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Sydney Big Red Bus Tour on Double Decker Bus

Over the years I’ve travelled on many a Big Red Bus tour in cities around the world. My first was in New York, and after I got over the cringe factor of being such an obvious tourist, I discovered they’re a great way to get to know the layout of the city, and pick up on a few bits of trivia along the way.

Since then I’ve been found baking or freezing on top of big red buses far and wide. But it wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that I finally decided to be a tourist in my own city and jump on the Sydney Explorer – our very own Sydney Big Red Bus tour.

Fortunately I had two fellow adventurers who were up for the ride. I’d mentioned to my friend Benji and his daughter Isobel a few months back that we should get on the bus one day. And that was something Isobel was never going to forget.

You see, while a big red tour bus is a fun thing for grown ups to do, it’s a REALLY fun thing for kids.From the moment we clambered up the steps to the top of the double decker bus, Isobel was in heaven.

I’d forgotten how much fun it is to be on an open top bus, and the way you get to really feel and smell, as well as see a city. And it was great to sit beside her and see Sydney through her eyes.

For those who are tempted to follow in our big red bus footsteps, the Sydney Explorer has two routes… the first one goes around the city side of things, while the second goes down to Bondi Beach and around the bays.

In the grand tradition of big red tour buses, the Sydney Explorer allows people to hop on and hop off, and you can go for a 24 hour or 48 hour option.

There are two starting points… one at Central Station on Eddy Avenue, and the other at Circular Quay.The City Loop bus stops cover everything from the Opera House, to Town Hall and the Queen Victoria Building, the Sydney Fish Market, Power House Museum, Woolloomooloo, the King Street Wharf, and many more.

While the Bondi and Bay loop stops at Paddington, Rose Bay, Double Bay, and of course, North Bondi.

It takes 90 minutes to get around just the city lap if you stay on board, which is what we decided to do on the day.

As locals, we knew we could always go back to the various sights some other time, but for those who do decide to hop on and hop off, the Sydney Explorer bus folks provide Fast Track tickets to queue jump at attractions like the Sydney Aquarium, Wildlife World and Sydney Tower.

For us, though, we were just happy watching Sydney go by, enjoying simple thrills like going under the Harbour Bridge, and ducking branches.

And then there was a special treat for grown ups who notice such things (which I think was just Benji and I on the day).

As we came into the Sydney Convention Centre stop, who should be there but the man who used to run the city where I got on my very first Big Red Bus (and in fact was running it back on that very day.)

Yes, you remember right. That was New York. And there he was, Rudy Giuliani.

Sure, that was an unusual sighting. And if I hadn’t just been telling Benji that Giuliani was in town addressing the Australasian Real Estate Conference that day, I probably wouldn’t have clicked either. But it did put a smile on my face when I thought about my first trip to New York, and my first Big Red Bus tour.

And while it’s easy to learn things about a strange new city, I’m happy to say that we also learnt a thing or two about our own city on the tour. Such as the fact that Kings Cross was originally called Queens Cross, and that Hyde Park started life as a racing track, which is why it has those curved corners.

Now I should mention that the buses themselves have done a few tours of duty. But they’re still clean, and air conditioned inside for those hot – or rainy – days. And while they can be really hit or miss, I enjoyed the commentary which had a nice mix of information and Aussie humour.
To find out more, or to book tickets online visit the Sydney Explorer big red bus tour website. You can also simply purchase tickets at one of the stops.There’s also a map to see exactly where the double decker buses stop around Sydney.
Yes, big red bus tours are an oldie but a goodie. And I’m happy to say that whether you’re a tourist yourself, or simply looking for something new to do in your own city, the Sydney Explorer bus tours are a fun way to spend the day.
Fun on Sydney Big Red Bus Tour

When you’ve finished your bus tour, some other things you may want to try out in Sydney…

Leave a Comment

  1. Double decker bus are really fun. Whenever i ride one, I make sure I’m on the second floor. It always give me a great view of the city. It’s close to being on the top of the world.

    • Too true… they’re a classic for a reason! And a really good way to get a feel for the layout of a new city. See you on the top of a double decker bus someday!

  2. Anonymous says

    Thanks so much for this info… we are bringing our boys (aged 2 & 4 years) to Sydney in a couple of weeks and this experience is a ‘must-do’ on our list!! I am looking forward to seeing their faces as we travel around!!
    From Rachel, Port Douglas

  3. We have toured England and Scotland with Seattle based ‘Infernal Noise Brigade’, a high-energy marching band truly exciting to behold, and enjoyed several ‘Fetes de la Musique’ week-ends in Brittany with Energia’s Samba.
    Red Bus Hire is the solution to your tour.

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