Escape to the Blue Mountains with the kids
The Blue Mountains encompass a rugged region west of Sydney, where travellers of any adventure level will find steep cliffs, dramatic viewpoints, lush forests and rushing waterfalls. There is so much on offer in the region; from hiking, to adventure activities, to art galleries, horseback riding to culinary experiences.
The following list is geared towards travellers with little people in tow, but these activities can be enjoyed by anyone.
Katoomba is where most travellers to the Blue Mountains make their base and perfectly located within this main town of the region is the super family-friendly YHA Blue Mountains.
The Megalong Valley is one of the best places in Australia to go on horse riding adventures, but that isn't all there is to the valley. A simple drive into the valley and back is one of the most beautiful drives in the region, and the river at the bottom of the valley is a great place to let the kids go for a swim.
Katoomba Falls is a segmented waterfall located close to Scenic World and the Katoomba Falls Tourist Park. You can climb up a section of the falls, but we would not recommend it as injuries are commonplace. Despite that, we saw several people climbing up and cooling down in the falls. For kids however, the pool underneath the falls is shallow and great for a splash on a hot day.
Scenic World is like an outdoor activities adventure park, for those who want to experience some of the best vistas in an incredibly low impact way. Scenic World features the skyway cable car, the southern hemispheres steepest aerial cable car, a gentle and accessible hiking trail, and my favourite, the world's steepest railway. All of the attractions are accessible and young children and babies are welcome on all of the attractions. You can get by with a pram in most spots, although it will be easier to get around if you have a baby carrier for your littlest ones.
This is the one listing in our outdoor activities section which has a cost, and discounted tickets can be purchased through the Scenic World website.
The Fairfax track hike
This short hike makes it into our list of recommendations because it is one of the few Blue Mountains hikes which is both pram and wheelchair friendly. This walk can be as short as five minutes, or as long as an hour, depending on how much time you have. The track grade is extremely easy, and people of all fitness levels should have no issue on this walk. If you want to do the one hour walk, then park at the NPWS Heritage centre near the town of Blackheath. The track begins at the far end of the car park and gently winds down through grass trees and scribbly gums until you get to George Phillips Lookout. There is a small shelter at this lookout if you want to stop for a break or a picnic and enjoy the few.
A few minutes further down the track will bring you to the Grovetts Leap Lookout. There is another parking lot located here, and those who do not want to hike can simply drive to the viewpoint without doing the walk. If you did do the walk, it is only a short walk along the road until you get back to the starting point.
Scenic World to Leura Cascades hike
This walk can be easily broken into pieces or done all at once. It all depends on the time you have and your fitness level. While the track is gentle and easy, the entire walk is about 6.4 kilometers, which may tire out young legs.
If you only want to do a section of the walk, we recommend the first half which takes you from Scenic World to the Three Sisters. This section of the walk is about 2.3 kilometers one way.
The hike starts at the entrance to Scenic World. Look for the signs pointing to the Prince Henry Cliff Walk to the left of the building. About 500 meters into the walk you will arrive at the Katoomba Falls Kiosk. This is a great place to grab a coffee or refuel before continuing on the walk. Head down the steps and when you reach a track junction, turn left to continue on the Price Henry Cliff Walk. You will then make your way to Katoomba Cascades before continuing on to the Cliff View Lookout. The walk will take you through to a couple more lookouts before you eventually reach Echo Point and the Three Sisters. This is the end of the first section of the walk.
For those keen to continue on a bit further, then just continue to follow the signs for the Prince Henry Cliff Walk. Keep following the Price Henry Cliff Walk signs until you get to Leura cascades (about 4km from Echo Point). The walk will take you past several lookouts (about six) until you get to the pretty Leura cascades.
You can find details of the full Prince Henry Cliff Walk here, including the two sections recommended here.
The Pool of Siloam
If you are after a short hike to a shady watering hole on a hot summer’s day, then look no further than the Pool of Siloam walk. This walk will take you about 30 minutes and is in pretty Gordon Falls Reserve. There is parking near the start of the track, but it can also be reached via a short walk from Leura train station. Gordon Falls Reserve also has picnic tables, electric BBQs and a children's play area, making it a great venue for a day out with kids.
Rainy days are not uncommon in the Blue Mountains, and it is likely that you will experience at least one less than optimal day during your stay. Rainy days can be tough with kids, especially in a region where the majority of tourist attractions are outdoors. However, here are a few ideas to keep the little ones busy.
There are two different indoor pools in the Blue Mountains region. There is the Springwood Aquatic Centre in the nearby town of Springwood, and also the Katoomba Sports and Aquatic Centre in Katoomba.
A local suggested that the Springwood Aquatic Centre is the best one for kids, and we have to agree. The centre features a large indoor heated kids pool complete with a water slide, water buckets, water cannons, and a little red car to ride on.
While the Springwood Aquatic Centre has the larger indoor kids pool (the Katoomba toddlers pool is outdoors), the Katoomba Sports and Aquatic Centre does have the added benefit of the attached Kids Kingdom - an indoor three storey play structure, with a separate area for under-threes. I love these kids play centres because usually the little ones are so busy making new friends and running through the structure, that they forget all about bothering mum and dad.
See a movie
If you feel like something a little more low-key and relaxing, nothing beats the rainy day activity of a trip to the movie theatre. There are three local and independently run cinemas in the Blue Mountains, one of which will certainly have something to interest your family.
- Glenbrook Cinema in the town of Glenbrook has showing every afternoon and evening, with a range of both classics and new releases.
- United Cinemas is located in the heart of Katoomba with showings every day.
- Mount Vic Flicks is located in heritage-listed Mount Victoria, one of the highest towns in the Blue Mountains. Built in 1934, the cinema is a window into the golden age of Australian country picture theatre culture. Screening a range of quality films from Australia and abroad, as well as the captured in HD broadcasts of the NT Live and Met Opera series.
Although a cave is not technically 'indoor', I am including the Jenolan caves in the rainy day roundup as they are sheltered and a great location to visit during a rainy day. Most of the caves need to be visited as part of a tour, although there is one self-guided tour option. For those with small children, you will want a good child carrier as the caves are not pram friendly (obviously).
Many walking tracks, roads and fire trails within Blue Mountains National Park remain closed following sustained wet weather. As sites are opened, Visitors are reminded that these areas have been subject to long periods of high rainfall, and landslides, rockfall and treefall can occur without notice. Please exercise caution and check which areas are closed before travelling - more information is available here.
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