By Simone Emery – Guest Blogger from Play With Food
It was a scorching weekend in Sydney and an air-conditioned car trip to a destination with a pool was exactly what we needed. Kangaroo valley is approximately 2 – 3 hours from Sydney because let’s face it, Sydney is huge and the traffic can be hairy at the best of times. Hopefully it only takes you a bit over 2 hours.
We took the Hume Hwy route on the way down and then wandered back to Sydney via the coast. On the way down you are pretty much on the highway until you get to Mittagong. Stopping at the Wombeyan Karst Conservation Reserve may be something that your intrepid explorers may be interested in doing and neatly breaks up your trip after 1 ¾ hours. Wombeyan caves do run tours of the caves, have some bush walks to trek and a natural swimming hole. Depending on your kids, they may be ready for hopping out and having an explore at this point. Or if Coffee, Antiques, Bakeries, Parks or Local Swimming pools are more your scene, stop in Mittagong or Bowral before heading down the mountain range.
As a side note, the baby change facility / parents room on the 1st floor in the middle of Sprigetts Arcade, Bowral, is large enough to help with any mid-roadtrip mishaps. There is also a lift to help you get up to the 1st floor.
Mittagong and Bowral are great places to pick up some last minute groceries that you may need for your stay. The corner store in Kangaroo valley is expensive but at least there to help you with any emergencies. We picked up some delicious cheeses and gourmet olives at a deli on the main street of Bowral. The amount of things to see and do in the Southern Highlands is amazing too. The area is known for antiques, wineries, being the home of Donald Bradman (and now the museum) and beautiful scenery.
If you are still looking for a stop-off before going 40km further down the mountain to Kangaroo Valley, look out for the Fitzroy Falls Visitors Centre on your left.
Once you arrive at Kangaroo Valley you will feel this overwhelming sense of calm. The township is not too large and the assortment of cafes, shops and buildings of the main street don’t take long to travel past. The main foodie finds for us (given that we had a 2 and 4 year old) included sprawling out on the back veranda at The General Café for an amazing breakfast and coffee, that the Friendly Inn had a gated playground out the back that we could easily see from our table and the amazing service at Jing Jo’s Thai restaurant. They did not miss a beat when catering for children. My husband also declared that Jing Jo’s had the best “Ham and Chicken Roll” ever – It was honestly more sophisticated than most and I’ve used the quotation marks because I wouldn’t want their version to be offended by being lumped with all the others.
Accommodation options in Kangaroo Valley vary from camp grounds, cabins, bed and breakfasts, air bnb’s and other self-contained rentals. There are some gorgeous properties in the main street. We opted for an Air BnB that had a private above ground pool. The pool was a must in the weather of that weekend (being +40oC). However,
Kangaroo valley’s temperatures wouldn’t be anything like that usually.
Ideas of what to do and where to head with kids when you are in Kangaroo valley (depending on their ages of course).
– Hire canoes / kayaks and head down the river (or find a tour operator)
– Check out Hampden Bridge
– See Tallowa Dam and journey on the Three Views Walk
– Travel through time at the Kangaroo Valley Pioneer Village Museum
– Support the local Kangaroo Valley Farmers Market is on the 2nd Sunday of the month
– Head up to the Cambewarra Mountain Lookout just out of town – there is a café up there and landscaped grounds coupled with vistas over Nowra (14km drive out of Kangaroo Valley)
Berry is a scenic 22km drive over the mountains. Berry is known for it’s quaint shops, cafes, donut truck, ice cream and as a popular stop for people trekking down the coast via Kiama.
There are local tour operators that offer trail riding packages too.
To head home we drove via Berry to Kiama. Kiama is bustling on summer weekends. The Sea Side Markets are on down by the water (Black Beach) on the third Sunday of the month. The kids loved checking out the Blow Hole and Lighthouse that are an easy walk up from Black Beach. We timed our trip well as the water was really gushing through the blow hole when we arrived. Kiama has a few other beaches you can check
out with bathrooms and playgrounds. A great stop for the journey home (or for a trip away in itself).
The towns around Kangaroo Valley have a range of markets and events on regularly. I would recommend checking out some of the local tourism pages to see if you can coordinate your trip with some of these local events.
Kangaroo Valley is a great destination for families. It’s peaceful. It’s beautiful. It’s so typically Australian surrounded by gorgeous scenery and wildlife spotting possibilities.
Visit Kangaroo Valley is a great website listing many of the things to do in the Kangaroo Valley area as well as accommodation and events.
We would love to hear about your visit to Kangaroo Valley and what you enjoyed most with your family?
Simone is a wife and mother to 2 girls. She has a background in food manufacturing and a masters degree in Food studies from the University of Queensland. Whilst on maternity leave in 2012, she studied a certificate in childs nutrition hoping to equip herself with knowledge for her own family. However, it inspired her on a much greater level. In 2013, Simone completed SOS (Sequential Oral Sensory) Feeding Therapy training and has actively been building a network of strong referral partners including dietitians, speech pathologists and occupational therapists. Simone also writes a blog on her website focusing on family eating. She has written eBooks, co-hosts an eCourse (Happy Mealtimes) and contributes as a guest writer on a range of websites (see below). Simone also works part-time in feeding therapy with a team of OT’s running SOS therapy programs.
When Simone isn’t being a ‘super hero’ and saving parents during family mealtimes, she and her little family love to travel! With a passport full of stamps and another amazing trip on the horizon you can see why we connected so well when we first met!
Thanks Simone for the great info on Kangaroo Valley. It is such a beautiful place and the perfect getaway from Sydney with the family.