Hornsby is one of the northern-most suburbs of Sydney, and is essentially a main gateway between Sydney and the Central Coast region.
Hornsby is located at the junction of two of the major railway lines running out of Sydney - both the "North Shore Line" and the "Northern Line" (also known as the "Newcastle and Central Coast Line"). Via either route, travel time from Sydney CBD is around 45 minutes.
The North Shore Line
The trip via the North Shore Line is the nicest, as it crosses the Sydney Harbour Bridge and passes through the greener suburbs of the North Shore. This route is also the most heavily commuted during peak periods (with people working in the city and living in the North Shore), so trains between 7AM-10AM and 3PM-6PM may be standing room only.
The Northern Line
The Northern Line passes close to Homebush Bay, the site of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, but is a bit more mundane, with scenery being predominantly commercial areas and backyards. However, express trains often depart Central Railway Station, stopping at Hornsby on the way north, and these can make the trip a bit faster.
In the same way as Hornsby forms a junction between two of the main railway lines in Sydney, it is also the junction between three of the major roadways in Sydney.
The Pacific Highway is a major arterial road which starts at North Sydney and runs through the North Shore until it reaches Hornsby and a major intersection with the F3 Freeway and Pennant Hills Road. It is heavily used during peak periods, and has a number of special School Zones where the normal 60kph speed limit is reduced to 40kph at certain times on school days (due to children being around). Travel times from the Sydney CBD can range from 45 minutes to an hour or more dependant on traffic. The Pacific Highway continues north through Hornsby and parallels the F3 Freeway for quite a distance, although it is only one lane in each direction and is a far more twisting and turning path than the F3. It is, however, a far more spectacular drive, and has a number of picturesque stops where you can have a light meal and a rest whilst viewing the scenery. This route is frequented by motorcyclists and some drivers who drive quite quickly along the roads, like a private race course. This can be a bit off-putting as a driver, and also attracts a fair amount of Police attention during holiday periods and weekends.
Pennant Hills Road
If travelling from the South of Sydney, or from the Western suburbs, Pennant Hills Road (also known as The Cumberland Highway) is another major arterial road which leads to Hornsby. This road is again heavily used during peak periods, especially by heavy commercial traffic such as freight trucking. The speed limits on this road range from 60kph to 80kph, with again, some School Zones which are 40kph during specific times on school days.
The F3 Freeway is the major link between Sydney and the Central Coast. It is a 6 lane freeway (3 lanes each direction), and has speed limits ranging between 80kph and 110kph. There are some sections which have variable speed limits which change dependant on conditions, and these must be noted. There are also a number of fixed speed cameras - both instantaneous cameras (which check your speed as you pass them) and some experimental cameras which calculate your average speed between two fixed points. This route is heavily policed during holiday periods. The F3 Freeway is sometimes prone to closure due to bushfires during summer, and can result in traffic being parked on two of the lanes for kilometers north and south of Hornsby. Alternate routes north are available, by heading further inland (west), but are only worth looking at if the freeway is closed for longer than 12 hours. Hornsby is about 20KM north of Sydney CBD and accessible by train from Central station going up via North Sydney or via the inner west and Strathfield. One can also drive up the Pacific Highway.
Getting around major places of interest around Hornsby is possible by foot. The Westfield shopping centre is about 5 minutes walk from the station. There are a number of restaurants within 10 minutes walk of the station. Within a 10 minute drive north of Hornsby station are various entry points to the beautiful Kuringai National Park which features some excellent bush walking with terrific views. There are a few local buses and taxis are easily available at the station cab rank.
Within a 10 minute drive north of Hornsby station are various entry points to the beautiful Kuringai National Park which features some excellent bush walking with terrific views. You can also access the famous Great North Walk from various points around the station. Access to central coast and other northern beaches is via the F3 Freeway and Mona Vale Road respectively.
The Hornsby Westfield shopping centre is the ultimate shopping destination in a 10 km radius around the area.
There are a number of restaurants located in and around the shopping centre in Hornsby, as well as on the western side of the railways station. A large variety of food is available, from Indian, Asian, Italian, Australian and other cultures all within easy walking from the station itself.
There are no hotels in Hornsby except pub style accommodation. However Hotel Ibis and Waldorf services apartments are just 5 minutes drive down the Pennant Hills Rd in Thornleigh and Pennant Hills respectively.