Want to avoid the excessive airport fees on Sydney trains? You can, it’s easy and it’s legal. Here are four ways to do it.
With access fees currently at $13.80 per adult and 12.40 per child, it will cost a couple $27.60, and a family with two children $52.20, on top of the ticket price, just to get on or off a train at the airport. So avoiding this impost makes sense.
What you do to get around the airport fees on Sydney trains is a little different depending on whether you’re coming to or going from International or from Domestic. Pick the right option as it’s difficult to move between International and Domestic quickly and cheaply.
One caveat. If you are burdened down by luggage you won’t find this doable. You really have to be able to carry/wheel/lift your bags yourself. It’s a DIY operation.
So let’s get started. . .
Walk to Wolli Creek Station
The first way of avoiding airport fees on Sydney trains is to walk to Wolli Creek station and catch a train from there. It’s a pleasant walk for most of the way, with some good views. It should take you no more than 20 minutes, probably less.
On exiting the terminal look across the road. It is lined with car parking buildings.
Look for the pedestrian entrance on building P7. It has signs to various spots, including a pedestrian footbridge and cycleway.
If you look at the photo of the entrance you’ll see blue silhouettes of bike riders on the left, on the first floor. That’s a bike storage room and it leads directly out onto the footbridge. That’s what you’ll head for. So you’ll be going up.
There will be lots of other people heading that way. Follow the crowd for just a little.
Once inside the parking building, don’t turn to the right towards the Express Pickup, no matter what the signs tell you. They haven’t all been updated. You are heading for the new pedestrian footbridge.
Once you are in the parking building you’ll see a moving walkway, a travelator, going up on your left. Go there. You’ll know you’re in the right spot as it will have a sign with an arrow.
At the top you’ll see the bike storage on your right. You turn left – there’s another sign on the wall with an arrow showing you where to go.
Follow that. Don’t walk into the car parking area though. There’s a nice little swerve to the left which will take you through glass doors and outside. That’s your footbridge.
There’s only one path that you can follow. It’s currently uncovered.
The footbridge takes you straight for a bit then swings right and goes down a gentle slope.
You’ll see the Cooks River ahead of and beside you as you follow the path. It’s pretty.
You’ll come out under a bridge. (In the photo above you can just see it crossing the end of the footbridge.)
Ahead of you the Cooks River divides in two. You will cross the river over the bridge you’ve just walked under.
Once you’ve walked under the bridge the path splits.
Follow the right hand fork which leads up to the road. If you take the left fork, which is the lower path, it’s not a tragedy. It just means you have to walk a bit further as it brings you onto the same road but further down.
As you see from this photo, the path makes a ‘v’ turn onto the bridge.
To recap: you’ll come out under the bridge you see in the photo here. A few more steps and you’ll be at the bottom of the path. As you can see, the path goes up a slight incline and veers a little to your right (when you’re walking up it). A hard right turn and you’re on the road to the bridge.
Stroll across the bridge. The traffic alongside will be busy. Ignore it and look at the gorgeous river views to your right.
Once over the bridge you will take the very first exit to the right.
It’s a path rather than a road, and it leads you down a gentle slope into Cahill Park.
You turn off the end of the bridge before reaching any of the hotels. Just keep an eye out to your right as you cross and the turnoff is easy to see.
Here’s a map to help you get your bearings. To avoid the airport fees on Sydney trains you will walk from Sydney airport, in grey at the bottom, to the CityRail Wolli Creek train station, which is at the top. It’s almost a straight line up the map.
You’ll see the bridge you crossed (it’s called the Giovanni Brunnetti Bridge) and now you’re heading into Cahill Park. It’s a very pretty walk. Cricket grounds to your left, the river to your right. Walk on the left of the shared path and keep an eye open for cyclists as you go along.
At the Princes Highway there’s a pedestrian crossing with lights (slightly to your left). Go across and keep straight on – you’re almost there.
Past Woolworths (on your left) you’ll see a rather ugly, green sculptured roundabout in front of you.
Hang a right there.
A short stroll through the little shopping centre will land you straight in front of Wolli Creek station for trains in all directions.
If you don’t already have an Opal card, buy one at the train station below the arrivals hall or at Woolworths along the way. Newsagents and convenience stores in the airport also usually sell them. They’ll often have a little ‘Opal Card Sold Here’ sticker or flag on the window.
Don’t count on buying one at a train station, they’re often not available there. Prices are the same wherever you buy them.
From Wolli Creek station you’ll be charged the standard fare, with no excess loadings, to get to wherever you’re going. Ironically, if you’re going into the city your first stop may well be the airport (it depends on which of the city lines you take).
Take the 400 Bus to Bondi Junction or Burwood
If it’s raining, or you don’t feel like walking, you can avoid airport fees on Sydney trains by taking the 400 bus from the airport. It doesn’t much matter in which direction it’s going because, either way, you will transfer onto a train at the the first train station you come to.
Don’t even think of taking the bus the whole way unless you specifically want to go to Bondi Junction or Burwood and time is of little importance. The bus takes a good hour to get to Bondi Junction and not much less to get to Burwood. Once you transfer to the train you’re looking at 10-15 minutes into the city.
If the bus is going to Bondi Junction, the third stop will be Botany Rd near Mascot station. If it’s going to Burwood, the second stop will be Rockdale Station. In either case, ask the driver to let you off at the appropriate train station. Don’t just count the stops as the bus will not necessarily stop at every stop. It will drive right past if there is no one getting on or off.
It’s a bit faster if you catch the train at Mascot, but not worth waiting an extra 15 or 20 minutes if you’ve just missed the Bondi bus and the Burwood one is in sight.
To find the 400 bus stop at the International terminal, head towards the train station end of the terminal. Exit the terminal and cross the pedestrian crossing to a sort of a traffic island in the middle of the road. It is a raised section which runs down the road, with the terminal on one side and car parks on the other. This is where the public buses stop.
You’ll see a fairly modest ‘Public Bus’ sign there, not well lit at night. There will almost certainly be people waiting there.
The 400 bus always comes from your right, no matter which way it is going. So be aware of the destination on the front.
This option can take a bit longer than walking to Wolli Creek, as you may have to wait for the bus. Buses in each direction go roughly every 20 minutes.
You will need to have bought your Opal card before you board the bus. You can buy it from newsagents and convenience stores at the airport as well as from the train station there.
There are more details on the 400 bus below in the Domestic section.
Avoiding Airport Fees on Sydney Trains From Domestic
Walk to Mascot Station
This is probably your fastest option.
The walk is not as pretty as the walk from International to Wolli Creek – there are no parks to enjoy and the traffic is heavy all the way – but it’s straightforward and not far.
It’s easiest to pull up and follow the directions on your smartphone.
If you don’t have one, or can’t access it, these are the directions from the airport station at Domestic.
- Walk east on Keith Smith Avenue toward Seventh St (250m)
- Turn left onto Seventh St (280m)
- Veer slightly right to stay on Seventh St (61m)
- Continue on to Robey St (250m)
- Turn left onto O’Riordan St (450m)
- Turn left onto Bourke Rd (400m)
You’ll see Mascot Station on your right after you cross Coward St..
It can be a little difficult to see as it’s in the middle of high rise apartments, but it is there.
This option is obviously less attractive if it’s raining.
In that case it’s back to the 400 bus.
Take the 400 Bus to Bondi Junction
The second way to avoid airport fees on Sydney trains from Domestic is to take the 400 bus to Bondi Junction. Mascot Station is the very first stop. The ride will take just a few minutes. (The wait for the bus could be much longer.)
If you catch the bus in the direction of Burwood it’s a much longer bus trip. You will go via Qantas Jet Base, International, Wickham St and only then arrive at Rockdale station (4th stop). You can expect the bus ride to take about 20 minutes.
So you’re usually better off just waiting for the 400 Burwood to Bondi Junction bus. Here’s a link to the 400 bus timetable.
You catch the bus outside Terminal 3. That’s the Qantas terminal. From Terminals 1 or 2 just walk through the carpark (following the pedestrian crossings and signs) and you’ll land at Terminal 3.
You can also follow the signs for the train station, which is at the end of Terminal 3. From there, avoid the airport fees on Sydney trains by coming up the escalator to the roadside bus stop.
Once again you should have bought your Opal card before boarding the bus. Buy it at the train station or an airport convenience store or newsagent.