By Ellen Hill – Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism
Are you a claustrophobic, pacifist republican on a budget who loathes the grittiness of sea salt on your skin and is already breaking out in nervous hives at the thought of a million people descending on Sydney this long weekend?
There is a solution.
Come up to the Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon region, where the air is fresh, there’s plenty of room for everyone and parking doesn’t cost a fortune.
There’s also lots of free and low-cost stuff to see and do day and night.
- The annual Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism Bicentenary Festival of Walking kicks off at The Gully site, Warriga St (off Gates Ave), Katoomba, from 9am to 1pm on Saturday, October 5.
Soak up Aboriginal art and culture, free bush tucker, entertainment and be among the first to hear about a new and exciting bushwalking experience.
Then, jump on a shuttle bus to Wild Valley Art Park at Wentworth Falls (a cool place itself) at 1pm and walk with the Blue Mountains Blue Wave 1813 costumed team as they re-enact part of the famous Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth trek across the mountains.
The best bit is the cost – it’s all free. Yep, even the tucker and the bus ride.
The Festival of Walking will continue throughout the Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon region until October 13 and includes an extensive program of affordable activities for all fitness levels from foodie, history and quirky walks (even a beer enthusiasts walk) to multi-day hard core treks through the wilderness.
The event has been organised by BMLOT in collaboration with The Gully Traditional Owners, Gundungurra Aboriginal Heritage Association, National Parks & Wildlife Service, Blue Mountains City Council and other activity providers with funding support from Destination NSW.
Details and bookings: www.festivalofwalking.com.au.
- Blue Mountains Film Festival & Yowie Awards at Scenic World, The Carrington Hotel and Mt Vic Flicks (October 3-7).
Set against the dramatic Blue Mountains landscape and incorporating iconic venues with that renowned Blue Mountains flare, the annual festival offers a jam-packed program of short films, family screenings, public programs, feature films, awards and celebrations.
The evening events hosted at Scenic World will showcase award-winning films by established and emerging filmmakers from Australia and around the world.
The festival will be a chance to meet celebs like Tim Ferguson who will lead a comedy-writing workshop on Sunday and Corinne Grant who will host the Yowie Awards & Scenic World Grand Prize of $5000 ceremony on Saturday.
Event major sponsor Scenic World will also launch Family Film Nights, set in a relaxed cinema environment where families can have a feed and watch a short film suitable for school age children.
Another fantastic budget carrot is the Scenic World rides deal for festival goers. Upgrade your ticket to adventure down the thrilling new Scenic Railway and explore the Jurassic landscape along the Scenic Walkway. Great value packages are available offering all-day unlimited rides at Scenic World, plus hop-on hop-off bus passes, exploring Leura and Katoomba with Blue Mountains Explorer Bus.
Details and bookings: http://www.scenicworld.com.au/event/2013-blue-mountains-film-festival-yowie-awards/.
- Leura Gardens Festival (9.30am-4.30pm daily, October 5-13).
Another low-cost drawcard is this blooming popular trail around the most spectacular spring gardens in the upmarket picturesque village of Leura. Details: www.cityrail.info/tickets.
Just $20 gives you entry to 10 gardens ($5 single entry). Buy a ticket at the festival stall at the top of Leura Mall, invest a further $5 in an all-day hop-on/hop-off shuttle bus and still have spending money left over for lunch.
Of course you can’t fit everything in on one day so why not stay the night or three?
Go to www.visitbluemountains.com.au for information about accommodation, dining and activity options in the Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon region.