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This is a continuation of Road Trip Sydney Part 1: Sydney City
The majestic Blue Mountains in Sydney is truly a sight to behold and are named because of an iconic blue tinge the range takes on when viewed from a distance. The tinge is believed to be caused by mie scattering which occurs when incoming ultraviolet radiation is scattered by particles within the atmosphere, adding a blue-greyish colour to distant objects including mountains and clouds.
The majority of the 11,400 square-kilometre range is protected wildlife reserve and park land, and while it doesn’t boast many tourist attractions, it still enjoys high tourist traffic. Travellers come for the breathtaking views, as any trip to Sydney would not be complete without a visit to the Blue Mountains. Numerous suburbs and communities are connected via the Great Western Highway, and exploring these interesting villages would easily take you a week or more!
Though just 50km away from the Sydney CBD, the difference in pace of life and environment couldn’t be more stark. While the CBD is bustling with cosmopolitan activity, the Blue Mountains invoke a deep sense of calm and serenity. The houses are mostly colonial 19th Century cottages, the very same ones that the first immigrants lived in.
Modernisation has left its mark in this pristine countryside, albeit in a small and good way. Big supermarkets are within driving distance for all suburbs, and there are a variety of consumer electronics stores in each community. It is truly a wonderful environment, with Mother Nature at your backyard and modernization at your doorstep. This balance makes it an ideal place for anyone to live in, and with 162,000 people living here, they can’t be wrong!
Though you can take a train or bus from downtown Sydney up to the range, the best way to experience the Blue Mountains is still by car. Having your own transport allows you to take your time to explore the sights, sounds and smells of this wonderful place, and you don’t have to worry about missing the tour bus or train. In addition, some of the activities such as horseback riding in the Megalong Valley are not accessible with public transport.
Due to the undulating terrain, a large and powerful car is best especially if you have a full load of passengers and luggage. An all-wheel-drive is not necessary, as the gradients aren’t that steep. Beginner drivers should stay away from rear-wheel-drive cars, as they can be a tad hard to control on certain portions of the road due to the formation of condensation and ice. Mention “mountain roads” and one would think of potholes, poor visibility and poorly-maintained roads. Not here. In fact, the conditions of the roads in Sydney, even with the mountains, are all very similar to that of Singapore’s.
Recommendations for a family trip would be a 2.5 – 3.0L luxury sedan, and for young couples or friends with a tighter budget, a 2.0L sedan would suffice. Good examples for the above are the Ford Falcon G6E or Toyota Camry for a family holiday, and the Mitsubishi Lancer EX or Toyota Corolla Altis for the fiscally-conscious holidaymaker.
A common trend for Singaporeans is to rent a car that is not offered in the local Singaporean market. As such, cars like the Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore are great cars for this purpose. With inline-6 or V6 engines, these cars will give you generous amounts of power, comfort and luxury all in one package. Indeed, there is nothing like cruising down the Great Western Highway, with lush vegetation on one side and majestic views of rolling green hills and clear blue skies on the other accompanied by the sonorous purr of a 6-cylinder engine. You’d find yourself in driving heaven.
Hertz, a prominent car rental company in Australia, has the abovementioned models for you to choose from, and at very competitive rates. Picking up the car at any one of their downtown Sydney branches proves to be a breeze. The staffs are polite and efficient, and stepping through the door of the office to stepping through the door of your car takes ten to fifteen minutes. Hertz also provides an optional GPS which they call the Hertz NeverLost system. And, true to its name, it would be impossible to get lost with one of these in your car. For driving in the Blue Mountains, the NeverLost is highly recommended.
For this road trip, the car used was the Ford Falcon G6E.