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5 days in sydney in August - advice

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5 days in sydney in August - advice

There is so many mixed reports about hotels in Sydney, where can I stay that is central, clean and relatively cheap (3* hotel).

My husband and I (age 26 + 28) will be spending 4 nights in Sydney as part of our honeymoon in August 2006. Ideally we want to be quite central but we want to keep the cost down without staying in tents.

We want to walk around and see the main 'tourist' sights - how cold will it be? does it rain much? Although I'm English and use to the rain I'm not sure of what to pack.

We also want to take a day trip to the Blue Mountains - any good tour companies?

How far is 'central' Sydney (e.g. Hyde park) from the airport? how much should I expect to pay in a taxi?

any comments or advice please

thanks Shelby x

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1. Re: 5 days in sydney in August - advice

I would look at staying in or near "The Rocks" area of Sydney. This area is the historical part of Sydney right near the harbour bridge and the Sydney Opera House. It has great transport (buses, trains and monorail) and lots of atmosphere.

Accommodation in Sydney is fairly pricey but look up

The Clarion Rendezvous Stafford Hotel www.rendezvoushotels.com

or if you are interested in staying in a nice historical pub look up

The Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel

www.lordnelson.com.au

(Friends of ours from the U.S stayed here and LOVED it.)

Sydney in August is pretty cold and windy by Aussie standards (9C-17C) but it doesn't rain a huge amount.

Sydney airport to the city is about a 10km drive. It really depends on the traffic as to what a cab fare is but expect to pay around AU$25-$30. You could look up shuttle buses from the airport also.

Good luck Jo

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2. Re: 5 days in sydney in August - advice

For a great tour look up: www.activitytours.com

click onto "Blue Mountains Wildlife Day tour with River Cruise"

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3. Re: 5 days in sydney in August - advice

Shelby, August is a very cheangeable and unpredictable month, but the chances are strong that it won't rain much.... actually, it's one of the driest months of the year, and, about four years ago, it was much-remarked-on that the whole month passed with nary a drop of rain.

However, you can usually count on getting both spring and winter, sometimes on the same day. From around mid-August onwards, there are strong winds that seem to spring up out of nowhere in the afternoon, and these can turn the streets of Sydney into a wind tunnel. The good side is that they don't last long, and they blow away all our pollution, so the next day will probably be so clear and sunny that you will take photos that your friends will envy. In fact, clear and sunny is the best overall phrase to describe August in Sydney.... lovely days, especially in the mornings, and coolish nights.

A taxi from the airport will cost around $AUD35 to $AUD40. You can get a train right at the International Terminal, and it costs about $AUD11 each. There are also private shuttle buses for around the same price, and a blue government bus which is the cheapest option, but it takes quite a while, and you have to change at one point andcomplete the journey on a (much cheaper) train. If you have a lot of bags, that's not such a great idea.... it's mainly used by people like myself, who never take anything we can't put into a backpack. The total cost for train and bus that way is around $AUD6 each.

Where you stay and how much you pay depends on what kind of experience you want; the Rocks, as mentioned above, is definitely the pick of the areas, but, of course, it's the most pricey, too; one thing that keeps the prices reasonable in the Rocks, which is the "old quarter", is that some of the hotels are around 160 years old and don't have air-conditioning or even a lift. One of these is absolutely gorgeous -- the Russell -- and it's the best-located hotel in Sydney: the Opera House is directly across the bay, the ferry wharves are a minute's walk away, and the Harbour Bridge a short stroll up the road. However, you may not think it's quite right for a honeymoon (being twice your age, I would have been thrilled to stay there back when I had my honeymoon, but times change, I guess). Anyway, do check out the website -- http://www.therussell.com.au/ -- so that you can at least assess it for yourself.

If you want five-star accommodation at three-star prices, you may be able to score a coup at the Wentworth Sofitel, which has been discounting heavily in recent weeks, if you book on their website. I think someone mentioned that the Four Seasons at Circular Quay was virtually matching their discounts. Check out both of these, and do a search under their names (above) to see some recent mentions on this site.

No matter how good the Blue Mountains tour company is, resist the temptation to book with them and do the trip independently. The reason for this is simple: as a resident of the Blue Mountains, I have seen -- and been outraged by -- the total disregard of the tour operators for weather conditions and their effect on your sightseeing day. In winter this is of crucial importance. Sometimes the Blue Mountains will be totally encased in fog -- for hours on end you just can't see a thing. If you could, say, go for a walk on the valley floor until the fog lifted, and then do your photography later, then it wouldn't matter so much. But the tour operators won't vary their schedule to suit you -- they have arrangements with restaurants and gift shops, so, fog or not, you are dropped at Echo Point to take your photos of nothing, and then whisked away to the next stop on the agenda to eat or spend money. My advice: give these people short shrift, and take the train to Katoomba, and then the trolley. Before you leave, telephone the Station Master at Katoomba Station and ask him if you'd be better off postponing for another day. The Blue Mountains isn't far from Sydney -- only two hours by train -- but when you start off, you've commitetted yourself to a whole day, so you wouldn't want to waste it when you have only four or five days in total.

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4. Re: 5 days in sydney in August - advice

Quote: No matter how good the Blue Mountains tour company is, resist the temptation to book with them and do the trip independently.

* That's great advice if you're broke or on a very very tight budget. Don't resist the temptation, you could be talking yourself out of a really great day out because or incorrect advice.

Quote: The reason for this is simple: as a resident of the Blue Mountains, I have seen -- and been outraged by -- the total disregard of the tour operators for weather conditions and their effect on your sightseeing day.

* My parents live in the Blue Mountains, I think the reason tour operators don't cancel their day tour if it's raining in Sydney because the weather can be 100% different in the Blue Mountains and vice-versa. Some offer free re-rides, some have flexible itineraries and some may not spend the entire day in the Blue Mountains. When it's raining on the rainforest walk with mist creating a mystical effect, It can be a very magical place. Some see the negative in things. Living in a area which has a lot of travellers can annoy some locals. Some hate the tour companies for bringing all of the tourists into 'their' town. Even though 'their' town would be a ghost town if it wasn't for the the tour companies and tourists.

Quote: In winter this is of crucial importance. Sometimes the Blue Mountains will be totally encased in fog -- for hours on end you just can't see a thing.

* We are experiencing a drought at the moment, you could count on one hand how many days it's been foggy in the Blue Mountains this year.

Quote: If you could, say, go for a walk on the valley floor until the fog lifted, and then do your photography later, then it wouldn't matter so much. But the tour operators won't vary their schedule to suit you -- they have arrangements with restaurants and gift shops, so, fog or not, you are dropped at Echo Point to take your photos of nothing, and then whisked away to the next stop on the agenda to eat or spend money

* A lot of companies actually try to steer clear from touristy shops and restaurants go for a nice bush walk, soak up the nature, check out some wildlife and do other activities.

Quote: My advice: give these people short shrift, and take the train to Katoomba, and then the trolley. Before you leave, telephone the Station Master at Katoomba Station and ask him if you'd be better off postponing for another day.

* 2 hours to Katoomba then 2 hours back, that's 4 hours of your day on a train. The train trip to Katoomba is VERY uneventful. My advice is ignore bad advice. Tourism is a big industry in Australia. A lot of small family owned companies rely on visitors from overseas to put food on their table and into their childrens mouths. Not all tour companies are run by big coach companies.

Quote: The Blue Mountains isn't far from Sydney -- only two hours by train -- but when you start off, you've commitetted yourself to a whole day, so you wouldn't want to waste it when you have only four or five days in total.

* You'll be wasting a big portion of your day catching public transport. Atleast half your day catching trains and waiting for bus's,

Shelby,

I would opt for a day tour if you have limited time in Sydney. Some are very very good, it's just a matter of finding out which ones are the good ones. The only type of tour I wouldn't do up to the Blue Mountains is a coach tour. Being stuck on a 55 seater bus down the back would suck.

check out:

www.oztrails.com.au

www.wonderbus.com.au

www.activitytours.com.au

They must be good if they're recommended in the Lonely Planet?

Only do the public transport thing if you're a lover of boring train rides and you have no money to travel.

Sheezus!

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5. Re: 5 days in sydney in August - advice

Well, if I can't, after such an impassioned plea on behalf of a conducted tour, talk you into doing the day independently, may I just advise you, if possible to choose a small-vehicle tour rather than a large one, and choose one that goes into a place at Glenbrook called Euroka Clearing. I know there are a few that do this, as I see them go in all the time, but I honestly can't remember the names on the side.

The point about Euroka Clearing is that it's at the end of a partly-unsurfaced and quite narrow road which the large coaches cannot negotiate, so only the smaller buses go in there. And it'sa well-worth the stop -- this is where, as they say, you can "have breakfast with the kangaroos"; there are usually dozens of them roaming around in the clearing, quite oblivious to the human visitors, and although you can't quite get to within touching distance, you can get almost that close, and there are some great pictures to be had.

On another thread about the Blue Mountains, Tel mentions a tour he went on which called into Euroka... might be worth checking that itnierary.

I still think an independent tour is the most cost-effective and time-effective, however; you can have dinner in one of the beautiful restaurants in Leura (the trolley stops there) and then catch the evening train back at your leisure; while the trains only run hourly, they are fast and comfortable, with air-conditioning, toilets, a water-cooler, and airline-type seats.

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6. Re: 5 days in sydney in August - advice

I would have to agree with AlanJ about steering clear of coach trips to the Blue Mountains and if you do choose to go on one, go with one of the smaller ones. The other advise definately sounds like an ad for a tourism company......... The trip on a tour bus is going to take almost as long as public transport so I really don't see how thats an issue however I would be tempted to hire a car for the day. I mean you are from the UK so are used to driving on this side of the road and it's not a difficult trip to navigate plus it means you can choose what pace you go at and where to stop and where to eat lunch and so forth and bypass gift shops if you wish. I would say pick up a guide book from your hotel and use that to explore yourself. You will save heaps of money and probably have a better experience......

PS RE whoever mentioned the Sofitel as a hotel option, if they have good deals I would recommend that 110%. Stayed there just after the refurb and it is really nice and in quite a central location. Easy to walk to the Quay and Rocks but only a 5 min walk from Wynyard Station.

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7. Re: 5 days in sydney in August - advice

Shelby, on another thread someone just mentioned thay had found an offer for the Menzies Hotel for less than $AUD150 a night... don't know if it was on its own site or a booking site. Either way, that's good value, and if you haven't yet booked, you ought to take a look at this.

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8. Re: 5 days in sydney in August - advice

Euroka is a nice spot but unfortunately these days there are probably too many tour companies going there at the same time. They advertise to see 'kangaroos in the wild' but what ends up happening is you get out of YOUR bus with 20 others, another company turns up with THEIR lot of twenty, a group of 5-10 kangaroos are found relaxing comfortably by themselves then up comes 40 tourists standing around them in one big semi circle, all trying to inch closer and closer to the kangaroos for the ultimate photo. This results in the kangaroos becoming stressed and resulting in them all hopping away. So as much as Euroka is a nice little spot, just remember that the brochures over sell the idea of experiencing kangaroos in the wild. You could luck it so that you join a tour company in a small group, and they've timed it so they arrive when no other company is there. The kangaroos aren't stressed out because they're being observed from a small group and you're not stressed because youre not sharing the your 'wild kangaroo' experience with 40 other people. The catch with the small exclusive tours is that they are usually very expensive.

Each to their own with either catching public transport, taking a tour, hiring a car. It all comes down to your situation, preferences, time allocation, budget and what you want to get out of the experience. Some people would NEVER do a day tour, others would NEVER do public transport or hire a car. I just thought I'd point out that not ALL tour companies are bad, on the contrary. I'm not affiliated with any company, but I have worked in tourism before in Sydney and I have done quite a lot of 'Famils' with different tour companies into the Blue Mountains. This is why I mentioned three different companies and not one. I have been up to the Blue Mountains with all of these companies and more to familiarise myself with their offerings for work....The tours I went on to the Blue Mountains consisted of different types of activities including a wildlife park, cruise along the harbour, bushwalking, scenic railway, winery and winetasting. This is what I like about a day tour is that you can cover a lot more ground, see a lot more and experience different types of activities and experiences throughout your day. When I travelled through Ireland I combined my sight seeing with public transport, hitch hiking and hiring cars with taking day tours to areas where I could be bothered doing the latter or if the itinerary and offering looked enticing.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do, just thought I'd give you and anyone else who reads this some food for thought.

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9. Re: 5 days in sydney in August - advice

Quote:

They must be good if they're recommended in the Lonely Planet?

MMM..Lonely Planet is not all it's cracked up to be....

It DOES contain incorrect information.

It directspeople to restaurants etc which have changed hands and declined in quality.

It gives incorrect details about public transport and even incorrect information regarding some cultural things.

Quote:

could count on one hand how many days it's been foggy in the Blue Mountains this year.

Given that the fog seasons commences in late May and goes thru to July this is no surprise

Quote:

think the reason tour operators don't cancel their day tour if it's raining in Sydney because the weather can be 100% different in the Blue Mountains and vice-versa.

The Bureau of meteorology has a fantastic website which shows radar and rainfall. It's not that har to check out the weather happenings in the Blue Mountainhs and work out the predicted pattern for the day.

Quote:

I have worked in tourism before in Sydney and I have done quite a lot of 'Famils' with different tour companies into the Blue Mountains.

Well any tourist worth his salt knows that those onselling a product will get better service if they have an experience which is worth recommending....what's more important is what Joe Public..the guy on here who has experienced their trip to the mountains either on a tour or by themselves.

We've recently been hosting some friends from the US who di a tour...the beauty of it was it's flexibility...basically a private car.

Now the decision to make is do you want to be taken from place to place...take your photos when you are directed and be herded around becuase even on small group tours this can and wil happen...if you are happy to wait for the person who wants to be 10 mins late at each stop and end up missing one of the dys highlights. If you are happy with this..and there is a large percentage of the population who are then look at some of the past feedback posts.....search in the box for blue mountains tours..there are miles to sift thru..I know FJ was one that came up a few times

If you like to DIY and I think it's still not a bad option...look at Cityrails Blue Mountains Explorer link...still a tour but with more freedom...

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10. Re: 5 days in sydney in August - advice

Sydney expert maybe ....Blue Mountains expert ? I think not.

Quote :It DOES contain incorrect information.

It directs people to restaurants etc which have changed hands and declined in quality.

It gives incorrect details about public transport and even incorrect information regarding some cultural things.

* Actually anything from the the local paper to the Bible contains incorrect information.I'm not sure if a tour company can be all that bad if they're recommended in Lonely Planet, Frommers, Lets Go AND the Rough Guide. Surely they can' t ALL be wrong if they've all recommended certain companies?

Quote: Given that the fog seasons commences in late May and goes thru to July this is no surprise

This is a funny quote. Fog season????? There is no such thing as fog season in the Blue Mountains. Fog can be generated ANY time of the year in the Blue Mountains. In fact you're more inclined to experience fog in the Blue Mountains in the summer months due to more storm activity and rainfall.

Quote: The Bureau of meteorology has a fantastic website which shows radar and rainfall. It's not that har to check out the weather happenings in the Blue Mountainhs and work out the predicted pattern for the day.

It's not that hard to look up the Bureau of Meteorology's website.True. But for those familiar with weather patterns in the Blue Mountains and not just Sydney ( we're talking chalk and cheese here ) one would know that extremely heavy fog can lift out of the canyons within 60 second and come back in just as quick. It can partially clear, completely clear or not clear at all. I think atleast a high percentage of a tour group would be very unhappy if a tour company rang their hotel as they were sitting in the lobby waiting for the day tour to begin and stated: 'Sorry, your tour's cancelled today because there's a chance there could be some fog either all day, half the day, for a few hours, for a few minutes all not at all. ' I doubt the people on the day trip who just like the idea of getting out of the smog and breathing in the fresh air regardless of weather would be too happy about their tour being cancelled last minute. Especially if they were only in Sydney for a few days and didn't have the option to go another day...Maybe half the tour group were more excited to do the harbour cruise, wildlife park or certain other activites offered in their Blue Mountains day tour itinerary more so than the Blue Mountains itself. Perhaps the Blue Mountains was just a small part of their day not the main part. These people would NOT have been happy if their day trip which they organised 6 months ago was cancelled last minute because of the threat of rain or heavan forbid Fog. Which hardly happens because WE ARE IN A DROUGHT. Everyone should experience a walk though a temperate rainforest when it is filled with fog, it is magical. Has anyone seen the capacity of water powering over Katoomba Falls, Wentworth Falls and Bridal Veil Falls lately? They resemble taps that have only ever so slightly been turned on. They would be considered more of a trickle that a water fall. Why? Because there is hardly any rainfall. When there's hardly any rainfall or cloud cover, there is hardly any fog. Simple. Or maybe we should wait for the imaginery FOG SEASON which apparently exists in the Blue Mountains.

Quote:

I have worked in tourism before in Sydney and I have done quite a lot of 'Famils' with different tour companies into the Blue Mountains.

Well any tourist worth his salt knows that those onselling a product will get better service if they have an experience which is worth recommending....what's more important is what Joe Public..the guy on here who has experienced their trip to the mountains either on a tour or by themselves.

One is not blind to how Tour Guides treat other guests, the way they interact, the comments they make, their actions, their body language, tone, what they say and do etc. Also, the itinerary of the day tour doesn't change for the person doing the famil. If I'm sitting up the back of the bus and I'm experiencing a day tour as a group tour with 20 other people and not as an individual, then it doesn't matter if I was the bloody Queen, I am in a group environment not on a chartered one person day tour. If I was on this type of tour, then yes, I would be given royal service.

Quote: We've recently been hosting some friends from the US who di a tour...the beauty of it was it's flexibility...basically a private car.

I'm sure they got themselves to the best parts of the Blue Mountains and were 100% totally relaxed with driving on the other side of the road in a area they've never been before. Sounds relaxing. But again, each to their own. When I was in Jerusalem I opted to rent a car and drive to the Red Sea, it was fun but a bit unnerving. I could've done a day trip but this time I chose to do it myself. ........The beautiful thing is we have choice.

Quote: Now the decision to make is do you want to be taken from place to place...take your photos when you are directed and be herded around becuase even on small group tours this can and wil happen...if you are happy to wait for the person who wants to be 10 mins late at each stop and end up missing one of the dys highlights. If you are happy with this..and there is a large percentage of the population who are then look at some of the past feedback posts.....search in the box for blue mountains tours..there are miles to sift thru..I know FJ was one that came up a few times

If you like to DIY and I think it's still not a bad option...look at Cityrails Blue Mountains Explorer link...still a tour but with more freedom...

Man you've just depicted the tour from hell. Yes SOME tours suck, other tours don't suck...just like anything in life. But NOT all tours suck. It's as simple as that. People are entitled to choice and are entitled to read for and against arguments, so THEY can decide on the unbiased information that's been given. There are nearly 200 Blue Mountains tour companies taking 1000' s of people to the Blue Mountians each and every day of the year, some will have come back completely satisfied, some won't.

The train trip to the Blue Mountains will put you to sleep. You will snore all the way just like the commuters on their way from Katoomba to Central station but instead you'll be heading the other direction. The views and canyons can't be seen from the trainline and the train is an all stops to Katoomba. The Blue Mountains is a ridge on a slight gradient, it doesn't have big mountains peaks, the views are not that amazing on the trip up. When you get off the train at Katoomba you'll have to wait around for the local bus to stop at 'all stops' on the way to the views. You 'll be waiting for a bus at each of the different drop off points you get off at. Then you'll get back to Katoomba station to wait for the train which will stop at all stops back to Central station in the city. You'll be waiting all day for a bus or a train and you'll be waiting MUCH longer than the person that gets back to the bus 10 minutes late at each stop on a day tour. You'll miss some extremely interesting information on the Blue Mountains regarding it's flora, fauna, geology, history, aboriginal culture, and hidden look out points that get you away from the crowds.

Have the best of both worlds, do a day trip up to the Blue Mountains spend the night up there, and the next day do your own thing and catch the train back to Sydney...there...argument over.

to those of you who are considering a trip out of Sydney. Just for a minute pretend you're back in your own city. You've read a few questions on a forum regarding someone from Australia toying with the idea to catch a train to a certain destination or a day trip near your hometown. You personally know from countless boring uneventful trips on that particular train trip in question which has been asked about, that the last thing you would do is recommend it. You knew it was cheaper, but that doesn't equate to better. This is where I'm coming from, and I'm also sticking up for tour companies which are actually good and cater to people who actually like doing day and over night tours...Once again, each to their own........Stay tuned for fog season!