The Blue Mountains, Australia
If you can drag the kids away from the Australian beaches, just ninety minutes west of Sydney the air literally turns blue thanks to the hazy vapours that emit from two million acres of eucalyptus forest. The Blue Mountains national park is 250 million years old, covers an area the size of Jamaica and is one of the top visitor destinations in Australia because of its exploration activities.
Who is it good for? The Blue Mountain’s adventure scene will appeal to children from seven years and upwards, while there’s just as much for adults too.
Katoomba, in the heart of the national park, is a great base to stay and will allow you to explore the best of the region. The iconic Scenic World – home to the world’s steepest passenger railway – is a great way to see and experience the very best of the Blue Mountains.
The new railway sits at a 52° angle and takes a hair-raising 10 minutes to reach the bottom of the cliff.
Here you can hop on to the scenic walkway, a 2.4km elevated boardwalk, which leads you through a Jurassic rainforest. It’s a fascinating trail through the region’s mining heritage. Discover hidden waterfalls and spot the native Lyrebirds, which, with their large plumed tails, are glamorous mimics of the rainforest.
To see the mountains in all their glory, including the blue haze it’s famous for, hop on the scenic skyway. Suspended 270m above the rainforest, this glass-floored cable car is the highest in Australia with breath-taking views of Katoomba Falls and the Three Sisters rock formation.
For hikers, there are plenty of interesting child-friendly bushwalking trails around Katoomba and nearby Leura including the Prince Henry Cliff Walk towards the awesome Three Sisters.
Forty minutes south of Katoomba is the Jenolan Caves, the oldest cave system in the world. With 11 to explore, experienced guides will take you on an underground tour.
Children aged 7-11 can choose between a Bats, Bugs and Beasties or a Stones and Bones tour (for wannabe archaeologists), and teens will love the Plughole Adventure, which explores hidden caverns.
Aussie-style safaris are all the rage down-under. Home to some of the world’s weirdest creatures, the Blue Mountains is one of the few places in New South Wales where you can get up-close and personal with animals in the wild.
But if you want to cuddle a koala, an absolute must-visit is the Featherdale Wildlife Park near Blacktown. Here, alongside kangaroos and koalas, you can hand-feed wallabies or meet Ngukhur, a giant saltwater crocodile.
Don’t miss: Waking up before the kookaburras for breakfast with wild kangaroos, courtesy of Tread Lightly.
Head west from Katoomba to the Megalong Valley in a 4WD where Skippy and his pals will join you for an alfresco breakfast of freshly-made pastries, as the sun comes up.
Where to stay: Stay at Lilianfels, a family-friendly mountain resort set in a proper Aussie country mansion with magnificent views across the Jamison Valley. A deluxe twin accommodating two adults and two children, costs from £164 per night.
Best time to go: The Australian summer runs from December to February, which is a great time to visit the Blue Mountains – but the days can get very hot. Spring, from the end of August to November, can be more pleasant.
Travel time: An average flight from London to Sydney takes 21 hours and 15 minutes.