WHEN TO GO: Sydney has a temperate climate but is subtropically humid in February. The average summer (December to February) temperature is 70 degrees Fahrenheit and the average winter (June to August) temperature is about 55 degrees.

GETTING THERE: There are no direct flights to Sydney from the East Coast of the United States. Qantas has nonstop flights from Los Angeles three times a week; the flying time is 14 hours, 40 minutes. The current round-trip APEX fare is $1,296 and can include up to three other stopovers in the South Pacific.

GETTING AROUND: Car rentals are relatively expensive. But taxis and buses are reasonably priced and, except for side trips, are the only means of transportation visitors need.

The domestic airlines offer discount fares on tickets purchased before arrival in Australia. For rail travel, the Austrailpass is about $270 (first class) and $194 (budget) for 14 days' travel. Sleeping berths are extra and cost about $18 a night.

WHERE TO STAY: For convenience, stay in the city or in Kings Cross. Accommodations range from expensive hotels at $100 U.S. a night to budget-priced apartment rentals. For more information: Australian Tourist Commission, 489 Fifth Ave., New York, N.Y. 10017, (212) 687-6300.

WHERE TO EAT: There is a wide variety of restaurants in Sydney.

Kinsela, on Bourke Street at Taylor Square, is an excellent bistro, and the place where fashionable Sydneysiders go to be seen. The upstairs bar is open late.

For nouvelle cuisine, try You & Me, on King Street downtown, and for Italian, Mario's, on Stanley Street in East Sydney.

Le Cafe' Nouveau, on Oxford Street in Paddington, is a fine French restaurant. And the Imperial Peking Harbourside Restaurant, Circular Quay West, offers the best Chinese.

Doyle's, a seafood restaurant in a city where the seafood is not to be missed, is right on the beach at Watson's Bay, and looks over the harbor.

For breakfast or lunch, try Le Passion de Fruit, on Oxford Street in Paddington.

INFORMATION:

*The Tourist Information Service, phone 669-5111

*Visitors Center at the Rocks, phone 274-972, and the nearby Tourist Newsfront, 217-197.

Sydney Convention and Visitors' Bureau, 295-311.

*The Travel Centre of New South Wales, at the corner of Pitt and Spring streets in Sydney, 231-4444, operates a free, statewide reservation service.

THINGS TO KNOW: Tips are expected only in restaurants, where the usual rate is 10 percent. There is an airport departure tax of $20 U.S.