By Ellen Hill, Blue Mountains Attractions Group
Furry baby animals, thrilling rides, brisk nature walks and cosy indoor spaces. Warm up with an exciting round of winter school holiday activities at the premier attractions of the Greater Blue Mountains region.
Blue Mountains Attractions Group president Louise Clifton said: “The Greater Blue Mountains has so much to see and do for everyone in the family, and it’s right on Sydney’s doorstep, close to major metropolitan centres and reliable transport networks.
“After spending the day exploring the fantastic attractions experiences, there are lots of cafes and restaurants, hotels and B&Bs to suit every budget where you can recharge together, ready for the next day’s excitement.’’
Visitors and locals can travel to, around and from the range of family-friendly activities and outing options by car more easily and quickly, with new sections of the Great Western Hwy now open.
Or to eliminate the hassle of driving, trains run regularly from Sydney and the Central West to Lithgow and all Blue Mountains stations between Mt Victoria and Penrith.
Once there, board a hop-on/hop-off vintage-style Trolley Tours bus, which will take you to all the famous sites and sights of the Leura and Katoomba area and even Australia’s most spectacular cave system, Jenolan Caves. The public bus service gives access to all the other premier attractions of the Blue Mountains.
No trip to the Greater Blue Mountains is complete without the zing of high altitude adventure at Scenic World at Katoomba, home of the award-winning world’s steepest passenger railway. Glide between cliff tops on the glass-floored Skyway; descend via the steepest Cableway in the southern hemisphere; and wander through Jurassic rainforest on the 2.4km Walkway.
Visit the Scenic World-sponsored Kids Zone at the famous Winter Magic Festival in Katoomba on June 20. Be part of a 3D artwork, meet some baby animals and collect your free balloon.
Then immerse yourself in the fantastical world of Ferngully: The Last Rainforest on July 1 and 8. The whole family will love the story of how magical creatures of Ferngully rally together to protect their home from loggers and the malevolent pollution entity Hexxus. The animated fantasy environmental film is set in a fictitious Australian rainforest, just like the one at Scenic World.
Featherdale Wildlife Park at Doonside is a fantastic stop-off on the way to or from the Greater Blue Mountains. Children of all ages can enjoy furry encounters up close and personal with some Aussie native animals. Meet Archer the baby koala, watch the dingo pups romp and feed the wallabies that roam free. Refresh with food from the kiosk or bring your own picnic.
Experience a different perspective of the Greater Blue Mountains, hire an iPod Touch ($10) and set out on a digital audio tour at the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, Mount Tomah. Stroll through native bush on the Yenmara Bembulra Darug walk, passing plants that have been used by the traditional owners of Mount Tomah, the Darug people, for thousands of years. Embark on a journey from early explorers to present day botanists on the Botanic Tales Trail and explore what connects the garden with the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.
While at the garden, visit the Botanists Way Discover Centre and learn about local Aboriginal culture through the This Is Darug Art exhibition of Darug man Dr Shane Smithers, discover the amazing story of the Wollemi pine, marvel at the plant and animal diversity of the World Heritage Area, get close to Silurian fossils from Jenolan Caves and wander through a slot canyon without getting your feet wet.
“Remember too that we reward loyal local tourism ambassadors through our Residents Rewards program simply for showing family and friends around the region and visiting our attractions businesses,’’ Ms Clifton said.