There’s nothing quite like a Southern Highlands fling, especially when that flinging is done amongst the treetops. We’re in Robertson at the award winning Illawarra Fly Treetop Walk, the only walk of its kind in NSW and one of only a handful of elevated steel treetop walks in the world.
It’s been a drizzly morning but with a break in the weather and disposable raincoats at the ready we follow the giant yellow dinosaur footprints and jabberwocky warning signs into the trees for a magical misty tour of the rainforest.
Positioned in the treetop canopy, the 500 metre steel walkway features two gently swaying cantilevered arms, and a central tower raised nearly 50 metres from the forest floor. Suitable for all ages and fitness levels, we’re delighted to discover the gentle 1.5km walk through lush native rainforest is even pram friendly!
On our walk, the cool and drizzly weather actually adds to the beauty of our surrounds as waves of mist curl up and over the trees creating an otherworldly vibe. We’re awe-struck when the drizzle suddenly stops and the sun miraculously breaks through just as we reach the top of the tower to reveal spectacular views of the Illawarra Escarpment and out to the Pacific Ocean, where a rather showy rainbow appears to the squealing joy of my two-year old daughter, Marlo. In fact, both the kids delight in the immersive nature walk, Rafferty wanting to do it all over again when we reach the end.
After our high and mighty treetop adventure we grab a bite at the on-site café. The fish and chips earns a thumbs up from Marlo, I enjoy one the best burgers I’ve had in an age and Rafferty and his dad chow down happily on the famous Robertson Pie shop pies.
As fabulous as lunch and our traipse through the treetops prove, there is something bugging my five-year old son. And I mean bugging in the literal sense at a special meet and greet with some cool creepy crawlies as part of the Bugs @ the Fly school holiday event.
Introductions begin with a giant hairy Wolf Spider (who I’m pleased to say is kept behind glass) and a pair of gloriously pretty Rainbow Stag Beetles who shimmer and shine as bright as jewels. Then it’s time to get touchy feely with some other interesting invertebrates including a super-cool Spiny Lead Stick Insect and Rafferty’s personal favourite, the Giant Burrowing Cockroach – a cockroach so big, so awesome and so strong that he declares it a Teenage Mutant Ninja Cockroach - high praise indeed from my mutant loving boy.
Suitably bugged out we head from the Illawarra Fly Treetop Walk to nearby Bowral and the modern, funky and family-friendly Gibraltrar Hotel. Our luxurious two-bedroom suite is an answer to our family prayers – loads of space and a glut of kid’s movies on tap! But before we let our kids get tempted by the tv, there are 100 acres of grounds and an indoor swimming pool to explore. There’s also a leisurely dinner at Harvey's, the hotel’s very cool bar and restaurant, to enjoy. Lucky for us, iconic Aussie pianist Geoff Harvey himself is tinkling the ivories while we nosh. It has to be said, weekends away don’t get much better this.
If you too want to meet the crew of creepy crawlies then be sure to visit Illawarra Fly Treetop Walk between September 26 and 30 for a fantastic iFly 4 Kids event that will see visiting specialist Invertebrate Keepers from WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo showing off plenty of bodacious bugs.
Besides Rafferty’s creepy pals there will also be Giant Forest Millipedes, Crowned Stick Insects, Egyptian Beetles, a very clever Flinders Range Scorpion and more. And all the bugs will be housed in special tents dark enough for the kids to see the scorpion glow in the dark! Plus there will be heaps of fun activities including bug talks, challenges and more. There will be two Bugs @ the Fly sessions per day and tickets are available at illawarrafly.com.
Out & About With Kids Magazine editor, Aleney de Winter, is mum to two frequent-flying tiny travellers, son Rafferty 5 and daughter Marlo 2.