By Ellen Hill, Blue Mountains Attractions Group
The kids are back at school, the “I wants’’ have ceased, there’s no more bickering on the back seat, punch-ups in public places or accidents in art galleries. Time to reward yourself with a grownup visit to the Greater Blue Mountains.
Blue Mountains Attractions Group president Dave Robertson said: “Kids are the delight of all our lives, the apple of their parents’ eyes and the light in their grandparents’ day but Gee it’s wonderful to put them on that first bus after the school holidays.
“Treating yourself to a short break and visiting the premier attractions of the Greater Blue Mountains is the perfect post-school holiday reward for parents, grandparents and other carers of school aged children. Mid-week is the best child-free time.’’
Give a cheery wave to the cheeky cherubs at the school gate and come up for a sneaky daytrip. You’ll be back to meet the bus in the afternoon and they will be none the wiser.
Better still, run away from home and treat yourselves to an overnight stay without the restraints of day naps, fussy eaters and early bedtime regimes.
Take advantage of newly opened sections of the Great Western Hwy for a smooth, quicker drive to the Blue Mountains or mosey along the scenic route via Bells Line of Road through the Hawkesbury, Bilpin and Mt Tomah – because you don’t get carsick and ask “Are we there yet?’’ on rote.
Stop in at Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, Mount Tomah, and amble around the extensive gardens, pausing to learn about the native and exotic species, absorbing the World Heritage Centre exhibition and uninterrupted chat over lunch at the restaurant – because you don’t run through garden beds and pick the flowers.
Ride the full circuit of the hop-on/hop-off red double-decker Explorer Bus or vintage-style Trolley Tours bus around Leura and Katoomba without smearing the windows before deciding where you’d like to alight – because you don’t need to have it all, all at once.
Breeze into Bygone Beautys at Leura, serenely browse the antiques and estate jewellery and have an uninterrupted chat with Mr Teapot himself before indulging in a traditional silver service high tea without desperately hoping there’s no sudden cascade of glass and heirlooms – because you can keep your fingers from meddling with the stock.
Lose track of time at Everglades Historic House & Gardens at Leura roaming the manicured lawns and gardens followed by a gourmet picnic in a romantic niche without fear of upsetting other patrons or leaving a mess – because you don’t chase the ducks or fall into the display ponds. Details: everglades.org.au.
Celebrate the silence with a languid stroll through the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre art gallery, knowing you won’t be escorted from the venue for physical fighting. Relax further over a light meal and peruse the quality wares at the centre shop – because you would never run inside or forget your “inside voice’’. Details: bluemountainsculturalcentre.com.au.
Catch a dance performance at Waradah Aboriginal Centre and focus on the cultural talk, followed by a spot of retail therapy and absorbing the authentic Aboriginal art – because you can sit still and be sensible. Details: waradahaboriginalcentre.com.au.
Spend hours choosing the perfect furry friend and discussing brands and designs at Nana’s Teddies & Toys at Blaxland without the anxiety of facing ruined merchandise – because you have clean hands and don’t treat the shop like a playground. Details: teddys.com.au.
Stay up after dark and join the adults-only Legends, Mysteries & Ghosts at Jenolan Caves without the dread of knowing you will have to turn back to find a loo or carry a sleeping child. Revel in strange legends and stories about unexplained phenomena and prepare to be unnerved by mysterious tales – because you won’t throw a tantrum if you’re overtired. Details: jenolancaves.org.au.
Marvel at the beauty of the naked human form illustrated by one of Australia’s most famous artists and take as much time as you need reading the interpretive signs before an adult discussion over lunch at the café at Norman Lindsay Gallery & Museum at Faulconbridge without the distraction of giggling – because you won’t climb on the statues. Details: normanlindsay.com.au.
Appreciate the talent and time that goes into making art and craft with a visit to Talisman Gallery at Hartley or The Brook Art & Craft Co-Op at Glenbrook village, without worrying about breakages. Watch metal artist Ron Fitzpatrick create a piece using the blacksmith forge at Talisman Gallery – because you won’t wander off and get lost. Details: talismangallery.com.au.
And the best bit about your short break in the Greater Blue Mountains? Watch the indignation spread across their little faces as you tell the kids where you’ve been and what you’ve been up to before you take a deep breath and prepare for the next outbreak of sibling rivalry over the dishes.
“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,’’ Mr Robertson said.
Go to bluemountainsattractions.com.au for more information about what to see and do in the Greater Blue Mountains region and the Residents Rewards program.