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Hotel areas in Sydney

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Good afternoon

Sorting out lodging. My friends offered for me to stay with them. I am going to take them up on it for the weekend, at least, maybe the whole "first part" of my Sydney stay. They live near the Koala sanctuary/park which appears to be a 20-25 minute drive from Sydney.

I am debating, though, having my first few nights be right in Sydney itself. My trip is likely going to be "Sydney five nights", then Melbourne etc, then "Sydney three or four nights" at the end. Although the end might turn out to be with a car, and then I might not stay in Sydney proper especially if I'm exploring.

Where would you stay? Which area, or hotel itself?

I don't have a frame of reference for hotel prices. Is it possible to be under 250-300 USD a night and still be in a good location? Or will I need to shell out for a good walkable location?

Thank you for any thoughts!!

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