Wolgan Valley feels a bit like an antipodean shangri la. A drive of 2 1/2 hours takes you northwest out of Sydney, up over the fiercely beautiful Blue Mountains (really a plateau) and drops you down the precipitous sandstone cliffs into open grasslands cut by creeks and rivers. Discovered after 25-year’s of exploration at the outset of the 19th century, Wolgan Valley soon became the breadbasket that fed the inhabitants of Sydney, Australia’s first settlement. Sheep, and then cattle, grazed here on farms managed by hardy families in simple homesteads.
Nine years ago Emirates purchased a 7000-acre conservancy within the World Heritage-listed Greater Blue Mountains. The resort they constructed on one percent of that land is composed of 40 villas and a world class spa, and it offers extremely comfortable accommodations and delicious food.
At the heart of the experience, however, is the luxury of discovering a pristine Australian wilderness via a wide array of carefully designed activities. Guided or unguided horseback riding, hiking, and biking can take you across the valley floor or up onto the plateau to enjoy extraordinary views, over 150 bird species and, of course, the huge concentrations of wildlife – kangaroos, wallabies, and wombats among others. So close and yet so far from Sydney, this is a great place to either begin or end a trip to Australia.