Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Forget Sydney's Bondi Beach, Manly Beach is the place to go

Only 30 minutes from Sydney, Manly is a unique destination. A world class beach with consistent waves, towering Norfolk pines and two kilometres of white sand. Surf Lifesaving has its origin on Manly Beach.
Once off the ferry, stroll down The Corso (pedestrian mall) to the surf beach. Manly's plazas and laneway give it a village atmosphere, unlike Bondi's rather tawdry and touristy environs.
Manly Beach 1900
Source: Powerhouse Museum

Only a few minutes walk from the bustling Manly Beach is Shelly Beach. You could be on a deserted island, not suburban Sydney. Great snorkelling spot.
The view from Queenscliff, looking back towards Manly Beach
The best way to get to Manly is by the ferry (30 minutes from Circular Quay - adjoining Sydney Opera House and the International Passenger Terminal. A perfect day trip if you only have one day in Sydney.

The historic quarantine station on North Head is a 40 minute walk or a 5 minute bus ride from Manly Village (featuring colourful plazas and interconnecting laneways)
Sunset, looking back across the harbour to Sydney.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Unique accommodation in Sydney - Q Station

The Quarantine Station dates back from the 1880's. Situated in a National Park, it's part museum, part hotel and conference centre. Because of the heritage-listed buildings, not all rooms have bathrooms but the private bathroom is next to your room. These are termed Heritage rooms and suites. Deluxe rooms have connected bathrooms. Most rooms have spacious verandahs with water views. There are numerous public lounges spread throughout the property, decorated out in furniture and fittings from the period.

Less than a 10 minute bus ride from Manly Ferry Terminal (Sydney Ferries)

If you don't want to take the ferry and the bus, a privately run ferry delivers visitors directly to Q Station's pier (adjoining the private beach).

The sunset view from Room 27's verandah - probably the pick of the views. Ask for a room near Views Restaurant (used for breakfast). These 2 wings are the most central.
Take the 135 Bus from Manly Ferry Terminal, ferries run every half hour. (Sydney CBD is only 30 minutes on the ferry)

Q Station is divided into various precincts. A 24 hr shuttle bus is available but it is possible to walk around the grounds

Walk to dinner at the Boiler House Restaurant - over 200 steps (once a funicular railway)
The trip to Manly by ferry is spectacular, and a bargain to boot.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

The cheapest and easiest way to get from Sydney to The Blue Mountains

Costing only $2.50 return for a Senior (over 60) this is unbeatable value. For standard adult fares it's still a great deal (single tickets are around $10.00, Opal Card fare $8.50, 30% less if you travel Off Peak. Travel all day on Sunday for only $2.60 (trains, buses, ferries).
Central Station, Sydney to Katoomba is a 2 hour trip with limited station stops. By car the 102 km journey will take at least 90 minutes. The trains run every hour. Use Sydney Trains "Trip Planner" to work out how much time you need. Local buses (also using Opal Card) leave every 20 minutes 100 metres down from Katoomba Station. The Three Sisters Plaza/Echo Point is 5 mins away.
The Hop-on-Hop-off Bus is $30 per day - seems too much to pay.
There are a wide range of scenic bush walks (10 mins to several hours if you are a day-tripper).

Suggested itinerary (if you only have a day and you like a good walk with heaps of lookouts along the way)
9:18 a.m. train from Central. Arrive Leura Station (2 hours later). Walk through Leura Village along Leura Mall, follow signs to Leura Cascades (via Blue Mts Drive - BMD brown sign). Walking track (Prince Henry Cliff Track) starts at Leura Cascades car park. From there it's a 90 min walk to Three Sisters/ Echo Point, including breathtaking views of the Jamison Valley (including Bridal Veil Falls). You catch a local bus to Katoomba Station for the 2:14 p.m. train back to Central.
Getting off at Leura (one stop before Katoomba) means you avoid the crowds getting on the bus from Katoomba. Leaving from Katoomba means the train is nearly empty when it arrives.

Trains are comfortable, with first and last carriages designated "Quiet"

Katoomba Station

Jamison Valley from Prince Henry Cliff Track
The Three Sisters