Sydney Explorer

The Sydney Explorer is an Australian open top bus tourist sightseeing service operating in the Sydney central business district and Eastern Suburbs.

Sydney Explorer
Anhui Ankai HFF6121GS-3 at Circular Quay
in June 2014
ParentBig Bus Tours
Founded23 November 1980
Service typeOpen top bus
Fleet10 (November 2014)
WebsiteSydney & Bondi Explorer


On 23 November 1980, the Urban Transit Authority commenced operating the Sydney Explorer looping the Sydney central business district. It was operated with Mercedes-Benz O305 and O405 buses that apart from being painted in red Sydney Explorer livery and having a public address system, were identical to those used in normal service.[1] In 1990, a fleet of six (later increased to eight) Pressed Metal Corporation bodied Mercedes-Benz O405 coaches were introduced.

In September 1998, the Bondi & Bay Explorer was introduced operating from Circular Quay to the Eastern Suburbs. It was operated by four Ansair bodied Scania L113CRLs painted in a blue livery.[2]

In November 2010, both services were sold to City Sightseeing who had been operating open top bus tours in Sydney since the early 2000s.[3][4]

No buses were included in the sale, with City Sightseeing continuing to operate its existing routes only with its fleet of MCW Metrobuses. From May 2012 new Anhui Ankai buses were introduced on these routes.[5] Operations initially operated under the City Sightseeing brand, before the Sydney Explorer name was reintroduced in late 2012 for both routes.

When Ensignbus sold the City Sightseeing business in 2011, it retained ownership of the Sydney operation. In 2016, Sydney Explorer relinquished its City Sightseeing franchise and became a Big Bus Tours affiliate.[6]


A casualty of the takeover by City Sightseeing was the one-day pass on the Sydney Explorer which was no longer valid. This used to allow travellers unlimited use on the Sydney and Bondi Explorer buses, it also allowed free travel on regular Sydney Buses services. Today the Explorer has a 24- or 48-hour 'hop-on, hop-off' ticket valid on both Sydney and Bondi Explorer services but there are also various combination tickets available with My Fast Ferry and attractions.[7] The Sydney Explorer now stops at 26 different locations in Sydney, while the Bondi Explorer stops at 11 locations.[8][9]


  1. Travers, Greg (1982). From City to Suburb...a fifty year journey. Sydney: Historic Commercial Vehicle Association. p. 201. ISBN 0959601627.
  2. "Bondi and Bay Explorer" Fleetline issue 257 November 1998 page 202
  3. Changes to Explorer services and SydneyPass tickets from Sunday 28 November Sydney Buses November 2010
  4. City Sightseeing Australian Bus Fleet Lists
  5. City Sightseeing TV 7052 Bus Australia Photo Gallery
  6. Bus Tours from Sydney Explorer Big Bus Tours
  7. Hop On Hop Off Sydney Eco Hopper Bass & Flinders Cruises Retrieved 16 July 2015
  8. Sydney Map Sydney Explorer
  9. Bondi Map Sydney Explorer

Further reading

  • "Sydney Pass good way to explore city; can't inherit frequent-flier miles" Daily Breeze 2 October 2005 page B7
  • "For a fun thing to do, see Sydney Explorer" The Mosman Daily 20 September 2007 page 27
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