Sydney side trip to Parramatta

Sep 21st, 2002, 06:55 AM
  #1  
Lois
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Sydney side trip to Parramatta

I will be spending a total of about a week and a half in Sydney, and I'm looking for easy day trips for a couple of the days. I was considering Parramatta as one of those trips. Can anyone tell me if it is worth doing? I am already planning on getting to the Blue Mountains and possibly down to Canberra. I also intend to spend several days doing harbor cruises and exploring the city. Any advice is appreciated.
 
Sep 21st, 2002, 03:43 PM
  #2  
john
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Parramatta! If you have got a quid, take the seaplane to palm beach..climb barrenjoey ...have a surf and lunch at one of the nicer restaurants up there.Catch the bus back to manly and the ferry home to the city...a quintessential sydney day...leaves Parra for dead.
 
Sep 21st, 2002, 04:18 PM
  #3  
John
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Lois:
We took the train from Sydney to Parramatta and spent the day. It was time well spent. Lovely people, great shopping, even better cuisine. Highly recommend it.
John from Jackson, TN
 
Sep 21st, 2002, 04:36 PM
  #4  
Prue
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Lois,
Parramatta was one of the earliest settled areas in the state so there are a number of old and very interesting buildings in the area.e.g Elizabeth Farm and Old Government House.
It is also possible to take a rivercat ferry from Circular Quay up the river - I am not sure whether it goes all the way to Parramatta but certainly some of the way where you could connect to a bus.
 
Sep 22nd, 2002, 12:30 AM
  #5  
jt
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No! That is the most boring end of the harbor, the most boring town, and the most boring ferry ride (even though type of boat is kind of cute). Now anytime someone is frank like this it attracts a motley crew of naysayers to whom I pre-emptively say: get a grip! This is in an area with about the highest density of world class sidetrips...

First I would visit every single ferry port in the central Sydney vicinity and in the eastward direction. Walk between ports, new trails have opened up connecting almost all the harbor shore. Besides the obligatory visit to blue mts, take the train to Hawksbury river to catch the postal ferry trip for half a day. Also bus to Palm Harbor to catch the 11am ferry loop into the national parks, etc. Walk from Bondi to Coogee. Get a green weekly travelpass which lets you on all tranpo except that dull parra. rivercat.
 
Sep 22nd, 2002, 12:32 AM
  #6  
jt
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No! That is the most boring end of the harbor, the most boring town, and the most boring ferry ride (even though type of boat is kind of cute). Now anytime someone is frank like this it attracts a motley crew of naysayers to whom I pre-emptively say: get a grip! This is in an area with about the highest density of world class sidetrips...

First I would visit every single ferry port in the central Sydney vicinity and in the eastward direction. Walk between ports, new trails have opened up connecting almost all the harbor shore. Besides the obligatory visit to blue mts, take the train to Hawksbury river to catch the postal ferry trip for half a day. Also bus to Palm Harbor to catch the 11am ferry loop into the national parks, etc. Walk from Bondi to Coogee. Get a green weekly travelpass which lets you on all tranpo except that old Parra. rivercat.
 
Sep 22nd, 2002, 12:47 AM
  #7  
jt
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Sorry for the double post, due to a browser backfiring. Just wanted to add that a bus daytrip to Canberra is very worthwhile (only one stoplight on the new road to there!). But don't expect to need to leave Sydney much; exploring the local area is like drinking water from a firehose - more than satisfying.
 
Sep 22nd, 2002, 08:22 AM
  #8  
Lois
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Thanks for the responses. One reason for the interest in Parramatta is because I had read it is one of the oldest towns, with the oldest farm, I believe. I wanted to get a feel for different kinds of lifestyles while visiting, so it does have some appeal. I appreciate the information about the ferries and bus transportation. I thought I'd need to rent a car to get to Canberra. It's good to know that we don't need to. Will it be a problem not having a car once there though?
 
Sep 22nd, 2002, 11:28 AM
  #9  
jt
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Take an escorted bustour daytrip to Canberra for about AU$100. Hotels have a ton of brochures and free pickup, but I prefer just to walk to the homebase of most of them in the basement of the Darling Harbor casino early some morning.

They stop at some little village along the way for food and looksee. The city tour is rushed but a great sampler (at the tiny war memorial, run down to the amazing, sprawling sub-basement displays).

Canberra is one of the worst places on earth for an unfamiliar driver due to a grand, twisted experiment in urban planning. The streets all curl in disorienting preztel fashion for no reason, fuel stations are all hidden, and I think a few of the embassy people take advantage of being above the law and drive like psychopaths.
 
Sep 22nd, 2002, 01:39 PM
  #10  
Lois
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Thanks so much for the Canberra tips. I definitely don't care to spend time trying to find our way around the city. Your description of Canberra streets reminds me of Boston. In that case, it was due to street planning around old cow paths I believe. My husband and I tend to get lost easily! And, I will head straight for the basement exhibits at the War Memorial!
 
Sep 22nd, 2002, 02:39 PM
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john
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Canberra was designed by Walter Burley Griffin all the way from chicago.

Rent a car ..take a couple of days...blue mountains...cowra...canberra..south coast...
 
Sep 22nd, 2002, 09:15 PM
  #12  
Prue
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Lois,
I should have added to my earlier post that the historical sites at Parramatta are most likely only open at weekends.
They are all National Trust properties so I would think you would find all the details from their web site.
 
Sep 23rd, 2002, 12:00 PM
  #13  
Lois
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Thanks again for the information. I actually did know that Canberra was designed by W.B. Griffin. He was selected after submitting his proposals. Now, while still interested in Parramatta, it looks like we'd be there mid week. It's also near the Olympic site. Is there anything of interest there. I also read that there is a bicycle path of some length [15km I think]. Does anyone know if this is along a scenic route. My husband and I enjoy bicycling. Unfortunately, arthritis sometimes prevents me from doing a great deal of walking, so that is a factor regarding our planning.

While this isn't related to this particular caption, I have a question regarding what to pack. Considering that we'll be there in January, I'm assuming that we'll only need summer weight clothing. Is this correct? My books have not touched on weather, other than that it will be summer! [guess I'd better do some weather research online....]
 
Sep 24th, 2002, 04:06 AM
  #14  
sonia
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If you are interested...Burley Griffin also designed the Sydney suburb of Castlecrag (where i used to live). It is a lovely little village place with a coupl eof nice cafes and huge houses. Very strangely set out but worth a drive down to the end of Edinburgh Road to watch boats and waterskiers go by in Middle Harbour.

Also..can I suggest a day trip insteda of parramatta?? I live in Sydney...and have recently moved to a beautiful place called Bundeena which is about 50km from the city centre. There is a beautiful sandy beach here and we are surrounded by 16000 hectares of the Roay National Park. You can get here by taking a train to Cronulla and then one of the old Ferries from Cronulla Wharf to Bundeena.

Come on a sunny day but avoid weekends as the village is tiny and the shops/cafes never seem to be able to cope with weekend crowds!!!
 
Sep 24th, 2002, 04:34 AM
  #15  
Alan
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Hi, Lois!
The "scenic areas" of Parramatta can be seen in an hour, and they are not very spectacular. John Macarthur, Australia's first wool-grower, built a house (Elizabeth Farm Cottage)there that is still standing, and you could spend thirty minutes strolling through the grounds. Nearby is another old house, Hambledon, which is sometimes open to the public. James Ruse, Australia's first farmer, established his property, "Rosehill", nearby, and there is an old house -- not the original one, however -- on this site. None of these is worth a special trip out there to see, but if you are set on the journey, allow no more than a half-day, preferably in the morning, as the western part of Sydney can get very hot in the afternoon. There is also a lake area and park, but it's not very accessible from the station, and it really isn't worth a trip out that way.
The nicest way to get to and from Parramatta is by the RiverCat from Circular Quay. If you go back by train, however, you will pass close enough to the Olympic Stadium to at least have a look at it, and if you alight at Lidcombe, five stations on the Sydney side of Parramatta, you can catch a shuttle service to Olympic Park Station. There are free outdoor movies on there every night, for the duration of the school holidays, commencing Sep 30. There may well be a walking trail for 15 km from Parramatta -- can't imagine where it is, but I am assuming you have heard right -- but, take my word for it, it's not very scenic. This is not a scenic part of Sydney. I can think of only one "hidden treasure" out that way that I would recommend to you, and that is the Japanese Gardens at Auburn, one station west of Lidcombe. This is really well-worth seeing, and mid-week it would be almost deserted (weekends it's a popular spot for outdoor wedings, with swans sailing past as the bridal party stands on quaint bridges), so you would enjoy the ambience. But the problem is, it's a forty-five minute walk from the station, and I don't know of any public transport that goes down that way. This is not an area that is geared to the tourist trade... you could, by combining Parramatta, the Olympic Village, and the Japanese Gardens, make a pleasant day of it, I suppose, but I am inclined, after all this, to advise you to forget it and instead take some of the other side trips that have been recommended to you. If you really want to do something unusual and wonderful, the walk from Spit Bridge to Manly is one of Sydney's best experiences -- and best-kept secrets, too. It takes four hours, but you will see the best the city has to offer. You couldn't say that about anything around Parramatta!
 
Sep 24th, 2002, 06:17 PM
  #16  
Lois
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Okay, I'm rethinking Parramatta. It's great to get other suggestions instead. I'm impressed with how many options there are from Sydney with public transportation. I wish I had more time to spend to see more of the country than just areas in close proximity to Sydney. I don't want to spread myself out too thin trying to take in more of the country. I realize that seeing just one major city would not be indicative of the whole country, much the same as if someone from Australia was coming to the USA and just seeing NYC. I love NYC, but it's certainly not indicative of what most the country is about. That's why I'm trying to find something away from typical tourist spots, to get more of a feel for the country. I appreciate the suggestions made, and I'll certainly consider them. Any others would be welcome as well. I am really looking forward to the trip!
 
Sep 24th, 2002, 08:41 PM
  #17  
Prue
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Lois,
One final suggestion if you are interested in historial buildings - Vaucluse House - it is in Vaucluse which is an eastern suburb of Sydney(about 30 - 45 mins from the CBD and is on the route to Watsons Bay which is also worth visiting - if only for Doyles Fish Restaurant)
You should be able to reach it by public transport - it was the home of the Wentworth family and has been beautifully restored - and the gardens are magnificent. However, it is probably only open during weekends.
 
Sep 25th, 2002, 01:21 AM
  #18  
jt
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Suggest you consider the standard touristic stops, and not project the US model to Oz. Oz isn't like USA with a "real" heartland vs. "eccentric" cities. Almost whole population is on the coast in cities, with an empty heartland. Coastal parts of Sydney seems about the most pleasant and habitable urban areas in the English speaking world, not someplace distorted by ruthless city pressures.

Besides visiting sweet spots by ferry consider
www.sydneybuses.nsw.gov.au/sb.bbexploremap.html
Going off to inland suburbs like P. can be just like going to Jersey city or Queens from NYC - depressingly plain fringes of urban sprawl. Oh, maybe the asian Cabramatta is worthwhile or the fantastic Postal ferry I mentioned where roadless communities wait for your boat to deliver mail and groceries. But the guide books cover this...
 
Sep 25th, 2002, 02:53 PM
  #19  
Lois
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wow, am I ever amazed at what I am learning about Australia. I didn't think 24 km from Sydney would be heartland! I am a people person. My husband is a people person. I find the best part of trips to be our personal experience with local people from each area, rather than what building we actually saw. It's not to say we don't enjoy the museums. And, I absolutely love anything to do with water [in it, on it, looking out at it, etc.] I've only heard wonderful things about the country, and when I say that, what I really am referring to, are the country's people. That's what I want to take home with me. Memories, stories,pictures, and whatever else, involving real [regular] people. I love driving through small towns in the states, connecting with local people. I guess what I'm hearing is that I should stick to areas that border the water in Australia, no matter what? I am excited to learn just how much there is to do on or near the water in Sydney. I was just looking for other local ideas. There have been some suggestions made that are very appealing. I'll look into each of them. Thanks once again for the help.
 
Sep 25th, 2002, 05:40 PM
  #20  
Alan
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Hi, again, Lois!
I have, in the past, caught myself advising people on this forum to stick to the coastal areas, but this is mainly directed at visitors who are coming in midsummer, when the temperatures (and the insects) make the inland areas less than comfortable. But, in your case, by no means should you just "stick to areas that border the water". If you are interested in meeting different types of people, you should definitely hire a car and head to some of the great (and very pretty) country towns which are within a half-day drive of Sydney. You will find some wonderful old hotel buildings to explore and sleep in also, especially if you head for the "gold" towns, which, in their heyday 150 years ago, were real boom towns. Today they are a shadow of their former selves, but that's where to meet the "traditional" Aussies... not in the dormitory suburbs around Parramatta. Now, clearly you don't have enough time to go too far away from Sydney, but maybe one of these would be within your driving range (or a three-day/two-night circuit): Mudgee, Wellington. Parkes, Forbes, Grenfell, Cowra. A lot of history around those areas!
Good luck in what you choose -- I think you are all set up for a holiday in NSW that is just a bit "different" to the norm, and that's a great idea!
 

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