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Where is the Best Train Trip Within an Hour of the Sydney CBD?

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by Gary Brown (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer and photographer from Sydney who has now had five books published on fishing. I also write for the NSW Fishing Monthly, Visit the Shire, Fisho App & Tackle Tactics. I also like to travel and experience new things to do.
Published April 29th 2015
Over the last ten years I have noticed that the traffic within Sydney and its surrounds has gotten to a point where I have to leave very early in the morning or between peak hours (used to be peak hour) to have what I would call an easy drive to get to my destination.

So it got me thinking, if you were an international, interstate or local visitor to Sydney, and you didn't want to go to the trouble of hiring a car for the day, and you were looking for somewhere to go that would be within an hour by train from Central Station in Sydney, where would be the best place to go?

A Sydney Tarin at Central Station. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Now this would depend on what you would like to do. Maybe you would like to go for a walk to stretch your legs, have a bite to eat or a coffee, go shopping, have a ferry ride, explore a few rock pools, walk along a beach or even possibly go for a swim or wet a line.

Maybe go for a fish.

Check out a few rock pools. You never know what you may find.

So what would be the best direction to go? North, South, East or West?

Sure you can catch a train north on the T1 North Shore and Northern Line from Central Station for an hour and get to Hornsby. Travelling east from Central Station you could get to Bondi Junction within 15 minutes. From here you would then need to either catch a bus to Bondi, which would take about 20 minutes, or walk downhill about 4 km to Bondi Beach.

Travelling west from Central Station for around an hour by train you get to Emu Plains. Travelling south for an hour by train from Central Station would get you to Cronulla.

It may seem biased, but I reckon the best train trip within an hour of Sydney would be to travel to Cronulla, as there are so many things to see and do while you are there.

Cronulla is situated on the T4 Eastern Suburbs & Illawarra Line and is right on the coast in the Sutherland Shire. For train timetables click here.

So what can you do once you have reached Cronulla?

The station at Cronulla is situated at the southern end of the Cronulla Mall and from here you could take a short walk through the mall and down to the beach and pick from anyone of the great cafes or restaurants that can be found here. Over the years I have dined at a number of cafes and restaurants and all of the ones that I have listed below I have dined at some time or another and the food has been great. So for more information just click on the cafe or restaurant that takes your fancy.

Flower in bloom at the southern end of Cronulla Mall.

Nulla Nulla Cafe
Alley Break Cafe
The Old Library

Don't forget to check out The Old Library and Bar Restaurant at Cronulla.

Little Italy Restaurant
Northies Cronulla Hotel
Sealevel Restaurant
Fratelli Del Mare

Tuck into some seafood at the Fratelli Del Mare at Cronulla.

Hogs Breath Cafe
Barefoot on the Beach
North Cronulla Beach Kiosk

On your walk north of Cronulla why don't you pop into the North Cronulla Beach Kiosk.

South Beach Seafoods
Club Cronulla
So Fresh Juice Bar

Get a juice at the So Fresh Juice Bar in the Cronulla Mall.

If you are looking to stretch your legs and work off that meal you have enjoyed at one of the cafes or restaurants listed above you could go for a walk south along the esplanade at South Cronulla to Salmon Haul Bay and return. It will take you about 30 minutes each way and can be accessed easily by wheelchair. While walking along this coastal walk you will see surf board riders at Cronulla Point, Shark Island and Sandshoes. You may even take the time to have a fish along the way for bream, tailor, drummer and trevally. Check out my Weekend Notes article on Shelly Beach to South Cronulla Esplanade as it will give you a bit of an idea of what you will see along the way.

Taking the walk north towards Wanda and Greenhill beaches will not take as long (about 20 minutes each way), and here you will pass the famous surf clubs of Cronulla, Elouera and Wanda. If you keep an eye out you may see a few whales frolicking about in Bate Bay. If you are feeling really energetic you may like to take the walk along the beach out to Boat Harbour and back.

Now for the more adventurous, you might like to walk down to the wharf at the bottom of Gunnamatta Bay (5 mins from the station) and catch the ferry ride over to Bundeena and spend a few hours checking out the area. Or maybe you would like to take a 3 hour cruise on the Port Hacking River and discover in three hours what Bass and Flinders discovered in 3 days. Click here for more information on the Cronulla Ferries cruises and Bundeena timetable.

So once you have arrived at Bundeena, what is there to do? Maybe you would like to have a look at the shops and pick which one you would like to sit down and have a meal at, or you could get some take-away and go and sit down near the ferry wharf and look out for a few dolphins, sea turtles, large stingrays or maybe cast a line in.

Every first Sunday of the month the village of Bundeena & Maianbar holds The Art Trail and Bundeena Markets. This is an open day at many of the Studio/galleries around the area. It's a day when you can talk with the artists, see work in progress, take in the studio atmosphere or make a purchase. For more information about what there is to do at Bundeena you can read all about it on the article I put together for Weekend Notes called discover Bundeena The jewel in the South.

Take a Cronulla ferry ride over to Bundeena and check out Horderns Chilby. Photo courtesy of Ray White at Bundeena.

Maybe you have somewhere else you think is the best train trip within an hour of the Sydney CBD? Share it with us by leaving a comment!
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All the best scenic spots are over an jour ex central, Gosford, Katoomba & Wollongong would require half a day!! Beautiful scenery on all these trips.
by peter201 (score: 1|16) 2704 days ago
Unfortunately, Sydney is so large that it takes nearly an hour to get beyond the suburban sprawl, even by train. Going west, a train from Central will reach Glenbrook in the lower Blue Mountains in just about one hour, but then takes a further hour to reach Katoomba. Going north you may have more luck, as the journey to Hawkesbury River Station (near Brooklyn on the Hawkesbury River) is just one hour. Going south, just over one hour brings you to Otford, where you have clifftop lookouts or Royal National Park bushwalks to consider. And to the southwest, it is an hour by suburban train to Campbelltown but for the cost of an extra 15 minutes you can reach Menangle Park and the home of NSW harness racing.
by cra07 (score: 1|23) 2704 days ago
by noele (score: 0|4) 2292 days ago
Why only by train you could catch the ferry to Manly then walk around toShelly Beach.What a great treat for any visitor seeing the harbour and the beaches.
by Chris (score: 0|4) 2521 days ago
There is a ticket for $2.50 for families and seniors on Sunday but all this who use OPAL as well_great value and other days there is a $15 cap on what you can spend on all transport
by gayno (score: 0|4) 2588 days ago
Family Funday Sunday is $2.50 per person, adults and children, and pensioners all day Sunday, on the entire sydney public transport network.
by cra07 (score: 1|23) 2632 days ago
There are quite a few other places to reach within an hour and just a little bit longer, such as Gosford and Penrith.
Bankstown is not terribly interesting as a tourist destination, however it has the most beautiful club I have ever visited: the Bankstown Sports Club with a New York Central Station looking restaurant.
by enriquito2005 (score: 1|49) 2632 days ago
$2.50 all day long is correct, however you failed to say that this fare applies only to pensioners.
I used to live in Manly and is a great destination: it has fabulous restaurants, coffee shops and pubs.
by enriquito2005 (score: 1|49) 2632 days ago
Manly beach by ferry on Sunday which only costs you $2.50 all day ( train ,bus and ferry ;) )
by jumm_ (score: 0|4) 2690 days ago
Cronulla has a cosy town centre which is pedestrianized, cafes and a wonderful bookshop which sells 2nd hand books, besides being on a peninsula with a harbour one side and beach the other.
by whitt (score: 0|5) 2701 days ago
A trip to Gymea by train to visit Hazelhurst Art Gallery and have lunch in the cafe there
by pambr (score: 0|6) 2704 days ago
Newcastle - walk the boardwalk, see the sights, great foodie options, watch the ships,or a leisurely lunch at Honeysuckle hotel on the waterfront - perfect.
by svenc (score: 0|6) 2704 days ago
I am on the north side. Easy to catch a train Bondi
by suebr (score: 0|6) 2704 days ago
Like a previous comment a trip to Hawkesbury River Station and have fish and chips on the Wharf (a bottle of wine from the bottle shop if you wish). The Riverboat Postman is an excellent ferry ride on the Hawkesbury River. Help to deliver the mail and groceries to the communities who live on the river. Morning tea or a lunch package available. A ferry ride to Dangar Island and self guide (walk) around. From memory one coffee shop on the island.
by Gloria (score: 2|545) 1352 days ago
the article says "best train trip" and not "best locations to visit". yes, cronulla is pretty but, my goodness, it's not the best train trip. best train trip for me is the sydney cbd - wollongong train ride, especially, when the train has already reached loftus. a lot of green there as it is already part of the royal national park. when the train reaches otford, the train will already be on top of a hill and you will be able to see the beautiful coastline =)
by NomadMum (score: 0|3) 1516 days ago
Take the train to Brooklyn (via Hornsby) and then walk 5 minutes and take a wonderful cruise of the Hawkesbury River. The Last River Postman is Sydney's best kept secret. The best way to spend a day !! I am a tour guide and recommend this to all my visitors.
by showbiz (score: 0|2) 1529 days ago
by gary. (score: 0|7) 2196 days ago
Travel from Central on the Train towards Wyong and in just 1 hour you reach Hawkesbury River Station. Here you have the beautiful Hawkesbury at your feet, freshest fish and best chips you could wish for, great coffee spots cakes, fish tacos etc , and a wonderful foreshore tonexplore. Come on Sunday and enjoy live music at Anglers Rest
by harib (score: 0|4) 478 days ago

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