BLUE MOUNTAINS, New South Wales – A mere two-hour drive from the bustle of Sydney’s Central Business District (CBD) is all it takes to swap skyscrapers for the rolling hills and meandering streams of Megalong Valley in the Blue Mountains of Australia.
Megalong Valley is a small community nestled in the upper Blue Mountains escarpments and is home to only a couple of hundred people. This rural locality is a great weekend destination for those wishing to explore the attractions of Australia’s scenic Blue Mountains-range over a short stay.
The valley is popular with travellers hankering for a sense of Australia’s brand of a quiet, rural life – yet not quite ready to give up access to tourist landmarks, dining, and shopping strips.
Despite the feeling of being completely engulfed by natural landscape, Megalong is amazingly still within a 20-minute drive to civilisation and this makes it a perfect locale for a first dip into the great, Australian outdoors.
Given its proximity to prime sights in the Blue Mountains, a stay in the Megalong Valley would be remiss without a visit to nearby Katoomba to witness in person what must be one of the Mountains’ most famous natural landmark – The Three Sisters.
Towering 3000 feet above sea level, this unique series of ‘rocks’ is named after an Aboriginal legend about three sisters who were turned to stone. The iconic formation presents a beautiful vista all year round but depending on what time of day, they will appear to change in colour and temperament based on the weather and the hour.
Without doubt, one of the loveliest things about a stay in the Megalong Valley is the incredible access to Australian native animals in the wild. Cockatoos and colourful parakeets are a common sight among the trees.
If you have the good fortune of staying at one of the homesteads in the area, it’s not uncommon to wake up to a family of wallabies nibbling at the grass on the front lawn.
You might also be extra lucky and spot an ambling wombat returning to its home during your afternoon bush walk. The holes dug deep into the tree banks bear witness to the tell-tale handiwork of wombat housing.
One of the highlights of our time in the valley was a visit from the resident kookaburra to the homestead where we were staying and, being a territorial type of bird, she promptly appeared at 5pm each evening like clockwork.
Here’s a bit of trivia for you; we believe that our bird is a she because the females of this species exhibit brown and reddish tail feathers whereas the male kookaburras feature attractive shades of blue in their wings and tails.
The Blue Mountains is feasible as a day trip from Sydney City but a number of accommodation options are available in and around the area should you desire a longer stay. Many visitors choose to reside in bed & breakfast inns in the surrounding suburbs or at the Hydro-Majestic Hotel in Katoomba.
However, staying a little further away in the Megalong Valley itself is not without its charms; being that the extra distance will enable you to be closer to nature than is possible with a town stay.
The valley itself has no hotels but is home to a few public campsites with basic amenities for a tent stay. A simple Airbnb search brought us to the creature comforts of the Zoellas homestead. Here, we found a reasonable rate for a fully-equipped private home that houses as many as eight.
Set on 40 acres of native bushland, Zoellas, offers the best of both worlds. It appears to be an isolated cabin-in-the-woods style abode but features the complete comforts of a family home.
The rooms feature comfortable beds, a full kitchen, a modern bathroom, and a cosy family room replete with a fireplace and a selection of board games, plenty of books and a television. Do note that on-site WiFi is presently not available so consider packing extra data for the trip.
The nearby town of Blackheath is only a short, 20-minute drive away and has plenty of dining and shopping options. It is also perfect for a supermarket run, should you be inclined to stay in and cook.
Whether you are an Aussie city slicker or a foreigner to Australian shores, the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains is a relaxing and scenic place to experience a small town or rural Australian way of life. It’s certainly a place that will easily win your heart with its natural charm.