A majority of people traveling to Perisher from Gold Coast would fly direct into Canberra. But since Subaru had the new Levorg, we offered our crazy family as the people to test its carrying capacity (we don’t travel light) and to see if Courtney was satisfied with its zoom zoom, which meant we also had to fly into Sydney.
Sydney to Canberra is about a five hr drive if sticking to the Motorway. Firstly that was too much time in the car for the kids and two, not very exciting.
We decided to spread the drive over a few days and take the longer slightly more scenic way (9hrs), but it meant we got to see more of New South Wales, in particular, the Blue Mountains. Quietly I also think Courtney just wanted an excuse to fly his drone (LOL).
We always spend a lot of time planning our trips. Looking at reviews, google satellite maps and other people’s blogs.
After many days of debating over the accommodation, we found the Old Leura Dairy. We were lucky to score two nights at a really good rate! Always ask for a competitive quote. The worst thing they can say is “No.” Our first night was going to be in the ‘Milking Shed’ and the other in the ‘Moo Manor.’
Initially, we were looking for a place in Katoomba on the cliffs with views of the Three Sisters, but because everything was either booked out or too expensive, we decided to look elsewhere for something a little different from the tourist norm. We read up on Leura; it was slightly smaller to Katoomba and only 2.5 kilometers away. I imagine it is what Katoomba was like 10-15 years ago. A very relaxed town with trendy coffee shops, restaurants, and galleries.
The Old Leura Dairy caught our attention because of its character. The property has six very different free standing houses. All homes are reasonably close to each other, but as the property itself is on the outskirts of suburbia, you do feel like you’re out in the country. Only a 5 minutes drive into Leura center.
We didn’t tell the kids too much about where we were going or staying. Nothing beats a real surprise. Chloee literally squealed with excitement when she saw it. The refurbished two level open plan ‘Milking Shed’ with original barn doors, fireplace and claw foot bath, was not your usual hotel room.
The two single beds were set up downstairs and a king upstairs. It had its own laundry facilities and a fully equipped kitchen. Katoomba
Katoomba’s famous Street Art Walk was perfect for Chloee to Instagram a few handstand pictures. Her obsession with gymnastics travels all around the world with us!
Katoomba would be the most visited town in the Blue Mountains. You can choose to pay and visit the commercialized ‘Scenic World’ park or self-explore the more secluded lookouts & hikes.
Katoomba lookouts: Eaglehawk Lookout, Landslide Lookout, Narrow Neck Lookout, Cahills Lookout overlooking the magnificent Megalong Valley, and Katoomba Falls. The Cliff View Lookout, Wollumai Lookout, Allambie Lookout and Lady Darley Lookout within Lilianfels Park.
Scenic World is host to the steepest railway incline in the world. The adventure park is a busy tourist attraction. It offers rides on the Railway, Skyway, Cableway, and Walkway. To be honest, I don’t think it’s worth the $99 Family Pass. Yes, the railway was exciting but only lasting about 2 minutes, and aside from that there is nothing there, you can’t see exploring for free elsewhere.
Alternatively, you can just visit their coffee shop. Situated up high and outside with views of the Three Sisters.
Echo Point (below) would be my first place of choice for best viewing of the Three Sisters. Paid parking is available along the road. From here you can also walk the 1km return loop and see them up and personal. Get in at sunrise, sit and relax on one of the concrete bench seats and enjoy a takeaway breakfast or coffee (you’ll have to order in town).
Don’t always follow the popular tourist recomendations. Discover your own.
Dissatisfied with Scenic World, we decided to explore on our own. Not far from Scenic World we discovered Narrow Neck Plateau. Around 1,000 meters above sea level and part of the Great Dividing Range. The neck separates two valleys: the Jamison Valley (to the east) and the Megalong Valley (to the west).
Access to Narrow Neck is via a dirt road called Glenraphael Drive and is suitable for most 2WD vehicles, although this would be subject to good weather conditions. Car access is only to the locked gate about 5 km in. Beyond that, the public can only enter on foot or bike. One of the most popular walks is the Golden Stairs, a rough descent of approximately 200 meters. Unfortunately, we ran out of time.
Narrow Neck is the ideal place for walking, and bike riding. It offers several walking descent routes to the adjacent valleys. We stopped along the dirt road several times and found paths leading to the cliff edge. Leo (4 years old) was ok with some of them. Remember safety first; If it looks dodgy stop and turn around. Some paths are more dangerous than others.
After a long day, with lots of walking, we were excited to go back to the Old Leura Dairy. Due to availability, we had to change houses to the ‘Moo Manor.’
Slightly bigger with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. Fully self-contained with a fireplace and a gorgeous veranda.
The least private of the homesteads as on top of the reception.The Levorg boot surprisingly fit three large suitcases and two smaller bags. The drone bag had to share the back seat with the kids.
Slowly making our way to Canberra we had time for one more adventure. Wombeyan Caves caught our attention. Initially not for the cave system but for the ‘Sandstone Tunnel’ which you pass through to get there. It would’ve made the best Levorg photo! Unfortunately, we didn’t realize that the tunnel was on the access road when coming from the opposite direction (Sydney).
Coming from Katoomba, we choose to travel west along the more scenic back roads (181km / 2 hours and 40 minutes) discovering things along the way. Alternatively, you could go back towards Sydney along the major highway (224 km / 3 hours and 41minutes), but we thought that was pretty boring.
The Wobayan access road we drove from the west was unsealed and progressively rougher. Lots of bumps and pot holes. Although still an easy drive in the ‘all wheel drive’ Levorg. Not sure how a 2WD car would handle in wet? Probably best to call the Information Centre at Wobayan Caves.
Wombayan Caves offer both guided and self-guided tours. We arrived too late and could only take the self-guided tour of the Fig Tree Cave. Nevertheless, it was the perfect option. We could take our time and explore at the kid’s pace. The cave is set up with automatic lighting and recorded commentary.
Chech tour times to avoid being disappointed.
The property has a small kiosk. It sells a limited number of food options (sausage rolls, hot chips, drinks.., etc.) and opens for short periods of time.
If you have the time, stay the night. The kids will appreciate you giving them more time to play in the creek and go kangaroo spotting. Wombeyan Caves campground is situated on the banks of Wombeyan Creek. It has 100 camping sites, some cottages, cabins, a communal kitchen, and barbecues.
Alternatively, if you’re short of time visit Jenolan Caves, they’re closer to Katoomba, but research tells me they are much busier.
By the time we finished at the caves, we had arrived late in Canberra. We love the QT Hotel. Always reasonable priced but honestly I’m a sucker for their continental breakfast!
The last part of the trip (209km) we did without stopping. Once the kids knew how close we were, they just wanted to get there.