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30 November, 2017

[TRAVEL] Nature Trip to Blue Mountains and Featherdale Wildlife Park in Katoomba, Sydney, Australia

Welcome to the third day of my trip to Sydney! It has been two amazing days touring around the colorful city of Sydney, and on the third day, we are excited for a road trip down to Doonside and Katoomba – the home of mountains, greenery, kangaroos and koalas.

Being close to nature and wildlife is always my favourite thing to do during vacations, plus this is my first time meeting the Aussie furry friends, so I feel a 2.5 hours drive (one way) is so worth the time spent for the great experience!

If you have missed the earlier parts, make sure you visit my blog links below:
#1 Foodie Day at Darling Harbour, Sydney Fish Market and Chinatown
#2 Sightseeing around Sydney Central Business District and Sydney Opera House

Just to recap, here’s my 4D3N itinerary in Sydney:

4D3N Itinerary in Sydney
Day 0: KL - Sydney (11.45pm Departure from KLIA)
Day 1: Darling Harbour / Sydney Fish Market / Mrs Macquarie's Chair / City Tour / Chinatown
Day 2: Sydney Town Hall / Queen Victoria Building / The Galeries / Paddy's Market / Sydney Opera House
Day 3: Featherdale Wildlife Park / Echo Lookout Point / Scenic World Blue Mountains
Day 4: Sydney - KL (1.05pm Departure from Sydney)

Now, are you ready for a full day of being close to the nature? Let's head to Katoomba!

Day 3: Katoomba Nature Tour
❤ Featherdale Wildlife Park
❤ Lunch on the mountain
❤ Scenic World of Blue Mountains
❤ Chinese fine dinner at Circular Quay
❤ Supper around George Street

Weather Check:
❤ 10°C around the mountain
❤ Extremely windy

Featherdale Wildlife Park
Featherdale Wildlife Park
217 Kildare Rd, Doonside NSW 2767, Australia
Contact: (02) 9622 1644
Business Hours: 9am  5pm daily

How To Get To Featherdale from Sydney City:
By Car: 1 hour drive
Via Public Transport: From the City, take the North Shore and Western line to Blacktown Station. Outside the station, take Bus No.729 at Bus Stand E for a 10-minute ride which stops right outside Featherdale’s gates.

Total Damage: AUD $32 per adult (=RM109)

Upon entry, we are given a graphical map to ease navigation. 

Located at Doonside, en route to the famous Blue Mountains, Featherdale Wildlife Park is the home to Australian native wildlife and birds, as well as reptiles and marsupials. Little did I know that it garnered the award of Best Major Tourist Attraction in 2005 and 2009, and famous celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Gwen Stefani and Kristen Stewart have been here too.

Although it occupies 7 acres of land, I personally feel that it is a "mini zoo" which I think spending not more than 2 hours here would be perfect for a complete encounter with all kinds of wildlife here. Nevertheless, I love how I can enjoy a very "hands on" wildlife experience here as I get to hand feed the kangaroos, touch the koalas and wallabies.

Kangaroo Country

The most exciting part for me is the "Kangaroo Country" zone where kangaroos and wallabies (baby kangaroos) are found in different species and sizes. The young ones are just too cute to resist.

Travelling Tips: Get a cup of AUD $2 Kangaroo food to attract the wallabies for photo opportunity.

The wallabies (baby kangaroos) are just so cute right? 

❤ The priceless expression when it is chomping down the leaves.

Here you can experience more unexpected highlights such as Bettongs, Little Penguins and Wombats, a 4.5-metre Saltwater Crocodile and 30 species of endangered or vulnerable animals including Bilbies.

Just in time to catch the baby penguin feeding session! 

There are also feeding sessions for other creatures such as pelicans, pademelons, echidna, crocodiles, bilbies, ghost bats, dingo, Tasmanian Devils, flying fox and more. Do check out their website for the most updated time slot so that you wouldn't miss it. 

Koala Sanctuary

I'm equally excited to see the koalas too since it's my first time. If you are willing to fork out AUD $20, you can enjoy a Personal Koala Encounter, where you get to touch the koala's lower body, have a chat with an expert koala keeper and take home a great photography pack. 

Fun Fact: It is wrong to call them "Koala Bears", just "Koala" will do!

I heard there are more than 1,700 animals from 280 different species here, but I don't see much apart from koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, emus, and a diverse range of birds and over 40 species of reptiles in the Reptilian Pavilion.

Wombat spotted! It is another pouched animal apart from Kangaroo, found exclusively in Australia.

How about some Bilbies and Ghost Bats, kids?

Reptilian Pavilion

The home for a vast collection of snakes, pythons, lizards, monitors, turtles, frogs and spiders.
Sorry no pictures inside because the lighting is too poor. Anyway, I'll leave it to you to explore further!

Another fun thing here is that you can collect different stamps for the 8 animal zones to ensure you've completed the journey here.

Lunch with a Mountainous View

After a satisfying zoo encounter, we head next to the Lookout Point of the infamous Blue Mountains in Katoomba,
which is about half an hour drive away.

1128 Restaurant Lookout Echo Point
Level 1, 33 Echo Point Rd, Katoomba NSW 2780.
Contact: (02) 4782 3653
Business Hours: 12noon - 3pm daily

Our lunch venue is pretty cool as it is located at the Echo Point, on the edge of the cliffs at Katoomba. Dining at thousands of metres above sea level is a great experience especially during winter season – it’s extremely breezy at the verandah of the restaurant!

Look at the mountains surrounding this place; so picturesque and breathtaking!

Our lunch of the day is a 2-course meal – entrée and main course – with a glass of house wine at AUD $40. If you feel like going ala carte, there’s always a choice for you here.

Entrée: Roasted Pumpkin Salad with Chickpea, Feta, Witlof, and Lemon Dressing
Very cheesy and creamy yet not too overwhelming for me. A perfect vegetarian option too.

Main Course: Roasted Chicken Maryland with Sweetcorn, White Bean Cassoulet and Green Olives

Beer Battered Fish and Chips

For me, I opt for the fish and chips which turns out to be a disaster – Mushy fish, bland taste, and extremely small portion. Nevertheless, the thick cut chips have made up for this dish.

Soy Angus Beef Brisket with Crispy Scallion and Green Beans

The beef brisket is sure to warm up the tummy during winter, as the tender and tasty meat melts slowly in the mouth with robust savoury-sweet flavours. Taste wise, it reminds me of our local slow braised goodness which I am fond of.

Additional Side Dish: Fries @ AUD $7
The fries are seriously not bad!

If you just want to enjoy the amazing view and are not fussy about the food quality, then by all means, feel free to visit this restaurant.

Total Damage: AUD $40 per person (=RM140)

Dining indoors allows us to keep ourselves warm while feasting our eyes on the stunning view of the mountain.

Travelling Tips: Explore the town of Katoomba for more restaurants and cafés.

Milkbar at Echo Point
Ground Level, 33 Echo Point Rd, Katoomba NSW 2780.
Business Hours: Mon – Fri: 8.30am – 5pm / Sat – Sun: 8am – 6pm

After lunch, we head back to the ground floor of this dining establishment for some sweet treat….simply because ice creams taste extra good during cold winter! And my favourite pick here is the Boysenberry flavour – an interesting cross among raspberry, blackberry, dewberry and loganberry.

The nicest Boysenberry ice cream I’ve ever had is from Kapiti, a New Zealand brand. The one I have here is creamier (stronger taste of vanilla) and milkier, no wonder it is soooo good!

Total Damage: $4.50 per single scoop (=RM15)

Echo Lookout Point
Actually, in the town of Katoomba, there are more selections of restaurants and café, so do explore if you have the luxury of time. A quick stroll down the road from where we dine leads us to the Echo Point lookout, where we see a sea of people gathering by the cliffside to enjoy some of the most panoramic views of the Jamison Valley and the iconic Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains.

"Three Sisters" are a trio of sandstone ribs that stand tall above the forest wilderness of the Jamison Valley.

For those with adventurous hearts, here’s the right place for you! It is the gateway to many great walks / hiking trails – including a short and easy pathway to the Three Sisters, the challenging Giant Stairway which leads you down almost 1,000 stairs to the valley floor below, and the long and scenic Prince Henry Cliff walk.

I am sure you’ll be amazed by the wonders in the Blue Mountains valley with almost never-ending mountainous views from lookouts along the way.

Our trip to Sydney is not complete without travelling for 2 hours from Sydney City down to Australia’s world heritage-listed Blue Mountains in Katoomba and feed the soul with an ultimate Scenic World Blue Mountains experience.

Scenic World Blue Mountains
Scenic World Blue Mountains

Violet St & Cliff Drive, Katoomba NSW 2780, Australia.

Business Hours: 9am – 5pm daily

Adult: AUD $39
Child: AUD $21 (Age 4 - 13) (Free for children under 4!)
Family: AUD $99 for 2 Adults and up to 5 Children under 14 years old
Concession: AUD $35

Total Damage:
AUD $39 per pax (=RM133)

How To Get To Blue Mountains:

By Car: Two hours car ride
Via Public Transportation: Take Sydney Trains’ Blue Mountains line

For a different experience of the Blue Mountains, we are here to check out the famous Scenic World Blue Mountains. It is a “tourist complex” that offers different rides around the Blue Mountains and also the home for the world's steepest funicular railway. Our adult ticket of AUD $39 includes unlimited rides on the Skyway, Railway, Walkway and Cableway.

Scenic Skyway

Our Scenic World adventure begins with the Scenic Skyway ride where we are treated with a panoramic 360° view along the 720m ropeway overlooking the best views of Katoomba Falls, Three Sisters and Jamison Valley.

The best part is, you can see the breathtaking view of rainforest right beneath your feet through the transparent glass floor of the Scenic Skyway! For the less adventurous, seating and solid flooring are also available.

This quick 15-minute ride brings us to the Skyway's east station and then we make our way to access lookouts over the valley and board the Scenic Railway.

Scenic Railway

The queue for our next ride, Scenic Railway is slightly shorter as the train departs every 10 minutes with 84 passengers on board each round. The 310m Railway ride is more interesting as it is the world's steepest passenger railway at 52-degree incline. The first 30 seconds of the ride feels especially steep and fast as it descends quickly through a cliff-side tunnel, emerging into ancient rainforest at the Jamison Valley floor.

If you enjoy a lighter version of roller coaster ride, you'd love this too.

Guess what, each glass-roofed carriage is customisable in terms of the steepness,
so you can choose your own adventure like never before!

Choose an adventurous ‘Cliffhanger’ ride at a steep 64 degree incline, or for those seeking a relaxed journey select the ‘Laid Back’ option. Of course, loyal fans can still ride the ‘Original’ at 52 degrees.

Again, it is a pretty short ride and at the end of this ride, we disembark at the bottom station where we have direct access to the Scenic Walkway.

Again, more and more mountainous views are right in front of us at different altitudes.

Scenic Walkway

This 2.4km Scenic Walkway does not tire us at all as we slowly explore the ancient Jurassic rainforest and enjoy the peaceful moments being surrounded by local flora and listening to the native lyre bird singing. When the vast greenery is glittered under the brilliant sunlight, the view in front of us is a tranquil feast for the eyes.

Perhaps the Blue Mountains National Park would attract the adventurous ones?

Scenic Cableway

After the walk, we head back to the visitor's centre via the Scenic Cableway, the steepest and largest aerial cable car in the Southern Hemisphere. It is a short 510m journey ascending from the Jamison Valley back to the top of the escarpment, but the surreal panoramic views totally blow us away. In this fully enclosed cabin, we are in the best location of viewing the Three Sisters, Orphan Rock, Mt Solitary and Katoomba Falls.

Feel the valley at your feet amidst the extensive areas of dense warm temperate rainforest, hanging swamps and a series of waterfalls. What an amazing experience!

Found a cute panda at the souvenir shop!

Among the 4 attractions at the Scenic World, my favourite is the Scenic Railway, thanks to the near-vertical sensational motion inclining into the depths of the Jamison Valley. I don't mind going for another round of this ride!

And bought these cutie pies home too!

It is a fruitful day of exploring the natural beauty of Katoomba but we are pretty exhausted by the end of the day. The 2-hour bus ride back to Sydney City is pretty much silent as everyone sleeps soundly throughout the journey. Arriving into the town around 7++ in the evening, our next itinerary is having dinner at Neptune Palace, an award-winning Malaysian and Chinese fine dining restaurant.

Fine Chinese Dinner at Neptune Palace
Neptune Palace
18-22 Pitt St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia.
Instagram: @neptunepalace
Business Hours: 12noon – 3pm / 5pm – 10.30pm daily

Although the decor and seating at this "fine dining" restaurant look expensive, the food presentation is not. Overall, it is pretty much a simple Chinese dinner, nothing fancy as claimed. We are probably too tired to complain further, but I am sure there are better places around Chinatown than this.

Travelling Tips: If you are craving for Chinese food, try the Hong Kong style dim sum around Chinatown instead.

DAY 4: Goodbye Sydney!
❤ Last minute shopping at the airport
❤ 1.05pm Departure from Sydney
❤ 7.55pm Home bound – Arrival at KLIA

Since it is our last day in Sydney and we have a bit of time in the morning, some of us roam around and do some last minute shopping at Coles and Woolworths (since they open as early as 7am!).

Then it's time to thank Sydney for the amazing memories and bid goodbye to this beautiful town. 

Guess what I have found on board! My favourite artist playlist is on the entertainment menu, so there goes my afternoon in the plane listening to his lovely tracks while staring at the bright blue sky.

Time for lunch on board. Again, Malaysia Airlines feeds us well with a main set meal and afternoon snack. The baked fish in bolognese sauce and chicken rice taste okay, but I prefer the latter because of the richness in spices. After so many days of having fish and chips, now I am really craving for rice and this meal is just perfect to feed my cravings.

To sum up the short but fulfilling Sydney experience, it feels awesome to leave my footprint in this kangaroo country in the month of August as the chilly weather is oh-so-perfect for cool breezes without freezing us deep down into the spine.

Hopefully next August, I would be able to explore other cities in Australia (or even New Zealand)!

Sydney 4D3N Trip: 18-22 August 2017

Find out more about my trip to Sydney:

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