Domestic Destinations- The Blue Mountains and The Hunter Valley, New South Wales

I continue to underestimate the size of Australia. It’s massive! Literally the size of the Contiguous United States. I was in denial while trying to plan a road trip over Christmas. Once you leave the city, you can drive for 8 hours (or more) without seeing a tree let alone a kangaroo. With only six major cities, 90% of Australia is uninhabited. Luckily there are plenty of places to escape for the weekend that are within an easy drive and don’t require one to load up the trunk with water (you don’t want to be stranded in the outback without water).

I have now been to the Blue Mountains four times. Three were wonderful and one was so bad that it was hilarious. It had been raining for a week and Peter and I decided that if it was going to rain we might as well be in the mountains. Plus, I had just gotten my job so we thought we would celebrate by splurging on a nice hotel. We didn’t know it as the time, but hotels in Australia do not use an accurate star rating system. A 4 star hotel here is Best Western Quality at best. It’s laughable because they are also charging Ritz prices for motel style. Not armed with this info we rolled up to our hotel which looked vaguely familiar.

Using hotwire.com is always a gamble but we felt pretty comfortable booking a 4.5 star hotel based on our experience using the site in the past. Now I am not a hotel snob. I am perfectly fine staying in less than glamorous locales. However, when you think you are going to be sleeping in a “Heavenly” bed and end up checking into the hotel from The Shining, there is a degree of disappointment. Peter described the decor as resembling his grandparents’ friends’ homes. There were creaky shutters, gold cherub sculptures, narrow hallways, and red carpet. I was waiting for a knife wielding Jack Nicholson to barge thought the door. To make matters worse we showed up to the hotel in a downpour after a 10 minute walk from the train station. Oh, and the comforter was covered in mold.

Our other experiences were fabulous! We drove up for the day with my girlfriends from college, rented a eco cabin with the Wyatts, and celebrated two friends’ birthdays in a quaint cottage. With several adorable towns, endless hiking tracks, gourmet dining and spectacular scenery, the Blue Mountains are a prefect destination for a quick trip.

Recently we went on a day trip to the Hunter Valley. It’s no Napa, but not in a bad way. With small family run vineyards, grazing cows and napping kangaroos, it is very folksy and welcoming. Their wine is not amazing, but it is good enough. After your second vineyard, I mean, who cares!

Back to planning our road trip for the holidays. Destination 1: Jervis Bay (in the Guinness Book for Records for the world’s whitest sand). Destination 2: Melbourne (Yarra Valley and the stunning coastline). Destination 3: Tasmania (hiking paradise, mountains and yes, Tasmanian Devils). Peter will be doing all of the driving. It has been 10 months and I still have not been behind the wheel! Road trip, whooo!

The not so 4.5 star hotel:

Kicking back Creepy decor Haunted? 4.5 star? Hotel on the hill

The much better alternative:

Our cabin The lodge Cozy interior Feathered friend BBQ dinner

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2 thoughts on “Domestic Destinations- The Blue Mountains and The Hunter Valley, New South Wales

  1. Can’t get enough of your travel stories! Love the Shining reference 😉 I love seeing all your photos and reading about all your good times in Australia. I day dream about the day I can finally visit! We thought of you guys when were in San Fran recently. We had the best time! Chris’ work put us up in the Palace Hotel, we walked all over Valencia street, and snacked on goodies at the Embarcadero. Did you guys ever eat The Grove and La Fusion in the Financial District? The most amazing food!!!

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