When ever any one hears I grew up in the Blue Mountains, I always get comments about how beautiful they are, and how amazing it must have been. The Blue Mountains are beautiful, and amazing, but most people head up to Katoomba and Leura to see the views and rocks, and the ‘ye olde town’ shops and cafes. Of course there is a lot more to the Blue Mountains than just the tourist destinations of the upper mountains.
I grew up in the lower mountains – around Blaxland. It’s not quite as glamourous as Leura or as trendy alternative as Katoomba, but it really is a great place to visit. There really is so much to do, and best of all, you won’t have to worry about the gridlock coming down the upper mountains on a Sunday afternoon. So here is some things that our whole family loved to do when we lived in the mountains, and still love to do every time we visit.
Hit the local markets
One of my favourite things to do on a Saturday morning is to visit Glenbrook Farmers Market. It’s held in the infants school playground on the first and third Saturdays of the month, right in the centre of the village. We love the fresh bagels and baked goods, fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as the handmade goods of every type. There are stalls with clothing, homewares, handmade toys, biscuits and cakes, just to name a few. I’m told the coffee is excellent too. My mum has been making craft for a stall that raises money for the local hospital chaplaincy program. Whenever we visit the mountains, we pop into the market if it is on. It’s also a great way to meet up with friends – we always catch up with a few people there. Even now, Hannah will always request a blueberry bagel from the bagel stall, and I’m always on the look out for some handmade clothing for myself or the kids.
Go for a bushwalk or picnic.
The whole of the Blue Mountains are surrounded by national park. There are lots of places around the lower mountains that are perfect for a bush walk. If you head to the Glenbrook entrance to the national park, you can drive to some great picnic areas, or park your car and walk. Growing up we used to go to the Jelly Bean pool to swim in the summer, while Euroka clearing is a great place for a picnic, or even to camp over night. Red hands cave has some Aboriginal hand paintings (hence the name) that are interesting to see too.
Florabella pass is a walk from Warrimoo, down to Blaxland through the bush. It doesn’t take long to walk to the pass from the train station, and it is an easy enough walk which will take a couple of hours.
Lennox bridge in Blaxland, is the oldest bridge on mainland Australia. It was built in the 1833 and is still in use. These days it’s on the back road between Blaxland and Emu Plains. Locals use it as a short cut, but if you pull off the road, there is a parking area, and a path down under the bridge, as well as picnic tables. It’s a nice little diversion. The kids love to play Pooh sticks on the stream underneath it, and jump over the stream. It’s easy to spend an hour down there just playing.
Visit the miniature trains
Wascoe Siding in Blaxland is a miniature railway open on the first Sunday of the month. Enthusiasts run their miniature engines and give rides on their trains for a very modest price ($2/ride). It’s free to enter, and there are good picnic facilities as well as a canteen. Pack a picnic lunch and take a picnic rug, and the kids will have a ball. I have been there countless times since I was a child myself, and now my kids love it too. You will need wear enclosed shoes if you want to ride the trains. Squealing while going through the tunnel is practically compulsory too.
This post has been written as part of my entry to the Voices of 2015 Put Yourself On The Map competition
Have you visited the lower mountains? Know any other local secrets? Share away!