17 July 2015

The Blue Mountains hiking with kids

I've been to the Blue Mountains several times before having kids, eating at cosy cafes and making the obligatory pit stop at Echo Point to jostle with the thousands of tourists to take a quick snap of The Three Sisters. This time, we went with family friends (four adults and four kids 5-8 years in total) and had the kids' interests firmly in mind. The plan was child-friendly hiking and good, casual food.

It was school holidays, so we made an early start and we arrived at Scenic World in Katoomba with a media pass (family pass that is usually $88) for two adults and up to five kids 4-13 years. As we were there just before 10am, we took advantage of the early bird school holiday prices and bought two extra adult tickets for $30 each which covered all eight of us.

The valley views from Scenic World were breathtaking and we were lucky enough to experience the beauty of fog/cloud hovering over the valley floor. 

We then took the 52 degree Scenic Railway to the valley floor for a walk through the rainforest. It was more theme park ride than railway and the kids loved every second of the almost vertical drop through rock and down to the valley.

The Scenic Walkway is boarded and an easy stroll around to the Scenic Cableway which we took back up to the top of the escarpment.

The Cableway was a more relaxed ride and with great views of The Three Sisters, Mt Solitary, Orphan Rock and Katoomba Falls.

We then took the Scenic Skyway between cliff tops for even more views, and a peek at the rainforest from directly above. 

At the Skyway disembarkment point, we could have walked around to Echo Point with the throng of tourists, but decided instead to walk around to the top of Katoomba Falls and back to Scenic World. A last minute decision had us heading down Furber Steps to the rainforest valley floor again as we all wanted one more turn on the vertical Scenic Railway back up to the Scenic World headquarters and car park. 

Boy, I'm glad we did. The kids took their time and were well-supervised, as the steps are very steep and can be slippery, but the views of the falls and The Three Sisters were absolutely breathtaking. This is one of the most beautiful hikes I have been on - possibly in my life. Every turn gave a different perspective of the valley.

You could also walk this section of the hike from Katoomba Falls without a Scenic World pass, and just purchase Scenic Railway tickets one-way ($16 for adults, $10 for children 4-13 years, $42.00 for family) back up to the escarpment.

At the valley floor we took the Scenic Railway back to the top, and it was then a quick drive to Leura for lunch. There were lots of food options in Katoomba, but I remembered how great the Red Door Cafe was in Leura and it didn't disappoint - great, fresh food and coffee in a cosy cafe.

We're now keen to return to The Blue Mountains to try the many trails across the ridges. Scenic World was a particularly great option for us, as it gave our kids a thrill and amazing views of the key sights without being trampled by too many tourists. Even at full price, we felt that it was good value. The key is to go on a week day and early in the morning! Have you had a similarly great experience?

This was an unpaid review. I received a media pass for Scenic World valued at $88.

Images: Steph Bond-Hutkin | Bondville