Viewing natural Australia around Sydney (without too much walking)
March 2, 2015 7:00 PM   Subscribe

We have a couple more days in Sydney, and need a few suggestions for what to do with the rest of our time. I would prefer sights and scenes of nature we can't see anywhere else. The difficulty: my wife needs a break from walking.

We have 1-2 days left in Sydney and we've already crossed off almost everything on our list. We've seen a fair bit of nature already (the Zoo, the royal botanic gardens, bondi beach walk to coogee), but I always want more (when I travel I like to do/see things I couldn't do/see anywhere else, so scenic nature treks are high on my list).

The problem is, we've done so much already that my wife needs a break from all the walking. I had been thinking about a trip out to the blue mountains, but was already on the fence about it because we're not the most experienced of bushwalkers (our trails back home aren't so perilous as the ones in Australia), and now that my wife's so tired, I think it may be out.

So Australian MeFites, I turn to you for suggestions. Is there a way we can experience some Australian nature for a day without too much walking? If not, is there something else you'd recommend for a low-impact day?

Thanks in advance!
posted by chndrcks to Travel & Transportation around Sydney, Australia (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I am not Australian, but are there cool things you can get to on the ferry? Ferry rides are among my favorite memories of several different tourist ventures.
posted by yarntheory at 7:09 PM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The blue mountains can be very easy. Please don't skip the blue mountains because you think it's too strenuous. Going down the giant staircase then back up in the scenic railway is a short & easy trip. You will see lots of families with children and older people doing this walk. There is also a cable car. The blue mountains is a very beautiful & significant site to miss.

It's been years since I've been but give Scenic World a call and I'm sure you can work out a day that is as easy as you want.
posted by stellathon at 7:33 PM on March 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

Otherwise enjoy more of our beaches. Botany Bay has beautiful white sand, have lunch at Doyles at Watsons Bay, or fish & chips at Neilson Park or Balmoral. These are quiet and lovely on a weekday.
posted by stellathon at 7:39 PM on March 2, 2015

Best answer: Harbour cruise, or a river cat up the Parramatta River?

Blue Mountains tour is also doable without a lot of walking. And utterly worth it.
posted by taff at 7:46 PM on March 2, 2015

Best answer: Yes, Blue Mountains is easy and totally walking optional! There's a hop on hop off tourist bus that goes around Katoomba and Leura. See the escarpment, get a coffee :) There's also one of those skyline cable cars that goes up and down the escarpment.
posted by jrobin276 at 9:02 PM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I just came in the second stellathon's Scenic World recommendation. I am a very fat lady with bad knees and sore feet, and this was a nice afternoon and not too strenuous for anyone with moderate fitness who isn't scared of heights.

We took the Sky Way across near the Three Sisters (clear bottom cable-car for the win!), went to the bottom of the valley on the Scenic Railway (more like an adventure ride - it's ridiculously steep but quite short), had a leisurely 10-15 minute stroll on a board-walk(will take longer if you stop to look at the old mining sites and displays) and then to a cable-car and back up to the top of the valley. This took about 2 hours but can be more or less depending on the time available.

The views are awesome, and we've had plenty of rain recently so you'll see a fairly green bit of Australia and some waterfalls. Hang around Leura for lunch or coffee and make a day of it.
posted by ninazer0 at 9:10 PM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Just to add to the suggestions for the Blue Mountains - in addition to the tourist bus jrobin mentions, there's also Blue Mountains Trolley Tours which operate a hop-on hop-off service from Katoomba to Echo Point (the good spot to view the Three Sisters), and Scenic World, among others. The town of Leura, while a bit touristy these days, has lovely coffee shops and my favourite candle shop anywhere. All this is doable without very much walking at all. [Spoiler: the "trolley" is really a bus, not that it matters. I don't know who they think they're fooling.]

Having said that, if I had one day left in Sydney and had some small tolerance for walking, I would get the ferry from Circular Quay to Manly, then walk along The Corso to Manly Beach, and after admiring the view, turn right and walk along the beachfront to Shelly Beach, and then up to the lookout which shows the cliffs on the other side of the headland. Google Maps says it would be about 1.9km (1.2 miles) each way...but there are numerous places to stop for food/beer/icecream/swimming/admiring the view along the way, and it could be an afternoon or a whole day if you wanted. I do think the ferry is worth doing, and if this is still too much walking, you could just go for a drink or lunch at the Manly Skiff Club after getting off the ferry at Manly - a lovely view over the water, and a much shorter walk, though possibly less of the "nature" than you had in mind.
posted by Cheese Monster at 9:41 PM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It would be very remiss of you not to see the Blue Mountains.
posted by dontjumplarry at 2:34 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Yes! I did a bunch of bushwalking alone in the Blue Mountains (don't tell my mom) but lots of people did the tourist bus thing and you see lots of great views. Plus the Blue Mountains are just truly amazing.
posted by zutalors! at 2:38 PM on March 3, 2015

The post ferry on the Hawkesbury is fun, and requires essentially no walking. The scenery isn't as spectacular as the Blue Mountains though.
posted by kjs4 at 8:56 PM on March 3, 2015

Response by poster: Great advice from everyone. We decided to give Scenic World a try and really enjoyed it. My wife's knee made it through the long trail on the walkway, which was great. Then I went on to part of the trail in the national park (was a short walk to Cook's Crossing) while she rested at the cafe. Then we did the Prince Henry Cliff Walk from the SkyWalk to Echo Point where we caught the city bus back to the train station.

It was a great day and worth the 2 hour train ride. Thanks for the recommendations!

And since this will probably be my last Australia-related question for a while, let me say that just about every Australian we've interacted with has been friendly and helpful.
posted by chndrcks at 1:58 AM on March 4, 2015 [3 favorites]

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