Blue Mtn Excursion

Jan 3rd, 2004, 01:55 PM
  #1  
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Blue Mtn Excursion

Hi,
After we leave Sydney we hope to head up to the Blue Mtns for a couple of days. Either rent a car in town or train and rent a car up there, then returning to the airport.
Dates are lv Sydney early AM April 16 and return PM on the 17th, As we will be up there on a Sat night I assume we should pre book. Hope to get over to the Jenolan Caves early on the 17th. Any sugggestions for an inexpensive place to stay beween there and Katoomba?

Thanks,
AndrewDavid.
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Jan 3rd, 2004, 02:31 PM
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Hi, AndrewDavid!

You will need a car to get to Jenolan Caves, and the best time to go is VERY early, as the last sixteen kilometres is narrow and full of bends, and if you are used to driving on the "other" side of the road, the last thing you want is to have cars (or, worse yet, the tourist buses which are so big that they really shouldn't be using this road anyway)coming OUT of the Caves! By doing that stretch of road about 8 a.m., your chances of meeting another car are slim... and, what's more, you will get to the ticket office before it opens (so you will be first in line for the best caves, and you won't have to resign yourself to just walking through the Lucas, an easy, but comparatively less-spectacular cave which, in peak periods, is sold without a guide to take you through ... they just leave all the lights on!) AND, at that time, you will be able to park right near the entrance, not in the "top" carpark, which is another ten minutes' walk.

All this means leaving Katoomba at around 6:30 or 7 a.m., so my advice is that you should train to Katoomba on Day 1, see the sights, hire a car in the afternoon, and have it all booked and waiting outside your chosen accommodation.
The cheapest place to stay in Katoomba is the YHA... and don't be put off by the fact that it's a hostel, it's actually a beautiful old building and quite well-known as one of the best YHAs in Australia, if not the world. If you want to spend a bit more, there's a motel on the non-scenic side of the station which charges about $AUD70 a room, or, for a really nice stay, try the hotel right at Wentworth Falls Station -- I think it's called the Mountain View. It's like stepping back in time for seventy years, and there's an entrance to a good bush walk right at the side of the hotel. Plenty of parking for that hire car, too!
Hope this has been of some help.
Alan is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2004, 02:36 PM
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hey Alan...what about the pub in mt victoria?

and whats the go on the hydro these days??
johhj_au is offline  
Jan 6th, 2004, 06:57 PM
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Hey, John, that's a great suggestion -- I must be getting old not to have thought of that great old pub in Mt Vistoria. I have no idea of the rates there, but for AndrewDavid it would be VERY useful as it is a good fifteen-minutes closer to the Caves than the one I recommended in Wentworth Falls (which, by the way, is called the Grand View, NOT the Mountain View... I can see it's time I gave this away!)

Hydro Majestic -- well, there you are talking BIG bucks, but the view out the back is something else. Of course, you can see it for free from the surrounding areas.
Alan is offline  
Jan 25th, 2004, 07:58 PM
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Hi John and Andrew- thanks for the email which I tried to answer - it was returned with one of those fatal and permanent error messages - could you try again pls?
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Jan 26th, 2004, 07:38 AM
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Johhi

For what it's worth, I was hugely unimpressed with the Hydro.

We got a cheapo on the Web of around $AU200 per room two weeks ago. For that we got an OK room facing the road/train. Views from the back-facing bits were fine - but the area seemed stuffed with other places with that view.

The place was slack: huge, empty public rooms: the one that's now the bar didn't do draught beer, but still smelt like a British provincial railway hotel in the 1960s. Their one Internet access point had been broken for as long as anyone could remember, and noone knew when it was getting fixed.(though another public room had a sign on the door saying "business centre", but had no technology more complex than armchairs). A case of relics from the old days had a "this is all for sale" sign on - but the management told us that was a mistake. Two days later, noone had bothered taking the "mistaken" sign down. The hotel didn't do laundry, or have a laundrette ("there's a laundry in Katoomba")

At night, the only restaurant was pricey and seriously boring - leaving anyone who wanted interesting food to drive to Katoomba, stay dry while the rest of the party had fun with your excellent wines, and then drive back through the Blueies' unpredictable weather.

All in all, a near-perfect clone of the Peebles Hydro, 1975. And definitely the low point of our trip to the other side of the world.
flanneruk is offline  
Jan 26th, 2004, 09:36 PM
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Flanneruk, although I am sorry that you didn't enjoy your stay at the Hydro, your report is music to my ears.... I am always raving on about high-priced hotels not always giving the service to match the prices, and your experience is a text-book example. I can't agree with you that your rate of $AUD200 was a bargain-basement one -- in my book, that's a lot of money, especially when there are other places around for a third of the price. That's a price invented for the hapless tourist who thinks maybe it all has to be that way. Belive me, any of you contemplating a trip to Sydney, it doesn't have to be like that! Maybe the places I often recommend, at around $AUD60 a night, are, when you get inside them, as "tired" and lacklustre as the Hydro -- I wouldn't know about that -- but at least you're not paying top dollar, so you won't feel ripped off!

I hope you copy and paste your post and send it straight to the management of the Hydro with a note saying WHERE it is and how many thousand people are reading it. I bet that will wake them up for a few minutes, at least!
Alan is offline  
Jan 27th, 2004, 03:24 PM
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Well, now that we've put the dread Hydro ( or was that hydra?) to rest, what is the name, & contact info for that wonderful old pub in Mt.Victoria, please ?

Thanks,
AndrewDavid
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Jan 27th, 2004, 04:51 PM
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Flanner
I'm sorry the Hydro was distinctly retro..but i chuckled many times in your cleverly written report.

the conventional wisdom in sydney is that the Hydro (and the Carrington in Katoomba) have been in a steady state of decline since their peak in the early 1900's.Periodically some brave soul tries to revive them and inevitably fails.

Internet at the Hydro!! what an oxymoron...it's just not meant to happen...the place still implies steam trains and tea at 4.00 pm.

BTW where is Peebles in the UK?

A/D
www.bluemts.com.au/imperial
I got a feeling you are going to end up going to the mts mid week.
johhj_au is offline  
Jan 27th, 2004, 09:00 PM
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Unfortunately we are going up Sat April 17., the Imperial wants 2 nights booking on the weekend, so that won't work. How about Oberon as a jumping off point for Jenolan Caves. How long would the drive be from Katoomba where we plan to spend the day? Can't find my reference to the time and travel or map sites. Could one of you repost those.
Thanks
AndrewDavid
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Jan 28th, 2004, 02:55 AM
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AndrewDavid, forget Oberon... that's a long drive for very little return. There was a time when it was worth the drive just to look at the Oberon Cinema, the most amazingly ugly-beautiful building in eastern Australia -- about as wide as your garage and full of the curves and angles that marked art deco at its most outrageous -- but I'm sure that it would have been disposed of many years ago.

I think the Mt Vic hotel is the Imperial, phone 61-2-4787 1878. The other good choice, the Grandview at Wentworth Falls, is at 61-2-4757 1001.
Alternatively, you can always stay at Jenolan Caves itself -- there are two standards of lodging, next door to each other, of which the more exoensive -- Caves House -- is such a pleasant experience that it would probably be worth the extra money. And certainly that gives you the option of stepping outside the front door and being twenty metres from the ticket office.... despite what the brochures say about all the caves being equal, it DOES matter which ones you see, but since everyone knows which ones are the best, they fill up first, sometimes within a few minutes of the office opening. I think the best way to see the caves is to get a combination ticket for three caves, but to make sure the Orient is one of them (the Temple of Baal is a stunner also, but you don't need to do it as well, as the two tours take in much of the same area).

Have a great time!
Alan is offline  
Jan 28th, 2004, 12:14 PM
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A/D
There are a number of motels in Blackheath.They are all going to charge a premium for a saturday night but you are better off there than in Oberon (or Lithgow)

Try www.highmountainsmotel.com
Perhaps you could have dinner at the imperial....

johhj_au is offline  
Jan 28th, 2004, 02:52 PM
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HI,
What's wrong w/ Oberon, it seems closer to Jenolan Caves after our day of touring around Katoomba area? or am I misreading the map? Does anyone know travel time Katoomba area to Oberon? What is the address of the time/ distance site you Aussies use, please ?

Thanks
AndrewDavid

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Jan 28th, 2004, 04:43 PM
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AndrewDavid, I didn't mean to sound so dismissive of Oberon, and, if you have a mind to go there, by all means do -- at least you ought to find some reasonable "non-tourist" accommodation in the area! It's 35 km from Jenolan Caves, and my memory of the road is that it's quite slow and full of bends; even so, it shouldn't take you more than forty-five minutes to travel between them. When I last travelled the road (twenty years ago! Oberon is not high on my list of must-see destinations!)it had some unseald patches, but they have probably been bitumened long ago -- and, if not, there is another route, going back towards Hartley and then on on the same road that you'd travel coming from Katoomba; this way, distances are doubled, but the time should only be around half as much again.

My main reservation about your using valuable time to go to Oberon is simply that ALL you will want to do there is spend the night -- while there's nothing wrong with the town, there's nothing terribly right about it, either. If, however, you stay at Mt Victoria, you could do a short side-trip to the north, along what is called Bell's-Line-of-Road, to Mt Wilson, which, in April, as the autumn leaves fall, is one of the most beautiful places in Australia. It's only twenty minutes' drive, so you could drive there, stroll around, and be back at the hotel all within two hours... and you will see an area that the locals love but the tourists never see. Few locals, however, feel as passionately about Oberon!
Alan is offline  
Jan 28th, 2004, 06:30 PM
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www.travelmate.com.au

i would guess 1.25 hrs...its a timber town...lots pine plantations and a chipboard factory..pretty typical aussie country towm.
johhj_au is offline  
Jan 28th, 2004, 09:11 PM
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The last time I posted on this site, a war just about broke out between the poms, the kiwis, the yanks, and the aussies.

Well if it had of happened I bet it would have been one hell of a fight.

I was not ever going to post again as some times some people do not look at some things as tongue in cheek as I do.

However friends However, I can not let this one go.

Andrewdavid, GO TO OBERON. Do It. Do Not Look Back

And when you are there bow your head in respect for one minute in memory of the great people who have gone before you to this place.

This place Andrewdavid is not a place where you will find the shop keepers enticing the tourists in their doors so they can rob them blind like in most towns i see mentioned here.

If you take a trout fishing tour and book it from your hotel or from your B&B you will not be paying upwards of 25 per cent commission to the hotel.
If you leave your car unlocked no one will take it or any thing in it.

You will not be abused while driving down the street if you drive a little slow. If you stay at the big trout motel they will charge you around 20 dollars for the best meal of fresh trout you have ever had. If you go to the royal hotel in the middle of town you will pay less.

The locals will be genuinely happy to see you and talk to you and they will offer to buy a round as well.
You will see huge roos very close to town.

The trout fishing there is very good.
Not as good as N.Z. or spots in Tassie but good. They make the best meat pies in the world in Oberon. I know about 2500 of the population of 3000 and every one of them is as honest as the day is long.
Oberon is only a hop skip and a jump from other great Australian Icons, like Tarana, Oconell, Black Springs, Burraga,Duckmoloi, Bathurst, etc etc.
Some of Australia's greatest rugby playes were born and bred in Oberon.
And a couple of them still live there.
The ones who do not still visit every xmas.

Oberon won the state league comp 13 years in a row.
They named a Submarine after the town.
You can still drive two miles out of Oberon, walk into the bush, lite a fire, cook your lunch in the open, catch a fish if you want, and do it all in absolute safety.

No their is no big bridge to climb on, and there are no hotels charging 300 a night. And yep it snows in winter.
But If you want to see and experience Australia the way it once was.
Go to Oberon Mate. Stay over night. Talk to the locals.
You will love it.
As I do every xmas.
jj727 is offline  
Jan 28th, 2004, 10:50 PM
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www.bluemts.com.au/bigtrout/motel.htm

Whatever happens in your month in oz,A/D, you HAVE to publish a pic of you with the big trout outside the big trout motel in Oberon NSW.
johhj_au is offline  
Jan 29th, 2004, 02:23 AM
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jj727, I enjoyed reading every word of your post and will, in future, look at Oberon with new eyes. Far be it from me to say that the description you gave of the friendliness of the people, the lack of crime, etc, is true of many other NSW towns that have happily stagnated and still reflect the values of a bygone era..... your description is so eloquent that no comment is needed. Tell me: do you remember the old cinema which I described above, and is it by chance still standing?

What I really wrote about was your tantalising opener about controversial comments and a near-war.... I don't remember this at all (maybe it was before my time on Fodor's), but I would love you to repeat the main points and maybe start a bit of controversy again. We used to have controversy all the time here (though not the vulgar and abusive kind which you find on the USA board).... it wouldn't hurt to inject a bit of liveliness into things again, especially from someone who writes as entertainingly as you do. I thought we would have a bit of fun a few weeks ago... one poster visited Vietnam and was outraged to discover that some people there didn't even speak "basic English"!! Alas, hardly anyone took the bait, and that war fizzled out. Maybe yours will have a longer run.
Alan is offline  
Jan 29th, 2004, 01:09 PM
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Was up at Jenolan Caves earlier this month overnight. Its a great place to stay. Caves House is a restored 1930's style Guest House and is located adjacent to the Caves. Once the crowds have gone in the afternoon, its just hotel guests until mid-morning the next day. There are good walks in the area, apart from the Cave tours. They have excellent dinner, bed and breakfast packages with great meals. The rooms are a bit dated, but that's part of the charm. You're only problem is that 16/17 april is the middle of school holidays, so it will be busy and perhaps more expensive to stay.
The drive back to katoomba takes about 1hr 15mins, I think.
mpoll is offline  
Jan 29th, 2004, 03:05 PM
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Alan, in my brief time on fodors.com I too have enjoyed the occasional outbreaks of small-arms fire. The trick seems to be to be able to take aim at an individual without tarring everyone of his/her nationality with the same brush. Unless you really do want a decent escalation to liven things up. Trouble is, some people do seem to get awfully serious about things, don't they? I also enjoyed the small barney about those hopeless non-English speaking Vietnamese, and the recent squabble in response to a Canadian visitor's "10 things I liked and 5 things I disliked about Australia" looked promising, but even that had fizzled out last time I looked. Here's hoping.

I went to Oberon once, but it was closed.
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