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A weekend holiday might seem like an impossible idea but Sydney has an incredible array of things to see and do, just a few hours’ drive away. One of the most popular is the Blue Mountains – just an hour and a half from the hustle and bustle of Sydney’s CBD. The Mountains are a fantastic place to discover Australia’s heritage in the art galleries and antique shops that populate the mountain towns.

Faulconbridge is perhaps best known for the Norman Lindsay Gallery, where the prolific artist created the Australian children’s classic, The Magic Pudding. Now filled with his etchings and paintings, the Gallery is set within beautiful gardens that are free to explore. The grounds of the Gallery contain a number of interesting places to explore; the etching studio, the painting studio, bushwalks and of course the gorgeous fountain sculptures which dot the immaculately-kept gardens.

Further up are the Everglades Gardens in Leura. Built in the 1930s, it is one of Australia’s foremost heritage gardens. The gardens boast twelve and a half acres of European-style gardens and native Australian bush with breathtaking views over the Jamison Valley. Inside the art-deco house is a charming tea room with freshly baked scones, cakes and tea to tempt the tastebuds.

For adventurers, the Blue Mountains offers a diverse array of activities from hiking to horse-riding. Beginners are well catered for at Megalong Valley where you can take a trail ride with an instructor through flat pastures and along the mountain ridges. It’s here that you can truly understand why this part of the world has been World Heritage listed, to be protected for future generations.

It simply wouldn’t be a holiday without shopping, and the region offers some unique shops to browse and buy from. Most popular are the antiques stores, particularly Hazelbrook Cottage Antiques which specialises in rustic country furniture, bush made and Depression items and vintage advertising. On the other end of the spectrum, although no less enjoyable, is the Katoomba-based shop, Weirder the Better, jam-packed with all that is juggling and much more. If you ever wanted a diabolo, fire gear, stilts, unicycles, spinning plates or any kind of magic item, you’ll find it here.

With such a diverse range of activities, to suit any taste or budget, a weekend holiday to the Blue Mountains is an easy option for a quick getaway.