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If you fancy a change from the coastal destinations for your next Australian holiday or break then why not consider the Blue Mountains, NSW. Located an easy hour and a half from Sydney CBD or airport the area has stunning scenery, viewpoints and waterfalls as well as quality accommodation and food to match. Popular with both couples and families the area has much to offer visitors.

Getting there: Getting to the Blue Mountains is easy. From Sydney head west following the signs for Parramatta. Then join the M4 (toll section near Sydney) and keep going on the M4 as far as the edge of the Blue Mountains in Lapstone. You can then follow the signs up to the main tourist areas such as Katoomba. An alternative is to catch the train from Central Railway station in Sydney CBD. There is around one train an hour and it takes roughly 90-120 minutes depending on which station you are going to. There are day trips from Sydney as well by coach which return to the city the same day but staying in one of the great Blue Mountains accommodation options for a few nights will allow you to truly appreciate the area.

What to do: If you come to the Blue Mountains there is plenty to do. Checking out the scenery is bound to be top of your list of things to do, so here are a few ideas.

Viewpoints: There are many breath taking viewpoints within the Blue Mountains. Among the most popular viewpoints are Echo Point in Katoomba which has been recently upgraded and provides stunning views over the Three Sisters fomation and into the Jamison Valley. Wentworth Falls also offer great views of both the falls and the valley.

Bushwalking: There are bushwalking trails throughout the Blue Mountains region and national park. Once you reach the Blue Mountains then head to one of the tourist information centres such as the one in Katoomba and request a bushwalking map marking the main trails. You can choose from short walks on manmade paths to long and adventurous hikes.

Scenic World: Located in the central Katoomba area, Scenic World is the most popular attraction in the region and offers a number of ways to enjoy the great views. Scenic World has a number of attractions including a cable car, a glass floored skyway which takes you across the valley and the world’s steepest railway. There is also a boardwalk around the rainforest at the bottom of the valley. It’s a great family attraction and a fun way to take in some of the views of the local area.

Eating Out: If you want to surprise your loved one with a special meal, here are some of the top places to try.

Solitary, 90 Cliff Drive, Leura Falls, NSW.

The restaurant offers one of the best views in the Blue Mountains and offers food of a quality to match the view. Solitary was created back in 2000 by husband and wife team Georgia Shepherd and John Cross the restaurant serves fantastic Modern Australian and European influenced food in a fine dining atmosphere. The restaurant has won many awards including Two Chefs hats in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide 2007 and ranked as one of the Lonely Planet top 5 places to eat out in Australia in 2004.

Darley’s Restaurant at Lilianfels, Echo Point, Lilianfels Avenue, Katoomba.

Darley’s restaurant is located within the luxurious Lilianfels Hotel has a well earned reputation for excellent food and service. They have been awarded Two Chefs hats in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide 2009, one of only a small number to achieve such a high accolade. The restaurant specialises in excellent country cooking that fits the location and makes use of high quality local produce and an excellent wine list. Naturally this is somewhere for special occasions such as a birthday or anniversary and is not cheap. Expect to pay close to $80 per person for two courses or around $100 for three courses with wine being extra. If you can’t make your mind up from the menu you can sample a number of interesting course with the degustation menu served with matching wines. Whey to stay: Blue Mountains accommodation comes in the form of cosy cottages and homely bed and breakfasts perfect for a romantic getaway. From budget to total luxury there is something for everyone. Some of the most popular

When to go: Typically you will find the Blue Mountains will be a few degrees cooler than Sydney year round. The accommodation is well geared up for the cooler months and you will find many of the cottages will have a fireplace to make things nice and cosy. Typically the temperatures are a few degrees cooler than in Sydney making bush walking more pleasant. However, on the hottest summer days some of the more challenging walks may feel like hard work in the heat.

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