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4.5 based on 10 reviews
Let me start by saying we did the blue mountain & the featherdale park with lunch included as well as the river cruise back to the City. Our guide was Jed & he was the best! Very funny and informative. He was a great/safe driver and knew literally everything. To me, it felt like my husband & I knew him already. We were in a coach bus but I must say the bus would have been better if there were a bathroom just in case. While there are restrooms at every stop and Jed lets you know, i just think that a bathroom would be a perk. The bus makes stops at various hotels in the city to pick up other passengers & once done, the driver will drive about 20-25 minutes to the zoo park. The featherdale park was wonderful and very interactive. Lots of photo opportunities. There is a cafe there with food/snacks & toilets; you spend about 1.5 hours there. Then it’s about 1.5 hours into the small City before the blue mtns. Lunch in the small City before the mountains was so yummy! You have about 8 options to choose from; you will choose when you get on the bus and your guide will send in the order; there are vegan/vegetarian options as well (pasta, lasagna, soup, salad, wraps, fish). I had the chicken wrap and hubby had salad with grilled chicken and they were both delish. If you do not choose the included lunch, you are free to do lunch on your own & there are a few restaurants to choose from or a grocery store (Woolworth’s) is there. Lunch was Very filling; you also get a drink/dessert. You will have time to again, use the toilets and shop around a bit in the small town. You have about 40-45 minutes in the town. Then it’s a 5 minute drive into the mountains where you take the cable car & other ride into the mountain. Now this is where it gets lack luster...but this is no fault to the tour company, it’s the actual park service. The trails are ok...there are some hills/stairs but there isn’t anything to see besides trees. You can’t even see through the trees to the mountains. I thought we’d see a waterfall, but we did the entire trail and didn’t see anything. The only time we saw scenic views were at each cable car location. The red cable car (steepest in the world) is very steep! And it will feel like you may fall but it’s safe. There are places through the walk/hike to stop & have a picnic lunch at a table if you choose. There’s an easy route that takes about 10 minutes & another that takes about 35-40 minutes but my husband and I did both in about an hour with backtracking another trail twice. After that, you’ll head to echo point to see the three sisters which is beautiful; there are toilets there as well. You will then head the river outside of the blue mountains to return to the city on a catamaran that is 3 stories and has a paid bar with drinks/snacks and toilets. It will drop you off at Circular Quay or darling Harbour. Overall, for the price this was, this tour was worth it because you don’t have to deal with driving and the separate entry fees into these places are expensive. Again, our guide Jed was amazing! I hope his employers see this and continue to value him. He was so nice and engaged with everyone including the kids on board and he passed our souvenir koalas after the zoo park which was a nice treat.
I recently went to Sydney to meet up with some old friends from America who I hadn’t seen since 2006. They were only in town for a few days on their way back from NZ and weren’t going to be able to see much of Australia outside of the city, so I thought it would be good to book a Blue Mountains tour. I checked through an exhaustive list of tours online, and with the combination of Featherdale, Scenic World, a river cruise and raving reviews singing the praises of their tour guides, I thought FJ Tours easily looked like the way to go. We scheduled our 7:15am pickup at one of the nearby hotels. I was there at 7. My friends showed up at 7:10, stopping at a coffee shop around the corner on the way. The bus pulls up, the door opens and out comes Graham, our delegated Aussie who would guide us through this day long experience - and what an experience it would turn out to be. Graham starts off by checking our names off his list, and then says to my friend holding her coffee “you’re gonna need to get rid of that...can’t have it on the bus”. “Why’s that?”, my friend asked. “Because drinking on the bus is illegal here. What country are you from?”, Graham replied. “A country where we’re allowed to drink coffee on the bus?”, my friend’s husband joked nervously. Graham didn’t flinch. “Well that’s why your busses are in such bad condition. I’ve seen ‘em. They’re disgusting. That’s what happens.” We all look at each other with an awkward grin. Now I’m 40 years old, my friends are in their mid-30s. None of us have ever run into this anywhere we’ve travelled. So we thought maybe he was joking, but it quickly became apparent that he wasn’t. So my friend skulled what she could of her coffee as we got ready to board. Graham continued “Now you’re gonna need to pick a partner because I’ve got a full bus today. One of you is gonna have to sit by yourself.” There are 5 of us, so we work it out, pair up, head into the bus, shuffle into our seats and head off to pick up other passengers. After the first stop one of my friends points out that there’s a row of 5 in the back. “Why don’t we all just sit in that row?”. That seemed to make good sense. And it seems like a suggestion a normal driver might make. But apparently not. So we got up and moved ourselves. We were a few stops in, heading east through the city. If the bus was moving, Graham was talking - pointing out where we can find Russell Crowe or how Tom Cruise comes to Sydney to escape the paparazzi or mentioning Sydney’s wonderful air quality (minus the “one or two days” that it was affected by the fires) or working out what comparable fuel prices would be in other countries. It’s nearing 8:00 and we roll up to another pickup point. I check my GPS since it looks like somewhere I’d already been a couple days earlier and realise that we’d doubled back and were now only about 4 blocks north of where we started at 7:15. We get to the final stop, pick up our last few passengers and we’re off, heading for the freeway out of Sydney and into the beautiful Blue Mountains. Graham gives his official introduction and it was time for the fun to begin. “First of all, we do things a little different in Australia”, he starts off. “Firstly seatbelts…”. He lets us all know that we’ll be fined if we’re not wearing them. Fair enough. That’s to be expected. Good on ya, Graham. “Second, we don’t eat or drink on our busses here. That’s $100 fine if you’re caught doing it”. Now, as someone who’s been in Australia for nearly 15 years, I can tell you that no, that is not “how we do things” here. We all look at each other again, doubting the truth of it, so we consult Google. Sure enough, this is actually illegal in Sydney. God knows why. But apparently Sydney represents all of Australia, so that’s the explanation we received. From there, he moved on to introductions. Now, on any other tour I’ve ever been on, domestically or overseas, we've had a tour guide and a driver. But Graham filled the roles of both. “OK, so let’s get to know each other a little bit. What country is everyone from? Just put your hands up. Aussies...do we have any Aussies with us?”. No response. “OK, what about Americans, I know we have a few”. A couple from Texas and Ohio raise their hands. We start gradually moving through the world atlas with Graham naming every country or continent that comes to mind, sometimes just grouping them together arbitrarily. “What about South Africa or South America”. What? The vast majority just stayed silent throughout this bit. Now keep in mind, Graham is driving the bus while he’s searching for hands. At one point he let out an audible groan, realising he had just run a red light. My friends and I just looked at each other and laughed because of the ridiculousness of it all. And we weren’t even out of the city yet. An hour and 45 minutes since we boarded and Graham has only stopped talking for a rough total of 5 minutes. He’s shared his views on world peace, saying how getting everyone on a bus to the mountains could solve all the world’s problems...that and firing all the politicians. He’s not wrong. But I just kept thinking to myself “I hope no one’s son or daughter on this bus is a politician”. I say son or daughter because their parents surely wouldn’t be eligible for consideration, seeing as how outside of our group, there were only 8-10 on our bus who were not borderline (if not full-blown) geriatrics. As I mentioned at the outset, my friends and I hadn’t seen each other in over a decade, so we were hoping to relax and chat on the trip, but directly overhead was a speaker with Graham’s non-stop stories and world views streaming through and we had no way to turn it down or off...so we just sat through it, trying to talk over it but also trying not to make too much noise ourselves. The level of detail we received was impressive, albeit unnecessary. Nearly an hour outside of Featherdale, Graham is already telling us how to get in the front gate, get to the toilet, get to the cafe, etc. Mind you, all of this is clearly marked at the park and anyone with one working eye and an ounce of common sense could figure all this out on their own. And seeing as how we were an hour away, by the time we actually got there we’d completely forgotten everything he’d said in the first place. As we neared Featherdale, Graham pointed out how the area is known for its high rate of public housing and noted the problems that come with that. Now as someone who has worked for the pubic housing commission in another state, I can tell you his thoughts weren’t far off the mark. He was actually spot on. But again, I kept thinking “I sure hope no one on this bus is in public housing”. Our stop at Featherdale was great. My friends hadn’t seen many Aussie animals at all, and there were heaps on display. It was nice being able to experience that with them. Even the normally reclusive ones like the wombats and the tasmanian devils were out and about. When we got back on the bus we found a brochure for Scenic World, where we would be heading next. It was over an hour away, so Graham felt it was a good idea to start giving directions immediately. “Turn right as you enter, then turn left there. Then jump on the blue car which takes you back over to the other side, then coming out you can take two lefts and a right to get to the yellow”. That wasn’t exactly what was said, but I assure you it was also not an exaggeration. We also received information like “If you need to go to the toilet, there’s a toilet you can go to. If you want to ride all the rides you can ride all of them. If you don’t want to ride any rides, you don’t have to ride any of them. If you only want to ride one ride, you may do so.” Again, not an exaggeration. It’s like no option needed to go unmentioned. It was as if we were all in a hostage situation and if Graham stopped talking the bus would explode. So he just kept talking. Shortly before arriving at Scenic World, we stopped at Leura for lunch and the rain set in. It poured for a while, but we ducked into a cafe and waited it out. The pies at the bakehouse were great. And the lemon & lime tart at Landseer’s of Leura was out of this world. We passed a gypsy woman who walked past and said without stopping “You must have the potato pie”. So apparently that’s good as well. But we didn’t feel like braving the rain to get one. Maybe next time. We loaded back up and moved on with Scenic World only a few minutes down the road. With the rain came a thick fog which only got worse as we arrived at our destination, making it nearly impossible to see anything from the cable cars. But we did manage to get a peek at the Three Sisters at the cafe stop afterward. If we’d had more time to enjoy it and the weather was clear it would have been fantastic, judging from what little we did see. When we board the bus for the trip back, Graham starts talking again, but at this point everyone was obviously past it, having their own conversations and ignoring him completely, so after a few minutes he signed off for the rest of the journey. As we pulled up to the wharf to catch our riverboat, Graham parked the bus and addressed us for the last time. “Well it wasn’t the best,” he said. “But it could have been a lot worse”. That statement summed up the day perfectly. We filed off the bus and boarded our catamaran, heading back to the harbour. As we pulled away, we saw guides from the other tours waving, yelling and laughing as they saw off their passengers who were waving back happily. Graham was nowhere to be seen. We assumed he had found someone to talk to. As awful as it sounds, the highlight of the entire day was actually how annoying our guide was. It got to the point that every moment with Graham was a new low, which became funnier and funnier as the day went on. We met up with a friend afterward for dinner and I told him “I wish you’d been there to experience this with us. It was so bad it was incredible.” It was like watching an old, terrible horror movie from the 50s that’s unintentionally funny and the more you watch and think about it the funnier it gets. Overall, the tour was fine. I’ve seen the Blue Mountains now, sort of. But I can guarantee that any story I ever tell about that day won’t be about the scenery or the animals or the lemon lime tart, but they will be about Graham - the worst guide I’ve ever had.
Excellent tour. Our driver and guide, Graham, couldn`t have been more freindly, helpful and organised. All tickets were included, food was good, Featherdale great, Scenic World very good (even though restricted because of Bush fires), river cruise great
This trip is excellent value for money! The whole day is well organised with just enough time at each stop to enjoy the attraction and get photos. It was a bit windy on the day we went and there was a freak storm but this didn't affect us. Thankfully we managed to get in Scenic World and complete the rides before the storm struck and the rides closed. Our driver, Mark, was very friendly and knowledgeable. We didn't order lunch but there were plenty of options in the little town where we stopped to grab something to eat. The boat trip back to circular quay at the end of the day was the icing on the cake! Would highly recommend.
The pickup from the hotels took a bit to long it was over an hour before we got out of Sydney & then they said we were going to Featherdale to see the animals which I wasn't over keen on but this was a up close & touch them experience, even rub a Kangaroo's tummy it just lay there much better than some of the other parks. Lunch was included, huge portions. We also went to Scenic World where we had plenty of time, several Blue Mountain viewing points & then a boat trip back down the Parramatta river, thoroughly good day out probably made more enjoyable because of our driver.
Aaron was a star and could not have worked harder to make the most of our trip,I would have liked longer at each point of the trip but there are only so many hours in the day. An accident on the freeway held us up but Aaron kept us updated constantley and valiantley got us to the boat in time. I would recomend this as a taster for longer visits to the area
I would only recommend this for those who don't want to walk much and get a brief over view of the Blue Mountains. There is very little time available at the lookout so you can't get an type of hikes in or even do the steps down to the 3 Sister bridge. We got it done by running down the path and spent a couple of minute took some pictures and ran back up.There are several look out points but did don't have time to do them. The bus driver Jad was very good and enjoyed all the information he shared.
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