Winter gets everyone a little down. It's cold in the mornings, and difficult to get out of bed. It's dark by the time you leave work, making you prematurely tired. Gradually you slip in to a semi-hibernation state in the stuffy indoors, longing for the summer when you can go outside again.
July Fest is here encouraging you to shake off your stuffy indoor winter lethargy, and embrace the crisp winter mornings. Wrap up warm and get outdoors. There's plenty going on in the city, for those that may need to ease in to the winter spirit. But your ultimate goal should be to get out of the city and breathe some fresh, crisp mountain air. What excuse do you have with the Blue Mountains on your doorstep?
Off peak accommodation is now available everywhere but the ski slopes, and even there you may be able to find a few offers through the weekend notes e-newsletter. If you aren't much of a skier, snow is still a lot of fun. Snowball fights, snow angels, and sledging, are all excellent FREE ways to enjoy the Blue Mountains' winter wonderland. You do need some proper winter clothes - gloves, hat and scarf - the trick, by the way, is lots of thin layers; vest, t-shirt, cardigan, fleece, and a raincoat. Take a back pack with you so you can strip off a layer as you warm up from your outdoor exertions.
The great outdoors can be enjoyed in any weather, but check the forecast to make sure you're prepared. I stayed at Blackheath Caravan Park, 2 hours drive from the city, in a basic unit for $50.00 a night. That's $25.00pp to snuggle up warm with that special someone. These are basic studio style units, with a small electric grill and hob, fridge, wardrobe, TV and double bed all within one room. For those on a budget it's a perfect base, clean and well kept, with an equally well kept ablutions block. They also have larger units with an ensuite for a little more money. My tip to ensure a warm start is to cook up a good breakfast on the electric grill in the unit. (For bookings, tel (02) 4787 8101, address: 67- 69 Prince Edward Street, Blackheath NSW 2785)
A variety of walks of varying difficulty and distance are signed at Govett's Leap, just 10 minutes' drive from the campsite. Maps and friendly advice are available at the local visitor's centre. Keep your eyes and ears open for local wildlife..
Take at Govett's Leap. This is the bird on the reverse of the 10 cent coin
If the snow isn't forthcoming, Megalong Valley Farm offers horse riding all year around, every day except Christmas. From $95.00 for two hours, they provide you with warm riding coats to ensure you enjoy the experience without the cold distracting you; suitable for the complete novice, to the advanced rider. An experienced guide, will provide you with well-mannered horses to take you out along the escarpment, where you can see grey kangaroos, kookaburras, and if you're lucky wombats (or maybe just their burrows), along with the beautiful views.(For bookings, Tel (02) 4787 8188, Megalong Valley Farm, Megalong Rd, Megalong Valley, Blue Mountains NSW 2785).
Big Red and Tammy back at the paddock following a 2 hour trek
If the forecast shows blue skies, the obvious option is to head to Scenic World in Katoomba for breath taking views. Enjoy the "world's steepest railway" down in to the valley, (it is steep), an educational walk around the rainforest floor, exploring the old mining sites, and the picturesque sky ride back to the visitor centre. ($28.00 for an adult scenic pass).
I can't attest to the quality of the food at the cafe and restaurant at Scenic World, as the prices put me off. However, up the road, at the World Heritage Plaza (35 Echo Point Road, Katoomba) is a cafe that does good value for money hot food, which I recommend taking away to eat looking out over the Three Sisters from Echo Point Lookout just 3 minutes' walk away.
With all this on offer, take yourself on a mini break this weekend, for a true winter wonderland experience, escape the city to the Blue Mountains.