Getting out of Sydney: 24 hours in the Blue Mountains

I lived in Sydney for about five months, and its quietest moments, it’s at best busy. Escaping the hustle and bustle of the city fumes is a must and thankfully, Sydney’s well connected travel links provide an easy option for tired city dwellers: the Blue Mountains.

Catch a train from Sydney’s central station, and you’ll be whisked away to the beautiful mountains in a little under two hours. Go on a Sunday, and you’ll benefit from Sydney’s travel-cap too, paying just a few dollars for your trip. The train travels through sleepy countryside towns, the idyllic landscape unfolding before your very eyes.

The main stop for the Blue Mountains is called Katoomba. Whilst you can get off at other places and still technically reach the Blue Mountains, if you get off here you’ll find your biggest range of restaurants, hostels/motels, and the visitors centre. A bus runs directly from the station down to the visitors centre and the start of trails, pretty regularly.

When we visited last year, we chose to spend the night in a nearby motel just minutes from the visitors centre. However, this isn’t entirely necessary. If you’re short on time (or money) the main sections of the Blue Mountains can easily be walked in under a day, and you’ll be back in the city by evening. If you are looking for a more relaxed and slow-paced weekend though, I would definitely recommend pre-booking accommodation. This way, you can do what we did and stroll aimlessly around the less traversed trails…and get horrendously lost too!

Many maps of the Blue Mountains showcase the main walking tracks, however in peak times, these can be exceptionally busy. These are the Giant Stairway, Three Sisters, and the tracks to the waterfalls. Whilst these are all beautiful and definitely worth a look, we found our best scenery and walking tracks in the areas where tourists don’t usually go. In the few hours that we were walking we saw just a handful of people…and it was lovely!

For those with families, or people who just want something a bit more established, the Blue Mountains are also home to Scenic World. This a combination of a skyway, walkway, cableway, and railway – the steepest railway incline in the world. We did look into tickets, but we found them too expensive and not really the kind of thing we were looking for. However, things like the skyway and cableway would offer amazing views of the surrounding area, so do some research if you are interested.

Our short time in the Blue Mountains was definitely one of my highlights of being in Australia. It’s so easy to reach from Sydney and you don’t need to stay overnight, that I’d encourage anyone staying in the city to embark on this nature-filled day trip. You’ll capture stunning photographs, exercise your lungs and legs, and appreciate some of the natural beauty that Australia has to offer.

 

 

Newtown’s King Street

Forget the Opera House – Newtown’s King Street is Sydney’s ‘place to be’!

OK…so don’t actually forget the Opera House, I mean it would be silly to go all the way to Aussie and not check out their most famed attraction. However, once you’ve finished battling your way through the hordes of tourists and almost bleeding your pockets dry, hop onto a bus/train for little more than 20 minutes and head on down to Newtown.

When I was living in Sydney, I was luckily around a five minute walk from the glorious King Street of Newtown and all the delights it had to offer. For those familiar with London, the area has a kind of Shoreditch/Camden Market vibe. You can pick up all your groceries, alcohol, and toiletries, whilst also nipping into unique vintage shops and one of a kind eateries in between. In short, you can certainly find what you’re looking for on King Street.

A few of my favourite places in Sydney were along King Street – some independent, others more popular. It was handy to have all that in one place though, and not spend hours trawling around the city for various items. My favourite (and probably the place I spent the most money) has to be Doughnut Time. These small ‘fast-food’ doughnut stores are surely a gift from heaven. I’m not even going to try and list all the amazing flavours they do and the many I tried…although I will leave you with this thought – Nutella doughnut. Mmm.

Doughnut Time isn’t the only commercial food chain to have found a home on King Street. Other delights include Max Brenner Chocolate Bar and various Mexican and burger joints. However, the independently owned food establishments steal the show by a long shot. Every kind of Asian cuisine (and for less than half the price and double the authenticity then we’d get in the U.K.), bakeries, fish and chips, kebabs, pizzas, and even vegan/gluten free restaurants that offer a healthy alternative to eating out. However, my go-to place was a small café aptly titled ‘Juice and Pork Roll’…because they really do only sell juice, and various types of roll. The juices are made fresh in front of you in any flavour combination you like. My personal favourite is watermelon and lychee, perfect for a hot, sticky Sydney day. The rolls are also personalized to order, and are certainly a bargain for your money considering the amount of meat, salad, and veggies they pack in there. Cheap, guilt-free, and never a queue – what more can you ask for in a ‘restaurant’?

Although I’ve focused rather a lot on the food of King Street (I may have been hungry at the time of writing this) you can’t ignore the abundance of independent fashion and boutique shops that filled the gaps between the eateries. As this area of Sydney is just so trendy and hipster, the charity shops are filled with exciting finds at a fraction of their retail price. The vintage shops are also reasonably priced too, especially where there is a sale. Other stores include shoe stores, art supplies, a really cute second-hand bookstore, and an Asian-inspired store that does the best rugs and teapots…if you have enough room in your case that is!

So, if you’re ever lucky enough to visit the bustling city that is Sydney, be sure to take a visit to King Street and Newtown in general. It’s not on many tourist’s radars but it really should be – especially if you’re a budget traveller like myself! Central Sydney can become tiresome and repetitive, so it’s nice to escape the harbour area and the various shopping malls to witness the true quirkiness of the city and what makes it unique. P.S. if you do get bored of shopping/eating (how could you??), happy hour in most of the bars is usually from around 5-7!