The catastrophic fires that recently surrounded our beautiful Blue Mountains are OUT and the rains have stopped. The restrictions have lifted, the sun is out, and the mountains are sparkling.
It has been a tough year, it's not just the loss of property, lives and animals, that devastation goes without saying, but the residents and local businesses, are really doing it tough. One of our most popular resorts was at just 10% capacity at a time of year where they are normally overflowing.
It’s no surprise then that the mountains been quiet of late, when you looked at a map it would appear that the mountains were surrounded by fire. It was honestly quite scary, smoky and it was terribly quiet. Hotels were empty, Airbnb’s and holiday home bookings were cancelled, the stores and streets were empty at what is usually our busiest time. It meant that casual staff went without work and the cafés were screaming for customers to walk through their doors, many chose where possible to just remain closed.
BUT the fires officially out, the air is clear and we are SO READY to see everyone again. And with the recent rain our waterfalls are insanely stunning right now.
So now is the time, throw the esky in the car, load up the family and head up the hill, come see us, the mountains are ready, open and more beautiful than ever.
Planning a Road Trip?
As the restrictions around international travel grows amidst the coronavirus pandemic, people are seeking alternative ways to spend their holidays.
With so much to explore here in Australia, and the devastating impact this bushfire season had on many communities, Budget Direct have put together 5 road trips you can take to show your support to those affected and still make the most of a long-weekend getaway.
To make it easy we’ve compiled a list of some of our favourite things to do in the Mountains. Why not make a weekend of it (or a week or two) and cross of as many off the list as you can.
1. The Three Sisters
Well this one is obvious, you can head to Echo Point and grab a selfie or two, or if walking is your thing you can even walk out to them (safety first of course!!). Alterntively if you are looking for a unique view of the iconic rock formation then Scenic World is worth a visit.
The Blue Mountains is a smorgasbord of amazing food venues, from quirky breweries to hatted restaurants with incredible views, you won't go hungry!
Some of our favourites include :
Madame Wang's in Leura
Mesa Barrio in Lawson
The Tea Rooms in the Megalong Valley have THE best scones and jam
Avalon in Katoomba
Dry Ridge Estate in the Megalong Valley
Logan Brae Orchards - pick your own!
Synonymous in Medlow Bath - a local favourite
High Tea at the Hydro Majestic overlooking the Megalong Valley
Cortado in Lawson for coffe
Black Cockatoo in Katoomba for delicious pastries
Mountain Culture Beer Co
Solitary in Katooma
The Carrington Hotel - dine in the Grand Ballroom and feel like you have gone back in time or stay in one of the heritage listed restored rooms
Looking for Fresh Produce?
Lyttelton Stores Cooperative - Lawson
Blue Mountains Food Co-op - Katoomba
The Hive Door - pop up store selling locally made honey in Medlow Bath
The Carrington Cellar - along with a vast range of local wines and beer, they also stock gorgeous cheeses and condiments sourced from local vendors
Fruit picking in Bilpin
3. Places to Stay
With over 300 properties listed on Airbnb alone, there are no shortage of places to stay in the Blue Mountains.
Fairmont Resort - for the golf enthusiasts!
Blackheath it’s the funky mountains getaway you’ll wish was yours with cafes, antique stores and amazing walks, and it can be – if only for a night or two.
The Carrington Hotel - Heritage listed accomodation
Lillianfels Resort and Spa - fine dining and luxury accomodation
The Potting Shed
The Strawbale Cottage
The Blue Mountains is a region populated with a diverse and creative community. And with that, comes a wide range of wonderful markets for visitors and locals alike to enjoy. With artisans, foodies and artists from all disciplines selling their wares, visitors can find gifts, great coffee and affordable art from Blaxland to Bilpin.
Glenbrook Rotary Markets
Springwood and Blackheath Grower Markets
Lawson Magpie Markets
5. Antique Stores and Art
The Blue Mountains is a haven for artists and there are plenty of galleries, workshops and antique stores to explore. Whether you are looking to find a unique treasure, or a new work of art for your wall there is something for everyone!
Victory Theatre and Antique Centre - One of the largest antique dealers west of Sydney, the Victory Theatre represents 50 dealers right here in the Blue Mountains. Over two floors you’ll find books, jewellery, vintage clothing, toys, furniture, china, ornaments, art and more. There’s also an art gallery on-site, and make sure you check out the beautiful work done by Blackheath Jewellery. The Victory Theatre was built in 1915 and was originally called Neate’s Hall. It was renamed the Arcadia Picture Palace in 1921 when it opened as a 999 seat cinema. There’s certainly some history in this building!
Norman Lindsay Gallery - A controversial artist and author in his time, Norman Lindsay’s home now serves as a gallery of his many works. His paintings adorn the walls and his sculptures can be found in the beautiful gardens, including characters from the children’s classic “The Magic Pudding”.
Hazelbrook Antiques - family business with over 85 years of combined experience in the trade. Specialising in Advertising Tins & Signs, Aussie Farm Relics, Industrial, Retro, Kitchenalia, Victorian & Edwardian Clothing, Hats, Sewing, Haberdashery, Tools, Aussie Pine, Cedar & Other Furniture, Glass, China, Porcelain & Pottery, Ephememera, Old Garden Pots, Stands, Cast Iron & Wirework. Architectural, Hardware & Decor and everything else you can Imagine!
Wollemi Gems - not far from Katoomba is the Wollemi National Park, where the ancient and rare Wollemi Pine was discovered in 1994. The name Wollemi is an Aboriginal word meaning “look around you, keep your eyes open and watch out” – and that is just what you will do in our beautiful shop that is filled with natural beauties.
Blue Mountains Cultural Centre - The spacious state-of-the-art Blue Mountains City Art Gallery is one of the leading regional art galleries in Australia. It opened in November 2012 as part of the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre. The Blue Mountains City Art Gallery space of 600 m can be divided into three areas and features quality, curated, local, regional and major touring exhibitions. It also hosts educational workshops, concerts, and outreach programs to the community.
Surely this one also goes without saying, it’s what the Blue Mountains are most famous for and we absolutely have no shortage of stunning lookouts, if you’re not a walker that’s fine too, some you can drive right up to and enjoy from the car.
Sublime Point...just to name a few!
Regardless of whether you are an experienced bush walker or a complete novice we have walks up here to suit everyone. Blue Mountains Tourism (Glenbrook and Katoomba) has all the information you need on choosing a walk and how to be prepared and safe – remember you’re going bush on a Mountain, there’s cliffs, drop offs and nature to contend with so if you don’t really know how to prepare head to Blue Mountains Tourist information and let them guide you.
If you are looking for Family Friendly walks then you could try the Charles Darwin Walk in Wentworth Falls, Gordon Falls Walk in Leura or Furber Stairs in Katoomba.
7. Leura Mall
If going bush isn’t really your idea of a restful day out and you’re more into a touch of retail and a latte then head to Leura Mall. There are an abundance of beautiful boutique stores and cafes for you to browse and shop.
8. Activities for the Kids
Located at the base of the Mountain is the more locally known Jellybean Track in Glenbrook leads to the very popular Jellybean Pool, not only is it beautiful, is a great spot for a picnic and perfect for the kids to have a paddle.
Catalina Park in Katoomba is a dream bike track for kids. The 2km car racing circuit was built in the 1960s and used up until the 1990s. It's very peaceful and an interesting part of Katoomba's history. The kids can ride safely without the threat of cars (but there are a few steep hills to manage). There's also a duck pond nearby and the Katoomba Sports & Aquatic Centre adjacent to the track.
There are an abundance of local bike tracks, and skateparks, as well as parks and play equipment.
You could visit The Candy Store in Leura, The Gingerbread Cottage in Katoomba, or go to a movie at The Edge.
Wentworth Falls lake is a great place to stop for a picnic, and to stretch your legs. It has an easy walk around the lake where many locals take their fur babies to stretch their legs and have a paddle.
Mid Mountain Waterfalls - Woodford, Hazelbrook and Lawson are home to many beautiful waterfall walks. The South Lawson circuit walk itself is over a century old, and is one of the very few walking tracks in the Blue Mountains where dogs are more than welcome.
Leura Cascades – This is a two part adventure, there’s the picnic area which is absolutely beautiful and amazing for children to run around and stretch their legs and the Leura Cascades Walk, this one is about 1km long and offers views of at least three waterfalls. With the recent rains the Cascades are currently flowing beautifully, so if this tickles your fancy plan on heading up sooner rather than later.
Empress Falls - A short walking track starting at the Conservation Hut in the Wentworth Falls area brings visitors up close and personal with one of the most underrated waterfalls in the Blue Mountains. Several lookout points along the track to Empress Falls offer panoramic views of the Jamison Valley and the high cliff walls surrounding the Valley of the Waters - this track has LOTS of steps so it's not for the faint hearted but well worth the effort.
Wentworth Falls - this short but steep walk from the picnic area is well worth the effort. Follow the level path past Jamison and Wentworth lookouts before descending around 200 steps to the cliff-edge Fletchers lookout. Marvel at the waterfall that gives Wentworth Falls its name, as it plunges 100m to the valley floor. From here, it's a few more minutes down steps to the very top of the Falls, where Jamison Creek cascades into a shallow pool to one side and the magnificent Jamison Valley opens out on the other.
10. Gorgeous Gardens
The Campbell Rhododendron Gardens in Blackheath is one of the Blue Mountains' favourite venues where, uniquely, Azalea and Rhododendrons are planted amongst the native eucalypts and bushland. Areas of the garden have been affected by the fires, but the Volunteers are working hard to clear the debris and ensure that the gorgeous gardens are restored.
When the fires roared towards the Mt Tomah Botanic Gardens there was a lot of fear that the heritage listed flora had been lost, the gardens though were saved and are open for business. Recent rains have helped fill the bird baths and the gardens and lawns are lush. Guided tours of the gardens are available and while you’re there why not stay for lunch.
Mount Wilson and Mount Irvine - both were recently at the centre of the largest blaze in the mountains. The area has magnificent natural bushland and rainforest, walks and canyons as well as historic houses and grand exotic gardens, some of which are open to the public. It is a favourite for photographers with avenues of autumn trees and lush rainforests.
Everglades is run by the National Trust of NSW. This 1930s treasure unites European romanticism with the raw magic of the Australian bush. Five hectares of valley views, bluebell woodland, lawned and flowering terraces, stone walls, winding paths, glades, pools, and fountains. Art deco house, gift shop, tea rooms, art gallery, picnic spots.
Leuralla Toy and Railway Museum is the Southern Hemisphere's largest collection of toys, trains and associated memorabilia. Whether you're a family or a serious collector, the world class displays of 20th century toys, from Barbie, Popeye, Tintin and Alice in Wonderland will captivate and entertain. The displays are housed in an historic early 20th century mansion, set in lush, 5 hectare award-winning gardens filled with interactive displays and picturesque scenes.
11. Jenolan Caves
Last but absolutely not least on our list is Jenolan Caves and the historic Jenolan Caves House. The Caves are some of the oldest and most beautiful found anywhere in the world.
Whether it’s a relaxing walk, an adventure, lunch with some sights or accommodation you’re after Jenolan offers it all.
There are a variety of caves, with walks ranging from easy through to more advanced.
At the time of writing this article the roads are temporarily closed to Jenolan owing to the recent heavy rain fall, but they are working hard to clear the roads.
The beauty of travelling to the mountains is that many of the main attractions are accessible by train, there is ample parking at all tourist spots, food aplenty, and a multitude of places to stay.
So why not visit and stay a while.
How to plan the perfect family portrait session
Why not plan a family portrait session while you're here? The stunning Blue Mountains lend themselves perfectly to outdoor family photography. Some of our favourites include Wentworth Falls, Blackheath, Yarramundi Reserve and Lawson. We even have a selection of pet friendly locations perfect for capturing your furry friends.
Our approach is refreshingly natural. Never staged and always within your comfort zone. We help you capture a moment in time and the human connections that are uniquely yours. Choose to tell your story with candid photos that do it justice. Contact us now!