Sydney sightseeing suggestions needed

Oct 6th, 2004, 12:23 PM
  #1  
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Sydney sightseeing suggestions needed

Day 1. The four of us want to spend a day doing the Blue Mtns. Is there a tour company you can recommend? Day 2. Similarly want the finest Harbour Cruise. Read that we must miss the Matilda Dinner Cruise but what is a great one? Day 3. Can we do ferry over (don't know where to), visit the zoo, do lunch (help here too please) and finish at the Aquarium. Doing the above, where do we fit in an Opera House tour? We arrive 5 November. What weather can we expect?
Many thanks. Jerry
glk11b is offline  
Oct 6th, 2004, 02:31 PM
  #2  
 
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Hi, glk11b!

I will leave the tour recommendations to others, as, like most "natives" of Sydney, I've never actually been on any of them; but, as far as I can ascertain, they are all vastly overpriced and have the usual minuses for every plus: in return for convenience, you have to move at the speed of the slowest participant, avoid anything which might result in the company being sued, and (in the case of the Blue Mountains tours) spend at least half your time in commercial establishments where the tour company gets a "kick-back". The only thing I would recommend with a Blue Mountains tour is this: ask them the question, "Do you include Euroka Clearing in your tour?" If the answer is yes, then this must be a small tour bus, and is (in my opinion) preferable to one of the monolith coaches which just do the "easy" stops.

Anyway, to the last part of your post: you can start at Circular Quay and take the ferry to Taronga Park, which is the zoo. On the return trip, you will have to go back to Circular Quay, but it is a simple matter to then board a second ferry which goes to Darling Harbour (that's the Aquarium). You will have to buy a second ticket, unless you have begun the day by buying a $AUD15 Daytripper Pass (in which case you can get on and off as many ferries, trains, and buses as you choose -- only good value of you plan to do at least four trips). From the Aquarium you could take the ferry back to Circular Quay in time for your Opera House tour-- it's only a few minutes of travel, and five minutes walk from the wharf.

The weather will be bright -- very warm, but not too hot for comfort; you should wear a hat and sunglasses. There may be late afternoon storms. Otherwise the skies should be clear. It's a nice time of year.

Have a great holiday!
Alan is offline  
Oct 6th, 2004, 05:10 PM
  #3  
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Alan, We agree with your comments about the minuses of tours. That is why we are doing so much of this on our own. Do you think we could do the Blue Mtn trip adequately on our own? Would we need a car or do busses/trains/taxis get us there? Are individual knowledgeable guides readily available? I shudder when the 'highlights' include getting a picure with a kaola or throwing a boomerang. Thanks, Jerry
glk11b is offline  
Oct 7th, 2004, 07:34 AM
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Hello Jerry,

I find it easy to drive on the left hand side of the road in the Australian countryside, and that includes the Blue Mountains. I believe you easily could do it. The highway from Sydney to the Blue Mountains is simple and straightforward, once you get onto the highway.

BUT, driving in Sydney itself is tricky for a newcomer. Parking is expensive, traffic is heavy, and it makes it all the more difficult if one is unfamiliar with the city and with driving on the left. For that reason I recommend the excellent public transportation system while you're in Sydney itself.

So...... that brings us back to your day in the Blue Mountains. The trick is getting out of Sydney. Once you've done that you're home free.

I guess you can take one of a few approaches. You can bite the bullet, rent a car in Sydney itself, and drive out of the city. If you take that approach, just be patient and don't try to rush yourself.

You could take the train from Sydney to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. That is as simple as pie. I've done it several times. Then, once you're in Katoomba, you could rent a car and drive yourself.

In the past Alan has mentioned hop-on / hop-off buses that come along at regular intervals and do a circuit within the Blue Mountains. The hop-on / hop-off bus is another approach to consider if you catch the train to Katoomba.

Lastly, you could do a guided tour. I've never done one of those, but I think Alan's advice to target a small group tour is sound.

You say you'll arrive in Sydney on 5th November. (As a side note that is Guy Fawkes Day, not a public holiday but a date of some historical and cultural significance in the United Kingdom and some of its dominions and former colonies.)

You mention going to the Blue Mountains on Day 1. I take it Day 1 means your first full day in Australia. Might I suggest delaying the Blue Mountains until about, say, Day 3? There might be merit in doing less ambitious activities while you're likely to be jet lagged. Your trip to the Blue Mountains will be a longish day.

As to the question of what specifically to see in Sydney and the Blue Mountains, there are heaps of previous discussion threads on those two topics. You'll find them by doing a word search in the Australia section of Fodors, if you haven't found them already.

Hope that helps.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Oct 7th, 2004, 02:49 PM
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I agree entirely with Judy's excellent advice -- even if she is giving it from CALGARY, for Heaven's sake! Driving in the Blue Mountains is pretty easy, but that first fifteen kilometres from your hotel in Sydney would not be recommended (and much of the next fifty kilometres is just ugly freeway). So, if you do drive, here's what you do: take the Blue Mountains Train from Sydney terminal, and get off at Valley Heights (it's about the eleventh stop). Right opposite the station is a rental car firm (they also have a branch in Katoomba, but it's a long way from the station, and in a part where normally you wouldn't go, so Valley Heights is easier). Hire your car from there, and proceed westwards with no hassles (you won't have to turn the car, even, until you reach Katoomba).

However, for all the benefits of drive-yourself, if you're talking about just one day, I think I would recommend doing the whole thing by train and trolley, as Judy described. The car is best if you wanted to see the sights at the extreme ends of the Mountains area (Euroka Clearing in Glenbrook and Jenolan Caves near Oberon), but this is virtually impossible without an overnight stay. The trolleys go right from Katoomba Station, and there is a tourist information centre there as well to help you plan your day. If you catch the train which leaves Sydney terminal at 9:02, you qualify (just!) for off-peak rates, which are about 40% cheaper than the tickets for the previous train (at weekends, all tickets are at off-peak rates, but I think you should avoid doing your one-day trip at the wekend, if possible).

The best thing about doing it yourself is that you will be able to take one of the trails from Echo Point and go DOWN onto the valley floor -- the tours, I think, just let you hang around at the top looking at the scenery, but, pretty as this is, it's NOT where the special charm of the Blue Mountains lies. Tourists who have seen the Alps or the Grand Canyon are unlikely to swoon in ecstasy at the sight of Megalong Valley viewed from a lookout. But down the bottom -- there you will walk under tree-ferns and even under waterfalls. THAT'S the Blue Mountains I love!

Good luck!
Alan is offline  
Oct 9th, 2004, 02:28 AM
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Alan and Judy give good advice (even if it's from Calgary). Just to give you another point of view if their suggestions don't all work for you.

We took a small group tour to Blue Mountains on a 4WD of about ten people that included a few other stops. We had an excelllent tour leader who drove, talked (good info) and made us a coffee break in the open. Lunch was included at a beautiful mountainside restaurant with view.

As Alan may recall, we did not get to Mt. Wilson but it was good trip. Maybe you should wait until you're in Sydney to make these arrangements. I found BROOKE COUGHLIN at GoWay Travel in Sydney a terrific travel agent. You can contact her from where you are as well.

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As for getting to the zoo, Circular Quay, Aquarium, Opera House and so on there is an excellent ferry service by Matilda that does not include a dinner. You start wherever you want and end wherever you want (hop on, hop off). Every hour another ferry will come by and you can take or leave it choosing when to go to another place. You can skip or visit every site for as long as you want (in one hour increments). We found it perfect and unrushed. Nice ferry too. it's worth looking into since it's independent and may cost less in the long run.

Have a good trip.
michi is offline  
Oct 9th, 2004, 02:39 AM
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<<We found it perfect and unrushed. Nice ferry too. it's worth looking into since it's independent and may cost less in the long run.
>>

When I said "it's independent' I meant it isn't a tour and you come and go as you like. If I remember correctly, it covers all the places you want to go to and the travel between sites is not long.

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michi is offline  
Oct 9th, 2004, 11:35 AM
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Jerry, Allan has given you excellent advice. I agree, that the best of the Blue Mtns is down in the valleys, bushwalking.
Allan, my favourite walk was the Grand Canyon walk, just off the road going,out to Evans Lookout (Blackheath).
I guess you have favourite walks yourself.
tropo is offline  
Oct 10th, 2004, 01:21 AM
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If you are doing the Blue mountains as a day tour I would suggest avoiding the Mega coaches and go for a 4 wheel drive explorer trip (usually includes trip to featherdale zoo, a kangeroo park and a boat rip back from the Olympic Stadium to Sydney. Usually there are no more than about 10 people. Can't remember the name of the tour comopany but it was the one recommended by the concierge at the Intercontinental.
Walter_Walltotti is offline  
Oct 11th, 2004, 04:27 PM
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I'm sure Matilda do a great job - but you can also do the whole lot on an ordinary Sydney ferry. You can get a one day go anywhere pass for about 14 AUD and ferry to Taronga Zoo; vbactuat uttshole u
alice13 is offline  
Oct 11th, 2004, 04:31 PM
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I'm sure Matilda do a great job - but you can also do the whole lot on an ordinary Sydney ferry. You can get a one day go anywhere pass (buses included) for about 14 AUD and ferry to Taronga Zoo; back to Circular Quay (fit in the SOH tour here) and thence to Darling Harbour. The best time to go to DH by water is when the sun is low in the sky around sunset. If you go then you will see what I mean.
alice13 is offline  
Oct 13th, 2004, 07:26 PM
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Depending on your time and inclination the day trip the Blue Mountains is a long haul so be prepared for a long day. If you go by train there is a red double decker explorers bus that you can pick up from any of the railway stations, its a hop on/ hop off type trip so you can get to the look outs and then walk down (its a bit of a hike) to the bottom, then get back on the bus for the skyrail and walk through the paths there. You won't get to Euroka Clearing, which is great on dusk, on the bus but its hard to fit everything in in just one day when you consider the 1.5hrs travelling time each way.
At the moment the temperature is about 32C which is high for this time of year. They are forcasting a hot summer so it will be warm but bring a sweater to the mountains, just in case, it gets breezy up there on the escarpment. Also make sure you check for bushfire warnings before travelling to the mountains, you don't want to get stuck there if they close the highways. Also look at the shot over jet on the harbour, my English cousins loved it.
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