Blue Mountains from Sydney - worth a separate DIY trip?

The Grand Australia and New Zealand tour visits Featherdale Park from Sydney. Featherdale is close to the Blue Mountains and is a stop on many many coach tours from Sydney to the Blue Mountains. It appears one can not take a coach tour from Sydney to the Blue Mountains without stopping at Featherdale, which we will have already seen the day previous to our free day in Sydney.

On our free day in Sydney, we are considering making a day trek from Sydney to Katoomba (by train) and doing the Blue Mountain thing on our own - probably on the HopOn-HopOff bus from Katoomba. Since coach tours into the Blue Mountains from Sydney seem invariably to stop at Featherdale, can one get a sense of the Blue Mountains whilst on the Tauck trip into Featherdale, or would a separate day trip be a worthwhile adventure?

Thanks for your input.


  • edited May 2015
    Hi Wallaroo,

    Gosh, with that name I'm surprised you nee to ask! ;)))))

    Jokes aside, I haven't been to the to the Blue Mountains for years. However, my travel agent lives in the Blue Mountains, so I can ask her. Might take a few days for the emails to get back and forth, though.

    One consideration you should be aware of is the season. When are you travelling? I do hope you are not travelling in the height of summer and consequently bush fire season. I'm sure I don't need to point out the implications of that to you if you are an experienced bush walker.

    I'll get back to you with any answer I get.


  • edited May 2015
    Hi Jan -

    We're traveling early March 2016. I don't think that's the height of anything. :-) and... an experienced bushwhacker I am not - although I did a lot of that as a Boy Scout MANY years ago. I would classify myself as a "well-seasoned traveller."
  • Hi Wallaroo,

    March should be a good time, with any luck! And that old Scouting spirit will mean you'll be prepared for anything. My travel agent won't be back in the office till Monday, so I'll keep you posted on her reply. In the meantime, plan, plan plan! :))


  • We took the train to Katoomba from Sydney on our free day in April last year and toured the Blue Mountains and it was superb. So beautiful. Enjoy!
  • But we hired an ecotour guide. I might recommend that. Can't remember the company but it was really good.
  • And no,you get no sense of the Blue Mountains from the Featherdale trip...
  • Hi Florida Traveler -

    Your input was helpful. What time did you leave Sydney on the train for Katoomba and when did you leave Katoomba for the return trip? Any significant about the train ride itself (I've read elsewhere that it's nothing particularly memorable)? Did your time (on that day) in the Blue Mountains seem too short or too long? Anything you did that you would have skipped if you had to do it over again?


  • Hi Wallaroo,

    Sorry to take so long to get back to you. My friend was away travelling. (What a wonder!!)

    First up, she suggested as a useful resource.

    The regular train trip to Katoomba from Sydney is a very interesting trip. Start you trip early. There's a lot to see and do. Once you are free of the regular suburban landscape typical of all large cities (population just under 5 million) the countryside turns scenically beautiful. If you are a regular commuter into Sydney (like my friend) you probably bury your head in a book, but it is definitely worth paying attention to the world outside the train windows.

    She said the hop on/hop off bus was the way to get around once you get to Katoomba. Leura is a little town in the vicinity of Katoomba well worth a stop. Famous, in the olden days, as a honeymoon destination, these days it does a roaring trade in conferences. (I make no comment on this progression over time from the roaring 20s to the present day.) She said to be sure to stop in at the Carrington, a classic hostelry of the day ... and still popular. A passing libation is a must, apparently! The town is full of great places for a bite of lunch, too.

    Her comments on Featherdale echo those of an earlier poster here. According to my friend, Featherdale is "very touristy", which in my lingua franca means "contrived to give a Disney view & should be avoided if you have a better alternative". Of course, if you disembarked from a cruise ship at Circular Quay and this was your "Australian port" and only chance to see any examples of Australian native fauna ... I'd tell you to go to Sydney Zoo instead. Of course, there is the drive to and from in added favour of a tourist attraction like Featherdale. I'd be the first to say I loved my visit to Disneyland! But scientifically, intellectually, using my little grey cells, I know this entertainment venue doesn't represent the reality of the United States.

    I hope this has been useful. It's certainly whet my appetite to visit Katoomba!


  • Hi Jan -

    Thanks for your reply. Looks like we'll take an early train to Katoomba (keeping our eyes open for scenery) and spend the day hopping on and off the bus. We'll have to check out Leura and the Carrington.

    Featherdale we hit the day previous as part of our tour . Not sure the coach ride will be anything exciting. We watched a YouTube segment on Featherdale and it does look a bit "touristy" - standing in line to get your photo with the appointed (and very disinterested) Koala). But into each tour some "touristy" things must fall. We might try the Sydney Zoo - we have another half-day free in Sydney - and the ferry ride ride from Circular Quay looks like a good way to see the harbor.

    Your input was very helpful in making up our minds to take the trip to Katoomba and the Blue Mountains. Looking forward to the trek.

  • edited June 2015
    You know, when we did the Australia tour and went to Featherdale, it was the only time we got to see Kangaroos, koala etc. it was not that touristy and you could get up close and personal with the wallabies which we enjoyed. Standing in line to be photographed with Koala is not compulsory either. If we had not gone to see this cute little zoo, I am sure there would be plenty of people complaining they saw no wildlife. And remember all those people on past threads here with people complaining they did not get the chance to hold a koala, never mind that they are a very timid and easily stressed animal. As Jan points out, this tour is a very quick overview of Australia only and that little zoo that specializes in animals only from Australia, is one of those quick ways to give an overview of the wildlife. I hate it when people introduce me as being from London when I am actually from England and a Northern Englander too, so what an insult. As Jan also points out Disneyland doesn't represent the U.S. And I never think or mistake anyone from the U.S. As being a New Yorker. And clearly Featherdale is only giving us a taste of Australian wildlife, it does not show the ideal.
  • Ah, British, you're from Edinburgh then?

    Sorry ---- couldn't resist. ;-)

  • Ha ha, my two years in Glasgow still coming through then!

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