No matter your age, when it comes to traveling, an organized bus tour is often times the best way to see the sights. And when it comes to the Blue Mountains of Australia, the tour you need to take is the Blue Mountains Explorer Bus.
While it’s true that bus tours are typically populated by older tourists, young adventurers can benefit greatly from the experience. A) they’re good for seeing major sites easily, and usually more than one during a tour, B) they can assist in helping travelers to get their bearings in a new city, C) they’re helpful with learning about additional tourist hot spots that might be discussed during narrated portions of the tour, and D) they usually provide a brief history lesson as well as information about the area so riders can gain valuable knowledge they might not otherwise get.
For many Australian travelers, visiting the Blue Mountains and the famous 3 sisters rock formation is on their bucket list. As luck would have it, Blue Mountain Explorer Bus invited us aboard so we could document the experience and let our followers know what it was like. The Explorer Bus is a convenient way to see all the sights in the Blue Mountains National Park in Katoomba. So our Australian GlobeHopper, affectionately called Dani Down Under, climbed aboard. The following is her account of the trip.
From Sydney, accessing the bus requires a 2-hour train ride northwest to Katoomba — a town at the foothills of the Blue Mountain Range. From there, it’s pretty straightforward considering the Blue Mountains Explorer Bus Travel Centre is directly in front of the stop so there’s no need for further travel.
It was there I picked up my ticket and only five minutes later I was on the bus and on the way to the first stop in the national park, the Katoomba Falls.
From the Reid’s Plateau, looking across the Jamison Valley, tourists are able to gaze upon The Three Sisters (a massive sandstone rock formation within the Jamison Valley) at Echo Point. Here there were multiple viewing platforms to see not only the Sisters but also Mount Solitary across the gorge.
From Echo Point, visitors are able to take a 30-minute walk (round trip) to The Three Sisters.
Though the beginning of the walk is fairly flat, more like a stroll, visitors have to descend approximately 60 steep stairs in order to get to the Hunny Moon Viewpoint.
The walk is worth it because the view from this platform is spectacular, and being able to stand on the Three Sisters rock formation is awe-inspiring.
One thing I really liked about the tour was the comprehensive guidebook provided to all ticket holders, depicting each stop on the tour. The book is well laid out, with details regarding the bus departure times from each stop. It’s very common on this particular tour that a visitor will jump off the bus at one site and have the option to walk to the next stop on the tour instead of boarding the bus again. The guidebook lists approximately how long each of these walks will take, the difficulty level, and the types of things one can see (rainforest, sweeping views, waterfalls).
It’s handy to have information like this as it helps to realistically plan the day and decide what can be reasonably accomplished.
Additionally, as the bus neared each destination, the driver would refer all passengers to the specific page in the guidebook that we were on and indicated the walk-about we could potentially take from that location, along with the approximate time it would take to complete. I found that the timing of the bus frequencies was perfect. Each bus came every half hour, and these half-hour time intervals were perfect for completing each stop. There was never a time when I was standing at a bus stop for longer than 5 minutes waiting for the next to arrive.
If the guidebook says you need 30 minutes to complete the walk (there and back) to see a waterfall or other landmark, you can rest assured the time is perfect to see the sights and make it back to the bus stop.
For anyone considering a vacation in Sydney, Australia, taking the Explorer Bus tour is a definite MUST DO, especially if you’re a student or new traveler and are not comfortable operating a rental vehicle in a strange land. The entire tour is conveniently laid out. The Explorer Bus ticket booth is conveniently located, once you leave the train station in Katoomba you are merely 5 meters away from your ticket!
Tickets are moderately priced and well worth it. You don’t have to worry about missing any of the important sights — Explorer Bus will get you there. And when you’re done, they will pick you up and drop you off at the next one. All you have to do is save your energy for walking up and down all the stairs on the trails.