Blue Mountains Explorer Bus' Locals Ride Free event

Almost 800 locals mingled with tourists from around the globe during the Blue Mountains Explorer Bus' Locals Ride Free event over the weekend of September 22-23. Photos: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

Blue Mountains Explorer Bus: Locals ride free weekend

The hop-on/hop-off Blue Mountains Explorer Bus gave Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon locals the chance to explore their own backyard for free for one weekend only – September 22 to 23.

Residents visited secret swimming holes, waterfalls and lush rainforest, as well as cafes and restaurants offering special locals-only deals along the route of 29 stops around Katoomba and Leura.

Owned by the Katoomba-based Fantastic Aussie Tours (FAT), the buses run 15 times a day between 9.15am and 5.30pm, 365 days of the year.

FAT managing director Jason Cronshaw, whose father John started the Explorer Bus in 1986, said the free weekend would also help locals connect with community and familiarise them with facilities and attractions available to them and their visitors within their neighbourhood.

“The Blue Mountains has seen a mass migration of new residents, mainly from Sydney, and this is an opportunity for us to extend a hand of welcome and show our new neighbours around,”  he said.

“It’s also a chance to experience what the four million tourists from around the world do each year and appreciate the fantastic blessing of living within the Greater Blue Mountains world heritage area

Some took his advice – going for a top deck view –and the Echo Point drop off to see the Three Sisters rock formation a popular one.

The Blue Mountains Explorer Bus was the first tourism operator in Australia to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to a big fat zero last year and is certified by the Australian government as 100 per cent carbon neutral. The company also signed the pledge to join the Climate Neutral Now initiative run by the United Nations.

Locals showed proof of residency (eg: driver’s licence, rates notice) when boarding.