Escape from Sydney to the Valley
Yeoh Siew Hoon loses herself in nature.
It’s a place that makes you feel as if you have stepped back in time – lots of space that make you feel insignificant, yet aware enough to realise how lucky you are to be here.
April in Sydney, what a lovely time to be in the city. I have a night’s stopover, and where better to rest my head than on the soft bed at Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney overlooking one of my favourite views in the world. I catch the last of the sunset and as light disappears – as it does earlier in Autumn – the city and harbour light up like a fairytale land.
I walk out of the hotel, turn right and end up at the Glenmore Pub. I like dining on the rooftop. It’s packed. “So this is where city dwellers play at night,” said my girlfriend, who lives in the suburbs and rarely comes to the city, except when I am in town. We dine on modern pub food under the stars and a half-moon that looks like an inverted cup ready to spill moonbeams over its side. That night, I went to sleep dreaming of mountain mist and horses grazing in the valley.
In the morning, a car picked me up to go to Wolgan Valley in the Blue Mountains. I’d heard a lot about this hideaway on the other side of the range, owned and run by Emirates. When I looked it up, the pictures were so beyond amazing that I wondered how many had been photoshopped. How could blue be so blue, green so green and mist so ethereal be real? We couldn’t have picked a more beautiful day for the three-hour drive. Autumn golden colours set against a brilliant blue sky streaked with fluffy, white clouds.
We stop at Katoomba for a lookout over the Three Sisters. It is a fabulous lookout over the valley and a popular spot for tourists. We stop at the Three Sisters Café, where a queue of Korean tourists is waiting to cuddle the giant koala that stands at the entrance. The restaurant is packed with Asian tourists – a clear sign of Australian tourism’s changing face. “You will lose telephone reception over this range, just want to warn you,” our driver said as we pile in for the next part of the drive. He knows the ways of the modern traveller – his car comes with Wi-Fi and phone chargers. I am almost relieved when we lose reception. Now I can genuinely say I am disconnected.
Wolgan Valley is set on a 4,000-acre plot of land, a Y-shaped valley, where there are more wallabies, wallaroos, wombats and kangaroos than humans. It can accommodate up to 104 guests in its villas, each of which comes with a plunge pool and a patio overlooking the valley. It’s a place that makes you feel as if you have stepped back in time – lots of space that make you feel insignificant, yet aware enough to realise how lucky you are to be here.
You can go on an aboriginal tour and learn about the land’s early people, the first white settlers who built their homestead in this valley, or ride bikes, learn to fly fish or just walk the various trails. Wildlife is abundant. I saw a wombat happily eating grass in front of a villa, two kangaroos boxing and many wallabies and wallaroos hopping around. Four albino kangaroos have also been recorded. They look weirdly exotic, their white colour in contrast with the brown sandstone, green grass and eucalyptus trees of the landscape.
The best thing about being here is losing yourself in nature. Watch the morning mist disappear with the first rays of sun and watch the moon and stars come out to play. The sunset in Wolgan is a different kind from the one in Sydney and it is hard to believe that the distance between them is just three hours. This is what I love about Sydney – it’s so easy to get out of the city and escape to a place where space is the most decadent luxury.
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I like kangaroos :) it would be nice to see them. I think the baby inside the mother kangarro' s belly pocket is really cute. I hear a lot about Australia, it is a nice place-my boyfriend is from Sydney: and a good choice for Shangri-la to be at :)