In the age of google maps, you don't need to pre-navigate. So you have time to worry about other things like "is 25 different types of snacks for the 2 year old enough?" (Answer: No.) But seriously, our only contentious issue was when to leave. Our 2 year old sleeps from 1ish to 3ish, AND you don't want to be heading west after 2pm as the traffic will cause you to punch holes in the sunroof (is it just me?). So, we decided to leave as close to sleep-time as possible and hoped, no prayed, that she'd fall asleep on the drive and that we could take a break from listening to track 3 of the Frozen CD for just an hour or two. Did it work? No not really. She took a good hour to get to sleep, letting us know how tired she was in solid, ear piercing wails. Perfect.
Where to stay?
I'll admit, we didn't do much research. We wanted a place that was easy, relaxing and had plenty to do for our active little girl. I hadn't been to the Fairmont since I was a little mensch, and I was pleasantly surprised at the refurb. The rooms were large, clean and homely. We had the base room at around $220/night - pretty good value if you ask me. Same if you don't. We had a supersized king bed and the munchkin had a cot by the window. Outside of the room, the Fairmont didn't disappoint. From endless games rooms with jungle-gyms (is that a word?), ballpits, arcade-style video games, bowling, table tennis to a heated 25 metre indoor pool that had me gasping for air after one lap. There was so much to do and I haven't even mentioned the pony rides, choo-choo train rides, segway tours, and sublime meat pies by the pond (yes, we had meat pies by the pond).
Check out the scenery
It's a pretty good bet that you'll see some pretty good scenery at a place called SCENIC WORLD. And we did. This is definitely the place to visit to see the 3 sisters and the entire Jamison Valley while you're at it. But before you see anything, I beg you to book your tickets online. Don't be like us and wait in the line with a 2 year old. When is that ever fun? Ok, so there are a few different ways to see all the good stuff. The Scenic Railway - the steepest passenger train in the world, the Scenic Skyway - the highest cable car in Australia, the Scenic Cableway that descends 545 metres into the valley, and the Scenic Walkway - which is, well, just a walkway. We did them all and would recommend you do it too. Short on time? Do the Railway and the Skyway, the kids will love it.
Food, glorious, well, y'know-
If you're like us then food is important. Luckily Leura ( the quaint little town where our hotel was) has a handful of foodie delights. Night one we felt like Thai and headed to a place called Thai Square which was basically someones house with a bunch of dining room tables and oversized chairs all surrounding a fireplace. But. it. was. deelicious. Young daughter smashed the spring rolls and satay skewers. Parents devoured the chicken cashew nut and the beef pad thai (I love it when a pad thai is not dry).
The next morning we had breakfast at the quaint (yes, Im sorry, EVERYTHING IN LEURA IS QUAINT) Lily's Pad Cafe where we scoffed down the avocado smash. Coffee was pretty good there too. Lunch was then a take-away affair from the Bakehouse - the little bakery famous for their pies. And lemme tell youse, they're famous for a reason. And that evening, we had dinner at Leura Garage - a hipster-vibe kinda place where the stacks of tires tell you YES IT'S TRUE, THIS USED TO BE A GARAGE. On arrival they gave us a can of colour pens and a kids activity sheet. Nice touch. However, they had no high chairs. See, I said it was hipster. Oh, try the crab prawn pasta. Yum.
Wait, what? The weekend's over?
As with any weekend away, there were things planned that never got done. We didn't get to the cultural museum in Katoomba. Actually, we didn't do anything we wanted to do in Katoomba. BOYCOTT KATOOMBA! Jokes.
However, in saying that, we spaced everything out so we could actually slow down for a millisecond and breathe, talk to each other , recalibrate and at times, grieve for things we lost. A couple days in the mountains can do wonders.