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mitchgx Dec 31st, 2003 11:45 AM

Looking for some general Sydney (and outskirts) advice/help.
My wife and I will be traveling to NZ/Australia as part of a graduate-school trip in late May/early June. The school-related portion of the trip consists of four nights in Auckland and four nights in Sydney. We are coming from the States and would like to possibly extend our trip - however, as I'm not accustomed to driving on the left, I'm apprehensive about renting a car. I'm not familiar with the level of public transport etc. in the area. If we were to stay in Sydney for an extra few days, are there reasonable ways to get within and outside of the city to see some of the sites without a car? Any recommendations are welcome.

margo_oz Dec 31st, 2003 11:57 AM

OK - In Sydney itself, a car is a handicap. Parking is often difficult and/or expensive. Pretty much everything you'd want to see is accessible by foot (depending on where you stay), or by public transport, including taxis.

On the outskirts, there is still public transport, or day tours, or you can rent a car for a day or so. Driving on the left isn't that difficult, but Sydney traffic is pretty fierce. I've lived here all my life (so far!) and it still scares me sometimes. ;)

If you let us know your interests, we can make more concrete suggestions. Have a great time!

Janese Dec 31st, 2003 01:04 PM

Of all the cities in the world Sydney has one of the easiest public transport services and one of the most pleasant.
The city, as you will know, is on a large harbour and therefore the main transport is on ferries which ply the suburbs around that harbour. The train service connects to the Ferry service most of the time and then of course so do the buses.
You can get trains to the Blue Mountains, Buses to the Hunter Valley wineries, train to Canberra, our National Capital which is worth a visit anyway or you can just explore the wonders of one of the greatest and interesting cities in the world.

Alan Dec 31st, 2003 04:14 PM

Hi, mitchgx!

I think you are wise to extend your stay in Sydney, as four days is not very long to see the city AND some of the outlying areas.... you could esily spend two days and one night in Canberra (travel by express train about four hours) and another two days and one night in the Blue Mountains (also train, only two hours). Once in either of these destinations, you can easily join a guided tour to see the sights -- a better idea, I think, than joining the tour in Sydney and wassting all that time while the tour bus does the inevitable hotel pick-ups.

As for Sydney itself, you have been given excellent advice above by two of our best posters. Do a lot of ferry rides, and also do as much walking as you can. There are some great walks around the Sydney foreshores. There are all-day passes on public transport which will allow you to travel on trains, buses and ferries as many times as you like for $15 a day. Three days of this and you will have seen Sydney. May is a lovely time of year in Sydney, although as you get into June the cold mornings start to bite -- come as early as you are able.
Have a great time!

DebD Jan 1st, 2004 05:31 PM

Hi Mitchgx,

We were in Sydney with my 3 1/2 year old son several years ago. Even with a toddler, the city itself is very easy to navigate on public transportation. The underground is not only fun transportation, but a bevy of shops, food eateries and people watching.

We rented a car to go outside Sydney, and while it took a little getting used to, the driving once outside the city wasn't all bad. The only thing I would recommend is NOT getting a full size car. We were concerned about size and if you are from the US, non US rentals look very small, not so in Australia.

If you have an opportunity and want to venture further than the Blue Mountains, the Jenolan Caves are quite spectacular, probably very chilly in May/June, but well worth the drive and overnight stay!

Have fun!

mitchgx Jan 2nd, 2004 10:20 AM

Thanks for the responses so far. We were doing a bit of research and were thinking an overnight excursion to the Blue Mountains may be something we would like to do - it appears that there is regular train service and that once there (we would likely stay in Katoomba) we could manage without a car. Only problem is that we'll be dragging around a fair amount of luggage, which doesn't sound fun for an overnight trip. I'm starting to wonder if I may have to face my apprehensions and think about renting a car (and hoping I can manage not to be a nervous wreck once behind the wheel). Has anybody been on the train ride to the Blue Mountains? Do I just need to bite the bullet and start thinking about a car?

margo_oz Jan 2nd, 2004 10:53 AM

The train ride to the mountains is no big deal - you go to Central Station and get on the train. Takes about 2 hours. People commute from there all the time. Alan is the mountain specialist - he lives out there somewhere.

You can manage without hiring a car. On luggagge - just bring less (says she - who needs a herd of camels for travelling!). You may be able to leave your luggage at your Sydney hotel (ask - they usually have a luggage room!) and just use day packs for your overnight excursion. Have fun!

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