WINTER 2021

48 Hours in… the Blue Mountains
With jaw-dropping scenery at almost every turn, it’s no wonder the Blue Mountains was declared a World Heritage Area in 2000. Its ancient landscape was formed some 300 million years ago and comprises more than 1 million hectares of eucalyptus-blanketed valleys, soaring sandstone cliffs, cascading waterfalls, dense forests and hidden canyons. Megan Arkinstall and her family took a Volkswagen Tiguan for the easy two-hour road trip from the Coast to the historic Blue Mountains, soaking up its natural beauty by day and snuggling up by the fire at night –the perfect winter weekend.

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Day One

1pm – The car is packed for our family road trip – three small suitcases and a pram fit easily in the Tiguan’s roomy boot (it’s automatic and super convenient when juggling kids) – and we hit cruise control for the easy drive to the Blue Mountains.

3pm – Just two hours later, we arrive at Parklands Country Garden & Lodges in Blackheath and are quickly checked into our interconnecting loft rooms. The windows overlook the leafy gardens, and the rooms boast plush king beds and cosy fireplaces. Parkland’s 11-hectare property spreads over beautifully manicured gardens, large lawns and a private lake: ideal for a rejuvenating wander or, in our case, the perfect opportunity for kids to blow off some steam.

4pm – Before dinner, we venture down the road to Govetts Leap Lookout. There, overlooking the 180-metre-tall Bridal Veil Falls cascading down the cliff-face, we become peacefully mesmerised by the sun dipping behind the deep canyons of the Grose Valley.

6pm – Dinner tonight is at nearby Blackheath Bar & Bistro, which has a pub-style menu driven by local and seasonal produce and a wide range of craft beers and ciders. It’s lively but relaxed, and the bistro hosts regular live music and an open-mic night on the second and fourth Thursday of each month.

Day Two

9am – After a buffet breakfast at the charming light-filled restaurant at Parklands, we pile back into our Tiguan. It’s a chilly morning so we luxuriate in the electric heated seats that keep us feeling snuggled. We make our way to Katoomba, the heart of the Blue Mountains. Echo Point Lookout is our first stop, which is home to the iconic Three Sisters. (You can’t visit the Blue Mountains and not visit the Sisters.) There’s also a fourth smaller one, which a local playfully tells us is the ‘little brother’. If you don’t have a fear of heights, be sure to take the 998 steps down the steep cliff-side staircase to Honeymoon Bridge, which leads to the first sister for some great photo opps.

11am – Known as the garden village, Leura is an idyllic place to while away sunny winter days. The tree-lined main street, Leura Mall, is home to eclectic speciality shops such as The Wow Factor for art and decor by Indigenous creatives; Teddy Sinclair for quality men’s accessories; Josophan’s Fine Chocolates; and Leura Whisk for the cooks among us. Vintage lovers should stop by Mrs Peel, and Leura Vintage (the Blue Mountains is known for its retro and antique stores).

1pm – For lunch, we dine at the popular Leura Garage, a former mechanic’s workshop, now a casual and chic restaurant and bar. The menu features local and organic salads, sandwiches, pasta and small bites to share, with larger plates for dinner, and the interior styling is an award-winning nod to its garage days.

3pm – On our way back to Blackheath, we stop at the Hydro Majestic, a legendary place to stay while in the Blue Mountains. Teetering on an escarpment that overlooks the Megalong Valley, the Hydro Majestic was built in 1904 and was restored to its former glory most recently in 2014. History buffs will enjoy browsing The Hydro Majestic Pavilion, which houses an historic collection of objects from the original hotel (there are history tours available at 11am and 3pm).

5pm – After a relaxing afternoon in front of the fire in our cottage, we make our way back to Katoomba for an early dinner at The Bootlegger Bar, a cosy speakeasy-style restaurant that specialises in delicious slow-cooked smoked meats and an extensive range of whiskies.

6.30pm – Night has fallen but that doesn’t mean settling in for the night. We make our way to Katoomba Falls Reserve to explore the recently opened Night-Lit Walk. This easy and brilliant 1.3-kilometre walk is – as the name suggests – lit up by night, so you can view Katoomba Falls, Orphan Rock, Witches Leap and Katoomba Cascades after dark.

Day Three

9am – If your accommodation doesn’t include breakfast, try Anonymous and Blackheath General Store, both local options with all-day menus and excellent coffee.

10am – We make our way to The Gingerbread House, set in a charming 100-year-old restored church in Katoomba. As well as a delightful array of house-made traditional sweets, there’s good coffee and an outdoor play area for kids – everyone is happy. Other good options include Frankly My Dear and 8 Things, both in Katoomba.

2pm – Sadly, it’s time to head home, but it’s another comfortable journey in the Tiguan. We don’t hear any complaints from our little co-travellers who are occupied colouring in and being entertained on devices propped up on tray tables that prove very convenient in the back seats.

Parklands Country Garden & Cottages is a picturesque property offering 28 cosy guest rooms in the town of Blackheath, just 10 minutes from Katoomba. Bed and buffet breakfast packages are available; seeparklands.com.au for more information.

VW Tiguan, was supplied courtesy of Central Coast Motor Group, Gosford.

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