Paper tickets are no longer available in NSW, so to travel around Sydney and Wollongong you’ll need to get an opal card. Opal cards are the NSW version of myki in Melbourne, SmartRider in Perth etc, and you can get opal cards (for free) either:
-> Online (https://www.opal.com.au/ordercard/?execution=e2s1)
-> At opal retailers (you can find locations here- there’s a bunch at Sydney airport http://www.retailers.opal.com.au)
-> At Transport Customer Service Centres and Shops
-> At some Service NSW locations (you can find locations here https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/transaction/get-adult-or-childyouth-opal-card)
Educational institutions outside of NSW aren’t recognised for concession opal cards, so unless you’re eligible for a pensioner (gold) opal card, you’ll have to get an adult one (sorry in advance). To be eligible for a pensioner opal card you need a valid pensioner concession card issued by an Australian State or Territory Government. The website only has information for interstate seniors, but we emailed opal customer service and anyone from interstate who is receiving disability pension support is eligible for a pensioner opal card. You’ll need to order a pensioner opal card at least two weeks before your trip, and the card will expire 60 days from the day of use. You can order a pensioner opal card online with the link above, or call opal customer care on 13 67 25.
Opal card fares are determined by the distance you travel. To get to Wollongong from Central Station (Sydney) via train it will cost you $3.37 (20-35km), or $4.82 between 7-9am and 4-6:30pm weekdays on an adult card. On a pensioner card, it will cost $1.68, or $2.41 between 7-9am and 4-6:30pm weekdays. If you plan on staying in Wollongong during QC, you shouldn’t need to put more than $20 on your opal card (unless you travel to or from Sydney Airport train stations- there’s a station access fee of $13.80 for adult cards and $12.40 for pensioner cards when you tap on or off). A more detailed explanation of opal fares can be found here https://www.opal.com.au/en/opal-fares/.
There are also a number of ways you can get discounts on your opal fare. Probably the most relevant to people attending QC is that if you make several trips using the same mode of transport within 60 minutes of tapping off for each trip, you only pay one fare based on the distance you travel. Additionally, adult opal card holders get a $2 discount and pensioners get a $1 discount if you switch transport modes (e.g. go from a bus to a train) within 60 minutes of tapping off for the first transport mode. You can find the full list here (in the side bar on the left) https://www.opal.com.au/en/opal-fares/Peak_and_off_peak_train_times/.
To use an opal card you need to tap on when getting on a bus/ to a station, and tap off when you leave. To do this, touch the card to an Opal reader and wait for the screen to go green, then do the same when disembarking from a bus/ leaving the station. Try to remember to tap off because if you don’t you’ll be charged the maximum distance fare. For more information about travelling with opal cards you can visit https://www.opal.com.au.
There are also two apps which can help you navigate Sydney and Wollongong. Tripview allows you to create trip plans, shows public transport timetables, real time updates, track work and delay information. A lite version is available for free, and the full version for $4.50 on Apple devices and Android. The other app is the UOW shuttle app, a free app available for Apple devices or Android which provides timetables for the UOW shuttle buses for Wollongong, North Wollongong, Gwynneville and Keiraville.