Blue Mountain Tours

May 22nd, 2002, 03:05 PM
  #1  
steve
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Blue Mountain Tours

Just curious if anyone has taken any or can recommend any tour companies for the Blue Mountains? We are interested in seeing the caves, glow worms, rain forests and as many of the spectacular views as we can get in during a long day.
 
May 22nd, 2002, 05:27 PM
  #2  
Alan
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Hi, Steve!

If you only have a single day and you want to do all that, I would suggest hiring a car from Sydney, and getting up before daylight so that you could get to Jenolan Caves around 8:30, long before the guided tours have even left their base. At that time you will be able to book two cave tours for the morning sessions (which start as soon as the ticket office opens, at 9), and be out of the area by lunch time, when the buses start rolling in. Warning, however: the road to Jenolan Caves is very narrow for the last fifteen or sixteen kilometres; this won't bother you going down, as you'd be ahead of the traffic and there would be nothing coming out; however, on the way back up, you would meet many of the tour buses heading for lunch at Caves House before they begin the afternoon tour. Drive with care!
On the way back to Sydney you could stop at Echo Point in Katoomba and spend a couple of hours walking to the floor of the valley and back again. Further down the mountain, you could stop at Euroka Clearing in Glenbrook (get there before 5 p.m., as the ranger locks the gates around 6 or 7) and walk among the wild kangaroos at sunset. This is a great experience, and one that not many tourists know about. There is a charge for entry, usually by way of an honesty box at the gate... on entering the National Park you have to drive on dirt for about five kilometres, but it's a level, easy road and shouldn't worry your rental insurance company.
Leaving there just on closing time, you could have dinner in one of the quaint little restaurants in Glenbrook Village, and be back in Sydney around 9 p.m.
I didn't, in all of this, cover the Glow-Worm Tunnel at Newnes. You wouldn't want to drive there in a hired car, as the road is rough....dirt for about forty kilometres, almost four-wheel drive in a few spots; your car hire company wouldn't be at all impressed if you broke something, and would probably not honour your insurance. And I don't know of any tour company that goes there, as the wear and tear on their vehicles would make the cost prohibitive. As much as I enjoy a visit there, I really think that if your time is limited, there are better ways to use it.... it is far from anywhere else.
What time of year do you plan to do this journey? (If it's not till 2003, contact this forum again, because I might modify this advised timetable and put in an autumn drive to Mt Wilson, which is a little village hardly anyone knows about, and is, simply, one of the most beautiful spots (at that time of year) in Australia.
I hope you have a great time!
 
May 23rd, 2002, 02:40 PM
  #3  
steve
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Thanks Alan, what fantastic information!
We will be in Sydney from the 1st of August through the 9th, then we are off to Cairns for a little over a week. The intinerary that you have suggested sounds exactly what we are looking for.

Have a great weekend!

Steve
 
May 23rd, 2002, 04:58 PM
  #4  
SG
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http://www.explorerbus.com.au/

Another option to driving is taking the Explorer Bus. We took the train from Sydney and visited Featherdale Wildlife Park on our way to Blue Mountains. Getting off at Katoomba station, you can buy tickets for the Explorer bus that stops a block from the station. The bus stops at all the attractions and you choose to get off at various interesting sites. The ticket agent was very good at pointing out the "must see" and the pretty trails. He helped map out the route where we visited the Three Sisters, Echo Point, rode the Skyway & the steepest railway in the world. We hiked on the Cascades trail and caught the bus after emerging from the trail to the next beautiful spot.

I liked that we had the flexibility to see what we want and spend as much time as our schedule allowed. The price was very reasonable and by not driving, we didn't miss anything while trying to concentrate on the road. I would also recommend taking the railway down and the skyrail up, not vice versa.

In Sydney, there are many operators that offer various tours to suit your interest. I don't think there should be any problem if you find a tour upon arrival in Sydney. That way, you can try to find a sunny day to explore the Blue Mountains. Hotels & tourist offices will have brochures and they can offer other great advice. We visited a tourist office at Darling Harbor and got coupons for the aquarium and ferries. Have fun.

 
May 24th, 2002, 05:06 AM
  #5  
Alan
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Hi again, Steve!

I would endorse just about everything SG has said for a great day in Katoomna and environs; just one point he made puzzled me, however. The Skyway doesn't go down, it is simply a suspended cable car that goes half way across the gorge, stops, and then comes back again. Only the Scenic Railway goes down to somewhere where you can get off and walk around... and the smart visitor walks down via the Giant Stairway and the catches the railway UP... doing it the other way means you have to climb over a thousand steps, some of which are like ladders!
 
May 24th, 2002, 09:51 AM
  #6  
SG
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Yes Alan, thanks. I (she) mixed up the Skyway with the gondola that brings you back up. Take the railway down as you will appreciate more of the steepness going down rather than up. Walk around, take the Skyway & enjoy the view and then take the gondola up. That way, you will have seen more of the panaromic view at various locations and rode the various rides. You can combine these tickets with your Explorer bus pass. The bus comes around every hour so set your watch so that you don't miss it and have to wait another hour.
 
May 24th, 2002, 01:11 PM
  #7  
Steve
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Thanks Allen and SG! We bought Fodors and a few other guides, but we are getting much better information right here!

Can't wait for August to finally get here

Steve
 
Jan 13th, 2004, 02:48 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
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Hi,

Following the advice here I think that we will spend our day in the Blue
Mountains based in Katoomba. We will get the train there and then the Three
Sisters and Railway seem to be the 'must do's' how long would it take to
wlak from Echo Point down the giant stairs and across to the railway? If we
were doing this walk would it still be worthwhile using the Explorere bus
(would we have time?)

Thanks, David.
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Jan 13th, 2004, 03:04 AM
  #9  
 
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Hi, David!

I think the walk down from Echo Point to the valley floor and then along to the bottom of the railway takes about 90 minutes, but with the ladder-type staircases described above, it varies greatly from person to person. But a few months ago I read that this stairway (The Giant Stairway) had closed due to a rock fall and would not open until someone had judged it safe. I don't know if that has happened yet... does anybody here have up-to-date information? This won't destroy your day, however, as there are many other ways of getting down... one staircase is just a few metres from the complex which contains the skyway, the railway, and the "new" cable car (which I have not yet tried). A longer (but very good) walk would involve getting off at Wentworth Falls Station, taking a taxi to the top of the falls, and then descending the track there to the bottom.... you can make a detour which takes you under the falls, and then, reversing your steps, walk along the valley floor all the way to the point where the Giant Stairway reaches the floor (about two and a half hours walk).
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Jan 15th, 2004, 11:01 AM
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Thanks Alan. I would appreciate it if anyone could shed some light on the 'Rockslide at the Giant Stairway Incident'. (that sounded like the title of a low budget thriller!)
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Feb 1st, 2004, 09:52 AM
  #11  
PJKeay
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Most of the big companies (Grayline etc) do a variety of tours to the blue mountains and include the featherdale zoo as well. There's nothing between the big tours because they often share the work out and consolidate.

I did the trip 2 years ago on a packed massive coach. The food was awful and the trip felt very packaged.

Aim to do it again this year but will be looking to do it by car as there is 3 of us.
 
Feb 1st, 2004, 12:59 PM
  #12  
 
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As much as I like Featherdale (nice people there), I always think these tours that do the Featherdale Park AND the Mountains in a single day are short-changing you.... the Mountains is at least a full day on its own, and, anyway, you could do Featherdale quite easily from Sydney by taking a train to Blacktown and then a five-minute taxi ride. Anyway, if it's a zoo you're after, Taronga Park, right in Sydney and accessible by ferry, beats any of the private parks hands down, and is, in fact, one of the nicest experiences you can have in Sydney (the scenery is fantastic).
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