's all.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2005, 09:35 PM
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I guess it comes in three parts Neil - the area closest to the Cinemas - where there always seem to be 'packs' of aggressive youths - at any hour of the day or night.
Further down you come to the more sleezy bar areas and the resulting furtive types doing deals or whatever in doorways.
Then the crowning part if the area of the park and adjoining streets at the Railway - where you will nearly always be accosted by pathetic inebriated or drugged people of all ages and stages.
I admit living in the country has not helped my fear - although our small country town of Young is getting more like it every day!
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Old Feb 22nd, 2005, 10:17 PM
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Thanks, prue. Well, there you go. I've seen kids skylarking around outside of the cinema complex, but they didn't seem interested in hassling passers-by. I wasn't thinking about Belmore Park, which of course is on the other side of George Street, not the route pedestrians would take to get from Railway Square to the Town Hall. Haven't seen anyone doing deals in doorways. The only time in recent years I've been panhandled by a junkie was actually in Kent Street, but that doesn't bother me - in my experience they're annoying but harmless, and I guess I'm just used to that in Canberra. My advice to get a referral to a detox/rehab program tends to be ignored, but I give it anyway.

Tell you something - I think Alan will know what I'm talking about - I worked in that area in the early '60s, it was often my after-hours stamping ground, and it was a good deal sleazier than it is now IMO! The wino bars, the crummier pubs and their even crummier clientele are now gone, as far as I can see. Heavens, the area is positively gentrified these days!

(Alan, what was the name of that pub just north of Central Station that got bulldozed - on the way to Ashwoods, I mean? I think it was an early-opener, and the clientele were something else. Some of them were even journalists.)
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Old Feb 23rd, 2005, 03:25 AM
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Hi, Neil! Yes, your summation of the changes in the last twenty-five years to that area are "spot on". Fifteen years BEFORE that it used to be good -- you had major department stores around there, like Curzons and Anthony Horderns and Selfridge's and Morley Johnson's, but with the advent of the suburban shopping complexes, they folded their tents and left the streets to the second-hand book dealers. For a while there, it was pretty dire (but not dangerous -- by any world standards, one would have to say that Sydney is still a fairly safe city). Then the Asians moved in, and they refurbished the old Capitol Theatre as a top-of-the-line legitimate theatre instead of a cinema specialising in B-grade movies (no more "Sins of Jezebel", one of my favourite Z-grade movies of all time) and C-grade toilets. Now the area is moving ahead again.

The park at Railway Square runs between Elizabeth and Pitt, by the way, and normally anyone in George Street wouldn't go near it, much less have to walk through it. It's pretty dreadful at night -- the only place in Sydney you can count on seeing beggars -- and I think if I were a lone woman, I'd skirt it.... but I can't remember ever reading about an incident there.

I know the pub you're talking about.... used to walk past it every day on my way to work (at Ashwoods; where else?), but I never went in and I never bothered to look at the name. The only reason I am sorry to hear that it's been bulldozed is because I know, in my heart, that what they've built there to replace it will be even uglier!
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Old Feb 23rd, 2005, 04:46 AM
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Hello Tabard. I wouldn't worry too much. I spotted the hotel you have booked the other day as I was travelling down George St on the bus. I'm not sure how long it's been there. Curious that you call it "lower George St" - as it's at the top of the hill and at the top end of the street numbers. Upper GS to me! It is pretty much in Chinatown which is a fine place to be.

Agree about Middle George St which is not dangerous, for heavens's sake, but is tacky and a disgrace.

You'll be fine. It's close to the stn and you can walk (downhill) to circular quay,the Rocks, etc.

It's maybe not where I would chose to stay - but then I don't know what the deal you have is, and how much you are paying.

When push comes to shove, it depends what you are used to. Are you a big city girl? If you are then it will be a doddle.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2005, 01:15 PM
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Neil,
I can assure you that panhandling is still alive and well - you just have to be unfortunate enough to spend time in the Coach Waiting Room at Central or worse still around the corner in Pitt Street where our stop is -
If tabard's hotel is the top of George Street obviously he/she won't need to venture that far down.
Alan, I am well aware the Park is not in George Street itself, but since it is the area surrounding the Coach Station I am most concerned with - then it is close enough.
Anyway I think this Forum is lucky to have you as such a regular and passionate supporter of Sydney and surrounds - the Tourism Board should sign you up!
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Old Feb 23rd, 2005, 02:43 PM
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Thank you, prue, for the kind words; but, in fact, the Board of Tourism wouldn't like me much at all.... the "passion" you speak of is usually a NEGATIVE feeling directed towards the big hotel chains which have virtually destroyed cheap tourism in my home city, so that now people pay $AUD200 a night for a room and think that it has to be that way.

What's more, apart from reassuring tabard about the SAFETY of Sydney generally, I don't think I've had a word of praise about the area we've been talking about.... so Tourism wouldn't like that, either! I've told her that it's "run down"; I said the park area was "dreadful" and full of beggars; I described middle George St as "a dismal experience"; and I told her that the area on the Elizabeth St side of Central Station is "poorly lit and almost deserted". I even hinted -- in an aside to Neil -- that modern Sydney architecture is generally "ugly". Not much of an ambassador for Sydney in all of that! And you should hear me rant and rave about "views" of ugly Darling Harbour, with its freeway overpasses and concrete pillars!

All I am trying to do, Prue, is tell it the way I see it, after 62 years of living and working here. Unlike the tourist people, I don't get an extra cent out of luring people to Sydney with pretty talk. But I get a warm glow when people go home and write on this forum that they had a great time in Sydney and would be happy to come again.

So, I stand by what I said about lower George St: it's not a place I'd choose to stay, it's run-down, it's full of interesting (and cheap!)little Asian eateries, and the danger factor is virtually nil. The worst thing about it is that to get anywhere you have to walk through MID George Street, which is the cinema and fast-food strip... I think someone above used the word "disgrace" to describe this, and I couldn't agree more.

Tabard, I hope you stay down near the Rocks! That's great -- it's Sydney's equivalent of the French Quarter in New Orleans!

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Old Feb 23rd, 2005, 06:04 PM
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I think it's not altogether suitable for men to comment on the safety of places for a woman.

The threats towards women and the lack of ease are things that are not noticed at all by men. The source of the discomfort is mostly men themselves (not you pair, of course, but those others!)

Even woman accompanied by men are not subject to the same discomfort. Men often pooh-pooh this when I say it, but I think they are bad judges of what can cause angst to a woman by herself.

Like Prue, I don't think that is such a good area - although if you walk with purpose and keep your wits about you, you should be OK. The fact that I have to say that indicates that it's not a place where you can be comfortable.

I've lived in Sydney almost all my life (so far!), and have travelled very widely, I'm not a young thing, and I'm certainly not tiny, but....... caution in that end of George Street is needed
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Old Feb 23rd, 2005, 07:07 PM
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I'll accept that, margo, but with the proviso that there are men and men, and women and women. For example, I know a guy who went to New Orleans and was too scared to venture into the French Quarter after dark, something his wife never lets him forget and his friends are too embarrassed to mention. And I've known women who've stupidly (to me) travelled in places I wouldn't even think about going. And somewhere in the middle is my wife, who agrees with me about lower George Street.

We don't know tabard's frame of reference; if she's American, for instance, and doesn't know Australia, she may by now be equating the area in question with the less desirable parts of Washington DC. However that may be, if it's enough of a concern for her to raise it here, I guess the safest bet is to advise her to move further north.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2005, 08:39 PM
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Thanks, Margo, that is exactly the point I was trying to make - and there is no doubt that men have a completely different 'take' on such matters - or at least the ones I know do - I just know that if I was venturing to a new city then I would be pleased to have some answers to the specific question I asked.
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