By Ellen Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism
Kids can truly be kids at the official launch of the 2014 Festival of Walking at Euroka Blue Mountains National Park, Glenbrook, on Saturday, September 20.
The free community event at the popular picnic spot within Blue Mountains National Park will kick off the annual Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism (BMLOT) festival.
One of the main activities will be a “nature play’’ children’s bushwalk during which parents can take some time out with their little ones to have a National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) Discovery ranger guided hands on experience in nature.
Children can smell the gum leaves, draw, create, play games, explore the bushland and share the joy of the simple things life has to offer.
The Festival of Walking, which showcases the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area to nature lovers of all ages, budgets and fitness levels, has been extended this year to include the spring school holidays and will be held from September 20 to October 19.
Presented by the official regional tourism organisation and supported by the NPWS, local councils and Destination NSW, the festival will include adventure walks with expert guides; non-nature walking activities such as a history walk, literary walk and a beer walk; and self-guided bushwalks.
BMLOT chairman Daniel Myles said: “The launch event, like the whole Festival of Walking, will be a fantastic family event with something for everyone.
“Children and adults can learn about bush safety from emergency service personnel and other experts at educational stands, Wanda the Wombat will make her annual cameo appearance and affordably priced food will be plentiful in the beautiful bushland setting of Euroka.’’
Intrepid bushwalkers of all ages can take part in the Festival of Walking.
“Experienced guides and well maintained tracks will provide a safe environment for locals and visitors to explore our magnificent World Heritage Area,’’ Mr Myles said.
“Our wonderfully fresh air and expansive vistas right on Sydney’s doorstep will provide the rest.’’
The festival was inspired several years ago by Katoomba resident Marie Wood who read about the award-winning Isle of Wight walking festival and believed “something similar would be perfect for the Greater Blue Mountains … good for encouraging people to stay for a few days’’.
Mr Myles said: “Really, it’s a no brainer for this region
“We’ve got a one million square hectare backyard packed with more than 400 walking tracks and lots of expert interpretive guides – we should be exploring it, learning about it and playing in it.’’
In fact, the Greater Blue Mountains is one of Australia’s 16 recognised National Landscapes and the Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon region is the richest destination for walkers and outdoor enthusiasts in the country.
The Festival of Walking is a celebration of the beauty of nature, the health and wellbeing benefits of walking, acknowledgement of Aboriginal custodianship and culture, and homage to the history, heritage and conservation of this special region.
The official launch of the festival will be held at Euroka in Blue Mountains National Park, end of Bruce Rd, Glenbrook, from 10am to 1pm. It will include family-friendly activities, Wanda the Wombat NPWS mascot, educational stalls and a community barbecue.
Visitors and locals can catch a train from Central to Glenbrook or from Lithgow to Glenbrook and either walk to the Blue Mountains National Park, entrance at Glenbrook (15 minutes) or catch the shuttle bus.