Stuck for ideas on what to do with the kids in the July school holidays? The premier attractions of the Greater Blue Mountains provide an exciting array of things to see and do for the whole family.
Blue Mountains Attractions Group (BMAG) president Dave Robertson said: “The Greater Blue Mountains region has been a popular holiday destination for more than a hundred years. The tourism attractions businesses here today ensure the region is as fresh and exciting as it was then.
“This region is right on Sydney’s doorstep so is convenient for a daytrip but of course you can experience so much more if you stay for a night or three.’’
Take your pick from the following activity options:
Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, Bells Line of Rd, Mt Tomah: Combine education with natural wonder and plenty of fresh air. Browse the garden at your own pace, join an organised tour and be sure to check out the “dinosaur’’ tree, the Wollemi pine. Check out the Offshoots: A Florilegium exhibition of contemporary botanical illustrations by Cairns artist Julie McEnerny will be a feature during the holidays. Cost: free entry. Details: www.mounttomahbotanicgarden.com.au.
Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, 30 Parke St, Katoomba: A great all-weather family activity, the cultural centre includes Into the Blue (the Blue Mountains World Heritage Exhibition) featuring high-tech interactive exhibitions exploring the natural as well as social landscapes of this unique area. Children of all ages can navigate their way through these stories through an immersive exhibition experience, introducing them to the richness and wonders of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. Cost: $5 adults, $3 concession (children under-16 free). The centre also includes Blue Mountains City Art Gallery, Blue Mountains City Library, a shop and café. Details: www.bluemountainsculturalcentre.com.au.
Blue Mountains Explorer Bus and Blue Mountains Trolley Tours: Ditch the car and jump aboard a red double-decker Explorer Bus or vintage-style maroon Trolley Tour hop-on/hop-off service to access all the famous sights and sites of Leura and Katoomba without the hassle of parking. Both provide all-day tickets. Details: www.trolleytours.com.au or www.explorerbus.com.au.
Bygone Beautys, Megalong and Grose streets, Leura: Take time out and indulge in a silver service traditional high tea of ever-popular Devonshire tea. You might even meet Mr Teapot himself. Details: www.bygonebeautys.com.au.
Everglades Historic House & Gardens, 37 Everglades Ave, Leura: There’s plenty to explore at this 1930s property, with 12.5 acres of tiered European-style gardens and native Australian bush, breathtaking views over the Jamison Valley and even a waterfall. Walk up an appetite before refuelling in the tearooms (book ahead so you don’t miss out). Entry: $10 adults, $8 concession, $4 children (National Trust members free). Details: www.everglades.org.au.
Featherdale Wildlife Park, Kildare Rd, Doonside: Hand feed a kangaroo, wallaby or emu; have a face-to-face encounter with a koala and meet the whole gamut of native animals at the home of one of the nation’s largest private collections of Australian native animals and bird life. Pack a picnic or buy refreshments at the café. Cost: $29 adults, $16 children (3-15 years), $22.50 students, $20 seniors, $82 family (2 adults/2 children). Details: www.featherdale.com.au.
Jenolan Caves, Jenolan Rd, Jenolan: Discover the underground at the world’s most magnificent cave system. Explore a spectacular show cave, go on an adventure or special children’s or night tour. For grownups and older children there is a fascinating tour every night (go on the Legends, Mysteries & Ghosts tour on Saturday or Wednesday – if you dare). Explore the outdoors on some new bushwalks or traipse through a self-guided tour of the Nettle Cave (free with any show cave tour) including a lively commentary for young children – there’s even an Aboriginal culture tour. The cafe serves light lunches, snacks and drinks or enjoy a delicious dinner at the award-winning Chisholm’s Restaurant. Why not choose one of the many accommodation options to suit all family budgets and stay the night? Details: www.jenolancaves.org.au.
Nana’s Teddies & Toys, Kidman St, Blaxland: With 15,000 teddy bears and plush animals at Australia’s largest and most awarded specialist teddy bear haven, you’re bound to meet the furry friend that’s just right for you. Details: www.teddys.com.au.
Norman Lindsay Gallery, Norman Lindsay Ave, Faulconbridge: Draw inspiration from one of Australia’s most loved authors and artists, Norman Lindsay, at the home of the Magic Pudding at special holiday children’s workshops. Make your favourite character out of clay at The Magic Pudding in Clay (July 2) or transform your favourite character from a drawing to your own relief print at Artist’s Printmaking Like Lindsay (July 3). Both workshops are for children aged 5-12. Cost: $25 for one, $40 for two includes all materials and aprons. Explore the historic gallery and grounds while you are there. Bookings and details: email@example.com or www.normanlindsay.com.au.
Scenic World Blue Mountains, Violet St and Cliff Drive, Katoomba: Enjoy the thrill of a high altitude adventure these winter school holidays with early bird discounts before 10am (June 28 to July 13), fantastic family packages, free Magic Pudding movie screenings (July 2 and 9), new light options menu including great value children’s meals and, of course, the chance of snow. Planning your visit is simple with a range of tailored itineraries catering to bushwalkers, grandparents with kids, thrill seekers or even those a little scared of heights. Get insider tips on what the locals love to make the remainder of your stay unforgettable. Details: www.scenicworld.com.au.
Talisman Gallery, Hartley Historic Site, off the Great Western Hwy, Hartley (10am to 5pm Tuesday to Sunday):Located at the picturesque Hartley Historic Site, visitors can snap up truly unique hand-forged and crafted pieces of wall art including decorative wall mirrors, clocks and dragon sculptures. Warm up by watching metal artist Ron Fitzpatrick create a masterpiece from the glow of his forge downstairs before heading upstairs to browse the gallery of fascinating artwork and jewellery. Details: www.talismangallery.com.au.
The Brook Art & Craft Co-op, 1a Ross St, Glenbrook: A not-for-profit retail shop, The Brook is staffed and operated by its members, who themselves make most of the products on display. The range available covers just about any craft you can name and every handmade item is unique to the shop.
Waradah Aboriginal Centre, World Heritage Plaza, Echo Point Rd, Katoomba: Witness Australian Aboriginal culture in a contemporary gallery. Experience traditional dance, take part in interactive didgeridoo performances, examine authentic artworks and take home genuine Aboriginal souvenirs. Learn about Australia’s living Aboriginal culture from the local Darug and Gundungurra tribes through informal cultural discussions and lectures. Details: www.waradahaboriginalcentre.com.au.
While the region welcomes visitors from around the globe, locals can reap benefits through the Greater Blue Mountains Rewards program simply by showing their friends and family around their own neighbourhood attractions.
“Of the three million that visit the Greater Blue Mountains region, we know that 40 per cent of them are friends and relatives of residents of the area,’’ Mr Robertson said.
“That means that the people living in the area are frequently taking their friends and relatives to many of the attractions available in the region. They also direct them to accommodation houses.
“We want to reward these loyal locals for being ambassadors and supporting the tourism industry.’’
The BMAG rewards program is available to all residents of the Blue Mountains, Oberon and Lithgow council areas (cardholders must be aged at least 17).
To obtain a Greater Blue Mountains Rewards card and information package instantly, simply visit Glenbrook, Echo Point, Lithgow or Oberon Visitor Information Centre or one of the participating tourist attractions with photographic proof of identity (driver’s license, passport).
Go to http://www.bluemountainsattractions.com.au/rewards to discover the discounts and offers which await you by visiting the premier tourism attractions of the Greater Blue Mountains region.