August 6, 2019 / By Claire Atteia
In my opinion, train travel is one of the best ways to getaway for the weekend, and it’s easily the most underrated form of travel out there. There are many reasons to consider riding the rails – the big ones for me are saying 'goodbye' to road rage and 'hello' to a pleasant few hours just watching the world speed by, on the way to somewhere fabulous.
From your seat, you can crack open a packed lunch or duck down to the food carriage and pick up a tasty bite, then sit back with a good book and enjoy the ride.
No, trains can’t get you everywhere, but from Sydney, NSW RailLink can get you to the major regional hubs across the state within a couple of hours. And most destinations have tour buses to take you to the major attractions outside of town. So, leave the car in the garage and let’s ride the rails this weekend.
Travel to the Blue Mountains: 2 hours
Head to the Blue Mountains and you’ll discover heritage-rich towns like Katoomba and Leura, which are home to great restaurants and pubs with stunning wrap-around views. The spectacular World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains National Park has some of the most impressive mountain scenery in Australia – including yes, the iconic Three Sisters – plus densely wooded valleys which are crisscrossed by breathtaking bushwalking trails like Govetts Leap and Leura Cascades.
NSW TrainLink Intercity trains travel from Sydney to the Blue Mountains at least every hour. There are also express services with limited stops until Katoomba. You can travel using your Opal card, and when you get there you'll find public buses operate from Katoomba to Echo Point, or there is the hop on, hop off Blue Mountains Explorer Bus from Katoomba Station to the major attractions from Scenic World to Leura. Local taxis and bus services will also get you to all the key locations and attractions.
Travel to the Central Coast: 1.5 hours
For golden sandy beaches and sparkling waterways, head to the beautiful Gosford region on the Central Coast. For the outdoor lover, you’ll find plenty of fun and adventure with an endless array of water activities which take advantage of the area’s natural assets. For an idyllic seaside getaway, head to Terrigal or Avoca Beach where you can sit and stare at the magnificent coastline for hours.
Trains operate to the Central Coast from both Sydney and Newcastle with services departing approximately every 30 minutes.
Travel to the Hunter Valley: 3 hours
For wine-tasting at some of Australia’s best-known wineries, the Hunter is the place to go. But the area has so much more on offer than this. You'll discover fine dining and cooking schools, bushland walks and historic towns to explore. For the history lover, explore the heritage streets of Maitland and relax at the end of the day with a fine glass of Hunter wine.
Hunter Line train services run between Newcastle and the Hunter Valley towns of Maitland and Singleton. You can travel there using your Opal card. The Armidale XPLORER and the Moree XPLORER also run daily from Sydney and stop at Maitland, Singletown, Muswellbrook, Aberdeen and Scone.
From Maitland and Singleton, there are a number of train and bus services and private tours running within the Hunter Valley that will help you explore the region further.
Travel to Bathurst: 4 hours
When you travel to Bathurst, you go through the Blue Mountains, so be sure to get a window seat on this journey. And more beauty awaits when you arrive with historic goldfields, spectacular limestone caves and gorgeous heritage architecture. For the art lover, you have the Bathurst Regional Art Gallery is a great place to explore and for those interested in history, Chifley Home is here - the home of our former Prime Minister Ben Chifley.
A real highlight of the area is the Abercrombie Caves, an amazing underground world. You’ll enter these limestone caves through the Archway, which is the largest natural arch in the southern hemisphere!
To get there you take the ‘Bathurst Bullet’ or the Dubbo XPT, both run daily from Sydney. NSW TrainLink services also operate from Sydney to Lithgow with coach connections to Bathurst . Bathurst has a local bus network, and taxis are available 24 hours a day seven days a week.
Travel to Wollongong: 1.5 hours
Conveniently located an hour or so south of Sydney, this area has so much to offer – dramatic landscapes, magnificent panoramic views, and spectacular lookouts. Base yourself in Wollongong where you’ll find a selection of great restaurants and a vibrant arts precinct, including the Wollongong Art Gallery. Time your visit between May and November and you can try your luck spotting the humpback whales on their annual migration along the coast.
Wollongong is located on Sydney South Coast Line. Sydney Trains operate commuter trains at regular intervals to Wollongong.
Travel to the Southern Highlands: 2.5 hours
To unwind and escape from it all, one of the best places to go is the Southern Highlands. It’s the perfect weekend for everyone, with markets, farm produce stalls, antiques, heritage buildings and wondrous natural scenery.
For the first time visitor, head to Bowral, where you’ll find lovely shops and plenty of cafes. It's also home to the Bradman Museum. For the seasoned highlander, try Mittagong, Moss Vale or Bundanoon and discover the charm of the region with tiny historic villages surrounded by rolling green hills.
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